J.P. Chan 

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A Chilly Welcome

Nothing wakes you up from a red-eye like NYC winter weather.

A photo posted by J.P. Chan (@jpchantastic) on

 

Eighteenth & Tenth

Eighteenth & Tenth

The transformation of far west Chelsea is really breathtaking, especially since it’s nowhere near over. It’s part of a decades-long metamorphosis of the west side of Manhattan that stretches from the Village to the Upper West Side and which shows no sign of stopping.

I remember how these blocks on Tenth Avenue used to feel so desolate, forgotten, a little dangerous. It always seemed like this part of Manhattan was secret hiding in plain sight, not far from the busy corridors but never really seen.

Then over the course of twenty years came Chelsea Piers, Hudson River Park, clubs, galleries, Chelsea Market, the High Line, Google, IAC, and high-end residential.

And with Citi Bike stations all over the neighborhood, now even those long blocks from the subway on Eighth Avenue don’t seem so long anymore.

 

Manhattan Circle (Mostly)

I haven’t circled Manhattan on my bike in several years, so I decided last-minute to try it again yesterday afternoon.

The good news: it’s easier than ever to do this route now, despite the few missing links. The path almost everywhere is in very good condition and you’ll have plenty of company except along the Harlem River parts.

The bad news: at one of the missing links uptown, I ran into a dead end (on the FDR!) which extended my ride. Those few extra minutes were enough to fully drain the GoPro’s batteries, so you won’t see my triumphant finish in this video.

But it’s all about the journey not the destination, right?

 

Rainy 125

Rainy 125

It’s been raining all day in NYC. But to paraphrase one of my neighbors, it’s a mediocre rain — not a dramatic downpour that inspires awe and not a pleasant drizzle that lifts your spirits. It’s just average wet.

 

Coming soon: Citi Bike

Citi Bike

I’m really excited about Citi Bike and I think it has the potential to greatly change the way New Yorkers get around. The stations are going up now and the bikes come next month. Check it out, New York!

 

My Naturally Continuing Education

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In the past year, I’ve become increasingly worried about my lack of basic knowledge in science and the natural world. I’m embarrassed that as a supposedly-educated adult I still can’t explain fundamental concepts like how electricity flows through the cameras I use everyday nor can I name any of the trees I can see from my window.

I don’t want to leave this planet being so ignorant about how it actually works.

Perhaps not coincidentally, I rarely get to the exhibits at my favorite museum even though I live just a few subway stops away.

Hopefully, all of this changes starting today. I’m a now a museum member again for the first time in years and I plan to make the most of it. My goal is to (re)learn these fundamental concepts, with AMNH as my school.

My membership gives me a +1 on admission, so I plan to drag friends along for the ride as (involuntary) study buddies. After all, science says that humans are social creatures.

 

Model Rush Hour

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Stumbled on this photoshoot on my way home past 42 St & 6 Av. The model was standing atop a New York Times vending machine, so I thought it might be for the paper. But from what I overheard, the shoot is actually for LensCrafters.

It’s gonna be a cool shot either way. NYC rush hour may not be fun to be in, but it’s got great production value.

 

Blue & Yellow Both Ways

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Look this way from Erie Basin Park in Brookyn and you get a spectacular sunset with the Statue of Liberty in the distance.

Look behind you and you get Ikea. Just another one of NYC’s crazy, semi-naturally occurring juxtapositions that makes life here endlessly fascinating.

 

St. Vincent’s Hospital

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It’s very sobering to pass by St. Vincent’s during its demolition. You can’t help but think about all the human experiences that must have taken place there. They’re ghosts now, and the building is following them.

 

Mohamed of Lenox Avenue

Mohamed of Lenox Avenue

Just wanted to give a shout-out to the man who, in an average week for me, cooks almost ten percent of my meals.

Mohamed of the Palomino halal truck at 116 St & Lenox, thank you for feeding me so well. And yes, I really do want extra extra red sauce.

 

This is Where the Cabs Go

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From “Where Do All the Cabs Go in the Late Afternoon?” in the January 11, 2011 New York Times:

The hour from 4 to 5 p.m. has long been considered a low tide of taxi service, the maddening moment when, in apparent violation of the laws of supply and demand, entire fleets of empty yellow cabs flip on their off-duty lights and proceed past the outstretched hands of office workers seeking a way home.

To my total delight, I stumbled upon this shift change at the BP gas station at Houston and Lafayette. It’s quite fun to watch. If you love NYC, add this to your bucket list.

 

This Station Needs a Hachikō

This Station Needs a Hachikō

Flushing’s LIRR Main Street station is very lightly used compared with its nearby subway station, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t deserve some sprucing up.

My recommendation, in all seriousness, is to put a dog on it. Just like how putting a bird on something can make it art in Portland, putting a Hachikō at a transit entrance can elevate an otherwise utilitarian space into something much more inviting. Maybe even inspirational.

A cat would be okay, too.

 

A New Chinatown Uptown?

From “Chinese Moving to East Harlem in a Quiet Shift From Downtown” in today’s New York Times:

It also thrust into violent relief an otherwise hidden demographic change in East Harlem: The population of Asian residents, mostly Chinese, has quietly ballooned in the last decade, doubling in the southern part of the neighborhood and tripling in the north, according to census figures.

I moved to Central Harlem from Brooklyn four-and-a-half years ago. I love my current digs, but I missed the convenient access to Chinatown that I had when living on the Q train, which passed through the heart of Manhattan’s Chinatown.

I used to eat and shop in Chinatown at least once a week; now it’s more like once a month. I miss the cheap and tasty restaurants, the cheap and fresh groceries, the easy availability of the “ying yang” tea/coffee drink I’m addicted to.

Given how Chinatowns have sprouted up around NYC, I’ve been hoping that new one would grow in Harlem or the South Bronx. If this article is accurate, it looks like it might finally be happening.

 

Times Square

Times Square

Elmo: What up, Grover? What are you doing here?

Grover: Oh, just meeting up with some friends at Bubba Gump. You wanna join us?

Elmo: No, I can’t. I’m seeing a play at the Roundabout.

Grover: Cool.

Elmo: Yeah.

Grover: All right, see you later.

Elmo: Catch you later, man.

 

10/10

10/10

I found myself surrounded by shouting Taiwanese from New Jersey and was instantly transported back to my childhood.

(Mulberry St & Mott St, Manhattan)

 

Broadway & Houston

Broadway & Houston

I’m shooting time-lapses at the busiest corner in Soho and…

– The biggest rat I’ve ever seen hops past me and into the veggie stand on the corner. The rat was literally rabbit-sized. The only witnesses were myself and two teens standing next to me. And all the three of us could say was “shit…”

– A very scuffy-looking middle-aged guy was picking up cigarette butts around the subway entrance and putting them in his pocket. He noticed my camera and asked if I was shooting a “still sequence.” I said, “Yes, I’m doing a time-lapse.” He then asked if I was “getting releases” from the passerby that were in my shot. I replied that releases weren’t necessary since nobody could be personally identified in this kind of shot. He nodded in agreement and said “I know” as he walked off.

All this happened in just the first ten minutes here at this corner. In a city that’s always moving, it’s worth taking the time to just stop and watch every now and then. Because you might find that there’s whole ‘nother city to discover.

(Broadway & Houston St, Manhattan)

 

Anytime

Anytime

(43 St & Madison Av, Manhattan)

 
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