A Word a Week Challenge – Face

Face can mean so much. This week’s challenge can go many ways. The most obvious is people’s faces but you can face challenges, you can face forward or backwards, face the truth, do an about-face, be two-faced. A face represents things or people, not just literally but figuratively too.

I’ve just returned from New  York City and I’m going to post a few photos that represent the Face of New York to me. It’s not just the famous and iconic symbols, it’s the details that will remind me of New York even more than remembering the awesome view from the Empire State Building or watching the skyline go by as we cruised around the tip of Manhattan or getting soaked on the top of the tour bus. Those memories are important, but the little things that make New York as a city stand out are these:

New York is famed for theatre, film, and tv. Thousands of people make the trek there every year. If they can “make it” in New York, they can “make it” anywhere, as the song goes. But you have to support yourself until you get that big break so you will find actors and performers waiting tables, working on construction crews, guiding tours and working in offices. The Stardust Diner on Broadway is a singing restaurant and all the staff take turns singing for you in between taking orders and delivering food.

Singing for her tips.

Singing for her tips.

Advertising is everywhere. Neon, billboards, signs in windows and banners on buildings. But what struck me is the ads painted right on the brick and concrete of the sides of the buildings. There are loads of them in New York, many faded over time but they still do it. We were told that they use a sort of paint by numbers template to do it.

New York buildings have ads painted right on the brick.

New York buildings have ads painted right on the brick.

There are 13,000 yellow cabs in New  York City. There are streams and streams of them on the streets and avenues. New York wouldn’t be New York without them.

Yellow cabs in New York

People here, like everywhere, have pets. But so many people work that they pay someone to walk their dogs. You see dog walkers leading up to 6 or 7 dogs on leads sometimes.

Dog walkers in New York.

Another thing I saw that I have never seen anywhere else (mind you, I haven’t been all that many places in the grand scheme of things) is the vertical parking. They raise the cars up on lifts to the parking bays. Man, parking is expensive in New  York and obviously, not that convenient but using this type of parking, you’re pretty sure you’re car won’t get stolen!

Vertical parking in New York

This is just the kind of street view I like. People doing everyday things, taking a quiet moment out of a hectic day, finding a peaceful spot in a noisy city and chilling with a coffee and newspaper. This was taken on the 41st St. side of the New York Public Library.


Taking a few chill out moments

Even more than the famous buildings in New York like the Chrysler, the Empire State or the new Freedom Tower, this tower kept popping up in my view and in my photos. It’s the tallest residential building in the city apparently and was designed by Gehry. It looks like someone crumpled it and I really like it a lot.

Gehry tower

Here’s another view of it

Another detail that says “New York” to me is the fire escapes zig-zagging down the sides of the buildings. They’re mainly on the older buildings. The tall modern architecture doesn’t have exterior fire escapes. That’s kind of scary really but they probably have more than one inner staircase for emergency exit.

Balconies in SoHo and lovely window detailing

I could post a lot of photos that show the architectural details I saw on buildings in New  York but that’s not really unique to New York in my mind. I look for that and find details  everywhere I go in various cities.  I’m sure many cities have similar fire escapes but I haven’t seen them so to me, they’ll always remind me of New York. Another thing I particularly remember is that there are so many Irish themed pubs in New York! I know the city, historically, has had many Irish immigrants but they must still be arriving because in each that we patronized, the waitress serving us had an Irish accent.

There are always things that remind you of a particular city, that will, in your mind and memory, be the “face of ” that city, over and above the famous sights.  You see the Eiffel Tower,  you think of Paris, but do you recall the horse chestnut trees everywhere lining streets and boulevards or all the sidewalk cafes? I do. You see the Colosseum and you think of Rome, but I remember the golden colours that wash the walls of the buildings, the many shades of oranges, yellows and  the pinks and all the Vespas buzzing about.  Copenhagen brings to mind the outdoor tables and chairs, complete with a little blanket to wrap around your shoulders if it’s chilly. London has the ubiquitous black cabs, even if they’re painted all colours with advertising, and the signs painted on the streets at intersections to remind you which way to watch for oncoming traffic!

These are the faces of some of the cities I’ve been to. What kinds of details do you remember about places you’ve been, above and beyond the notable sights?

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