Sometimes you find amazing things in your own backyard. Not literally, of course. You can live your whole life in and near one of the major cities of the world and not know about many of the wonderful places in your midst. My family and I have been to Colorado and California. We know that the hills and mountains of New Jersey pale in comparison, but that doesn’t make things any less breathtaking, any less spectacular. Whether you are visiting New York and New Jersey for the first time or have lived here all your life, there are many “don’t miss” locations. Our latest find is in Weehawken, NJ, a town most easily found on the NJ side of the Lincoln Tunnel. High above River Road you will find Hamilton Park. Over two centuries ago, Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton fought their historic duel at this site. These days, we frequently hear about the Broadway show honoring this Founding Father. What amazed my family was how incredibly breathtaking the views are from this location. Imagine for a moment seeing virtually the entire West Side of Manhattan. When the weather is right, you can take in wonderful views of NYC from the George Washington Bridge to the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge.The NYC skyline is constantly changing. Construction cranes continue to rise all over Manhattan. From One World Trade Center in lower Manhattan to Hudson Yards at the northern end of The High Line in Midtown and even new skyscrapers near Central Park, the view from the Garden State is not to be missed!
As we learned in school, Benjamin Franklin once said: "A penny saved is a penny earned." If he were alive today, Franklin undoubtedly would love the many ways the internet enables people to find ways to save. Born in Boston, but better known for his years in Philadelphia, I think he would be excited at how much you can learn by traveling to new places. These days, a trip to a major city and its surrounding areas can be expensive, but there are ways to save significantly.
We show how expanding an airport search once saved us about 150,000 pennies (i.e., $1,500); how membership in a local zoo or museum can help you save on admission when visiting other places; how rundown railroad tracks have been transformed into an incredibly popular new park in Manhattan, and how crossing the Hudson River to the New Jersey side provides amazing, often breathtaking views of New York City.
Eighteen year’s ago today, my dad was laid to rest after succumbing to a series of major health battles. My mom recently moved to a senior residence. As we discovered old photos in the family house, it made me think about how things have changed in the nearly two decades that have since passed — roughly one generation. While most people focus on the technology that has made smartphones and tablets commonplace throughout the world, many often overlook one of the key features of these devices. Cameras are almost always readily available. In the film era, pictures had to be developed and printed. In 2018, we take over one trillion photos per year. Many people post these photos via social media, without thought of preserving them in the years ahead. But the moments of today are the memories of tomorrow. It could be anything from family get-togethers to historical events or something in between.
Here is a silly thought. If a picture is worth a thousand words and we take one trillion photos, does that mean we should be thinking about one quadrillion words to describe these photos? Perhaps not that many, but when you think about it, the motto in US currency is E Pluribus Unum, roughly “Out of many, one.” Maybe that is the message. Our individual stories, both photos and words, are the foundation for the melting pot that is the United States. If my grandparents hadn’t come through Ellis Island by the 1920s I wouldn’t be writing this as they undoubtedly would have been exterminated by the Nazis. My maternal grandfather loved to write, even though he didn’t have much formal education. Preserving memories is so important on so many levels. It also helps us to remember, an important goal in and of itself. It helps us to grow as individuals, as families, as communities, even as a nation and globally.
These days, most people always have a camera with them. On photo-sharing websites, you will discover what seems to be an infinite collection of photos taken from smartphones and tablets. In the not-so-distant past, you had to make a conscious decision of whether or not to take a point-and-shoot or DSLR with you when you went somewhere. My wife, a music teacher by profession, is the avid photographer in the family. No matter where we went in the family car, I would suggest that it was a better idea than not to take a camera. You just never know when you will find that photo that proves the saying "a picture is worth a thousand words". One such moment occurred in the summer of 2014. We had taken our daughters to see a movie in Edgewater, NJ, along the Hudson River. After the movie ended, we detoured on our way home and stopped at a major hotel parking lot near the Lincoln Tunnel. The New York skyline was as breathtaking as ever. Our older daughter noticed a strange light coming through the clouds. It turned out to be the full moon rising near the Empire State Building. This time, we had our iPhones and DSLR with us. My wife captured the moment - and created a wonderful family memory at the same time.
About a decade ago, we saw a rainbow as we were driving north on I-287 in New Jersey. We had a camera with us and got the pictures. That turned out to be the same day our niece was born. Again, a new memory created.
Another time we were on a family vacation at Disney World in Florida. An entertainer who was juggling bowling pins on the Boardwalk between EPCOT and the movie studio called on our younger daughter to help him out. Unfortunately, the video of the moment was lost forever when someone stole the camera. Luckily, my wife also took photos with the DSLR, so once again a wonderful memory was preserved.
Sadly, having a camera in the right place at the right time can accompany tragic events as well. Last year, I attended a live streaming podcast at Unique Photo n Fairfield, NJ. The professional photographer who was interviewed lived about 10 miles or so from NYC. From his apartment, he had a view of the Twin Towers. Using a film-based camera, he took numerous photos, from a distance, of the unfolding events. One of the photos caught the attention of People Magazine. It ran as the magazine's first two-page cover photo. The point is that a photograph can generate a stream of memories, personal or shared.This is part of the fabric of being living, breathing individuals.
On this post, you see a bunch of photos of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge. I chose this image because it illustrates how many ideas, happy and sad, you can get from a single photo. To me, here are some of the things it represents: (1) it connects Brooklyn and Staten Island, both places where I grew up; (2) the cables remind me of string instruments, which my wife teaches; (3) it's the starting point for the New York Marathon, which one of my brothers once ran; (4) I vividly remember the smoke billowing out of the Twin Towers on September 11, 2001 in the direction of the bridge as I arrived at work in Newark, New Jersey, about 10 miles west of the tragic events that were unfolding; (5) it reminds me as well of the first responders, many of whom lived or worked on Staten Island, who crossed the bridge that day and gave their lives; (6) it reminds me of what a great ride the Staten Island Ferry is, with the bridge on one side and the Statue of Liberty on the other; (7) I visualize John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever describing the construction of the bridge while sitting on a bench with his girlfriend along the water; (8) it's the entrance to New York Harbor, through which many immigrants passed before the bridge was built, on their way to Ellis Island; (9) although my high school is in the shadow of the Bayonne Bridge, it brightens my day that I have reconnected with Staten Island friends from decades ago via social media, who have been tremendously supportive during challenging times, including a life-threatening health scare with my daughter; (10) it reminds me of how this "forgotten borough" has a population approaching half a million, larger than many well-known cities with multiple professional sports teams; and (11) with the population growth has come major traffic congestion that is ever-present.
Ultimately, the opening of the bridge in 1964 led to rapid development of many parts of Staten Island, transforming what once was considered to be rural into something mostly suburban. My mother reminds me that years ago it took about seven minutes to get to the bridge from the western part of the Staten Island Expressway. These days, one can see a great deal of construction in increasingly narrower spaces, at times giving it more of an urban feel.
If you look at the map below, you will quickly see why some of the best views of New York City are from the New Jersey side. The marker shows where the Statue of Liberty is located. The west side of the Hudson River offers unparalleled views of the Manhattan skyline. On a clear day, you can be standing miles away on the Twin Lights Lighthouse on the Jersey Shore and zoom in on the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge and the skyline. Many people do not realize that Newark Liberty Airport is closer to Midtown Manhattan and Wall Street than is JFK. Next February, the Super Bowl comes to New Jersey, but the proximity of MetLife Stadium to NYC will become very prominent. On this page, we are sharing some favorite views of the Empire State (my native state) - but from a Garden State (my home state) perspective.
When you think about the word "imagination", you will notice that the word "image" is embedded within it. The well-known expression "a picture is worth a thousand words" comes to mind. The interesting thing is that each person may see an image differently, perhaps even different from what the photographer had in mind. On this new page on The Write Palette website, we hope you will enjoy some favorite locations, whether you have been to these places previously or not. With a "Sunset" theme for the first entry, we take you today to New Jersey and Florida. The first two images were of the western New Jersey sky as the sun was going down on two different, stormy days. The mountains in the distance and the nearby tree plus a thick cloud layer created a nice silhouette. The second image was a battle between the clouds and sun. In the third image, this was being in the right place at the right time. In Liberty State Park in Jersey City, New Jersey, there is an old, inactive railroad terminal. Just a few miles as the crow flies to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty, the low, setting sun on a crisp, clear winter's day made for a nice setting. The last two images were along the Gulf Coast of Florida. In one, the sun was getting ready to drop below the horizon, but not before a boat passed in front of it. In the last image, there was insufficient time to get to the beach in Sarasota before the sun went down, but there was a bay along which there were people watching the sunset. Making a lucky guess, we drove down a street that sounded as if it might have a decent view - what we got was another silhouette at sunset.
All Atlantic Ocean Bridge Bronx River Bronx Zoo Brooklyn Brooklyn Bridge Coney Island Disney Cruise Line Disney Magic East RIver Ellis Island High Line Hudson River Hurricane Sandy Liberty State Park Long Island Sound Manhattan New Jersey New York Aquarium New York City Queens Staten Island Statue Of Liberty Times Square Verrazano Verrazano-Narrows Bridge