Postcards from... New York City, 1987

October 16, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

30 years already since I arrived in the US for a year-long exchange program! 
1987 was also the year photography became really important for me.

I had dreamed of this opportunity for years, and worked very hard to make it happen.
The New York City skyline at night was one of the first things I saw after landing, as a bus was driving me and the other 9 selected French students to our campus in Philadelphia (stay tuned for an upcoming postcard series…)

Version française de cet article ici

New York City, 1987New York City, 1987

I was in awe, and the jet lag made the experience feel even more eerie. To me, Manhattan looked like a magic island floating in space. A few weeks after arriving, I seized the opportunity of an extended weekend to go visit the city with some friends. I also went again a few months later.

New York City, 1987New York City, 1987

The Staten Island ferry is in my opinion the best (and most budget friendly!) way to get a fist “grasp” of Manhattan. Although obviously almost everything changed, it also gave me a hint of what immigrants arriving by sea may have felt. I took the ferry several times, enjoying the amazing view change as the sun started dipping.

New York City, 1987New York City, 1987

The ride also gave me the chance to see iconic sights in unusual settings - and in some amazing light.

New York City, 1987New York City, 1987    New York City, 1987New York City, 1987

Verticality is the defining dimension in Manhattan...

New York City, 1987New York City, 1987   Running with Giants • Courir parmi les géants – New YorkRunning with Giants • Courir parmi les géants – New York
... and it gave me the opportunity to make one of my first street portraits - and still one of my favorites to date.

In this world, the surreal is in range... and Rodin's Balzac seems a bit lost!

New York City, 1987New York City, 1987     New York City, 1987New York City, 1987

Up close and looking down, vertigo isn't far...

New York City, 1987New York City, 1987 ... and the sweeping views are breathtaking, whether looking South...

New York City, 1987New York City, 1987 ... or North.

New York City, 1987New York City, 1987    New York City, 1987New York City, 1987

For me, the striking Art Deco Chrysler building is a great illustration of the daring core of the city.

The first day I was on Wall Street (October 19th, 1987), as I was reflecting on how much power is wielded there, I wondered why so many TV trucks were parked all around... It's only when I got back to Philly that I learnt that on that day, the most famous stock exchange in the world had one of its worst ever crashes. It went down in history as "Black Monday"... Traders grabbing a bite for lunch in the nearby park/cemetery were probably also more nervous than usual.

New York City, 1987New York City, 1987     New York City, 1987New York City, 1987

Walking uptown, the ultra-modern lines of the financial district gradually recede and allow more human-sized architecture to exist...

New York City, 1987New York City, 1987    New York City, 1987New York City, 1987

While a few scenes and some occasional buildings somewhat reminded me of Europe...

New York City, 1987New York City, 1987 ... I was generally in culture shock. New York lives 24/7 - and its intensity is felt throughout its varied neighborhoods.

New York City, 1987New York City, 1987 As usual, I found the people most fascinating, as they forcefully expressed their believes... or just stood in a daydreaming awe.

New York City, 1987New York City, 1987    New York City, 1987New York City, 1987

Some of the Time Square boards looked like they were straight from a dystopian future - Blade Runner definitely echoed.

New York City, 1987New York City, 1987

I indulged in a couple portraits, taken by my friend Henri - same place, different day and time:

New York City, 1987New York City, 1987    New York City, 1987New York City, 1987

The Greek Orthodox Saint Nicholas church, located right next to the World Trade Center towers, got completely destroyed on 9/11/2001 when the South Tower collapsed. Retrospectively, the picture I took is quite ominous, looking like a tombstone against the towers, but with sunbursts of hope still cutting through...

New York City, 1987New York City, 1987

It is being rebuilt as a church and national shrine.

More to come, stay tuned!


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