I am writing this article en 2017.

30 years already since I arrived in the US for a year-long university 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 series of articles…)

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 skyline, 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 skyline, 1987

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

Verticality is the defining dimension in Manhattan… (as Baudrillard compellingly described it in “Amérique”, one of my bedside books at the time)

… and this 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 never far… and Rodin’s Balzac seems a bit lost!

Balzac statue, Rodin, New York City

From the top of the World Trade Center, up close and looking down, vertigo Isn’t far …

View from the top of the World Trace center looking down to the plaza, 1987

… and the sweeping views are breathtaking, whether looking South …

Statue of Liberty seen from the World Trade Center, 1987

 … or North.

Manhattan Uptown seen from the World Trade Center, 1987
Chrysler building, New 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“… When I went back several months later, traders grabbing a bite for lunch in the nearby park/cemetery seemed a lot more relaxed…

Wall Street, New York Stock Exchange, New York City, 1987
Businessman in Wall Street, New 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, 1987
Yellow cab, New York City, 1987

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

… I was generally in culture shock. New York lives 24/7 – and its intensity is felt throughout its varied neighborhoods.

Street scene, New York City, 1987

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

Time Square, New York City, 1987

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

Coca Cola sign, Time Square, New York City, 1987

I indulged in a couple portraits, taken by my friend Henri – same place (the marina a couple blocks from the World Trade Center), different day and time:

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…

Saint Nicholas church, New York City, 1987

It is being rebuilt as a church and national shrine.

I went back to New York City several times since  – more articles are on their way.

More to come, stay tuned!