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So there is not much excitement left in the primary season, but I would be remiss if I didn't write about my home state of New York.  It's interesting to be on both the writing and reading side, noticing all the things that could be included but left out for editorial reasons, and find myself wanting to leave myself "you forgot" comments.  But here it is.

As always, please leave your own thoughts about New York and your favorite places and experiences.  And thanks for all the support of this series.  Continue below the orange squiggly thing.

[Originally posted at catsynth.com, with cute highway shields.]

[Originally posted at catsynth.com.]

It seems that all the interest in the primary season has faded, with the outcome all be inevitable.  And perhaps our primary highways series could fade as well.  But I would be remiss if I did not at least cover New York.   It is a different experience to try and observe one's home state and try and condense that experience into a short road-centric article; and experience familiar places and note those that are left out, as many others have for their own states over the course of this series.

My experience of New York has revolved around New York City, "The City" which still sets my personal standard for what a city is.

Here we see one of New York's most iconic landmarks, the Empire State Building, from the vantage point of one of the newest landmarks, the High Line.  The High Line is a public park built on an abandoned elevated rail line in the formerly industrial west side of Manhattan.  It is now an integral part of the Chelsea neighborhood and the area still known as the "Meatpacking District". I spend quite a bit of time here during my NYC trips to walk the High Line and visit the many art galleries.

And in terms of landmarks there is the Brooklyn Bridge:

In this photo, taken from the very trendy Brooklyn waterfront, we see not only the venerable bridge, but many newer buildings of lower Manhattan.  The tall twisty building in the center is a new Gehry-designed residential tower.  In the back we see the incomplete but already quite tall One World Trade Center, the main building in the new complex.

It is interesting to see how much the city changes every time I return, especially in comparison to what things were like in the 1980s and early 1990s.  The neighborhoods that we are looking at these photos, Chelsea, Lower East Side, DUMBO in Manhattan, were nothing like what they are now.  There is a bit of nostalgic charm looking at the old run-down scenes that I remember, but I know this is probably for the best.

Another thing that makes talking about New York different from talking about other cities in this series is that there aren't many highways to talk about, especially in Manhattan.  New Yorkers take the subway.  But there are still highways even in some of the denser areas of the city.  The FDR Drive along the eastern edge of Manhattan is narrow and winding but offers good views of the East River and the changing skyline of the city as it passes underneath the bridges.


[By Bob Jagendorf from Manalapan, NJ, USA (Downtown) [CC-BY-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons]

On the Brooklyn and Queens side, there is the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, (I-278, the BQE).  It zig-zags through some of the densest areas of Brooklyn on a narrow double-decker path among tall buildings.   With the contemporary focus on Brooklyn, the highway has also taken on a significant identity for those who live and work there.  There are even multiple art and music pieces dedicated to it, such as this piece from Performa 2009.

It is impossible to in an article like this to even scratch the surface of the city's cultural offerings, both large institutions like the Museum of Modern Art as well as the numerous galleries and small performance spaces.  So with limited space, I share with you one of my own performances in New York, at Theater Lab near Union Square in late 2011.

I could not discuss New York City without giving a shout-out to The Bronx, the borough to which I have the most family connection.  Though once the "new" section of the city with fancy apartments lining the Grand Concourse, the Bronx fell into deep decline in the 1960s through the 1980s, with scenes of derelict and burnt-out buildings particular in the South Bronx commonplace.  Charlotte Street perhaps was the most infamous of all such scenes.


[By User Incantation on en.wikipedia [GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons]

Having only seen the Bronx since the 1970s and 1980s, this is what parts of it looked like.  It was just part of the landscape.  And I wonder if it influenced my deep interest in the aesthetics of urban decay.  But these images never told the whole story of the borough, either at its nadir or during its current rebound. The Bronx has long been home to respected institutions like the Bronx Zoo and Wave Hill, and newer cultural gems like the Bronx Museum.  The museum is part of the revitalization of the corridor along the Grand Concourse in the central and south Bronx.


[Wave Hill]


[The Bronx Museum of the Arts.]

The Bronx is bisected by Interstate 87, the Major Deegan Expressway, which travels with length of the borough south to north, passing by Yankee Stadium.  As it crosses the city boundary into Westchester County, I-87 becomes the New York State Thruway.  The Thruway cuts through the southern part of the county before meeting I-287 and crossing the Hudson River on the Tappan Zee Bridge.


[By Sev! on Flickr [CC-BY-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons]

This is the Hudson River Valley, known for its scenery and for inspiring the "Hudson River School".  The paintings may look rather trite and dated now, but the scenery that inspired them is still quite spectacular.  One of the more dramatic points along the river is the Bear Mountain Bridge, which carries US 6 and US 202 from Westchester on the east side to Orange County and Bear Mountain State Park on the west side, spanning large hills on either side.  It also connects up NY 9D on the east and US 9W and the Palisades Interstate Parkway on the west.


[By Ahodges7; cropped by Beyond My Ken (talk) 19:13, 27 June 2010 (UTC) (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons]

On the west side of the Hudson, one can continue north on the Thruway to Albany, the state capital.  However, on the east side, one could take the scenic Taconic Parkway.  It begins in suburban Westchester County just north of the city and not far from where I grew up, and then continues north through picturesque rural landscape for the remainder of its route. It is in fact the second-longest continuous road listed in the National Register of Historic Places after Virginia's Skyline drive.


[By Phillip Capper from Wellington, New Zealand. Cropped and color-corrected by Daniel Case 2009-12-31 prior to upload (Taconic Parkway, New York, 7 Nov. 2009) [CC-BY-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons]

In Albany, we turn onto I-787, which parallels the river through the downtown.   This circle-stack interchange connects to US 20 and to the Empire State Plaza.


[By Foofy at en.wikipedia ([1]) [CC-BY-SA-1.0], from Wikimedia Commons]

The Empire State Plaza, conceived and built by then-Governor Nelson Rockefeller, is a huge government-building complex built and arranged in the futuristic international style of the 1960s, a bit like Brasilia.  As a result, I am quite fond of it.  Nearby along US 20 is the State Capitol building, which is quite different from most others.  It is not the Classical style with columns and a large dome or rotunda, but instead looks more like a rich family mansion that one might find in New York in the 19th century.  It is a mixture of Roman, Renaissance and Victorian styles all put together.


[By UpstateNYer (Own work) [CC-BY-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons]

From Albany, one can continue on I-87 north towards the Canadian border.  Along the way, the highway passes through the Adirondack Mountains.  In the northern part of the Adirondacks, one can leave the interstate for smaller roads like Highway 86 through the mountains to Lake Placid of Winter-Olympics fame, and nearby Whiteface Mountain.


[By Mwanner (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons]

Meanwhile, the Thruway continues west from Albany with I-90, through many of the other cities that dot western New York, such as Syracuse and Rochester, passing north of the Finger Lakes.  The longest is Cayuga Lake.  On the south end is the town of Ithaca, home of Cornell University whose campus is on a hillside overlooking the lake, and whose official school song references the lake. Near the northern end of the lake is Seneca Falls, a famous location in the history of women's rights in the United States.  From Seneca Falls, we can also follow the Erie Canal westward.  The canal, which was an important transportation route in the nineteenth century, runs largely parallel to the present-day Thruway.  It is known for its complex series of locks, such as these at the appropriately named town of Lockport.


[By Leonard G. at en.wikipedia [see page for license], from Wikimedia Commons]

The Erie Canal and the Thruway continue westward to the city of Buffalo.  We leave the main Thruway and continue on I-190 towards the downtown on the shore of Lake Erie.  It is the second largest city in New York State, but I have yet to visit it.  It's location on the edge of the Great Lakes and its industrial past make it seem much closer to the cities of the midwest, such as Cleveland and Detroit, than to the rest of New York.  Indeed, one of the city's landmarks, Buffalo Central Terminal reminds me a bit of Michigan Central Station in Detroit: a once grand art-deco station that has been abandoned and fallen into disrepair.

And yes, Buffalo wings do come from here.

We can head north from Buffalo on I-190 to Niagara Falls.


[By Victor Ip (Own work) [GFDL or CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0], via Wikimedia Commons]

This image contains the smaller American falls, with the larger Horseshoe falls off frame.  Next to the falls is the Rainbow Bridge, which connects to Canada, and concludes our trip to New York.  Even as I finish writing this, I think of all the comments I could write about what was missed in this brief trip.  But I know I will be writing about New York again in the future.

Originally posted to catsynth on Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 09:27 AM PDT.

Also republished by DKOMA and Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Southern Tier and Long Island (9+ / 0-)

    are what I ended up leaving out for various editorial reasons.  Though I do quite like the NY 17 trip.

  •  I spent most of my 20s (8+ / 0-)

    in Ithaca, NY, as a grad. student at Cornell.  To a large extent, I am the person I am because off the time I spent there (and not just in my pursuit of a degree).  In my mind, it is something of a liberal paradise, with the political and cultural offerings of a big city situated in the bucolic bliss of a small town.  I still go back to visit friends there every year, and despite the harsh winters, I wouldn't mind retiring there.

    -5.13,-5.64; If you gave [Jerry Falwell] an enema, you could bury him in a matchbox. -- Christopher Hitchens

    by gizmo59 on Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 10:28:45 AM PDT

    •  Except for the "reality" of the surrounding area (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      raboof, Bluebirder, gizmo59

      Full of the townies that hate the fact that they are stuck working at Cornell and subject to the same racism, hatred, and ignorance as anywhere else. As a native of the "reality" who got the heck out of dodge as soon as possible, I speak of this firsthand.

      •  No kidding. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        gizmo59

        The whole area is pretty damn racist, and those who are there only for college don't see it, or don't want to.

        The thing about quotes on the internet is you cannot confirm their validity. ~Abraham Lincoln

        by raboof on Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 04:16:50 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  I spent five years in Ithaca and loved it for the (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        raboof, gizmo59

        same reasons gizmo59 does but saw the underside whittx knew, when I worked with a human services/activist organization --Cornell had an almost complete lock on the labor supply, was exploitative of low wage workers. The surrounding beautiful countryside is sometimes described as the northern edge of Appalachia, and had, in the early 70s, terrible poverty.  I was there very briefly last summer and I imagine the poverty rate hasn't improved much, although Ithaca itself has gentrified a lot.

        •  I still go home (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Bluebirder, gizmo59

          And while the poverty is still raw, at least most of the junk cars are gone from Buffalo Hill (Bluebirder would know the place, since it is the best example of Appalachia poverty that comes to mind, partially since it was around the corner from where I grew up.)

      •  Well, yes, I am looking through (0+ / 0-)

        rose-colored glasses in my memories.  Poverty was and continues to be evident throughout upstate New York.  I imagine that a century ago, industry was more robust in these small towns, and that as industry faltered and failed, starting in the '70s, poverty got worse.  Or maybe it was always like it is now, but when you drive through the towns, there are often old abandoned factories and warehouses, signifying a more prosperous past.

        While some of my friends there struggled through hard economic times, for some of them, it was their choice.  I never had much contact with those whose point of view was from the other end of the telescope, who lived a life of poverty they did not choose.  Still, I never ran into the sort of Obama-hating hostility among poor people there that I run into where I live now.  Of course, that might have changed there too since I left.

        -5.13,-5.64; If you gave [Jerry Falwell] an enema, you could bury him in a matchbox. -- Christopher Hitchens

        by gizmo59 on Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 06:55:20 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Trust me it's there (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          raboof

          I spent 2007-2010 back in NY working for a planning consultancy that did quite a bit of business in the smaller communities of Upstate. I would hear pretty regularly all of the birther conspiracies, the overt racism, and from the second amendment types in full force.

          Granted, it's not as bad as it is in SC (where I live now) where half of the republicans (a party that was 98% white, based on the last primary) still believe that the President is a Islamic Manchurian Candidate Commiesocialist from Kenya, who had his way into Harvard Law paved by George Soros as part of a conspiracy to take people out of the half acre lot subdivisions and into deluxe apartments in the sky.

  •  If you look really REALLY carefully (7+ / 0-)

    at the pic of the TZB, you can just about make out me waving from our apartment window in Tarrytown.

    I have a problem with the pic of Niagara Falls though - isn't it taken from (whisper it) the CANADIAN side?

  •  Grew up in Saratoga Springs, went to school (5+ / 0-)

    at RIT.

    Nice diary.

    "If I could wave my magic wand, I'd make everything all right. I'm not one to believe in magic But I sometimes have a second-sight I'm not one with a sense of proportion When my heart still changes overnight "

    by Ex Real Republican on Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 10:46:31 AM PDT

  •  Native Buffalonian here (6+ / 0-)

    Buffalo has a lot to offer, I invite you to come visit us!  The Central Terminal is undergoing restoration and has several events planned each year to raise awareness of its history and importance to Buffalo.  Locals hope the high speed rail, connecting to Albany and downstate, would (will) bring it back to life.  
    This area also has outstanding architecture with the most famous being Frank Lloyd Wright's Darwin D Martin house.
    We also have 1200 acres of parkland designed by Frederick Law Olmsted.  
    The Anchor Bar boasts of being the creator of buffalo wings but a lot of locals prefer Duff's wings.  It's where President Obama ate when he visited.
    Our waterfront is also being revitalized to encourage more businesses and visitors to the downtown area.  Several years ago they uncovered the western terminus of the Erie Canal.   Murals depict the building of the canal and the impact it had on our western expansion.  
    During the summer they hold concerts at the Central Wharf, all free!  It's a good start for the area if city officials keep listening to the preservationists.  
    I'll stop now, I could talk about western NY for days...
     

  •  My son was born (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    gizmo59, RonV, oceanview

    in Watertown. We'd go down I-81 to get to Syracuse where the Toy R Us was.

    "The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?" ~Orwell, "1984"

    by Lily O Lady on Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 01:22:29 PM PDT

  •  Regarding that monsterous highway circle (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RonV

    Has anyone every got caught on that thing to circle endlessly? That doesn't even look safe.

    •  It's Not That Confusing (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RonV, oceanview

      Heading south on 787, the only two options are west to surface traffic and downtown Albany and east across the Hudson to surface traffic and Rensselaer/East Greenbush. Heading north is the same deal. It's impossible to get stuck in a circle. All of the mid-20th century planning of Albany (787, Empire State Plaza, the cancelled South Mall Expressway, the cancelled I-687, etc.) was terrible, but the interchange is easy to understand.

      What's impossible right now is getting from one side of the Hudson to the other. The Dunn (the bridge in the stack interchange pictured) is being worked on, 787 is being worked on, US-4 is being worked on, and they're going to start work on the I-90 bridge over the Hudson. I'm glad the work is being done but the timing is awful.

      No love from the diarist for I-88? I enjoy driving NY-7 when I have the time (same with NY-5 and US-20) but getting anywhere in that lower part of the state below the Thruway would be a nightmare without it.  

  •  The Bronx always gets short shrift because of (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    catsynth, RonV

    the rampant arson burnings in the south in the '70's and 80's (btw, mostly caused by landlords wanting to cash in on their insurance, not the inhabitants as the msm would have had you believe back then) . But the northern part is quite beautiful. In addition to Van Cortlandt and Pelham Bay parks, it also has the Botanical gardens. Not to mention Riverdale, one of the most desirable and attractive parts of the city to live in.

  •  The Finger Lakes region (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RonV, oceanview, Bluebirder

    is worthy of its own diary.  In fact, the wineries alone would be enough.

    Our vacations are never rigidly planned; we pick a general destination and head that way; then we wander around again on the way home.  So it was that on the way home from Niagara Falls, we stumbled into the town of Naples, NY on the day of their "Grape Festival."  Good times.

    You can't spell CRAZY without R-AZ.

    by rb608 on Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 02:09:46 PM PDT

  •  Lovely (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RonV, milkbone, oceanview

    Of course, I used to know the Thruway between Syracuse and the Massachusetts border really well, but really.  No love for Highway 13, the southern tier route that will take you from Elmira through Binghamton and the Catskills to the Tappan Zee bridge if you happen to be going from Ithaca to New York City?

    tipped and recced.

    -7.75, -8.10; All it takes is security in your own civil rights to make you complacent.

    by Dave in Northridge on Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 02:41:20 PM PDT

  •  About 75 miles north of Albany... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    oceanview

    on I-87 is exit 25, the intersection of NYS Rte 8. Go west about 7 miles and you cross the Hudson River in Riparius. For the next approx 20 miles on Rte 8, you are in the town of Johnsburg.

    Johnsburg is the northern terminus of the newSaratoga north Creek Railroad.  Also home to Gore Mountain Ski Center.

    It's a beautiful area, sparsely populated, with lots of great places to visit.  Oh, and the people of this town were smart enough to elect me as town supervisor (think: mayor?) last November.

    So if you are in the area, do come to visit.  We have white water rafting, hunting, fishing, soon to be mountain biking trails, hiking, and over 100 square miles of state forest preserve. And some good restaurants and gift shops, etc.

    "I was so easy to defeat, I was so easy to control, I didn't even know there was a war." -9.75, -8.41

    by RonV on Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 02:47:47 PM PDT

    •  One of my cousins was the concessionaire for the (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RonV

      North Creek RR til a couple of years ago--couldn't make it profitable and it detracted from his other business. But my son and I took their short trip a few years ago and really enjoyed it.

      •  It's a new operator. (0+ / 0-)

        From the old Upper Hudson Rail Road. And a world of difference as far as quality and operations. The old run was 8 miles. Now it's over 50 miles with connections in Saratoga for Amtrak. Same beautiful scenery, though.

        "I was so easy to defeat, I was so easy to control, I didn't even know there was a war." -9.75, -8.41

        by RonV on Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 05:08:39 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  No love for the Genesse Valley either (0+ / 0-)

    Or at least the drive down 390 or 15 between Rochester and Corning with the turn off onto 39 to go through Geneseo toward Letchworth State Park.

  •  Tappan Zee trivia (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    catsynth

    Story not too long ago about why it is where it is; a terrible place to put a bridge. The river is really wide at that point, the geology is not great for putting in footings, and a lot of other things.

    So why did they put it there?

    It was part of the NYS Thruway construction, and tolls from the bridge were planned to help fund the Thruway. The original site, a little farther south, would have been much better, BUT....

    It would have been within 25 miles of the Statue of Liberty, and that would have put it under the jurisdiction of the Port Authority, which would have gotten the tolls instead. So, they moved the site for the bridge up the Hudson a short distance, and the rest is history.

    "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

    by xaxnar on Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 05:53:33 PM PDT

  •  It is "The City" (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    catsynth

    And always will be to me. Nothing else compares.

    Thanks for your diary series as I really enjoyed them.

  •  ready for this one, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    catsynth

    from my book Slojo's Reality:

    In a less austere era, the route, limited to non-commercial vehicles, had been chosen for its vistas. He'd been down more scenic roads, but few provided similar driving experiences. The road wasn't so small, like Highway 1 north of San Francisco, or the Skyline Drive in Virginia, that you spent most of your time staring at the bulbous rear end of somebody's house on wheels. And it wasn't so big that providing trucking efficient grades and curves necessitated enormous scars in the landscape.
    The result was elegant splendor, as the ever-tasteful FDR had intended, with just enough character to demonstrate the cruisability of the 3.7 liter, gunmetal Acura RL under Slojo's control. He'd often driven past the head of the parkway on I-90, between Albany and the Mass Pike, or crossed over it on I-84 while working his way up toward New England from I-80. The Taconic State Parkway had been rattling around in his someday bucket for quite some time, and today was the day.
    And the funny thing is, I've never been down it.

    and I wait for them to interrupt my drinking from this broken cup

    by le sequoit on Wed Apr 25, 2012 at 06:40:19 PM PDT

  •  At least you didn't show the hideous (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    catsynth

    Cross-Bronx.  My cars have screamed at me each of the 20 or so times I've been on it.  That in contrast with the Taconic which is one sweet ride

    Nice diary.

  •  So who was Major Deegan anyway? (0+ / 0-)

    I've lived in NYS twice, the second time unwillingly. First was in Endicott (local pronunciation: Endeecott) and 20+ years later, in Rome. As a yoot, I thought the Endicott-Binghamton area was Dullsville, but in retrospect, it wasn't nearly that bad. I'd go up to Ithaca ("Far Ithacay") for concerts at Cornell, the Corning glass museum was an hour west of Endicott, etc. Rome, OTOH, was a wide place in the road in very fact. the dullest, nothingest place I've yet lived. Ithaca is 3 hours from there and the only city of any size was "Saracuse," which scared me too much to visit (although I'd blithely traveled it when living in Endicott). Corning was just plain too far.

    Rockefeller Plaza, to my mind, is sterile. I used to snort when the Boston architecture page complained about buildings that were "bulky, arrogant, and life-denying," as if Boston were the concrete canyon of NYC. But those 4 identical towers in Albany really are robotic. The Egg is unique, and the capitol is as ridiculously ornate inside as out. The state museum at the opposite end of the plaza is nice, too, but from the inside.

    Thanks for this diary, catsynth.

  •  I also grew up in the Hudson Valley (0+ / 0-)

    Thank you for including the Taconic Parkway.

    I also recommend the new Walkway of the Hudson on the old railroad bridge in Poughkeepsie that offers breathtaking views of the river and the mid-hudson bridge.  It is also fun for working out when it isn't too crowded.

    It is one of my favorite destinations when I go home to visit.

  •  Empire Sate Plaza aka "Rockefeller Pyramids" (0+ / 0-)

    was not very popular in some parts of Albany at the time of construction. Many low income people were displaced as large blocks of housing were leveled to clear the space. A little know fact is that the EGG shaped building on the right in the photo had to be torn down and rebuilt three times due to cracking of the concrete when trying to pour it. Nice place to see shows now. Has two small theaters inside.

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