Late night in Times Square

Spending a few weeks in New York City, I had lots of time to explore. One of the most interesting places is Times Square. It’s loud, bright, colorful, smells funny and is full of unique individuals. Named after the New York Times, Times Square was their headquarters beginning in 1905. By the end of World War I, most theaters had moved uptown to Times Square. High-end hotels and restaurants attract over 50 million visitors a year. On any given day, almost 350,000 pedestrians cross Times Square.

Statue of George M Cohan

In 1959 a statue honoring Broadway composer, George M. Cohan was erected in the square. His song “Give My Regards to Broadway” became a well know standard all over the world.

Vendors selling “Street Meat” can be found every few feet

If you’re feeling a bit hungry on your way, you may stop at one of the dozens of food vendors operating out of their mobile carts. “Dirty water” dogs are a popular staple in Times Square.

Looking for a souvenir? There’s a lot to choose from.

You can find everything here from Mickey Mouse hats to Hershey’s Chocolate, M&Ms, Hard Rock, The MTV Store, The CBS Store, Sanrio and Sephora. No matter what you’re looking for, you are bound to find it here.

Categories: New York City, Photography, The Big Apple, Times Square, Travel | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment
 
 

Spirited Theaters

One thing London does not have a shortage of is haunted places. On my sprint through the city, I mapped out a few spooky locations. Due to the pandemic and the hour of my journey, I wasn’t able to venture into any of them, but they still have that sense of something other worldy lurking in the shadows.

In St. Martin’s Lane, it was originally called The New Theater in 1903. The Noel Coward Theater has the distinction of being the home of it’s original manager, Sir Charles Wyndham. Sir Charles managed both the New Theater and the Wyndham Theater, which sits behind it.

If you see a debonair gray haired man walking the hallways or entering the dressing rooms, say hello to Sir Charles.

Towards the end of WWI, a group of friends were enjoying a performance at The London Coliseum. They noticed a friend of theirs walking down the aisle. Strangely, he disappeared into thin air. On his last day before being deployed, this young soldier had seen a production at The Coliseum. Later, the friends were notified that he had been killed in battle. There were sightings of the young soldier for many years after.

For more stories about Haunted London check out this book by my good friend, Rob Gutro.

Categories: Haunted Travel, hdr, London, Photography, Theaters, Theatres, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment
 
 

A Sprint Through London

Travel in the time of Covid has been an adventure in and of itself. Flying over seas in a mostly empty plane and being locked in a hotel room for a 12 day quarantine made it all the more interesting. I was in the UK for work and had planned on staying in London for a few days, but the universe had other plans.

Even though London and the UK were emerging from lockdown, the country wasn’t necessarily open to foreign travelers. I had to cancel my plans and leave as soon as my work was done. Until, the flights home kept getting cancelled. In the end, I had about 4 hours in London the night before my flight.

I mapped out a route from Leicester Square down to St. Paul’s and set out to see as much as I could see.

To celebrate the 350th anniversary of Leicester Square, a series of statues depicting famous movie scenes were in stalled. If you aren’t looking for them, you may actually miss them.

A short distance from Leicester Square is where you can find Cecil Court. This hidden thoroughfare in London is the home to some of the most unique bookstores. Second-Hand books, Antiquarian books, even the residence of an 8 year old Mozart can be found on this narrow street. I didn’t get a chance to explore as most of the shops closed early or had yet to open from the lockdown.

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Frohliche Weinachten

Winter in Europe is a beautiful and magical time of the year. A dusting of snow covers the narrow streets as people scurry about preparing for the holiday. The city of Hamburg, Germany was one of the most wonderful Yuletide celebrations that I had seen. The city is home to over 30 different Christmas Markets where one can shop for unique gifts, enjoy homemade treats and have a warm mug of Gluhwein in a specially decorated mug. You pay a small deposit that gets returned if you give it back or you can choose to keep it.

The largest of the Christmas Markets is in the City Hall Square. The ornate Rathaus serves as a backdrop for rows and rows of holiday booths and carnival rides for the children.

You can find everything from hand carved Nativities, decorated gingerbread cookies, handmade Kissing Balls and miniature replicas of the city’s famous buildings. The shops are laid out on different “streets”, Handwerskgasse for homemade crafts, Naschgasse for sweets and Spielzeugggasse for children’s toys.

Santa Claus is well represented in Germany at Christmastime. In most of Germany, Der Weinachtsmann is Father Christmas or Santa. He didn’t appear in Germany until the 1800’s but that doesn’t make him less important to the season. The Jolly Old Elf makes an appearance over the heads of the market goers on his reindeer driven sleigh.

There are other Christmas Markets throughout the city and it’s impossible to see them all.

Check out these links for more information.

https://www.hamburg-travel.com/see-explore/events/hamburg-christmas-parade/

Categories: Christmas, Europe, hdr, Photography, St. Nicholas Church, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Hooray for Hollywood

You can’t pay a visit to California without catching a glimpse of the Hollywood Sign. For the more adventurous among you, you can hike close to it via several trails. Be aware it could be a three hour undertaking. There are a number of stories about the sign and how it came to be. The publisher of the LA Times had the sign erected to advertise his upscale subdivision.

In 1923, the Hollywoodland Sign was erected on Mount Lee overlooking Lake Hollywood. Each letter is 30 feet wide and 43 feet tall. It was originally meant to last about a year and a half to advertise the new subdivision. It has been in place for over 80 years.

In the spirit of Halloween, the sign is said to be haunted by the ghost of an aspiring young actress. Peg Entwistle. On Sept. 18th 1932, a hiker found a woman’s shoe, jacket and purse under the sign. When she opened the purse, she discovered a suicide note signed P.E. Having climbed up a workman’s ladder, she threw her self off of the letter “H”.

Numerous hikers have reported seeing the figure of a beautiful blonde woman in 1930’s clothing. She is often seen on very foggy nights. Some say, they were overwhelmed by the aroma of Gardenias in the air. They were Peg’s favorite perfume.

Check out this website for more information about the Hollywood and how you can visit it.

Categories: Haunted Travel, hdr, Hollywood, Photography, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Walk Down Hollywood Boulevard

The Hollywood Walk of Fame features over 2,700 stars and almost half of them are in the Motion Pictures category. Anyone can nominate someone for the honor, but the honoree (or their agent) must provide a letter of agreement to be considered. Each application also requires a sponsor to pay the $50,000 for the creation and upkeep of their star. The star is also obligated to appear at the star’s unveiling ceremony. Barbra Streisand was the only star that refused, however she did show up years later when hubby, James Brolin was honored.

Over the year’s four stars were stolen. Gregory Peck, Kirk Douglas, Jimmy Stewart and Gene Autry all were the victims of star theft. Gene Autry had 4 other stars on the walk, so it wasn’t a big deal. Douglas and Stewart’s stars were recovered from the home of a construction worker who was hired to secure them.

Gregory Peck’s star on the corner of Hollywood and Gower, was stolen in broad daylight. Men wearing orange construction vests cut a perfect square around the star, loaded the 300lb slab onto a truck and never were heard from again. The star has never been recovered.

The Hollywood Property Owners Alliance is responsible for the upkeep but today many stars in poor condition. The pink terrazzo and brass stars are sometimes cared for by the celebrities fans. You would think that the 20 stars issued ever year at $50,000 each, there would be plenty of money to keep Aerosmith’s star in good condition.

You don’t even need to be a real person to get your star on The Walk Of Fame. Mickey and Minnie Mouse have their own stars, so do Godzilla, Alvin and The Chipmunks and Shrek. Animal actors including Rin Tin Tin and Lassie have been honored with stars.

For more information check out this official website.

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Here’s A Story….

Driving around Los Angeles, you may have a sense of deja vu when you pass 11122 Dilling St. in Studio City. Here is the house where Mike and Carol Brady lived with their six children, their dog, Tiger and their housekeeper, Alice. Sometimes cousin Oliver was there too.

The Brady Bunch house was sold to HGTV for $3.5 million and subsequently renovated by the original Brady kids. Former N’Sync member, Lance Bass, had put an offer on the home, but it was turned down when someone said they wanted the house at any cost.

After The White House, it is the second most photographed house in the United States. The house at 11222 Dilling St. was only used for the exterior shots. The interior of the Brady abode was done on a soundstage at Paramount Studios, in reality it only had 3 bedrooms.

During the renovation, the house was remodeled to look like the classic show. HGTV hosted a very Brady scavenger hunt for fans to help source the many bits of set decoration necessary. Among the props that were found were the Horse statue in the living room, a stuffed giraffe from the girl’s room and that flower covered couch in the sitting room.

Next time you’re in California, take a trip back to the 70’s and say hi to Alice.

https://www.hgtv.com/shows/a-very-brady-renovation

Categories: Los Angeles, Photography, Studio City, The Brady Bunch, TV Houses | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Towers of Steel and Glass

As of 2021, there are 41 skyscrapers in New York City. Among those are Central Park Tower, the tallest residential building in the western hemisphere. If you’re in the market for a new apartment a small studio can cost $1,000,000. If you need some more space be prepared to pay as much as $95,000,000 for a 4 bedroom apartment.

In 2020, the tallest office tower in Manhattan opened. One Vanderbilt Place is the 4th tallest building in the city. This structure boasts a glass elevator that travels up the outside of the building and an amazing observation deck.

Out of all of the buildings in The Big Apple, The Chrysler Building is my favorite. It was constructed by the chairman of the Chrysler Corporation but funded the entire project himself so that his children could inherit it. It was the tallest building in the city for only 11 months, losing out to the Empire State Building. Among it’s ornaments are gargoyles, 1929 Chrysler radiator caps and American eagles.

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Skyline

New York City has one of the unique city skylines. Out of all of the places I’ve visited, I always consider The Big Apple to be one of my favorites. Giant skyscrapers densely populate the city and the best vantage point is from high up.

Famously, The Empire State Building stands proud and tall. There are 1,872 steps to the Observation Deck on the 102nd floor. But don’t worry, there’s a high speed elevator if you prefer to save your energy. From the Deck of the most photographed in the world, you can see six different states on a clear day.

The upper deck was originally designed as a mooring post for Airships and Dirigibles. The building was part of a mad rush to build the tallest building in the city. The nearby Chrysler Building was topped off by a spire making it 1048 feet tall. The Empire State Building beats that at 1250 feet. It was the tallest building in the world until 1970 when the World Trade Center was completed.

If you want a great shot of the NYC skyline that features the Empire State Building, you have to venture to one of the other observations decks around Manhattan. I can recommend The Edge in Hudson Yards or Top of the Rock at Rockefeller Center. Both will give you breathtaking views of this magical city.

The building is often lit in a myriad of different colors throughout the year. On the night I visited, the tower was bathed in red light to celebrate New York Comic Con. You can even see a schedule of when the tower is lit at this link.

https://www.esbnyc.com/about/tower-lights/calendar

https://www.esbnyc.com/

https://www.hudsonyardsnewyork.com/discover/edge

https://www.topoftherocknyc.com/

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The Brooklyn Bridge

Spanning the East River between Manhattan and Brooklyn, the Brooklyn Bridge is an architectural marvel of 19th century engineering. Opened in 1883, it is about 6000 feet long and sits 127 feet above the river. The pedestrian walkway is 18 feet above the traffic lanes.

The suspension bridge was the first of it’s kind to use steel for the cable wire. The bridge is open to cars, bikes and pedestrians. Although it only spans the river of about 1500 feet, being more than a mile long and often take an hour or so to traverse mighty East River.

Just before it was scheduled to open, someone started a rumor that the bridge was going to collapse. To put the rumors to rest (and to promote his circus)The Greatest Showman, PT Barnum led a parade of 21 elephants, including his star attraction Jumbo, across the Brooklyn Bridge.

The New York Times reported on the spectacle. “At 9:30 o’clock 21 elephants, 7 camels, and 10 dromedaries issued from the ferry at the foot of Courtlandt-Street… The other elephants shuffled along, raising their trunks and snorting as every train went by. Old Jumbo brought up the rear.” It went on to observe that “To people who looked up from the river at the big arch of electric lights it seemed as if Noah’s Ark were emptying itself over on Long Island.”

Did you know that there were hidden wine cellars in the bridges towers. New York City rented out the space in order to fund it’s construction. They were eventually closed in the 1930’s, but in 1978, a faded inscription was found.

“Who loveth not wine, women and song, he remaineth a fool his whole life long.”

Categories: hdr, New York City, Photography, The Big Apple, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The People of Times Square

When visiting Times Square, it’s very important to keep your eyes open and be aware of your surroundings. With 350,000 pedestrians visiting every day, the streets get very crowded and attract a lot of individuals looking to make a quick buck.

Unofficial costumed characters can be aggressive, pulling tourists to take pictures with them and expect a tip. These are not the same characters you might see at Disney World, so beware. Everyone from Elsa to Mickey and Minnie Mouse share the area with Bumblebee from transformers and The Incredible Hulk.

Other street performers try to get your attention even for a few moments in their quest to separate you from your money. Break Dancers, Musicians, Singers, Artists and Musicians can be found at all hours of the night.

Buddhist monks, evangelical preachers and others add to the overall chaos and mayhem that is Times Square.

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Pirates and Rum

If you find yourself in the British Virgin Islands, make sure that Pusser’s is on your itinerary. As you wait for a seat in the Dining Room, grab a seat at the bar decorated with ship’s chandlery and Victorian stained glass lamps. Order a Painkiller and watch the world go by, you may even share a stool with a real pirate.

Categories: B.V.I., British Virgin Islands, hdr, Painkiller, Photography, Pirates, Pubs, Tortola, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Dragons Of London

You must believe that the city of London is protected by Dragons. In fact, there are 13 Dragons marking the boundary of the city. There used to be a building called the Coal Exchange built in 1849. Adorning the building were 2 seven foot tall Dragons. In the late 1960’s the Coal Exchange was demolished, but the Dragons live on. The 2 Dragons were mounted on plinths on either side of Victoria Embankment to mark the boundary between Westminster and London.

These 2 Dragons served as the model for the city Dragons. Another Dragon was in contention for the honor and can be seen at the site of the original Temple Bar. This lone Dragon is much fiercer than the others.

If you have any doubt as to whether or not you are in London, look to these guardians. Each Dragon faces outward to protect the city. If you are seeing the Dragon’s backside then you are truly inside London.

Why Dragons? The City of London crest has been supported by Dragons since the 17th century. Since the 17th century the City of London crest has been supported by a pair of dragons. It makes sense as the City of London has used the St. George’s Cross and Emblem, in heraldry having animals (real or mythical) as supporters for a crest is quite common. One theory for the choice of dragons for the City is that the since the 14th century the City of London has used St. George’s cross as an emblem and a dragon. Since a Dragon is a key part of the legend of St. George, it makes sense.

Categories: Dragons, Europe, hdr, London, Photography, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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