After I walked over the Brooklyn Bridge I took the subway up to my friend Sarah’s hotel in Times Square. Our time together was unfortunately short as she had to pack and prepare for her multi-leg flight back to Australia. However, we made the most of our time by catching up on the past three months and talking about her trip across the USA.
I’ve only known Sarah for eight months, but in that time we’ve travelled through the Canadian Rockies, traipsed around Victoria and Vancouver, and now we’ve gotten together in New York City.
I don’t know when I’ll get to see her next, but I think it’s safe to say it will have to be in Australia. She’ll be just one more reason for me to visit (on top of my best friend, Lauren, already being there, her boyfriend, Pete, my aunt, uncle and cousin, and my Moose Mates Sarah and James). Who knows what the next year and a bit will bring, but hopefully it’ll include a trip down under.
Once it was time for me to say farewell to Sarah, I wandered around Times Square for a short while (I hate to say it, but I can only spend a short time there as it’s too congested), then found the proper subway station to take me up to East Harlem.
I absolutely HAD to go to East Harlem to visit an iconic mural done by one of my favourite artists, Keith Haring. I was obsessed with this man’s art in high school, and often recreated some of his figures in my own work. He sadly passed away before I even found out about him, but many of his pieces are still surviving in New York, where he once attended the School of Visual Arts and lived for many years.
The particular mural that I wanted to see was painted in 1986 on the wall of a handball court at Harlem River Drive and Second Avenue. Both sides of the wall are painted in Haring’s bold, pop art style. It has since become such an important part of the neighbourhood, that NYC Parks officially designated it the Crack is Wack Playground, in honour of the mural’s message:
Haring painted the mural to call to attention the effects that drugs can have on a community. The fact that it’s still standing 27 years later not only attests to Keith’s own legacy as an artist, but also his efforts to bring social activism to many new generations.
From East Harlem I jumped on the subway and headed down to East 86th Street in order to grab a shot of a particularly iconic set of stairs (especially for those who may be a fan of Gossip Girl):
It’s the MET! This trip is not about museum or gallery visits though, so I didn’t go inside to look around. However, I am promising myself now that during my next stint in New York, I will definitely spend a good amount of time in here as it has pieces by some of my other favourite artists, including Caravaggio, Degas, Van Gogh and Monet. You know, considering I double-majored in English and Art History in university, it’s quite embarrassing that I have yet to visit any of the galleries in New York, despite me being here on four different occasions.
From the MET, which sits on the eastern border of Central Park, I walked a few blocks south just to get a feel for the neighbourhood. It’s actually one part of New York that I don’t think I’ve spent much time in.
Despite my best efforts, I didn’t make it far before I had to seek out the closest subway station though. For the past fifteen to twenty years I’ve had to deal with a bunk right knee, a result of being involved in track and field, volleyball and basketball while in elementary school. I also have a bad right hip that sometimes locks if I stand up too quickly, or sit the wrong way for too long. Combine the two, add some crappy shoes with no support, and you get a girl in her late-twenties who walks like a geriatric in need of a cane. In other words, the subway was my friend.
I had a few other areas of the city on my agenda for the day, and the weather was absolutely perfect with sunshine and warmth. With my trusty MetroCard, I hopped on the train and made my way to what I’d like to call a tourist’s (or shopper’s) mecca — Madison Avenue.