FIRE ESCAPE STAIRS are everyhere in Manhattan’s residential areas. I always thought that they are ugly, but can be interesting to look at when bright sunlight creates strong shadows. While I was walking home from my subway stop yesterday, fire escape stairs of an Upper Eastside apartment not far from where I live caught my attention. I took this photo against the sunlight for contrast and strong lines. This image for some reason reminds me of the set of West Side Story in a local theater production that I saw many years ago. A fire escape consists of a numerous horizontal platforms made of steel gratings, one for each story of a building, with steel ladders connecting them. During the summer, New Yorkers go to urban platforms like rooftops and balconies to relax and reflect, above the busy sidewalks. But for many working-class residents who live in older buildings without balconies or rooftop access, the humble fire escape is transformed into their makeshift porches in the sky.