Saturday, December 31, 2011

Times Square Ten Hours Before The New Year's Eve Ball Drops

At around 3 P.M. today, the New York Police Department started to close the streets around Times Square in preparation for tonight's New Year's Eve festivities. Due to the unseasonably mild weather, more revelers are expected to pack Times Square. The photos above were taken at around 2 P.M. when crowds began to jam into the area. Visitors are advised not to bring backpacks, packages, large bags or any alcohol. The streets won't reopen until 3 AM tomorrow. Here are the closed streets: 41st Street between 8th & 6th Avenues; 58th Street between 8th & 6th Avenues; 8th Avenue between 41st & 58th Streets; 6th Avenue between 41st & 58th Streets (All inclusive); and Seventh Avenue and Broadway between 41st Street and 59th Streets, inclusive of all cross streets. All closures are at the discretion of the NYPD.

Highlights of tonight’s official New Year’s Eve Times Square schedule include the lighting and raising the Times Square New Year’s Eve Ball at 6 p.m., Justin Bieber’s performance of “Let It Be” at 10:08 p.m., Lady Gaga’s medley at 11:38 p.m. and the ball drop, confetti release and pyrotechnics at midnight. Other entertainers scheduled to perform through the evening include Drake, the cast of Broadway’s “Rock of Ages,” Megan Hilty, Pitbull and Hot Chelle Rae.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Subway Art: Lisa Dinhofer's "Losing My Marbles"

Keanu Reeves sighting on the subway

Lisa Dinhofer created this artwork in glass mosaic on mezzanine walls at the 42nd Street-Port Authority Bus Terminal subway station. The project was finished in 2003 utilizing materials fabricated by Franz Mayer of Munich, Inc. The artwork is one of the many projects of the MTA's "Arts for Transit" which encourages the use of public transit by presenting visual and performing arts projects in subway and commuter rail stations. From the MTA website: Lisa Dinhofer uses representations of toy marbles to challenge our imaginations by playing with illusions that alter physical perceptions. Her work spans a 32-foot-long wall and two adjacent side walls. Created in glass mosaic, the main artwork consists of a gold-colored trompe l'oeil frame surrounding a black and white tiled floor that serves as the backdrop for the marbles, which seem to roll toward the viewer. On the side walls, free-floating marbles seem to breaking free in space. Dinhofer comments, "Every object I paint actually exists; I work from life. The space I create is believable - but not real. Because I design my own space, I call myself an 'illusionist' painter rather than a 'realist'. The space in my work is invented. It's flattened - like the space we see on a television or a computer screen."

Thursday, December 29, 2011

At The Stagedoor: Bernadette Peters, Star of "Follies" on Broadway

Bernadette Peters stars in the sold-out Kennedy Center production of James Goldman and Stephen Sondheim's masterpiece, "Follies." This photo of the two-time Tony Award winning actress, singer, author and comedienne was taken at the stagedoor of the Marquis Theatre after a Sunday matinee performance. Follies synopsis: At a 1970's reunion of aging Follies chorines, two of the "girls" have a chance to reexamine their lives, and especially their marriages. Did they marry the wrong men? The answers begin to emerge when the ghosts of their former selves lead them back into the Ziegfeld-like Loveland, where everybody "lives to love" and "loves to live." Includes the songs "In Buddy's Eyes," "I'm Still Here," "The Girls Upstairs" and "Losing My Mind." The show runs through January 22, 2012. The Marquis Theatre is located at 1535 Broadway.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Record 50 Million Tourists Have Visited NYC in 2011 and Times Square is America's Top New Year's Eve Destination

Last week, Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced that approximately 50.2 million visitors have visited New York City in 2011 and have spent $32 billion here. The visitor totals included 10.1 million international visitors, a 4 percent increase over 2010, with the strongest showing coming from the United Kingdom. New York City is the number one city destinationand overseas destination for tourist spending in the United States.
According to and, Times Square is the #1 destination for U.S. New Year's revelers. It marks the first time in seven years that New York City has edged Las Vegas for the top spot on's list. Meanwhile, in the Asia-Pacific region, Bangkok and Singapore are the first and second-choice destinations for New Year's party-goers.'s top destinations list is based on thousands of hotel booking requests made by customers of its Name Your Own Price® hotel service for the New Year's weekend.'s list is based on hotel reservations made for the upcoming holiday. Hotel room reservations are still available on and for the New Year's weekend, including many at substantial savings. 
New York City neighborhoods took seven of the top 10 spots, and 14 of the 50 spots on the list, followed by Las Vegas, which took six spots. "It appears that New York City will be helped this year by a weather forecast that calls for warmer than usual temperatures over the holiday weekend," said's in-house Travel Ekspert, Brian Ek. Florida destinations (Miami and Orlando) took nine spots on the list.'s Top 50 New Year's Destinations for U.S. Travelers #1 New York City, Times Square/Theater District #2 Las Vegas, Strip Vicinity South #3 New York City, Midtown West #4 Las Vegas, Strip North #5 New York City, Midtown East #6 New York City, Central Park South #7 New York City, Madison Square Garden/Convention Center Area #8 New Orleans, French Quarter #9 New York City, Empire State Building Area #10 New York City, Chelsea Area #11 New Orleans, Downtown Area #12 New York City, Hell's Kitchen #13 Las Vegas, Strip Vicinity North #14 Chicago, North Michigan Avenue/River North Area #15 New York City, Upper East Side #16 San Francisco, Union Square East #17 Chicago, Millennium Park/Loop/Grant Park Area #18 San Francisco, Union Square West/Nob Hill #19 New York City, Upper West Side #20 Orlando, Downtown Disney/Lake Buena Vista #21 Las Vegas, Near Strip West #22 Las Vegas, Near Strip East #23 Miami, South Beach/Collins Avenue Oceanfront #24 Miami, South Beach/Ocean Drive #25 New Orleans, Convention Center and Warehouse/Arts District #26 Las Vegas, Convention Center Area #27 San Francisco, Financial District/Embarcadero #28 New York City, Queensborough Bridge Area #29 Orlando, Sea World/International Drive/Convention Center #30 Miami, South Beach/Central #31 Miami, Downtown #32 San Francisco, Fisherman's Wharf #33 New York City, Soho/Tribeca #34 Philadelphia, Downtown #35 New York City, Downtown/Financial District #36 Atlanta, Downtown #37 Los Angeles, Hollywood #38 Orlando, Universal Orlando Resort Area/Int'l Drive North #39 Orlando, Disney/Maingate/Celebration #40 Nashville, Downtown/Vanderbilt/Metrocenter #41 Minneapolis, Downtown #42 San Francisco, SOMA/Moscone Center #43 Miami, International Airport Area #44 New Orleans, Garden District #45 San Francisco, Fremont St. Vicinity #46 New York City, Lower East Side #47 San Diego, Downtown/Harbor Island #48 Orange County, Disneyland/Anaheim South/Orange/Garden Grove #49 Orange County, Disneyland/Anaheim North #50 Toronto, Downtown South. 

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

American Flag at the U.S. Armed Forces Recruiting Station in Times Square

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers New York District has recently completed renovations on the U.S. armed forces recruiting station which sits on a traffic island on 43rd Street between Broadway and 7th Avenue in Time Square. Part of the project is the installation of illuminated energy efficient light emitting diodes American flags on both sides of the station to blend with the rest of Times Square buildings and heighten security and visibility while also increasing the energy efficiency of the facility. These photos were made along 7th Avenue with the American flag and its striking reflections on vehicles.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Gingerbread Extravaganza at Le Parker Meridien

currently on display in the atrium at Le Parker Meridien hotel are gingerbread houses created by pastry chefs from several area restaurants, including Casa Nonna, BLT Steak, and Gramercy Tavern for a fundraiser for City Harvest. City Harvest is a food rescue organization dedicated to feeding the city’s hungry men, women and children. The display is free but visitors are encouraged to donate a dollar to City Harvest. The dollar enters the donor into a raffle for a five night stay at the luxurious Parker Palm Springs, and a ballot to vote for the best house, with the winner announced on January 6th. Le Parker Meridien is located at 119 W. 56th St., between 6th & 7th Avenues. This year, seven New York City bakeries and restaurants have contributed their take on the candy-coated childhood favorite brought to new architectural heights that are on display through January 6.

Christmas Day Random Shots

Mass at St. Patrick's Cathedral
Empire State Building tower lights in red/green/green (north/south sides) in celebration of Christmas, and blue/white/blue (east/west sides) in celebration of Chanukah
Upper Eastside home
Madison Avenue Baptist Church located at Madison Avenue at 31st Street
New tree planted in front of Madison Avenue Baptist Church on Christmas eve to replace the old tree that was knocked down by a truck last spring.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Remembering "Mama" on Christmas Day at Grand Central Terminal

Image on the souvenir program for the event

This morning, Iraq War veterans participating in the Doe Fund Veterans Program joined the “men in blue” of the organization’s "Ready, Willing & Able" initiative, as well as community members and Doe Fund supporters for the Doe Fund's annual "Mama Doe" candlelight vigil. The event was held to honor the memory of an elderly homeless woman – known only as “Mama” – who died on a bench in the station’s waiting room on Christmas Day in 1985. George McDonald, founder and president of the Doe Fund began volunteering in the mid 1980's to feed the homeless people who were living in Grand Central Terminal. Among the homeless was an elderly woman who was loved by all and was known to all as "Mama." On Christmas Eve 1985, McDonald gave Mama a warm purple scarf as a present. Mama was driven out from the terminal by transit police so she slept on a subway grate. When McDonald returned on Christmas morning, he found the scarf crumpled beside Mama who laid dead on a bench. She apparently crawled back into the terminal when it reopened, but later on died. McDonald founded the Doe Fund in her memory. The organization is renowned for the "Ready Willing and Able" program that provides paid work opportunities to thousands of homeless people. 

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Capiz Shell Christmas Lanterns Adorn Philippine Consulate (Philippine Center) Window

The Christmas window display at the Philippine Consulate (Philippine Center) on Fifth Avenue feature Philippine Christmas lanterns made of beautiful capiz shells from San Fernando, Pampanga, Philippines. The other window showcases holiday pieces made from natural materials including coconut, abaca, raffia, and shells. Capiz shell is a flat, semi-transparent shell with a pearlescent appearance. Capiz is often used to create lampshades or other luminescent objects, such as candle holders, because of its striking appearance when light shines through. However, it is just as common to see the bases of lamps crafted with capiz shell. Capiz is also frequently used as an accent to many household and fashion accessories. The Philippine Consulate is located at 556 Fifth Avenue between 45th and 46th Streets.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Giant Christmas Ornaments at 1251 Sixth Avenue

One of the most photographed holiday decorations on Sixth Avenue are the giant Christmas ornaments in front of 1251 Sixth Avenue building (Exxon Building) across from the Radio City Music Hall. This year, not all of the Christmas balls are red. 

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Rink at Rockefeller Center Celebrates its 75th Anniversary on Christmas Day

On December 25, the Rink at Rockefeller Center celebrates its 75th anniversary. Since 1936, skating on The Rink has become one of the most visited sites in New York City, and one of New York's traditional ways to usher in each winter season. This year, the Rink's Skate House has been remodeled, offering comfortable seating, lockers and a skate rental desk under an airy vaulted, arched ceiling. The Rink first opened on December 25, 1936 as the premier artificial outdoor skating pond built in New York City, complete with modern amenities: night skating, piped-in music and a heated house for changing skates. The bronze gilded statue of the Greek legend Prometheus, sculpted by Paul Manship and set in a flowing fountain, looks over The Rink. The annual Rockefeller Christmas Tree stands on the west side of The Rink, a worldwide symbol of the holidays. The Rink at Rockefeller Center is located on 5th Avenue between 49th and 50th Streets. 

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

"Burning African Village Play Set with Big House and Lynching" by Kara Walker

Kara Walker is an American artist (born 1969) known for her panoramic murals composed of cut paper silhouettes that intensely explores relationships based on power. In this work that is on exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum, she works on painted laser-cut steel to depict the stereotypical Civil War imagery of the South - stately plantation mansion, small huts, weeping willows, shackled slaves, Confederate soldiers and Southern belles.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Vox Vocal Ensemble and the Graham Ashton Brass Ensemble Offer Holiday Concert at the Guggenheim Museum

The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum hosted its annual free concert of holiday music in the museum's Frank Lloyd Wright–designed rotunda. The Vox Vocal Ensemble and the Graham Ashton Brass Ensemble performed traditional Christmas songs. The performance will be repeated tonight at 7 PM at the Guggenheim Museum located at 1071 Fifth Avenue at 89th Street. Currently on exhibit at the rotunda is an art installation by Maurizio Cattelan including the hanging horse visible in some photos above.