December 16th, 2008

krazy koati

Just listen to the music of the traffic in the city

So what was there to do after watching bunny_hugger leave, that day long ago she did go to her brother's? And I realized that, for a rare event, I was alone in Manhattan without much to do. And I realized that I've been to several of the prominent tourist-attracting skyscrapers --- the World Trade Center, the Empire State Building, 30 Rockefeller Plaza more times than I could accurately name -- but I'd never gotten to the top of the Chrysler Building. And from the Port Authority, at the west end of 42nd street, it's very hard not to find the Chrysler Building (or the Empire State Building): just walk east toward the really tall Chrysler Building (or Empire State Building)-shaped building. And as it was the afternoon the sun meant that I could enjoy the wonderful reflections of light the building provides.

So I walked eastward, trying to take just the perfect photograph to cap off the day, and realized something about Manhattan geography which had somehow never congealed for me --- that I was going right past Grand Central Station --- and reached the base of the Chrysler Building. I got into the lobby, which I'd read about and which is decorated in that Cheerful Art Deco Who Cares If A Depression's Starting atmosphere and discovered ... that it was all roped off. You could get into small entry ways, but not the main lobby, and certainly not get to any observation lounges or what might have been observation lounges 75 years ago.

I could take pictures of the lobby, and a small part of the ceiling, and while I was there several other groups of people with much more grown-up cameras came in to take pictures --- one of these cameras had a barrell larger than I was up to fourth grade --- but that was all. The security guard, seemingly miles away at the other end of the lobby, neither took conscious notice of the people coming in to photograph from a distant and very restricted position 75-year-old architecture dimly lit, nor made the slightest hint that there was any way to get anywhere nearer things of interset. That photographer left, and someone else came in with a hefty camera and tripod to photograph, and I accepted this and left.

So I went back to the Port Authority in part through Grand Central Station, taking in the beauty of that building and noticing which parts of it I remembered from that science fiction story where alien archeologists try to understand humanity from the radiation-scarred artifacts of that building (it depends for its logic on the existence of pay toilets, which were taken out a long time ago), which did not match up so perfectly with the actual place. You probably suspected as much. And, eventually, I headed home.

Trivia: The gargoyles on the 31st floor of the Chrysler Building had the shape of the Chrysler radiator cap. Source: Higher: A Historic Race to the Sky and the Making of a City, Neal Bascomb.

Currently Reading: A Short History Of British Expansion, Volume 2, James A Williamson.