Sunday, 27 June 2010


In November last year we were walking along West 34th Street in Manhattan, minutes after making our second contribution to the reconstruction of Solomon's Temple. It was on Thanksgiving Day and streets and avenues were still closed to traffic because of the Macy's Day Parade. The view was certainly unusual: pedestrians reclaiming the space that belongs exclusively to motorists all year round.

Reclaim the streets

On arriving to 7th Avenue I looked downtown and saw four US flags back-lit by the sun and, not thinking it twice, I decided to shoot the first picture with the new 50mm lens (new for the third time, by the way...). I like this picture because the relatively dark background lets the flags stand out. A similar effect can be seen in the forest, when the sun creates the illusion that tree leaves possess their own light.

Hotel Pennsylvania

As you can see, those four flags belong to the Hotel Pennsylvania. Months after taking the picture I learned that, without knowing it, I took a picture of one of the many anonymous monuments populating New York City.

The Hotel Pennsylvania main dining room, the Café Rouge, witnessed numerous performances of the most famous big bands of the 40s and 50s, like the Dorsey Brothers, Count Basie, Duke Ellington and the Glenn Miller Orchestra.

Hotel Pennsylvania also claims to have the phone number in longest continuous use in New York: +1 (212) 736-5000. Dialling from the City it would be just 736-5000, and using the usual North American letter code from rotary dial phones, 7 corresponds to P and 3 to E, so it would be PE-6-5000, for PEnnsylvania-6-5000. Which was exactly where Finegan, Grey and Sigman took their inspiration from for the famous song popularized by the Andrews Sisters and Glenn Miller.

I recently read that the Hotel Pennsylvania is threatened by demolition: its current owners, real estate company Vornado, want to replace the 22-story hotel with a 67-story office tower. It is clear that in Midtown Manhattan even monuments are not safe from the real estate voracity...

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