I used to love waking up early to photograph the sunrise and hadn't done it in awhile so I thought I'd give it a shot the other day. It's usually such a relaxing experience, just me and the rats (I usually shoot somewhere in the city), but not this time. There was traffic on the way to the bridge at 4:00 in the morning and tons of foot traffic on the bridge, too! It was anything but relaxing but that's one of the things I love about my city.
new york city
The above photo was taken from Roosevelt island under the Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge facing the city directly across from FDR Drive. Keeping up with the theme of New York History I thought I'd do a little research on Roosevelt Island and its history.
Roosevelt Island does not at all resemble what we would've seen there about 200 years ago. Before it was remade into the beautiful residential area it is now it was known as Blackwell’s Island, named for a family that farmed and quarried there for generations. The island was also known as Minnehanonck by the Indians (translated “It’s nice to be on the island”) and Varken Eylandt (“Hogs Island”) by the Dutch.
The city then acquired the island in 1828, but the name remained Blackwell’s Island while the city operated a prison, a lunatic asylum, a charity hospital, a smallpox hospital, a workhouse and other Dickensian horrors there.
For a little more insight here's what Charles Dickens had to say about his visit to the asylum in 1843:
“Everything had a lounging, listless, madhouse air, which was very painful. The moping idiot, cowering down with long disheveled hair; the gibbering maniac, with his hideous laugh and pointed finger; the vacant eye, the fierce wild face, the gloomy picking of the hands and lips, and munching of the nails,” Dickens would write. “There they were all, without disguise, in naked ugliness and horror.”
Pretty heavy, huh? Built in 1839, the asylum earned its reputation quickly. It epitomized the worst conventions of the 19th century when it came to mental health
In 1921, the city renamed this infamous place Welfare Island to protect the good name of the Blackwell's and began a series of reforms: creating new hospitals, moving the prison to Rikers Island in 1935 and developing a residential community with a new name, Roosevelt Island, starting in 1971.
Did you know that New York State's nickname the "Big Apple" has nothing to do with it being America's second largest producers of apple? Actually, the Big Apple moniker first gained popularity in connection with horse racing. Around 1920, New York City newspaper reporter John Fitz Gerald, whose beat was the track, heard African-American stable hands in New Orleans say they were going to “the big apple,” a reference to New York City, whose race tracks were considered big-time venues. Fitz Gerald soon began to use the Big Apple in reference to New York in his newspaper columns. It then lost it's popularity before it was revived in the 70s as part of a tourism campaign to clean up New York’s image. This time the name stuck.
Interestingly, long before New York was nicknamed the Big Apple, it was known briefly as New Orange. In 1673, the Dutch captured New York from the English and dubbed it New Orange in honor of William III of Orange.
I prefer apple to oranges but regardless of its name, I love my city.
Our Dad used to draw a triangle, square and circle on everything of ours from notebooks to baseball gloves. It's simple but I think of it almost as a family crest. It was meant to represent A-M-O, the first three letters of our last name. About a year ago my brother and I decided we wanted to get matching tattoos and we immediately knew what we were going to get.
This was maybe the cutest, best lit reveal ever. Such a great day at such a fun venue in Upstate New York.
Jane was on vacation with her husband and found me through a google search. Everywhere she travels she books a session with a local photographer there to make quality memories that she can keep forever. Such a cool idea! Loved this shoot. She was very adventurous.