I was in New York during the blizzard a couple of weeks back. I was there on business – the business of looking after 40 international students in unseasonable weather. The first alarm bells rang before I left, when I checked the weather app on my phone. It was -6°C during the daytime… in March! Perturbed, I packed an extra pair of long johns and off I went.
It was great to be back, 13 years since my last visit. It’s hard not to be impressed by the place, even if they have crap weather, which is saying something as a Brit. They described the incoming blizzard as a Nor’easter, which is a bastardisation of the word northeaster, meaning the direction of winds that create these conditions. It is quite possibly the ugliest word known to man, and discombobulating when it comes in mid-march, shortly before Easter.
One of the best things to do in New York is to traipse around the place and take photos of whatever comes your way, in keeping with the historic street photographers (Garry Winogrand, Lee Friedlander and Vivian Maier spring to mind). It is the best playground for a photographer. The light creeps between buildings, creating amazing shapes and shadows, and the people of New York seem so busy they don’t have time to be offended by your camera. However, the wintry weather created an unusually quiet Manhattan. Our hotel was three blocks from the Empire State Building, and the only people outside were the shop owners desperately trying to keep their stretch of pavement clear of snow.
The weather was harsh on the poor students, who were supposed to use their free time to visit museums and galleries connected to their subject specialisms, but couldn’t because of the snow day. As a photographer, all I had to worry about was my feet getting wet from the slushy puddles forming around intersections.
We explored the city a lot during our free time, but it felt like I only scratched the surface. It would be nice to return without the responsibility of looking after students, and with the sole intention of taking photos.
New York in a Flurry