Archive for the ‘NYC History’ Category

Fort Tilden Part Five: The Amazing History-Missiles in Queens?

In historic places, NYC History, nyc photographer on April 4, 2014 at 9:23 pm

Fort Tilden has so much history.  And it has been recounted in detail by experts and real life heroes.

090813 Fort Tilden Rocka264

So I give you these links and tell you it is worth your time.  It is fascinating.  You will have a greater appreciation for The Rockaways.  Trust me.

Until next time.


adventure is life, live it! ®


Fort Tilden Part Four: The Return to Civilization

In historic places, NYC History, nyc photographer, NYC Today on April 4, 2014 at 9:07 pm

As I walked back to my starting point, all I could hear was gravel crunching under my feet. It was completely quiet.  I stopped to reload film one more time so I was ready to shoot the 2 buildings passed on the way to the tower.

092913 Fort Tilden Rocka374_1

The first was hidden in vines and brush.  Somehow the graffiti artists were able to get deep inside this broken down structure.  I wonder how long ago….
(These buildings were used for magazines when originally constructed.)

092913 Fort Tilden Rocka375_1

The second was a little more accessible,  just needed to navigate overgrowth, rocks and branches.092913 Fort Tilden Rocka381_1

When I poked my head into the empty space I was transformed by what I saw.

Overhead the roof was all but gone.  Underfoot the floor was dirt and weeds.  And the block walls were covered with graffiti.  It was beautiful.  Man and nature were collaborating in a true work of art.

Until next time.


adventure is life, live it! ®


Fort Tilden Part Three: Views from the Tower

In historic places, NYC History, nyc photographer, NYC Today on April 4, 2014 at 8:48 pm

When I encounter something never seen before, I become a little unsettled.  I think that is true for most people.  Questions that came to mind quickly were: what the heck was this thing and what hid behind its walls?  (see prior post.)  Further research shows this is actually Battery Harris, a gun battery used during the war/s.

092913 Fort Tilden Rocka314


As I approached the stairs, a man was climbing down from the tower, so I stepped aside to let him pass.  I wanted this space all to myself.

WOW.  Incredible.  To the East was Long Island.  To the South the Atlantic.  To the West New York Harbor and New Jersey.  To the North Coney Island and Manhattan.  And directly below, 173 feet below, dunes and natural vegetation.

I stayed up here for about 30 minutes.  A cruise ship was leaving the harbor.  Tankers were waiting at anchorage.  Pleasure boats were cruising in and out of Jamaica Bay.  And I had this place all to myself.

092913 Fort Tilden Rocka337

At some point a father and son started the journey up the steps and I used this as my cue to head out.  Plus I needed to get those other shots before the sun finally set.  And my bravery was starting to waver just a bit…


Until next time.


adventure is life, live it! ®


Fort Tilden Part Two: The Mile Hike on the Forbidden Road

In historic places, NYC History, nyc photographer, NYC Today on April 4, 2014 at 8:17 pm

092913 Fort Tilden Rocka310_1Abandoned buildings, an old “watch” tower with amazing views of the city & the ocean continued to haunt my thoughts.  What was out there?  I usually play by the rules, but as I get older it seems these rules need to be broken; curiosity got the best of me.

Having discovered the Rockaway Artist Alliance on my last trip, I submitted work to one of their upcoming shows.  To my delight they accepted 4 pieces into Artspash, a month-long show in the studios at Fort Tilden.  As a participant, we were asked to spend time at the show to answer questions for the spectators.

A Sunday afternoon in early September, I volunteered my time.  At 4:30pm it was time take that hike into the unknown.  The sunlight and shadows were amazing and I was feeling brave.

092913 Fort Tilden Rocka292I know that sounds a bit ridiculous me living in the city.  Walking the streets of Manhattan even at 4:00am is much different from walking into the woods where everything is silent.

Here are the justified reasons why I had a touch of fear in my belly.  My cellphone reception was minimal.  I was walking alone with my camera in unfamiliar territory that was off-limits (meaning no one would be patrolling here).  I didn’t have a map and I didn’t tell anyone where I was heading.  There were abandoned buildings along this road and the trail took me in about a mile from civilization.  Other than that, everything was just fine.

092913 Fort Tilden Rocka291 092913 Fort Tilden Rocka287

Capturing a great image was the driving force so I climbed over the fence into the forbidden territory.  As I walked I began to relax taking everything in around me.  The shadows and shimmers from the sunlight were giving me so many photographic opportunities, it was incredible.

A fork in the road and a building.  What to do.  I was in search of the tower and would revisit this building on my way out.


Birds flew over head, the sun was beginning to dip in the west.  Passing another abandoned building I noticed it was covered in graffiti.  This would be another great shot on the way back.

A bit further and a clearing came into view.  Then I saw this massive, strange cement structure.  I was looking for an open ranger/fire tower, one like I remember from childhood.  No wonder I couldn’t see this in the distance.  This tower was built into a hill with vegetation giving it cover.  During wartime, this was a gun battery known as Battery Harris.

092913 Fort Tilden Rocka371

092913 Fort Tilden Rocka373

I had arrived.  It was time to climb to the top.



Until next time.


adventure is life, live it! ®


Fort Tilden Part One: The Public Space

In historic places, NYC History, NYC Today on April 4, 2014 at 7:40 pm


As I walked around the grounds of Fort Tilden that were “open” to the public a few things circled in my mind.  This space is so vast; what went on here and why all these randomly placed buildings?

090813 Fort Tilden Rocka241

Some were made of wood, some of brick.  Some were in use, some appeared to be empty for decades.  Every once in a while a parks department vehicle would drive by.


073113_iphone 5_4161 copyA chapel stood in the center of it all; eerie shapes appeared through the windows as if they were ghosts.  At the entrance was a very peculiar sign:






At this point I really had no idea what I stumbled upon as children were playing soccer and softball in the open fields.  In the distance day campers were doing something with paint.  And across the road from where they played were people working in the community garden ensuring those large sunflowers would grow to their full height.

073113_iphone 5_4060 copyWhen the ranger drove by again, I stopped him and began asking my questions.

  •  Did the chapel ever open?  No, in fact it had been closed for years due to asbestos.
  • Why is the beach closed; will it open again soon?  It would not open for a while due to the artillery that washed ashore from Hurricane Sandy.
  • What was that amazing old metal building in the distance?  He told me it was an old artillery building and that most of the current destruction came from Sandy.

When I asked him if I could walk around, he told me only in the designated area’s.  Everything else was restricted.

Hmmmm….what was this place?

090813 Fort Tilden Rocka259 090813 Fort Tilden Rocka261

Joyous sounds were coming from the children at camp, so I walked over to discover this program was run by the Rockaway Artist Alliance.  The RAA had 2 studio’s in these old military buildings; they worked with artists near and far.  The councilors told me that beyond the fence to the west, was an old “watch” tower used when Fort Tilden was a military base.  It was 173 feet high, with amazing views.  But it was “off-limits” according to the park.

I thanked them for their time and information and continued walking up to the beach where I witnessed the destruction from the storm.

090813 Fort Tilden Rocka264 090813 Fort Tilden Rocka269 090813 Fort Tilden Rocka270


Until next time.


adventure is life, live it! ®

Fort Tilden in Five Parts

In historic places, NYC History, nyc photographer, NYC Today on April 4, 2014 at 7:30 pm

Today my post comes to you in 5 parts.  It continues the journey deeper into the Rockaways uncovering some hidden gems and forgotten spaces that have been abandoned by man and rescued by nature.  It also explores a section of beach that has been impacted by nature and has not yet been returned to man.

092913 Fort Tilden Rocka385

Over the summer and into early fall of 2013, I returned to understand and document the impact Hurricane Sandy had to this area.  More and more I became intrigued by the history and the stories the locals shared.

I hope you enjoy the journey:


Until next time.


adventure is life, live it! ®



Getting All the Facts

In historic places, NYC History, nyc photographer, NYC Today on January 16, 2014 at 11:24 pm

There is the expression: things are not as they appear.

That would apply to me as I made assumptions about an annual event in mid-town.  Let me explain.

During the month of November, I photographed the installation and decorating of the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree.  On two of the four days shooting, I witnessed a man organizing branches. I thought these branches were removed from the tree on purpose and would be disposed.  (Similar to what we do with a home Christmas Tree.)  Well let me tell you why I was wrong with my assumption.

ImageThe tree was to be up through January 7, 2014. Since it took four weeks to decorate, I figured it would take a few days to remove and I wanted to complete the documentation of this holiday tradition.  To my surprise when I arrived early the morning of January 10, everything was gone. Camera in hand, I had nothing to photograph.

I walked down the stairs around the plaza by the ice rink and noticed a lovely cafe. This space had large glass windows overlooking the skaters. Living in the city for 8 years, I had never gotten this close to the ice.

On this morning it was oh so sweetly quiet.  And it was very cold. I decided a cup of coffee at this rink side cafe would be a perfect way to begin my Friday.

I found the street level elevator and took it down to the Rock Center Cafe.  The hostess sat me by the large windows overlooking the rink where 10 women were having a skating lesson.

ImageWhen my waitress came over, I began inquiring about the tree. I asked her when did it all get taken down? She told me the crew swoops in under the cloak of darkness and in one night removes everything. By sunrise it is all back to normal-every last light, tree branch, angel is taken away. It was all done by January 8.

We continued talking as I told her of my photographing the weeks of decorating. She had some wonderful fun facts about the process. In addition to stringing lights on the tree, the men and women on the scaffolding rebuild the shape of the tree. In transport, many branches are broken off; during the decorating they add these lost branches back in.

So the man I saw organizing branches was not disposing them, but actually sorting them for placement. Things were not as they appeared.

She also told me one other fact about the disposal of the tree I didn’t know. In addition to the wood being milled for Habitat for Humanity, and over 3 tons of mulch being generated for the BSA, the largest portion of the trunk is donated to the U.S. Equestrian Team as an obstacle jump.

And so even though I didn’t get to photograph the taking down of the tree this year, I am smarter about what is involved in this annual tradition.

After our conversation, I enjoyed a lovely cup of coffee with my bagel. Topping this experience off, my friend brought me a complimentary raspberry hot chocolate.

The morning power breakfast was beginning as the corporate suits trickled in. It was time for this photographer in work-boots and baseball-hat to head out.

Oh, how I love this town.


Until next time.


adventure is life, live it! ®

NYC Holiday Tradition

In historic places, NYC History, nyc photographer, NYC Today on December 24, 2013 at 2:26 am

My dad was in charge of Holiday decorating, more specifically the lights inside and out. It would be a production that would go on for days. Ladders of all heights would come out; staple guns and electrical tape too. Bulbs would have to be tested and retested for each strand of lights-my dad had some sort of voltage tester for this.

It was a project that he thoroughly enjoyed. It was a project that made my mother crazy. He would be out in the cold and she would be inside yelling at him through the windows. Good times.

Our lights growing up were blue.  (The old fashioned bulbs instead of the white twinkle lights of today).  And our tree had blue/green balls and garland with an angel at the top.

In 1931 at the site that is now Rockefeller Center, a tree was erected by the construction workers of that project in celebration of a paycheck. Everyone at that time was still feeling the impact of the Depression.

In current day New York I have seen the crowds swarm around the tree during the Holiday Season, year after year, without every knowing the history of this tradition.  This MovieShort tells that story.

This year I went to the site on 4 different occasions to document what it takes to prepare this tree for the lighting in December.  My first day of shooting was November 8, 2013 as they rolled the tree onto the plaza.

I’ve dedicated this MovieShort to my dad, as he would have appreciated the time and effort it takes to make something really special.

May your Holidays Sparkle!

Until next time.


adventure is life, live it! ®

A Fall Art Show in The Rockaways

In historic places, NYC History, nyc photographer, NYC Today on September 28, 2013 at 11:06 pm

As mentioned in an earlier posting, I spent a good part of the summer exploring The Rockaways.

While roaming through Fort Tilden, I discovered the Rockaway Artists Alliance.

090813_iPhone 5_4296

This organization has 2 beautiful studios here, where they hold a variety of events throughout the year.

I was asked to participate in their exhibit “ArtSplash” with 4 of my fine art prints.  The show runs through October 13, 2013.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Until next time.


adventure is life, live it! ®

This is HUGE (at least for me…)

In historic places, NYC History, nyc photographer, NYC Today on September 11, 2013 at 8:22 pm

Over the past few years I have volunteered at ICP. I find teaching teenagers through the Teen Academy program most interesting-these young people continue to amaze me with their creativity.

060113 TA FieTrp HiLine110

As my relationship with the school grows, the continued networking with the educational staff stretches me artistically demanding a higher level of performance as a photographer.

On August 8, 2013 I received an email from the Coordinator of Community Programs at ICP regarding an exhibit that would coincide with the anniversary of Hurricane Sandy. The Museum of the City of New York (MCNY) would be pulling images exclusively from open calls for this show; they extended the offering to the ICP educational staff. Since I had images from the storm, I submitted to the call with no expectations. [I have submitted too many times to count to a variety of shows in the past and been “kindly” turned down, but continued with optimism that this time would be different…]

On August 16 I received an email with the subject Hurricane Sandy Exhibition. As I read the first line in the email, I expected a familiar response just like before. Basically “thanks for submitting, but no thanks…”

Instead this is what it said:

Thank you so much for submitting photographs of Hurricane Sandy in response to the Museum of the City of New York’s open call. I am writing to inform you that your work has been selected for a special preview exhibition, Rising Waters: Photographs of Hurricane Sandy, which opens on Governors Island on August 24th.

I was not expecting this. As the words processed in my brain, there were multiple emotions rising to the surface. I couldn’t help laughing, and then I couldn’t help crying. I kept moving around my apartment shouting and balling-my dog Kodi didn’t know what to do.

The joy and relief that if you keep persevering eventually a dream will come true. These few positive words launched a release of emotions that have been building for years-it was exhilarating!!

Saturday I visited the exhibit on Governors Island. It blew me away. Having lived through the storm, photographs of areas hit much harder than my part of town moved me in a way that can only be experienced first hand. The tragedy and the optimism-the human spirit that keeps moving forward.

I saw for the first time in my photography career my name and work projected on a wall over 8 feet tall. That made this all real.

The exhibit RISING WATERS: Images of Hurricane Sandy is on display through September 29, 2013. Please join me at the closing reception September 22, 1-4:00pm. You will be very happy you did.

Until next time.

Teresa, 51art

adventure is life, live it! ®