There was talk that the blizzard that was going to hit New York City on Tuesday, January 27th, 2015, was going to be historic. Forecasts were predicting anywhere from 24-36 inches of snow overnight. Social media was going nuts. Governor Cuomo haphazardly implemented a travel ban, closing all roads and shutting down the entire MTA. The entire thing.
(But as we all know now, Juno blew by and spared NYC this time. Still, I’m just going to talk about my photographic adventures, okay? Okay.)
The challenge of photographing snow in the city is that NYC generates so much artificial heat that the snow doesn’t stick; you have to be fast and catch it when it falls. Truthfully, I was enthralled by the prospect of finally getting the shots I wanted, so I decided to take advantage of the light snow happening all though Monday, the day before. Blizzard lite, if you will.
I was impressed by the tenacity of the pedicabs in Central Park. The snow was falling with a bite, and it hurt to have the slivers pummeling down. Also, I don’t know where they would find customers as their carts are very much exposed to the elements. Thankfully the horse-drawn carriages retired early.
I’ve heard good things about the Cloisters up on the northern tip of Manhattan island, something about a picturesque medieval-ish building. While doing my excursion planning (it’s a thing, by the way), I decided to enjoy only its facade and its adjacent park. That’s when the going started getting hard though.
What about it? It just felt… colder. The snow was getting thicker, and the bare trees offered little refuge. I had to keep my camera safe too, and my somewhat inadequate gloves weren’t helping very much. I made the mistake of trying to edge down a snow-covered hill and discovered that it was actually an ice hill, much to my greater trochanter’s dismay.
Once I got back downtown, the city was starting to shut down and hunker down for the storm to come. (Or so they thought… run with it okay?!). They actually kicked me out of the High Line before I could make it all the way through. New York has the advantage of many doormen and other auxiliary staff standing by, and so snow gets cleared with incredible frequency. While walking through the city, I saw many people shoveling a whopping 0.5 inches of snow away at a time.
The workday ended early for many. By 4:30, already workers were flooding into the subway tubes, anxious about the imminent threat of a subway closing down (not because of the weather, but because of the travel ban… anyway, moving on!).
People in cities become a little friendlier when the weather turns sour. Drivers don’t feel compelled to honk at each other or jaywalkers much anymore. Customers sympathize when they find a dark storefront with a note hastily scribbled on a piece of 8.5×11 paper taped on the door. I was a little bummed when the Halal Guys closed shop early, but their main stand was still open. Yum.
Monday’s snow let up in the evening, as one last calm before the storm (which didn’t happen… I know, I know). I don’t think anyone had ever seen the New York avenues and streets that desolate before. It was kind of eerie to see an empty bus plow its way down 5th Ave. without having to stop even once. Not for passengers, not for pedestrians, not for taxis cutting them off, nothing. Central Park was quiet too, but that was because park employees were systematically kicking people out. Awkward…
Well, you know how the story resolves. Forecasts misjudged the timing of the snowfall, and East Long Island and Boston got dumped on instead (typical). Cornell preemptively gave us Tuesday off, so I spent it in the best way possible: throwing snowballs with my friends on the rooftops of Manhattan.