Thursday, March 1, 2012

A geographer in New York City

Last Thursday (February 23rd)  I flew to New York City for the annual meeting of the Association of American Geographers. Friday morning I went on one of the many field trips offered. It was a good opportunity to get out and see a part of the city I have never seen before. About 20 geographers met in Flushings at a new, large Chinatown. Unlike the one in lower Manhattan this one is made up primarily of Taiwanese Chinese with an adjacent Korean community. It is located close to the site of the New York World's Fair and its first Chinese residents were Taiwanese who came to man the Taiwan pavilion at the fair. Notice the violin shop above. The New York Philharmonic which was once a bastion of Jewish immigrants and their descendents is now about 1/3rd Chinese--evidence of the every changing ethnic make-up of America

We visited a large Mall that was all Chinese. The top of its four levels was a large dim sum restaurant and the lowest level was a large grocery store with all kinds of Asian products and ingredients.
 I resisted buying one of these foul smelling durian--the king of southeast Asian fruits.
 All kinds of live and dead fish and other sea animals for sell.

 The brown buildings are public housing projects that a few decades ago were almost all African-American and not very safe. Now they also house Hispanics and Asians. The white complex beyond is for the growing Chinese and Korean communities.
 While heavily populated by Chinese, Flushings is a very mixed neighborhood of the Bronx.

 A booth calling for an end to communist China and its persecution of the Falun Gang religious group.

 Just west of the China town is the new Citi stadium that was built to replace Shea stadium, home of the NY Mets. I asked a man on he subway what stadium it was. His first response was--"you're not from around here are you!" followed by his complaining the NYC tears down and builds too many stadiums when instead it should be spending the money on building more schools.
 On the train ride back to Grand Central Station I noticed some great graffiti.

 Saturday Morning I walked across the Brooklyn Bridge which spans the East River.
 Lower Manhattan from the bridge

 The Statue of Liberty from the bridge.

 Midtown and the Empire State building. Once in Brooklyn I warmed up with Indian lentil soup and a mango lasse before taking the subway back to Manhattan.
 It was windy and cold at Battery Park. Ellis Island is on the right.
A monument in Battery park to the many immigrants who came through New York
 Previous research of mine has looked at the siting of churches and mosques as an indicator of Christian-Muslim relations. And so I spent part of the afternoon exploring Lower Manhattan looking for the much controversial "ground zero" mosque. I asked policemen and sanitation workers for directions, but with no luck. Finally a Turkish kebab seller sent me in the right direction. It is located on Park Street two blocks north of the World Trade Center site.
 The building that will house the mosque and a Muslim community center is in the middle of the block (with the white fire escape ladders in its center) and not within direct sight of anything to do with 9/11.

 Inside is a makeshift mosque
And a photo display (with an opening day reception) by a photographer who is attempting to take a photograph of a New York resident child from every country in the world. He is only lacking about 20 countries.
 I would not support the building of a mosque or any religious place of worship at ground zero, but I think it is perfectly fine for this mosque to be built a few blocks away. I was disappointed that many Americans opposed it (including Mitt Romney). I was proud that Orin Hatch supported it. He had better do so after his working with Ted Kennedy to get the Freedom of Religion Act passed that allowed the LDS temple in Belmont Massachusetts to be built. If Mormons claim the right to build temples in Belmont and New Port Beach, then we should afford others to have those same rights.

 Most of the BYU geographers (with me as the organizer) met at Ground Zero for a 4:00 PM visit to the new memorial. It is an amazing, beautiful, tribute to all those who perished that day. On Monday night at the conference I went to hear Michael Arad speak. He is the designer of the memorial. He tells an amazing story of how he came up with the idea and then how he made the idea--with many changes to make everyone happy--a reality. It took years just to figure out the best way and best order to display all of the names.

 The BYU contingent.

Next week Sarah will sing in the chorus of the Springville Jr. High production of Oklahoma. I took this photo in the lobby of the theater where Oklahoma once played and where I watched Porgy and Bess on Saturday night. I have always liked musical theater. I think my first theater experience was going with my family to see a Logan High School production of Camelot when I was in elementary school. I also remember dad taking us on annual trips to the Valley Music Hall in Bountiful to see professional productions. Later in life when ever dad came to medical meetings in Chicago we would plan to go to at least one show. My first participation in a show was playing the cornet in the band for our Jr. High Musical--I can't remember its name, but the band was part of the show and I even had a spoken line. Then in high school I was in Fiddler on the Roof (I was one of only two sophomores in the play--they needed someone short to play the two boys who get "matched" with Tevye's two youngest daughters), Brigadoon and No No Nannette.

 For four of my five nights in New York I went to a show. First night it was Avenue Q, second night Sister Act, and third night Porgy and Bess (with the amazing Audra McDonald). I used the TKTS booth to get discount tickets for all three of these shows. On Sunday after a day of geography sessions and sacrament meeting I happened to walk by the theater where The Book of Mormon musical was playing. I noticed a line for standing room only tickets. For months I had debated whether or not I should try to see this show. The content is questionable and the ticket prices exorbitant so I decided not to even try. But when I found out that I had a chance to get in for only $27, I gave in and stood for 2 1/2  in line so that I could then stand for 2 1/2 hours to watch the show.
Sunday morning Sacrament meeting. The Manhattan LDS Temple in located on the upper floors of this impressive multi-use building.

On Monday I presented my paper: "Merchants as Missionaries in Indonesia: From Hinduism to Mormonism."

 Grand Central Station
 Tuesday Morning ride to Staten Island. The tallest building is the new world trade center.

 Lower Manhattan
 East River
 Ellis Island

 The Hudson River between Jersey City (Left) and Manhattan (right). I'll use some of these photos when I teach about the impressive site and situation of New York and explain how the Hudson River--Eire Canal transportation corridor opened up New York to a huge hinterland that catapulted it to east coast dominance.

 A great view of NYC on the flight home (I always request a window seat for opportunities like this)
 I love the light reflecting off of the skyscrapers of lower and mid Manhattan. This is also a great site/situation photo.
New York Bay with the Verazzano Narrows bridge at the entrance to the bay.


  1. Ah, makes me yearn for another trip to NYC. Great geographing!

  2. Great photos Chad! I recognize quite a few of the sites you visted although much has changed in the past 9 years since I was there.

  3. Was the Kramer swimming in the East River? I guess I need to make plans to visit sooner then later. And thanks for the heads-up with the foul smelling durian - the king of southeast Asian fruits.