New York City


I just came across this great video from WBNS-TV Columbus shot across Brooklyn and Manhattan on May 20, 1999. This was back before HD cameras were the norm, so WBNS sent a few of their videographers to New York in order to test out their new toy for the first time.

It's so evident that this video was shot in a totally different era. The pre-9/11 America that I grew up in just seems so carefree in retrospect. Of course there were problems, but it was a world of innocence when compared to the world we're a part of today. There were no constant threats, no overwhelming fear, no images of fireballs and unimaginable destruction seared into our minds. Those were the sorts of things you'd read about in books or see in films. We never anticipated it becoming part of our own realities.

I don't expect the world to ever return to this form in my lifetime, but at least we can take a moment to look back at what once was.


First off, let me begin by saying that I love Flickr's new redesign. Fast Company's Co.Design has a great review of the new layout, highlighting three massively important features:

  1. Death to pesky thumbnails
  2. Photos are the main focus again
  3. Free 1TB storage for everybody!

Yahoo's acquisition of Flickr in 2005 left countless photographers disappointed with the direction the website was headed, but the new overhaul seems to be a wonderful response to the long-suffering question, "why doesn't this work the way it's supposed to?" I haven't had a chance to check out all the new features in depth yet, but I like what I've seen so far.

Alright, back on the rails. Literally.

New York's MTA controls all New York City subways along with the rail lines that link Connecticut to the five boroughs. Their Flickr feed is incredible, offering photos of everything from nostalgia trains and special events to construction projects and some harrowing first-hand photos of the fallout from Hurricane Sandy last fall.

I've put together a photo gallery of some amazing Second Avenue subway construction photos, which some appropriately refer to as The Line That Time Forgot. Conceived in 1929, progress on the Second Avenue subway had been halted many times due to the Great Depression, World War II, and a stumbling economy. It appears that real progress is finally being made, and MTA's Flickr feed offers definitive proof.

[Proposed length of Second Avenue subway, 2013]

[Proposed length of Second Avenue subway, 2013]

Seen here on the right, the 8.5 mile subway line will run from 125th Street in Harlem south to Hanover Square in the Financial District of Lower Manhattan, and will be designated as the new turquoise T line.

The project is expected to cost in the neighborhood of $17B, but just the first of four total phases has secured funding. The phases are as follows:

  • Phase 1: 96th St. to 63rd St.
  • Phase 2: 125th St. to 96th St.
  • Phase 3: 63rd St. to Houston St.
  • Phase 4: Houston St. to Hanover Sq.

With Phase 1 expected to open to the public in December 2016, it's far too early to definitively predict the completion date of the full line, but the fact that so much progress is being made in the first phase is certainly encouraging right now. As you look through the photos below, it can become easy to forget that these enormous caverns lie just 100 feet below the bustling streets of Midtown Manhattan, working their way through a spaghetti maze of existing subway lines and tunnels that are constantly abuzz with traffic. 

Next time you walk through Midtown, take a moment to think about the flurry of activity happening right below your feet. For now, enjoy some construction photos from a transit authority that does a great job using technology to maintain a unique digital presence.

(Clicking any photo will open to that date's full photoset. All images ©MTA.)


Tilt-shift photography is a pretty cool way to modify the depth of focus in photos and videos, making big cities seem like tiny models and giving people the appearance of miniature action figures. Photographers and videographers can either use Photoshop to achieve the effect, or they can go old school with it and use the required lenses and shooting techniques. Either way, it's leading to some really cool media that gives us a whole new perspective on urban environments. 

Take a look below at a few great examples of tilt-shift photography by Melbourne-based photographer Ben Thomas (click here for more).

Tilt-shift looks great in still photography, but check out this mind-blowing video by Nathan Kaso, also from Melbourne. It's amazing what selective focus can do.


I love coming across stuff like this. We live in an era of technological wonder, so we've grown accustomed to documenting our everyday lives through Facebook, Twitter, Vine, and all the countless other forms of social media and video sharing that I'm overlooking. Even though I live in Philadelphia, I can get a clear idea of exactly what it's like to ride the subway in Hong Kong, land at San Francisco International Airport, or take a trip on the TransMilenio rapid transit bus system in Bogota, Colombia. Sure, social media can be invasive in some regards, but incredibly educational in others.

This video chronicles the journey of a few characters impeccably adorned in 80s fashion taking a 14-mile trek on the N train from 14th St./Union Square in Manhattan down to Coney Island/Stillwell Ave. in Brooklyn. 

The graffiti will jump right out at you, which was a major problem with the New York City subway system in the 1970s and 1980s. Despite it not looking like the safest or most attractive setting, I love the diversity of the riders in this video -- both those who are the main focus and the people in the background who are just trying to mind their own business. Even a simple ride on a city's mass transit system can be a reminder that you aren't the main focus; that you're part of something bigger.

Go ahead and enjoy a grainy, carefree ride from 1987: