New York is a truly astonishing city. It currently houses 8.4 million people distributed over a land area of 305 square miles. The city has the largest Polish population after Warsaw. The same goes for Jewish people (outside Israel), and it also has the largest Chinese population outside Asia. New York City is the most linguistically diverse city in the world, with its residents speaking over 800 different languages.
Times Square is named after the New York Times. It was originally called Longacre Square until 1904 when the NYT moved there. The city is associated with the British Empire but the first settlers were Dutch. They established a fur trading post in Governor’s Island. Later, the Dutch established the colony of New Amsterdam in Lower Manhattan. They purchased the island from the locals for the modern equivalent of $1000. Many have called the transaction “the best real estate deal in history” (which probably is an exaggeration if you consider the Louisiana Purchase).
In 1664, the English took the territory of New Amsterdam from the Dutch settlers living there. King Charles II named the territory New York after his brother the Duke of York and gave it to him as a gift. Manhattan comes from a Lenape word meaning “island of many hills” (mostly flattened by now to provide room for urban development). New York is known as the “Empire State” due to its growth and prosperity early in its history. George Washington is said to have seen New York as “the seat of the empire”. It was the first capital of the United States. The designation lasted only a year.
There are more than 380,000 millionaires in the city and that’s why there are so many expensive stores and establishments in Fifth Avenue. One out of every 21 New Yorkers is a millionaire.
The price to operate a hot dog cart in Manhattan (for a year) ranges between $150,000 and $300,000 (in the most expensive pars of town, like Central Park).
The city has been struggling with the problem of homelessness for years, and since 2007 it pays families to leave the city, as a way of keeping them out of the expensive shelter system which costs $36,000 a year per family. All it takes is for a relative in any other part of the world to agree to take the family in, and the city of New York sponsors the ticket.
From a photographer’s point of view, New York is an infinite source of inspiration. The people, the architecture, the never-ceasing movement and flow of faces, cars, bikes and events in the “city that never sleeps” is something that leaves a lasting impression. I had the time and opportunity to walk the streets of NYC taking pictures for two days with my trusty Nikon D800.
Most of the shots in this gallery have been taken with the “nifty fifty” Nikkor 50mm f/1.8G. I enjoy this lens a lot because it’s relatively wide angle is well suited both for capturing photos of people on the street and architecture shots. I use the continuous autofocus mode (AF-C) and choose only 11 instead of 51 AF points (this makes the system much faster, yet still versatile). I then use the AUTO autofocus point selection mode, which hunts and locks focus on faces. When I see someone interesting on the street, I allow them to get closer, and engage the AF-C, confident that the lens will track them appropriately as they approach. This golden tip is your reward for reading all the way to the end. Happy shooting!