Rooftops and water towers are essential and quintessential parts of Manhattans’s landscape. New York’s charm would certainly be diminished without its rooftop parties — a preferred place for Big Apple denizens to host friends given the shoe-box sized apartments that most live in. Having resided in Manhattan’s iconic Flatiron District we had plenty of opportunities to enjoy many memorable rooftop soirees and take in the unique New York water tower landmarks.
One of our favourite rooftop memories was the Christmas blizzard of 2010. Snow storms are rare in New York, so when a blizzard dumped 75 cm of snow on Manhattan it was an event to remember! The storm had essentially accomplished the impossible: It turned the vibrant city of New York into a tranquil winter paradise, and more interestingly, it kept the perennially-moving New Yorkers at home, idle.
Even the iconic Empire State Building — situated just 15 blocks from our old apartment and thus a constant and imposing site from our building rooftop — succumbed to the storm, disappearing from view as the snow reduced visibility to just barely across the street. After the storm had done its deed the city was blanketed thigh-high in snow, prompting all sorts of unusual responses, including cancelling all parking rules/tickets — there was not much choice, anyhow, as all cars that were idled that night became immovable the next day. Along with other memorable events, such as the infamous blackout in the US Northeast and central Canada in 2003, it is one of those days etched forever in memory and which brings about a certain nostalgia whenever it is brought to mind.
We endured the storm and, probably due to our having grown up in cold countries, revelled in the winter wonderland that Manhattan had become. The night the snow started — the snow started coming down in the late afternoon and would continue to the next afternoon — we even managed to dine out, enjoying a tapas meal at Sala One Nine, a Catalan restaurant directly across from our apartment — if it were any farther, however, we would not have gone as the snow and wind had already greatly reduced visibility and mobility. Even just crossing 19th Street felt like an expedition in the Arctic, only to reach the restaurant during their happy hour time and to find the normally hopping eatery all but abandoned but for us and the staff. Despite the cold draft by the entrance door (and the lure of the cozy dining room), we opted to stay in the bar adjacent to the entryway, which offered a bay window view of the storm brewing outside. From this vantage point we enjoyed our food and drinks, while the staff also graciously provided us with an electric heater to offset the cold air emanating from the door. The usual activity of people watching turned instead into a night of snowflake counting, as the normally pedestrian-filled street turned into a white backdrop with but just a couple dog walkers passing by. Everyone who did not have to go anywhere stayed in (and perhaps enjoyed cup of hot chocolate) — moreover, even the city mayor (Michael Bloomberg at that time) issued an advisory for people to stay home.
We were also very lucky to have shared the blizzard (and its aftermath) with friends from Montreal who, by chance, had planned several weeks in advance to come visit us on what happened to be day after the big snowfall. And like true Canadians, the 75 cm of snow did not stop our Montreal friends from making the trip from the Great White North to visit us. For them, driving through heavy snow was such a normal occurrence that it did not even cross their minds to reconsider the drive. Our friends’ presence added a certain charm to the whole experience, bringing a sense of coziness as we shared our bachelor/studio apartment (45 square metres) with them and a cat that we were taking care of, all while we had 2-metre tall (real) Christmas tree in our apartment. For the next several days we all managed and hardly noticed the high-density living arrangement. Indeed, part of the charm of living in New York is residing in a shoe box and sharing the shoe box with visitors, especially after they have driven 600 kilometres through thigh-high snow to get there.
It was a blizzard to remember…
Photography by Dominika D. Framed gallery quality art prints on acid free archival paper are available for purchase online. Click on the images below to check possible options: