Start your week off right with some fresh art & booze!
I’m showing new prints from “UnNatural Disasters” at The Hamilton Whiskey Bar in New York City ~ Opening is on Monday November 18th from 6-10 pm. Prints will be on display through November 30th – Here’s a preview!
The Hamilton Whiskey Bar is a cozy space located on Manhattan’s Upper West Side ~ 998 Amsterdam Avenue (between 109-110th Streets)
‘Would any tourist in full possession of their sensitivities really choose to lodge overlooking the drudge of the Westside Highway and the venomous Hudson?’ Um… yeah, that would be my dad. A 1971 New York Magazine article asked this question about the Sheraton Motor Inn on 12th Ave. and 42nd Street, where my dad brought a bunch of us kids on a summer vacation to New York City that same year, but I only recently discovered that this was the place we stayed. I don’t remember the long drive across Pennsylvania, but I do remember seeing New York City for the first time. Growing up near Pittsburgh, PA, I’d been to a city before, but I’d never seen so many people, and so many giant buildings. And I also remember the rooftop swimming pool at the hotel.
I later moved to New York as an adult, and I would occasionally wonder where that hotel with the rooftop pool would have been. I knew that there were photos from the trip somewhere but hadn’t seen any for years. Fast forward to 2019, and I’m back home in PA for my mom’s funeral. My brother Jeff hands me an old envelope labelled in ballpoint pen “Beach Vacation 1971” in my dad’s handwriting. I’m thinking Ocean City Maryland where we went a few times, but when I open the envelope I don’t see us building sand castles on a beach, I see the World Trade Center’s twin towers under construction. And the Statue of Liberty, and the UN with the Chrysler building behind it. This ain’t no beach – this is New York City.
Flipping through more photos I go back in time to 1971 and see my sisters and brother and me somewhere in midtown posing with some of New York’s finest.
A few more photos and there it is, that that rooftop pool with the sliding board and a manhattan skyline view.
After returning to New York, a few days later, I find myself in midtown and grab a magazine out of a news box to read on the subway. Flipping through the latest issue of the local Hell’s Kitchen mag W42ndSt, this image hits me. It’s a little piece about an interesting building on 12th Avenue and 42nd Street, and there it is – our rooftop pool.
When I get home I do a comparison check of our vacation photos, I see the same lamp posts and there’s the Empire State Building. Yep, it’s a match. So now I know where we stayed. It was the Sheraton Motor Inn on 42nd Street, and it must have been cheap if we stayed there. The article goes on to quote the 1971 New York Magazine article, and I can’t help but smile when reading the description of the hotel as a cheater’s hideaway (and a perfect spot for a family vacay).
A few weeks pass, and I keep seeing these photos in my head, and I’m wondering now if the pool is still there. The article mentions that the building now houses the Chinese Consulate, and that the hotel closed long ago. I want to see for myself, so I go to the address, and sure enough it’s now the Chinese Consulate. I speak with the security guard at the entrance and at first he tells me there’s no pool. After I tell him a bit of my story he tells me that yes, the pool is still there on the roof, but that it’s not open to the public. Could they make an exception? Not today. Hmm… maybe another day.
Here’s where a little synchronicity plays in. After living in a rental apartment for 10 years, my wife Brig and I decided it was time to purchase a piece of New York. We looked looked all around the city – actually walked through more than 50 different apartments until we found this one just a block away from our 4th floor walk-up apartment on East 87th Street. What was it about this apartment that sold us? The rooftop pool. When I saw it I went back in time for a minute – the view is a bit different, but if you look closely you’ll see the Empire State Building hiding among the new skyscrapers.
So why was that envelope labeled Beach Vacation? I did find one photo of a beach in the envelope. I don’t know what beach this is, but maybe other photos will show up someday.
That 1971 trip was a fun adventure, and I’m grateful that our dad braved the long car-rides with a station wagon full of us kids. He was the one holding the camera, so unfortunately we don’t see him in any of the photos from this trip, so I’ll show this one of him from a few years earlier at the 1964 World’s Fair in New York City. Thanks Dad!
Newsweek Japan recently used one of my images to illustrate an article about the dangers of pesticides used in food production. It’s a fun photo, but for a serious subject – the whole article is here. The photo was licensed through my stock photo agency – see more of my concept photos at Getty Images.
It was a perfect day for a parade ~ So many mermaids and other beautiful creatures came out to Coney Island for the annual celebration of summer ~ see more photos on my website thomlang.com and Instagram @thom_lang
“Ashes to Ashes” is an ongoing project that I’ve been working on for 10+ years; photographing people on the streets of New York on Ash Wednesday. It was a chilly one in NYC this year – Thanks so much to each person nice enough to stop for a photo!