Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Photos: Barclays Center and Madison Square Garden

With today's announcement that the New York Islanders are Brooklyn bound, New York City will be home to two National Hockey League arenas that are either new or renovated. Barclays Center recently opened to the public and is ready for the inaugural season of the Brooklyn Nets basketball team. The Islanders are moving to Brooklyn in 2015 after the lease expires at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in suburban Uniondale.

I lived in the Brooklyn neighborhoods of Greenpoint and Windsor Terrace this past summer and one day in early September I decided to snap some photos of the under construction Barclays Center. One of the greatest advantages to the arena is how transit accessible it is. Eleven subway lines and eleven bus lines stop near the arena and the Long Island Railroad's Atlantic Terminal is located across the street from the arena. The LIRR stop will make it convenient for Islanders fans traveling from other areas in Long Island. Plus there are 400 free bicycle parking spaces.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

More Photos and Videos of Washington, D.C.

I took so many pictures and videos from my return to Washington, D.C. the past two years (I lived in L.A. for nine years and now live in NYC) that it has taken multiple blog posts to even begin to document what I have experienced. I have decided to post the rest of my videos and photos on this blog post. I hope you enjoy some sights and sounds of my hometown.

Click here for a Flickr collection featuring different photo sets.

Memorial Day Weekend 2012: Maryland and Pennsylvania

This past Memorial Day weekend I drove from Washington, D.C. to Frederick, Maryland, stayed a couple of days near Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, then drove to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania before boarding a train bound for New York City.

Frederick, Maryland is a quaint, historic town in north-central Maryland. The downtown is walkable and compact with an old Europe flavor. We strolled along Carroll Creek Linear Park, which was renovated in 2006 and features pedestrian bridges, water fountains, housing and restaurants along the creek.

D.C.'s Uline Arena: Where the Beatles Played Their First U.S. Concert

There is a run-down parking garage in the shadow of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. Commuters park their cars in the morning and leave in the evening without pausing to take a look around. People walk by without a glance. Train passengers look out the window and think nothing of it. But how many of these people know the magical history of this special place?

Before it was a parking garage, the Uline Arena was constructed in 1939 by Miguel L. "Uncle Mike" Uline for his professional ice hockey team Washington Lions. It was built along the tracks leading to Union Station in an area now known as NoMa (North of Massachusetts). The indoor arena opened in 1941 as the home arena of the Lions and hosted other events. Uline was also the home arena of the Red Auerbach-coached Washington Capitols of the Basketball Association of America.


Before moving to New York City, I worked for a month in the fastest-growing neighborhood in the nation's capital. NoMa (North of Massachusetts) is like a rapidly rising city-within-a-city. There are gleaming new office buildings under construction, stylish residential units, hotels, restaurants and grocery stores popping up seemingly out of nowhere. It is amazing to see the progress being made.

NoMa is located north of Union Station and Capitol Hill along First Street NE between Massachusetts and New York Avenues. There are several historical buildings in the area such as the Woodward & Lothrop Service Warehouse, which is on the National Register of Historic Places. The building was constructed in the Streamline Moderne style, a type of Art Deco design that emerged in the 1930s. The building features an iconic water tower on the roof with the words "One NoMa Station" that has become the unofficial symbol of the NoMa neighborhood since it is visible from many vantage points across the city.

Photos: Two Years in Washington, D.C.

I now am living in New York City, but after living in Los Angeles for nine years, I returned to my hometown of Washington, D.C. for two years and enjoyed rediscovering the region I grew up in. Some areas of the nation's capital have changed dramatically, others have stayed the same.

In my humble opinion, here are some of the best photos I took from the years 2010 to 2012 while in Washington, D.C. I hope you enjoy them.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Washington, D.C. Japanese Street Festival

The 52nd annual Sakura Matsuri Japanese Street Festival took place on April 14th along Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C. The nation's largest Japanese Street Festival also celebrated the 100th anniversary of the gift of the cherry trees and the climax of the National Cherry Blossom Festival. In 1912, a gift of 3,000 cherry blossom trees was bestowed upon the American capital from Tokyo, Japan.

The street fest was presented by The Japan-America Society of Washington, D.C. and featured Japanese food, musical entertainment and booths showcasing Japanese culture. There were organizations promoting tourism and high-speed train travel among others.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Winter 2011-2012: California

Santa Monica Pier
December 24, 2011-January 2, 2012 -- This past winter I traveled to The Golden State to visit family and friends. I've traversed the entire state multiple times and lived in Los Angeles for nearly nine years so I'm very familiar with California. But every trip reveals something new.

We flew on Virgin America from Washington Dulles International Airport to San Francisco International Airport and spent around four hours at the spectacular new Terminal 2, where I was greeted by a Google representative at something called a Chrome Zone pop-up shop. He explained to me that as a promotion, Google was renting out their new Chromebook laptop to Virgin America customers. The Chromebook could either be used while waiting in the terminal for a connecting flight or on a flight to another airport with a similar pop-up shop where it could be returned.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

A Weekend in Wilmington

April 7-8, 2012 -- A weekend in Wilmington, Delaware reveals why Vice President Joe Biden took the train up from Washington every day for 36 years (last year Wilmington's Amtrak station was named for Biden, who was instrumental in securing funding for the rail station's renovation). The city and the state provide citizens with well-planned outdoor recreational areas to enjoy nature.

The Northern Delaware section of the East Coast Greenway runs right through the heart of Wilmington and is frequented by walkers, joggers and bicyclists. The East Coast Greenway is a project to create a nearly 3,000 mile urban path to connect major cities along the Eastern Seaboard from Maine to Florida. So far, 25 percent of the trail is complete.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Photos: New York City High Line

This past November I visited one of the finest examples of urban renewal and the greening of cities—New York City's High Line. The High Line is a 1-mile (1.6 km) linear park built on the former elevated tracks of the New York Central Railroad's West Side Line on the lower west side of Manhattan.

The recycling of the railway into an aerial greenway has revitalized surrounding neighborhoods and turned what was once an abandoned, blighted industrial area into one of New York City's biggest and greenest tourist attractions.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Up in the Air: Tel Aviv to Istanbul to Washington, D.C.

A Turkish Airlines plane at Istanbul Atatürk International Airport.
August 28-29, 2011 -- After traveling around Europe by train and Israel by bus for one-and-a-half months this past summer, including working on a kibbutz for two-and-a-half weeks, it was time to fly back home to the United States. I took Turkish Airlines from Tel Aviv Ben Gurion International Airport to Istanbul Atatürk International Airport and then an 11 hour flight from Istanbul to Washington Dulles International Airport.

An airport shuttle picked me up at my hostel in Jerusalem very late at night and made the rounds to pick up more people—all Orthodox Jews—in different neighborhoods in West Jerusalem. We then drove to Ben Gurion, the best-secured airport in the world. Being the only non-Orthodox passenger in the van, I was singled out with questions upon arriving to the security checkpoint just to drive into the airport. The security guy asked me to take off my hat and then asked me where I was going. I was tired and irritated, and answered loudly "Washington, D.C.!" Once you finally enter Ben Gurion, you must wait in a long security line where you will be asked pointed and personal questions to make sure you don't have any bad intentions once you board that plane. Your luggage will also be thoroughly examined and, as in my case, will sometimes be double checked by airport security. Sometimes passengers will be taken for another line of questioning and inspection if the authorities are not satisfied with the first round of questioning. While it can be a maddeningly frustrating and humiliating experience, Ben Gurion will not take any chances when it comes to security, which is why it is the safest airport in the world to fly into and out of. It is not a pleasant experience to be looked at with suspicion, especially at 4 a.m. before a long flight. But it is the reality of Israel and there is some comfort in knowing all the intense security precautions that took place once you finally board that flight. It was around a two hour flight from Tel Aviv to Istanbul.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Summer 2011: Jerusalem, Israel

August 19-29, 2011 -- The last stop on my summer 2011 journey through Europe and Israel was my favorite city in the world—Jerusalem. I arrived on a bus from Beersheba on the day the ancient city launched its first modern light rail line. In the city of miracles to the three Abrahamic faiths—Judaism, Christianity and Islam—it is a miracle that light rail is finally rolling along Jaffa Road. The project had been beset by delays and controversies over issues ranging from the route passing through Arab East Jerusalem to accusations of financial mismanagement to archaeological findings during construction.  But these setbacks were overcome and on a warm Friday afternoon in late August, before the stores closed and the streets emptied at sundown for Shabbat, more than 40,000 curious passengers crowded onto the trams free of charge.

Light rail has transformed Jaffa Road—West Jerusalem's main artery from the Old City to Mount Herzl—into a traffic-free, pollution-free, pedestrian paradise. Rumbling buses and honking taxis have been replaced by quiet and clean trams ferrying Jerusalemites to their destinations.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Boarding the Bus: Beersheba to Jerusalem

Passengers hoping to board an already crowded bus on a Friday afternoon at Beersheba Central Bus Station.
August 19, 2011 -- After a couple of days exploring Mitzpe Ramon and Midreshet Ben-Gurion, I was going to travel via bus south to Eilat and then Petra, but a big terrorist attack on the same bus route I was going to take made for a change of plans. The roads were closed around Eilat and the Israeli Defense Forces were advising the public to avoid the area after a well-coordinated ambush near the Egyptian border murdered eight innocent civilians and injured dozens. So instead of soaking up the sun along the Red Sea and visiting Al Khazneh (featured in "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade"), I took a bus north to Beersheba and then transferred to another bus to Jerusalem.

I crowded onto the packed bus with Israeli soldiers on leave for the hour-and-a-half ride north. Friday afternoons are very busy at Beersheba Central Bus Station because everyone wants to catch the last buses to their destination in order to be able to spend Shabbat dinner with their families and friends. I arrived at the Jerusalem Central Bus Station just in time for the Friday opening of the new light rail line along Jaffa Road and preparations for Shabbat in the Holy City.

Summer 2011: Mitzpe Ramon, Israel

August 17-19, 2011 -- After working on Kibbutz Lahav for two-and-a-half weeks and exploring the nearby city of Beersheba, my next stop in Israel was 85 kilometers (53 miles) south to the small town of Mitzpe Ramon in the heart of the Negev desert. Mitzpe Ramon is a popular tourist destination because the town overlooks the massive Ramon Crater. The crater is actually technically not a crater but the world's largest makhtesh --a geological formation that wasn't impacted by a meteor but instead was created by erosion. I also visited the tomb of Israel's founder and first prime minister David Ben-Gurion near Sde Boker and hiked through Tsin Canyon.

While in Mitzpe Ramon I stayed at the Green Backpackers Hostel, run by Lee and her husband Yoash. The hostel is cozy and clean and offers a free sunset tour of Makhtesh Ramon. The friendly couple was super helpful in providing information about sightseeing and hiking. The hostel is highly recommended if you find yourself needing a place to say in Mitzpe Ramon.