Sometimes the right way to see New York City is through the camera lens. Although movies are associated with Hollywood, the true birthplace of the industry is the New York metro area where Thomas Edison had his earliest studios. Movies relocated to Hollywood, beckoned by lower costs and long sunny days, so necessary for the relatively light-insensitive photo stock of the era
Nonetheless, New York City still remains one of the premier film, sound and broadcast capitals of the world with many opportunities for photographers, cinephiles and media buffs alike to partake of a unique experience. Many of these unheralded opportunities are completely free.
Let’s start with tinsel town’s forebear: still photography. Shutterbugs will be thrilled with the International Center of Photography www.icp.org/ which offers classes, as well as magnificent examples of the photographic art.
Visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s American Wing or its Costume Institute for historic prints by photographic pioneers or masters of the art like Alfred Stieglitz or photo-essays covering the history of fashion. www.metmuseum.org/Works_of_Art/index.asp
Perhaps you would like to pick up some gear while you are here. In that case, the venerable Willoughby-Peerless located in Herald Square is your mecca.www.trevanna.com/willoughby-peerless_camera_store-camerasstill_digital.htm. This store has supplied generations of photo buffs and is still going strong today. It remains a safe place to get all of the equipment you have paid for as opposed to some of the fly-by-night operations located in the surrounding area.
Let’s move to sound and film. For the science behind the silver screen visit Sony’s Wonder Technology Lab. Although timed tickets are required, this marvelous experience is completely free and is one of the best ways to learn how light and chemicals transform into wondrous works of art and entertainment. Their mid-town Manhattan center is a must-see, conveniently located right in the heart of everything. wondertechlab.sony.com/
Are you a child of the television era? In that case, look up the Paley Center for Media www.paleycenter.org/ formerly known as the Museum of Television and Radio. You can screen your old favorites here within blocks of where they were made.
Speaking of television production, the major broadcast studios film right nearby. You can become part of the scene by strolling through NBC Studios, Rockefeller Center, or CBS’s Early Show at 59 Street and Fifth Avenue near Central Park when the morning news shows film in both plazas. Make sure to wear the sports jersey of your favorite team or school and carry a poster board sign with the name of your hometown if you can. The news crews love to film visiting tourists
You may wish to line up for the official NBC Studio tour www.nbcuniversalstore.com/. You may also call ahead to get tickets to be part of the studio audience of your favorite NBC shows: http://www.nbc.com/tickets/.
Tickets to ABC’s “The View” and “Good Morning America” can be arranged by calling ahead. Here is the website with the contact numbers for these shows” www.nbcuniversalstore.com/ handles tickets to their sitcoms.
If you can spare the time, a jaunt to Astoria, Queens is worth the trip. Nearby production facilities like Silvercup Studios, home of the show, “Ugly Betty” and Kaufman Astoria Studios are located here, but the real draw is the Museum of the Moving Image www.movingimage.us/site/site.php. one of the leading museums of motion picture history in the world. And it is only fair since the industry was born here.
While you are at it, detour down nearby Broadway to partake of inexpensive, authentic Greek food in Uncle George’s Greek Tavern located on 3319 Broadway, (718) 626-0593. If you don’t want to walk those extra few blocks for the authentic neighborhood experience, the nearby area offers such choices as Pizza Uno, Starbucks and Applebys and independently-owned and run taverns like Bar Bizarre or Sunswick (What the native people’s called today’s Astoria).
Feel free to take in a movie or two before hopping the train back. UA Kaufman Astoria Cinema 14
Astoria, NY 35-30 38th Street.
For more information about New York’s stranger sides:
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