Places + Travels

Let’s pretend we’re tourists, #3.

The holiday season in New York City can get a little nuts. Despite being a secular Christmas-celebrating atheist half-Jew (or perhaps because of it), I do my best to succumb to the madness at least a little bit. I’ve been working in Rockefeller Center for 13 years now, and I figured out a long time ago that this is not the time of year of cynicism on the streets of New York. You kind of just have to accept it until you eventually love it. Or at least tolerate it and kind of like it. But you can’t hate it, because that will just make you crazy and angry.

I got out a little early from work today, so I walked from 48th Street up 5th Avenue up to Columbus Circle. Despite it not even being Thanksgiving yet, Christmas spirit is already in full force.


That tree doesn’t light itself, you know. The amount of work that goes into preparing the Rockefeller Center tree is amazing. Scaffolding everywhere! They drill holes into the trunk in areas that are a little bare and stick in branches from other trees to fill it out so it looks perfect from all angles, and then they string up 30,000 lights on five MILES of wire! Craziness!

Can you believe I’ve never gone ice skating in Rockefeller Center? It’s just one of the many New York activities (including riding in a pedicab, taking a double-decker bus tour, attending the Thanksgiving Day Parade, or spending New Year’s Eve in Times Square) I’ve never partaken in. One of these days.

I love when stores go all out for Christmas. The Cartier store is wrapped up in a big bow. It looks incredible at night, all lit-up and sparkly. A few years ago they had ginormous diamond panthers climbing up the side of the building, too, but I guess the panthers are on hiatus.

Okay, I’m sorry, I know this is depressing. Takashimaya, one of the most incredibly beautiful (and incredibly expensive) department stores in the world, closed over the summer after 50 years in business in NYC. What’s opened in its place? That’s right—Forever 21. It’s probably temporary, but still. Requiescat in pace, Takashimaya. I’ll miss your restaurant most of all.

I don’t care about what’s inside, but I love the façade of the Louis Vuitton store. The original structure was built in 1930, and the layered glass panels were applied to the corner in 2004 by Japanese architect Aoki Jun.

New York doesn’t usually get all up in arms about old-meets-new the way some smaller historic cities do, and I’m glad. Progress + Respect = Modernism.

GET IT?!?!?!

Yes, I am a HUGE dork, and I’m not ashamed to admit it!! My sister Lisa showed me this trick outside of Bergdorf Goodman about 30 years ago (I think my grandmother showed her), and I’ve never stopped getting a kick out of it. Usually I just hold my hand up and giggle a little, but today I felt the need to actually capture the DORFMAN and take it home with me.

Dorfmans of the world, unite and take over!

A lot of the shop windows were either still under construction or totally mobbed with tourists, so I’ll have to go back one night next week and check them out under better conditions.

At the end of my walk today, I made the terrible mistake of going to the grocery store to pick up some vegan ice cream for tomorrow. Now, the Columbus Circle Whole Foods is a total nightmare even on the best of days, so I’m not exactly sure why I was compelled to go in there on the day before Thanksgiving. It was a pretty traumatic experience. Thank goodness for the Salvation Army Santa outside incessantly ringing her bell in time to Olivia Newton John’s “Let Me Be There” on repeat, because that really took the edge off, let me tell you.

Thanksgiving travel for us this year amounts to taking an 8-minute subway ride to my dad’s apartment. What a relief! There’s nothing left to do except avoid temptation for another 24 hours—I baked a vegan pecan pie tonight, and it looks (and smells) sooooo good.

Happy Thanksgiving, everybody!
—Anna & Evan & Bruno & Fritz

See also:
+ Let’s pretend we’re tourists, #1.
+ Let’s pretend we’re tourists, #2.

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  • Reply Jo in NZ November 25, 2010 at 12:52 am

    Mm, let me know how the vegan pecan pie tastes, and feel free to share your recipe 🙂
    Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours, and to all your readers in the US of A.
    I’m giving thanks for this blog, and your example. I really am.

    • Anna @ D16 November 25, 2010 at 12:56 am

      Thanks, Jo. That’s really sweet. 🙂

      (And the recipe is linked in the post, by the way! I have no doubt it will taste excellent.)

    • Jo in NZ November 25, 2010 at 3:49 am

      Aha! I missed the recipe hyperlink! Thank you.

      PS I thought of you tonight when I perfected the soy banana smoothie. I have been practising for quite some time now 🙂

  • Reply jacobspence November 25, 2010 at 1:03 am

    Happy Thanksgiving Door Sixteen / Washington Heights Urbanites! The Rockefeller Center tree always reminds me of Home Alone 2. Corny, I know. Also. Have you read Koolhaas’ Delirious New York? Its a great architectural commentary on the development of the city and spends some time talking about Rockefeller Center. A good read.

  • Reply patricia katchur November 25, 2010 at 1:10 am

    nothing comes close to NYC for the holidays – window shopping, music steaming forth, atmosphere, ice rinks, an incredible urban wonderland. i miss it so. partake and enjoy the creation of wonderful memories…

  • Reply victoria November 25, 2010 at 1:24 am

    happy thanksgiving ms dorf man! i truly love your photo exposés. and your view of nyc. xo

  • Reply RebeccaNYC November 25, 2010 at 1:26 am

    Forever 21 in Takashimaya!!???? Arrgh the horror. Have not been down there, I pretty much avoid 5th Ave, but loved Takashimaya and always would buy something inexpensive (not an easy thing to do) just so I could get the triangular bag. I actually visited the big store in Tokyo one year…what a surprise to find out that it was a little bit like JC Penney!

    Anyway, happy Thanksgiving, and thank YOU for a great read.

  • Reply julie November 25, 2010 at 1:44 am

    I’ve only ever been to NYC once and it was at this time of year. Actually it took us by surprise that it was Thanksgiving, not planned at all, it was at the tail end of a three month trip. My most vivid memory is standing outside a closed Jonathan Adler store in Greene St on Thanksgiving Day wishing I could go inside. I’d love to go to New York again. It was lovely experiencing it through your photos, thank you.

  • Reply kay* November 25, 2010 at 2:11 am

    happy thanksgiving anna! (& all other US readers who may read this comment)

    i enjoy seeing your view of NYC and reading the captions – i learn something new! ringing in the new year in times square is something i’ve wanted to do for a while – maybe 2013 when i’m back from india? we’ll see…..

    & that bergdorf goodman sign would get me every time too – so cool 🙂

  • Reply read me...? November 25, 2010 at 2:35 am

    Happy Thanksgiving Anna… NYC looks beautiful. I missed visiting this Autumn.

  • Reply Audrie November 25, 2010 at 3:02 am

    Happy Thanksgiving!

    Taking walks around the city is always fun though I try not to go into the city too much over the holiday season just because it’s a madhouse. And I’m really annoyed by what Takashimaya has become!

  • Reply mathyld ▲under the pyramids ▲ November 25, 2010 at 4:32 am

    Hurray for Dorks !
    It’s the Dorf Man pic from your Flickr that dragged me here !

    And I’m glad to read that you are shocked by that Forever 21 invading this utterly beautiful Art Deco building ! I’d never seen it before, but I bet it was much better when it was Takashimaya’s …
    It reminds me of the beautiful historical buildings that turn into McDonalds here … Oh dear …
    x x x

  • Reply Caroline, No November 25, 2010 at 6:35 am

    woooo! I just really enjoyed this post! Love the Dorfman trick! I’ve never done all those NYC things either despite having visited as an official tourist many times. Too much queueing. Looks pretty though! Such a bummer about Takashimaya! x

  • Reply Jenna @ sweetfineday November 25, 2010 at 7:27 am

    wait, wait, what? Forever 21 in the Takashimaya store?? Oh, and dorfman from bergdorf’s hahaha

  • Reply Deleilan November 25, 2010 at 7:31 am

    Have a lovely Thanksgiving, Anna!
    I used to love pecan pie, but haven’t had it in ages; thanks for the link to a vegan version.

  • Reply Vanessa November 25, 2010 at 8:15 am

    I love New York all year round. But October through New Year’s? Magic.
    Happy Thanksgiving!

    P.S.- I used to work at Whole Foods. If you think it’s bad shopping there the night before Thanksgiving, try standing behind the register for an 8-hour shift. No fun. 😉

  • Reply Kellee November 25, 2010 at 8:21 am

    Well, thank you for taking me on a tour of NYC on my lunchbreak, whilst I sit here at my desk in Brighton, England, sipping soup and trying not to freeze. I loved installments #s 1 and 2 just as much, but Christmas in New York is something really special – I’d love to experience it for real one day.

    I also very much enjoyed your use of the word ‘ginormous’. Not utilised enough, I think.

    Happy Thanksgiving!

  • Reply sandra November 25, 2010 at 8:32 am

    anna, i LOVE your tourist-posts and i giggled when i saw the dorfman signs!

  • Reply Brigidanne November 25, 2010 at 8:46 am

    love NYC at Christmas time, ESP at night when you can see the lights.
    Did the New years time square thing about five yrs ago. Police control the entry points. Hotel keys or hotel employee must verify your stay to access area closer to the square. It’s like being at a English soccer match whith the crush of people as police open gates to cross traffic above TS streets. Plus you cannot leave once there. We ended up just staying in one place and let the people who wanted to get closer deal with the crush. But as you wait for the midnight hour you meet your fellow revelers and it begins to get festive. We lucked out as it was a warm night. After the ball drop we turned around to see the fireworks from central park. If you can everyone should do this – put it on the bucket list.

  • Reply Jill S. November 25, 2010 at 10:10 am

    Happy Thanksgiving!

    (i live near the Columbus Circle WF, I only go before 10:00 AM!)


  • Reply Dan November 25, 2010 at 1:03 pm

    And a happy Thanksgiving to you, Anna! Your ears should be burning right around 6 tonight when it’s my turn to be thankful for stuff!

    • Anna @ D16 November 25, 2010 at 2:29 pm

      Oh, YOU!!

  • Reply __michelle__ November 25, 2010 at 3:14 pm

    this makes me miss New York! have a great holiday

  • Reply Fritz November 25, 2010 at 3:36 pm

    Nice post

    Liked the pictures

    It reminds me to buy a new camera this XMAS so I can take my own Dorfpictures

  • Reply Melissa November 25, 2010 at 7:54 pm

    Beautiful post, loved the pictures…they really remind me of movies and the tv series ’30 Rock’ 🙂
    Thanks for your blog – love reading it.

  • Reply Clare November 25, 2010 at 8:10 pm

    Oh, that all looks so exciting! I went to the USA (SF) for the first time ever in November last year, and all the Christmas windows are so exciting! I mean, obviously we have christmas here (Australia), but it doesn’t seem to have the same effect in the streets when it’s not cold outside. That sense of lots of cheer and glow to fight the snow. The windows in London are very exciting too.

  • Reply .amanda. November 26, 2010 at 12:43 pm

    oh I love the city at christmas time! [but I am positive it is bc I don’t have to work / commute there] I posted about last years “Dorfman’s” windows here:

    I was only in the city once before last year at Christmas time, being an outsider, it is very very fun! I hope you post this years windows!


  • Reply Deborah November 26, 2010 at 5:45 pm

    Thank you for this post – I really enjoyed it! I have to say I’ll never forget the night I walked 50 odd blocks wondering why there was so many people heading in the same direction with blockades here and there. I had to stop and ask a police officer who looked at me like “Really?” The Rockefeller tree was being lit that night and I had returned to New York for the second time.

  • Reply Krist November 26, 2010 at 7:31 pm

    Side note: of the almost 300 stores, I believe that Whole Foods is the busiest in the company. They have their own full time security staff on site.

    • Anna @ D16 November 26, 2010 at 7:57 pm

      Wow, is it really?! i wasn’t sure if it was just my imagination. I try to avoid going there at all costs, but sometimes you just need a pint of vegan ice cream!

  • Reply retailbitch November 26, 2010 at 7:46 pm

    loved this post. i used to work at Banana Republic when it was in the JAL building across 52nd Street from Cartier, now it’s a Ferragamo boutique i believe. i was just thinking about Cartier during the holidays earlier this week and you’re post piqued my nostalgia now that i’m back living in Nebraska. and to read that Forever 21 has gone into the Takashimaya space! gosh. not sure how i feel about that. really enjoy your blog: excellent work.

  • Reply Emily Fitzhugh November 26, 2010 at 8:01 pm

    All I can say is thank you for the Bergdorf windows. I will live there at some point…hopefully sooner than later and I need that kind of creative inspiration to get me moving towards The City! Happy Holidays xoox

  • Reply Barb F (Australia) November 27, 2010 at 12:04 am

    I loved this post Anna! Felt like I was on a mini-tour of New York. It was so lovely to get a dose of christmas from your side of the world – it’s a very different feeling to the hot, summery Christmases we have here in Australia.

    Happy Thanksgiving to you all (although I know it’s technically passed already). We don’t celebrate the holiday here in Australia, but I did help your economy out a little by shopping up in the Black Friday sales on-line at Old Navy. They now ship to us! So cheap! Hooray!

  • Reply greenbean November 27, 2010 at 1:37 am

    Oh dear- that makes me so sad about Takashimaya! I’ve only been to NY a few times, but we always make it a point to go there. I think I even have a picture of me taken in one of the fabulous bathrooms! What a shame. Thanks for the skincare tips a few posts back, I am waiting for my Mario Badescu samples! Happy Holidays.

  • Reply Rosa, Copenhagen November 28, 2010 at 5:53 pm

    Ohh…. I just love this post. Great photos.
    I so much want to be a REAL tourist in NY and maybe I should reconsider and go around Christmas instead of May/June… hmm.. it could not be colder than here in Copenhagen where it is -5 Celsius and we have 40 cm snow.
    Seeing a photo of the Cartier store is a little funny for me, as I’ve just bought a vintage Cartier bag – one of those unbelieveably non-expensive thrifting finds you just must brag about (and now I’ve done it *lol*)
    I NEED to go to New York. It’s like a love affair you just know you have to dive into, you just have to find it = go there

  • Reply kelly w November 29, 2010 at 12:27 am

    Love this post. And the horse at the end!

  • Reply Ceci November 29, 2010 at 12:25 pm

    What is it that John Lennon told Yoko once upon a time…

    “I should have been born in New York…”

    b/c I LOVE it!

  • Reply Grumble Girl November 29, 2010 at 5:49 pm

    When I visit you, you’ll be forced to take me somewhere cool. Just a heads-up. I’m just sayin’.

    • Anna @ D16 November 29, 2010 at 5:50 pm

      Deal. 🙂

  • Reply erin@designcrisis December 2, 2010 at 7:19 pm

    For the sake of my sweetly naive toddler, I’m trying not to be grinchy this year… we’ll see how it goes. There are many years left for me to fully explain how the holidays are a capitalist nightmare of a sham.

    Ooops, ok — non grinchy attitude commencing now.

  • Reply Lauren December 8, 2010 at 7:53 am

    So interesting to see NY from your perspective – love the store window photos! You are so lucky to be surrounded by so much inspiration all the time!

  • Reply ali z December 9, 2010 at 7:17 pm

    NOooooooo I can’t believe Takashimaya is gone, It was one of my favorites. The store was so lovely and they made some of my favorite perfumes too. 🙁

    PS- love your blog.

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