BY MAHEY GHEIS
For my media lab project, I knew I wanted to embark on something that would take me all across New York. After much deliberation, I came to a simple conclusion: favorite places. I would go up to strangers, ask them where their favorite place in the city was, and go there. A borrowed camera, some friends, and an unlimited metro card in hand, I went.
The first spot we went to was the Starbucks around the corner. There we met Angel, who was super kind and willing to get his picture taken even though we didn’t buy anything and asked for water. His favorite place in New York is central park.
Being a weekend afternoon, the park was bustling with kids, dogs, and everything in between. It was on a bench near a boulder we found our next interviewees.
Hakan and Caroline had just arrived from Sweden, and took my phone to type their names in to spare us both the embarrassment of me trying to mark them down properly. My friends tried to speak to their kids and were returned with blank stares. Caroline and Hakan’s favorite place is the high line.
At the high line, we saw an art exhibit that looked like a miniature abandoned building with little squares of cardboard individually painted and neatly displayed throughout. Adjacent to the exhibit was its creator, with paint and empty squares. For $5, my friends sat and worked on their own artworks while I, broke, talked to the man behind it all.
David was one of 99% who occupied wall street, and that is where he first began his art project. When I asked what his favorite place in the city was, he asked me what school I went to, and if they didn’t teach me to ask better questions. After exercising all my journalistic skills, I squeezed out that Rudy’s, a bar where you can allegedly purchase a pint and a Nathan’s hot dog for only $2, is David’s favorite place.
As it was almost curfew and we were still under 21 (as evidenced by our presence of a curfew), so we didn’t go into Rudy’s, but instead saw the hilarious scene of what looked like a handful of drunk moms and young guy who tried to keep them all in line. We managed to pull him and his mom aside and ask our question.
“Starbucks.” Cathi responded, with a completely serious expression on her face. Jeff chuckled and told us that though it wasn’t exactly his favorite place, he had just been to the 9/11 memorial and it had really moved him. We cleared up that Cathi’s name was spelled “C-A-T-H-I”, and headed back to our dorms for the day.
Unfortunately, the next time we had an opportunity to go out, we didn’t have the time to go to the memorial, which was on the other side of town. Instead, this time with a 360 cam, we went back to Rudy’s to find another favorite spot.
Jennifer had on a wonderful necklace, and immediately knew her favorite spot in the city. “The MOMA,” she said. So on we went.
The MOMA was very cool and very much out of our price range, so we settled for the lobby, which was still creative and interesting to look at. Outdoors, there was a concert that was ~exclusively~ for ticket holders. but the woman working the line to the show looked approachable enough, so approach her I did.
Once she realized that I wasn’t trying to sweet talk my way into the concert, Jacqueline was warm and receptive to my question. After thinking on my question for a minute she said that Terminal 5 was her favorite spot. Upon seeing the confusion on my face she added, “It’s a music venue.”
My confusion did not end after Jacqueline's response. After meticulously following our google maps instructions once we got off the subway, it looked as if we were only in an empty alleyway. Walking around, we saw that we were actually in a sanitation terminal. Looking up the venue online, it was clear that there was an amazing, rock-and-roll space somewhere under our nose. We tried to piece together what was going on, but our search turned up fruitless. On the plus side, the sky looked brilliant, and we all just played tag before heading back to our dorms.
This where my project ended, for the time being. I hope that this remains something anyone can pick up and try doing for themselves, and I hope they have as much fun as I did.