SIGHTSEEING IN NYC? TRY TAI CHI, HERE'S HOW
For six months I worked a 12 hour night shift in Manhattan (7 pm to 7 am) retouching photos for Quad Graphics, a large printing company. During this time, I retouched images used in popular magazines such as LIFE, FITNESS, FIELD AND STREAM, FAMILY CIRCLE, CHILD and many others. After work, I would drive downtown to Columbus Park in Chinatown NYC where I would practice the Yang 24 Tai Chi form before my hour-long commute home to Long Island. Six months later I was transferred to the day shift and this daily practice in Chinatown came to an end. Since I now live and work on Long Island, it's been many years since I've had the opportunity to practice in Chinatown NYC.
Recently a reporter from MARIE CLAIRE magazine (Brazil) contacted me. She was working on an article about things to do while in New York City and wanted my input. Because she read my story on taichi-daily.com about practicing Tai Chi in Columbus Park, New York, she asked if I had any good photos of people practicing there. In addition, she was hoping for information for those who might be interested in watching Tai Chi or taking an early morning lesson in the park. I thought it would be a great idea to take some photos and post them on my blog. If I documented my experience, anyone who was interested could get some info that might make their sightseeing easier.
This morning I woke at 5:30 am and drove to Manhattan. On this sunny day, traffic moved well on the Long Island Expressway, but I ran into heavy traffic on the Brooklyn Queens Expressway. This delay caused me to arrive in Chinatown (via Manhattan Bridge) at about 7:30 am. I drove down Canal Street and made a left turn on Mott Street. There was plenty of metered parking available for $3.50 per hour. Although the meter is supposed to take credit cards, a message appeared saying it was unable to read mine. I was only able to scrape together $1.25 in quarters, which meant I had about twenty minutes to take pictures. Hurriedly, I parked near the end of Mott Street and walked up Mosco Street to the entrance of Columbus Park. I did not want to get a parking ticket and was pressed for time.
In the past, I remembered watching many skilled groups practicing Tai Chi and weapons. This morning I was disappointed that I did not see any familiar faces. Perhaps my late arrival was the reason. I think the majority of people get there to practice by 7 am or earlier. By the time I arrived, it was 7:50, so most people had probably left to go to work. Even so, there were still quite a few people practicing, though not as many as I recalled. Scattered throughout the park were a few groups of ladies doing some exercises, two others doing fan forms. There were also Qigong practitioners and people doing Tai Chi sword. I did not see many practicing the popular Yang 24 form, Chen style or any other empty hand Tai Chi form, probably because of my late arrival.
Everyone seemed very friendly and most did not mind if I photographed them. Actually, only one lady waved to me that she didn't want her photo taken.
If you are sightseeing in New York City, early morning Chinatown Tai Chi is definitely a worthwhile experience. I hope that you can get a feel for this early morning ritual and one day make the trip into the city and experience it in person.