The Taconic State Parkway is a bone-rattling journey that sometimes feels just as bumpy and disorienting as the mud-hole carriageways it replaced sometime in the early part of the 20th century. The 55mph speed limit and the undeniably scarce attention to gas and food make it a bit of a drag to most Americans accustomed to seeing the friendly beckoning of a Taco Bell every twenty miles or so, but what it lacks in amenities, it makes up in charm. That, and I’ll just have to get used to it, because Columbia County isn’t going anywhere.
I happened upon a website tonight while looking for a link to the Taconic Parkway in the preceding paragraph (I didn’t find one relevant enough besides, do any of you click on these links anyway? some of them are quite good) and I surfed it for damn near two hours until my eyes gave out. It’s called Forgotten New York, and it’s the fucking coolest thing I’ve seen on the web in months. It relentlessly archives dead Manhattan streets, weird subway mysteries, the elevated trains that would have sped through my living room in the East Village, even a collection of ghost ads on the sides of ancient buildings that may surpass James Lilek’s page devoted to the same.
It’s relevant today because we went straight from Columbia County to Grand Central Station (in 1880, we could have taken NY22 straight from the Cobble Pond Farms gas station to Grand Central directly who says you don’t learn some cool shit on the net?) to scout locations for the 1929 pick-up shots we want for The Pink House. In the film, Oxford (my brother Sean) wins Chloe (Natane Boudreau) back from the bad guy, and a simple scene needs to convey that she has escaped him. Originally, it was to be shot at some docks somewhere, with her exiting a boat into his waiting, loving arms, but Tessa intervened. I said, “How about an old rundown train station?” and she said, “How about Grand Central?”
Of course, little above 20 feet high in Grand Central has changed since 1871 (as far as you know, anyway) so we had a good time putting our thumb and forefingers into joining “L’s” like directors do, making sure we can turn Grand Central into another night in 1929. Barring a terrorist attack (there are few better places, in my opinion), it should be a fun shoot.
After getting lunch, we took the subway shuttle to Times Square, but not before passing a curious door, fathoms deep under the busiest train station in the world, marked with an ancient sign: “KNICKERBOCKER.” The door was locked, and seemed to lead nowhere. And then, tonight, looking for the Taconic State Parkway, instead I found the mystery of the “door that goes nowhere” on the Forgotten New York page. I love it when things are so deliciously cyclical.
director of photography John Kelleran chats with Tessa about shot placement at Grand Central