You are not going to see many sites like this in America. Every borough and many neighborhoods abound with interesting buildings and homes - architecture is of the best things that New York City has to offer.
There are many magnificent architectural structures in this city - Grand Central Station, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the New York Public Library, the Chrysler Building, St. Patrick's Cathedral, St. John the Divine, the Dakota, the San Remo, the Beresford, Sherry Netherland Hotel, Waldorf Astoria, and countless others that I have photographed and written about for this website.
Keeping a lower profile, neighborhoods like Greenwich Village, Park Slope, Brooklyn Heights, Harlem, Chelsea, Fort Greene, et. al., have thousands of homes from 100 to nearly 200 years old. I am writing this from a period townhouse dating 1837.
The vista in today's photo was pointed out to me by friend and photographer Bill Shatto as we were strolling down Avenue of the Americas in Greenwich Village. This is a familiar site to both of us, but the time of day, clouds, lighting, and vantage point all conspired in a dramatic tour de force. The Jefferson Market Library was backed by the prewar building at One Christopher Street and framed by period rowhouses along 6th Avenue. Extending upwards is a clock tower atop the library building (cropped out in this photo) - to see the entire structure, click here.
One often misunderstood area in photography is the nature of outdoor lighting conditions. Although intuition would suggest that a bright sunny day would be ideal shooting conditions, in fact, it typically provides some of the worst conditions, producing photos with harsh shadows and overexposed highlights. Although there are many techniques to deal with these problems, in many cases, professional photographers and film makers avoid this time of day completely. A cloudy day, on the other hand, can provide some of the richest colors and most beautiful soft lighting conditions.
The medley of rooftops reminded me of the Château de Chambord in France. If you are not familiar with this extraordinary French chateau, see here.
Chambord was an indulgence, built by Francois I as a hunting lodge over a period of 20 years. It was never completed. The Jefferson Market Library building seems like it is in a perpetual state of repair - scaffolding has been around the base for seven years. Only another 13 years of renovation and we can rename it Le Petit Chambord :)
About Chambord: Building was begun by Francis I in 1519 and completed in 1547 (with one hiatus). 1,800 men worked on its construction. It contains 440 rooms, 365 fireplaces, 84 staircases, and stables to accommodate 1,200 horses. The chateau stands in a 13,000 acre wooded park surrounded by a wall 20 miles in circumference.