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Seven Hills

Boston-area exploration, travel notes, crafty things, and other Somervillainy.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

City Holiday

Dashing through the snow in a one-horse open sleigh is all very well, but nothing gets my holiday started quite like the twinkly lights and window displays of a downtown shopping district. Call me consumerist, but for me it's an inevitable byproduct of having grown up in a big city.

We needed to go to New York for a couple days last week, and I got to spend an afternoon wandering up Fifth Avenue admiring all the commercially produced cheer. That's Saks, above, with its big sparkly snowflakes. Lord & Taylor had a sort of international holiday theme going: this window was its Parisian patisserie. I especially like that pyramid of croissants in the background. The big fluffy poodle is pretty terrific, too.

The downtown department stores in Boston are kind of sad and deserted, but the New York Lord & Taylor was positively bustling, and had big tables laid out with vaguely archaic goods, like opera-length leather gloves. Most of the women milling around the cosmetics and accessories floor wore real, structured hats and long wool coats, with nary a sneaker in sight. No distressed low-riders and teenybopper tees here. For such a modern, frenetic, moving-and-shaking city, New York sometimes feels as though it inhabits a bygone era.

Rockefeller Center was a madhouse, even on this prematurely dusky December weekday. Here are the skaters gleefully whizzing through the gloom.

Before I headed home I continued up Fifth to the bottom of Central Park to see the Plaza, as I like to do when I'm in this part of New York (my parents got married there). Flags were flapping along the avenue, the sun was going down, and the smell of hotdogs, pretzels, and roasted chestnuts wafted through the jostling crowds. It all looked exactly like the cover of a 1950s issue of the "New Yorker," a place where you might still need to wear a real hat and a pair of leather gloves, though perhaps not opera-length ones.



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