The Equitable Building

The Equitable Building in lower Manhattan at 120 Broadway sits between Pine and Cedar Streets, a few blocks north of Wall Street, and is one of the giants in the Canyon of Heroes. Completed in 1915, it was once the largest office building in the world, with its dual 538 feet towers hosting 40 stories of office space. It is 100 years old and happens to be a building and location I think about often.

In 2005, I had a chance to work in that building as a summer intern between my 2L and 3L year of law school. It was a valuable experience, especially in that it taught me what I did not want to do after graduation. And so it was ironic that when I did graduate the following year, my first job out of law school was with a law firm headquartered in the Equitable Building.

Starting in September 2006, I had my first office on Wall Street, both literally and figuratively, given that I was working on capital markets transactions and was two blocks from Wall Street. I had an office on the 32nd floor with a view, that if I craned my neck to the west enough, looked down on the hole that was once the World Trade Center. Back then, almost ten years ago, lower Manhattan was a mess of construction and a world away from what the Fulton Street/WTC area has now become.

I took the subway downtown from GCT each morning on my way to the office, and while it would have been more convenient to take the 4/5 train all the way to Wall St. and come up to ground level directly into the lobby of the Equitable Building, I often chose instead to take the local 6 train down to the end of the line at Brooklyn Bridge/City Hall. From there, I would walk the remainder of the way south on Broadway, cutting through City Hall Park and my favorite fountain in all of the city (the one with the gas-lit lamps). Passing the red cube at 140 Broadway and the grunginess of Zucotti Park to my west (before the renovation), I would enter the Equitable Building and be whisked away upwards, another shark in a suit.

It feels like it was just yesterday that the 6 train was part of my commute. I miss it, but also feel glad I am no longer subject to the whims and delays of public transportation. But back then, I loved New York. It was my city and I was one of its inhabitants, a history in the making. As I sit here today as the father of four in a suburban Salt Lake City home, I can say I love New York in a different way than I used to, where I admire it from a distance but feel at home in its grasp. And while I was there, I lived history. The Equitable Building will always be a part of me.

 

Advertisements

Smart Phones

I wrote the below post on this blog in February 2007 and titled the post “Because of the iPhone.”  Now, eight years later, I can say that beyond sleep and work, I probably spend more time with my smart phone than anything else and definitely more than I could have ever imagined at that time, the least of which is actually talking on it in the traditional phone sense. I still don’t have an iPhone (although my wife does), but the technology that I first saw that February morning in New York City has changed our lives and our culture in unforeseen ways.

___________

February 2007

I’ve been wanting to get a new cell phone for the past several months. The one that I have now has been with me for the past two and a half years and has been a great phone, although the battery life is starting to fade. But I have decided to wait until later this year to get a new cell phone. I have decided to wait not for the iPhone, but because of it.

Yes, I read about the hype when Jobs announced the new phone last month. Yes, the phone looked nice, but it didn’t occur to me to get one. And then, this past Tuesday morning, I arrived early for a meeting at the building on the corner of 59th Street and 5th Avenue – the site of the world’s busiest Apple store. I decided to go in for a few minutes to warm up. While inside, I checked out a demo of the iPhone and its functions and features. I was impressed, to say the least. The iPhone is the direction that phones are heading and I wanted in. Yet, I’m not one of those guys who loves Apple. I have an iPod and enjoy it, but I am loyal to PCs for my computing needs. Once the iPhone (or whatever else it may be called depending on the dispute with Cisco) comes out, it will only be a matter of months before the big cell phone manufacturers come out with something similar available on the major service providers. The price may be steep, but if all of the iPhone’s bells and whistles work as well as they did on that demo I saw, the price may be worth it. I am not the only one to think this, but this phone will revolutionize cell phones as we know it. And once I have more options and lower prices, I will be ready to jump in.

Eight Years Running

I clearly remember when I started this blog. It was eight years ago this month. I was sitting in my office on the 32nd floor of the historic Equitable Building in lower Manhattan, where, if I stood up and looked out the window from the right angle, I could see the hole created by the tragic events that occurred five years earlier on a sunny Tuesday morning. I don’t occupy that office any more, but am sure the view of the Hudson I used to have is blocked by WTC 2 and 3 rising majestically into the sky, only shadowed by 1 WTC.

Those were good days. I was so eager, ambitious, so free. I remember my walks at lunch, my old friends, the job I worked so hard to get. Some days were definitely busy, other days were less so. And it was during one of those less busy days that I felt like writing. I felt like I needed to share my thoughts, experiences, musings and insight with whosoever cared to read. Blogs were all the rage back then and so I created one. Over the last eight years, the frequency of my posts have varied, but one things has been consistent: I have posted at least once a month for the last eight years, regardless of the lack of readership or response.

Since this blog’s birth on that November afternoon in 2006, I have owned three homes in three states and have had four daughters. I am working at my third job since leaving the one in lower Manhattan and have had the chance to travel to various countries and cities. I have managed to develop some professional skills, have walked thousands of miles and sprouted plenty of gray hairs. The title of this blog does not make as much sense as it used to when I lived in New York, but the title has remained through the years. And despite the lack of visitors, this blog is still what I intended it to be – a place for me to write and share.

Thank you for the last eight years. I have been truly blessed.

City Solace No More

There are times I miss being in New York City, but I have not missed living in New York since we left. Once we did leave for the Bay Area, I never developed the same affinity for the City of San Francisco. I do, however, miss being in California at times. We had a good life in the East Bay.

It’s not that I didn’t like the City of San Francisco, it was just not my first love. But there were certain days in San Francisco, when the weather was just perfect and I used to walk along the waterfront on the Embarcadero, with the Bay Bridge gleaming in the sun, the diverse crowd flowing by me on their way to the Ferry Building or to North Beach, and I couldn’t ask to be anywhere better.

Now that I am in Salt Lake City, the direct connection to the city itself is limited. But my family and I have been exploring the world around us outside of the city. Ironically, I am busier with my current job than with any of the previous jobs I held in New York or San Francisco. My escape today lies not in the city around me, as was previously my solace, but in the natural landscape that Utah offers.

A Lifetime View

A year ago today I had a job interview for a position that I thought was made for me. After multiple interviews and discussions, I received an offer, but eventually turned it down because it didn’t feel right in my gut. Three months later, I had accepted another offer at a completely different company in a different city. And I have no regrets.

Today, out of the blue, I was presented with a job opportunity I did not see coming. I don’t think I am going to act on it given the recent start at my current employer, but I was flattered that I was thought of for the position. And who knows, perhaps one day it may be something worth considering. I definitely don’t want to close the door completely.

This is my 400th post on this blog, started at a time when I was two months into my career in 2006. I have come a long way in the last seven and a half years, but have still only worked for a fraction of time compared to what a lifetime career looks like. It’s just reassuring to know that some hard work has paid off, knowing how hard I worked to get that first shot, to get my foot in the door to prove myself, I now have people presenting opportunities to me. The privilege to choose what I would like to pursue is truly a blessing I am aware not everyone has.

My Own Time

I wrote the below post on October 11, 2007. By 2007 I had been commuting in New York for over three years. Now, I am driving a measly 20 minutes to work and oh how I miss my commute. Reading this took me back to my own personal time on the train. There are times I wish I could do it all over again.

____________________

Some people find it hard to believe that it takes me longer than one hour each way to get to and from my office. All in all, I spend about two hours and twenty minutes of my day traveling. The reality is that I don’t know what I would do without that time each day. I definitely miss it when I have a few days off work. Yes, there are days when I am delayed. There are obnoxious people around me sometimes. The trains are not the cleanest or most sanitary means of transportation. But I wouldn’t trade in my commute for anything. Why? Because the time is mine and I can count on having about two hours of my own time Monday through Friday to read, think, zone out, listen to music, plan, and do whatever else can be done while sitting on a crowded train.

I recognized a long time ago that I need my own time each day, whether I can get it at night when everyone else has gone to bed or some other time. Thanks to the train, I now have time to myself each day without feeling the need to isolate myself from my family once I arrive home just to find my own space. Sure, there are downsides to commuting by train. At the end of a long day, sometimes I just want to be home. Instead, I have to deal with the time and trouble of getting all the way home by train (unless of course you can take the car home). If I decide to leave work at 6:30, I won’t actually walk in my front door until about 7:50 – not exactly an early arrival home although I left the office early by New York standards. Then, there are the times that I am minutes from missing my desired train as the subway pulls up to 42nd Street. Knowing I will be left waiting for the next train, I run from the subway platform up the stairs to the track at GCT, only to see the train pulling out, realizing I missed it by less than one minute. But even then, I don’t complain; that is the price you pay for living in New York.

I like my commute but don’t think I would want any longer of a commute than what I currently have. If I had to commute the same time by car each day, I would move closer to my workplace as soon as I could. I would much rather be stuck on a train than in my car. At least on the train, I get work done.

Bay Area Inconvenience

I have taken public transportation to and from work daily for many years now. I also have traveled and used the public transportation system in numerous cities in the U.S. and abroad. And still, I cannot for the life of me understand who designed the self-service ticket machines that are part of the Bay Area Rapid Transport (BART) system. I don’t generally have an issue with the BART trains, the service they provide or the stations, all of which are generally well maintained and serviced. But I do, however, have a problem with the BART ticket machines and the software design behind them.

First, they are not user friendly and require the user to have to add or subtract dollars (in $1 increments) or cents (in $.05 increments) from a starting place of $20.00 to get to the correct amount for purchasing a ticket. Secondly, there is no monthly pass or unlimited pass for daily commuters, which is an inconvenience and non-standard when compared to the public transport systems elsewhere. And then, I recently put money on my Clipper Card (the transport card used across multiple systems in the Bay Area) and it turns out that I can’t use that credit on the BART because it was converted into Clipper Cash, which does not work with BART if the Clipper Card is on “autoload” with a bank account or credit card. It sounds trivial, but it was shocking to learn that I just put $200 on a card only to learn afterwards that I couldn’t use that money on the transport system I intended to use it on.

Believe me, the BART service overall has been more reliable than the MTA’s Metro North Trains I used to depend upon in New York. But the way I am required to administer my ticket purchasing and account management through the BART system is not just an inconvenience, it is annoying and has cost me some money in the past. I’m less than hopeful that changes will occur anytime soon, though, given that we’re in California.