View Full Version : New York City Books

January 12th, 2003, 06:45 AM
I’ve just recently had a spending spree at Amazon.com resulting in several additions to my New York City collection. *Please excuse my nonexistent book reviewing/writing skills.

1. *New York New York by Torsten Andreas Hoffman

Hoffman had taken a series of black and white photos in Summer 2001 intended for a calendar but he decided that there were too many of the WTC. *Then 9/11 happened. *He then undertook to re-photograph (in colour) the same views post-9/11. *The result IMO is a very moving then-and-now document serving to remind us of what we all expect to be there, replaced by the eerie emptiness we see now. *I love this book – highly recommended.

2. *Requiem WTC by Hideaki Sato

Black and white photos taken before and after the WTC site was cleared and the subsequent construction of the Twin Towers from 1967-69. *Also documents life in NY at the time, from New Yorkers just going about their daily lives -- playing checkers, catching some sun, the ferry ride to work -- to anti-war demonstrations. *My favourite is one of a young girl with a placard that proclaims “War is Gory Not Glory”. *There are some nice misty shots of the completed Twin Towers from Greenwich Village, not at all an ugly juxtaposition. *Towards the end of the book are comparisons between the rubble during site clearance in 1968 and Ground Zero in 2001, heartbreakingly not at all dissimilar.

3. *212 Views of Central Park, Mick Hales (photographer)

A lovely book of images of every aspect of Central Park, from what people do in the Park, to the statuary, bridges and park benches, as well as the splendours of the plant life. *Some of the photos include built New York as a backdrop to the Park, reminding us that it’s not in isolation but surrounded by a very dense man-made urban environment, which I think complements the beauty of the Park, itself entirely man-made. *A favourite photo is a stunning view taken from the roof of a Central Park South roof of the reds, yellows, golds and a dash of green of Fall with the architecture of CPW and 5th Avenue regally standing sentinel on the perimeter. *It has become obvious to me from turning the pages of this book that one can never know just how beautiful Central Park is unless it’s experienced first-hand. *This wonderful book is second best.

4. *Harlem Lost and Found by Michael Henry Adams

A wonderful history of Harlem’s residential architecture in particular, but also discussing various other buildings, including churches and schools. *Accompanying the text (which I haven’t read yet) are gorgeous photos of building exteriors and street scapes as well as interiors. *Some of the earlier photos provide an amazing glimpse of Harlem’s former glory. *Let’s hope the current renaissance significantly contributes to its restoration. *My favourite views are of row houses on West 147th Street between Broadway and Riverside Drive and on West 154th Street.

5. *A Quiet Walk in Central Park by Frederic Winkowski

Not as good as 212 Views but still a nice little book. *Interesting and engaging commentary accompanies each photo.

6. *Wall Street by Robert Gambee

This, of course, refers to the Financial District in general. *Includes photos of building exteriors and interiors (including trading floors – god, they’re messy dudes, but I don’t envy their tiny, cramped, non-personal working conditions) accompanied by extended, in-depth captions. *Includes a couple of gorgeous photos of the Twin Towers from Battery Park City and the Wall Street area from South Cove. *Also the J. Seward Johnson bronze statue of a man sitting looking into his opened briefcase, this time snow-covered, that was so poignantly depicted post-9/11 covered and surrounded by dust and paper.

7. *Above Hallowed Ground, NYPD photographers

Includes not previously published photos of 9/11 NYC. *I already have several 9/11 books but I thought this one would be a worthwhile addition, particularly for the (only) aerial shots taken of the scene by NYPD photographers. *A comprehensive and very moving account by those directly involved of that terrible day. *I always cry when I see the pathetically lonely, very recognisable, remaining fragments of the steel structure at the base of the Twins. *This image alone will forever remain etched in my mind. *Watching it live on TV was so surreal. *I still can’t believe the Twins are not there any more. *This book will remind me over and over again.

8. *Brooklyn Then and Now by Marcia Reiss

I have several other Then and Now books from this series (New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Boston) which all provide me with endless hours of enjoyment and this latest addition is no exception. *Pretty self-explanatory -- black and white “thens” and colour “nows”. *I have several then and now books on NYC and what I find most engrossing (and fun) is examining the differences between the photos and discovering just how much and how little (or not at all) the views change over a significant time span. *That’s New York.

9. *NY-71 Daido Moriyama

I’m afraid I was very disappointed with this book. *It contains black and white photos (no captions or text) that are very grainy and often out of focus (obviously meant to be) taken by Daido Miroyama during his visit to NY in 1971. *The book is a paperback with a very minimalist exterior design that came in a thick, plain cardboard slipcase. *All very arty, but not my thing at all. *Perhaps it will become a collector’s item.

10. *New York New York by Richard Berenholtz

The ultimate coffee table book (if you’ve got an enormous, sturdy coffee table!). *This book is a numbered, limited edition (5000) which includes a separate print signed and numbered by Berenholtz. *Those familiar with Berenholtz’s photography will know that he favours detail and close-up images (gargoyles, tops of buildings, etc.) –- not my favourite style but the photos are still very evocative of the flavour and identity of NYC. *It includes several gatefolds containing panoramic views of the city which are several feet long. *Definitely a collector’s item.

11. *New York by Esther Selsdon and Klaus H. Carl

Published in 1999 (pretty old in publishing terms), this is essentially a picture book (I’m sure there’s a name for this kind of publication – mass market, el cheapo…?). *Nothing particularly special but still very New York. *I must say I was very frustrated by the less than helpful captions, for example, ”View of Manhattan”, when “Bryant Park” would have been equally economical with words but much more informative. *And another “View of Manhattan” which is unfortunately very small but a wonderful view of no less than four bridges in upper Manhattan (I think). *The section on Harlem and The Bronx was a bit perplexing. *I could be wrong, but two photos of fire escape-clad apartment buildings don’t look like they’re in Harlem. *One caption proclaims “Colourful façade in Harlem”, but I’m sure it’s a gallery in Soho and one photo is particularly puzzling. *The caption (ever unhelpful) says “Streets in Harlem” but the photo includes a street sign with “4th Ave” on it. *As far as I know (?), there is no 4th Avenue in Harlem and even after doing a bit of digging, I can’t work out where exactly it would be. *The 4th Avenues in The Bronx (Edgewater Park) and Queens (Malba? and Breezy Point) don’t seem to be contenders. *4th Avenue in Sunset Park, Brooklyn maybe?? *The picture is taken from a side street looking towards the 4th Avenue sign and includes a rather sad rubbish-strewn, bill postered landscape with some poor soul sleeping amongst it all. *This may, of course, be an old photo. *Perhaps someone can shed some light on this. *Anyway, there’s a typo on the back cover (“costums” instead of “customs”) and a number of the larger photos are markedly (surely not intentionally) out of focus, so maybe this is an overall indication of the quality of the publication?….

12. *Access New York City

10th Edition. *I’ve always enjoyed this series since I first discovered it. *Numbered entries of hotels, restaurants, attractions, shopping and parks/outdoors corresponding with matching numbers on maps of each neighbourhood. *I’ve kept all the previous editions (I’m missing a couple) as a very interesting record of (again) how much or little New York changes over time. *Despite being obviously subjective in some respects (restaurant food choices, for example), I think this is one of the better “guides” to NYC. *Its format is easy on the eye and provides practical information for travellers, without bombarding them with (albeit sometimes interesting for armchair travellers) too much detail.

January 13th, 2003, 02:14 AM
WOW! *Thanks, Merry!
I love this forum, so much intelligence here.

January 13th, 2003, 01:36 PM
If I am not mistaken, the only place that 4th Avenue exists in Manhattan is a small stretch between Cooper square and Union Square. *After that, it's Park Avenue. *So that should present a fairly narrow area from where that photo could have been taken.

January 13th, 2003, 05:22 PM
I just wanted to add a favorite book of mine for the NYC traveler...The Fodor's Guide to New York City. *I have an older version, but I noticed at Borders there is a new 2003 ed. out!

January 15th, 2003, 02:43 AM
Quote: from Eugenius on 1:36 am on Jan. 14, 2003
If I am not mistaken, the only place that 4th Avenue exists in Manhattan is a small stretch between Cooper square and Union Square. *After that, it's Park Avenue. *So that should present a fairly narrow area from where that photo could have been taken.

Yes, I did consider this, but didn't think it looked like that area at all, despite being close to the Bowery. *And Harlem is a long way from the East Village. *I've just had another look at the photo and I can just make out a sign on a building several stories high that says "Brooklyn Home of The News". *I can't make out what the words underneath say. *This building is in the cross street running through 4th Avenue. *There's also another building on the cross street with the sign "Underberg" and an address 420 Atlantic Avenue. *4th Avenue and Atlantic Avenue do intersect in Boerum Hill in Brooklyn. * I always thought Boerum Hill was a nice neighbourhood, but having read the entry in "The Neighborhoods of Brooklyn", apparently the area underwent a period of economic decline and in the early 1960s became *less than salubrious. *I'm no expert on American cars, but the ones in the photo look 1970s-ish, too. This may not be the answer, but it's amazing what you can find when you look properly!

January 21st, 2003, 05:44 AM
...speaking of looking properly, I think they must be going for a world record for the most mistakes in a book with this one, the number and basic basic nature of which beggars belief; not least getting bridges and buildings totally mixed up, not to mention the location of various sights being completely wrong.

January 26th, 2003, 02:27 PM
For some good NYC eye candy,check out "Manhattan Unfurled",a fold-out,pencil sketch(with some interesting perspectives)of the entine Island of Manhattan's waterfront,by Matteo Pericoli. East Side,West Side.All around the town.
I found these in the bargain bins:
"Perpetual Motion",by Joe Mysak--"The Illustrated History of The Port Authority".It's a P.A. PR piece,but some good photos and stories of NY.--"Too Big to Fail",by Walter Stewart.Not entirely about NY,it's about the Reichmann family who owned Olympia and York,who developed the *World Financial Center.

January 28th, 2003, 06:45 AM
I just found this site, which contains a sample of the photos in Torsten Andreas Hoffman's wonderful book of then and now photos of the WTC.


Go to the "Now and Then" section and click on View as Slide Show.

October 9th, 2006, 11:02 AM
Hi all

After visiting NYC for the first time in March this year, I am desparate to go back there!

I wondered if anyone can recommend any books about new york, I don’t mean the tourist ones as I have a few of those that I brought before visiting this year, but id quite like to read up some more about the history of NYC etc.

Please help


October 9th, 2006, 12:28 PM

October 9th, 2006, 01:25 PM
Try "The Historical Atlas of New York City" (Eric Homberger) Owl Books - for the basics - almost 200 pages.
"New York An Illustrated History" (Ric Burns & James Sanders with Lisa Ades) Knopf Books - getting on for 600 pages and more in-depth.

I would recommend both as really good 'coffee table' books.

Try also "The Encyclopedia Of New York City" (Kenneth T.Jackson), Yale.
This is a massive 1300 pages - and is for the inner anorak!

You should be able to find all of these on Amazon.

October 9th, 2006, 02:42 PM
I highly recommend New York an Illustrated History by Ric Burns, James Sanders and Lisa Ades. There is also a DVD series that goes along with it.


October 9th, 2006, 04:29 PM
What year do you want your New York?

It's a wee bit cheesy, but Jack Finney's "Time and Again" is a novel about a guy who time-travels back to the New York of 1882 -- and of course it's a love story.

My husband has great things to say about "Paradise Alley," which is Kevin Baker's story of the Civil War-era draft riots; move to the turn-of-the-century and you can see fictionalized Vanderbilts and Astors running around in Edith Wharton's "House of Mirth."

For the beginning of the Twentieth Century, I'd pick "Manhattan Transfer" -- about a bunch of different characters struggling to establish themselves in the city -- and for the Roaring '20s, "You Can't Go Home Again," where a successful writer gets thrown out of his hometown and gets caught up in the NY party scene.

ali r.

October 10th, 2006, 04:18 AM
Brilliant thanks everyone for your help.

Id quite like to start reading a few novels too after the history side of things. Will keep me going until i get to visit again!

they had these dvd postcards in some gift shops out there, the pictures were so good, anyone know of any good books full of pictures? we took loads ourselves but i cant get enough to be honest!

October 10th, 2006, 01:32 PM
Not so sure about books with good pictures - I very often browse through the photos posted on this site.

Try here also:

You sound like me Bubble06 - can't get enough of NYC and yearn to return (soon!)

October 11th, 2006, 04:54 AM
Its such a fantastic city though isnt it, you cant explain it properly to people, you have to go there! The atmosphere, the buzz, its brilliant!

I really want to go back we did everything we wanted and more in 5 days earler this year but theres still loads more to do! When did you go?

October 11th, 2006, 07:18 AM
...theres still loads more to do!
...and will continue to be. You never run out.

October 11th, 2006, 09:50 AM
New York City Books:
http://www.wirednewyork.com/forum/showthread.php?t=2932 (http://www.wirednewyork.com/forum/showthread.php?t=2932)

Books based in New York:
http://www.wirednewyork.com/forum/showthread.php?t=7920 (http://www.wirednewyork.com/forum/showthread.php?t=7920)

Looking for a good read (NY History):
http://www.wirednewyork.com/forum/showthread.php?t=5485 (http://www.wirednewyork.com/forum/showthread.php?t=5485)

October 11th, 2006, 02:13 PM
Bubble06, I have sent you a Private Message to discuss further if you wish.


October 11th, 2006, 02:18 PM
...and will continue to be. You never run out.

You said it Ablarc.
This is why we long to come back again and again - to revist the wonders we discovered on previous visits and to uncover more still.

I know that three times in five years (about 13 days in total) is never going to be enough!

I've lost count.... :o
but it's three hundred and forty-something days (and counting!) before I can return!!! D'oh!!

October 22nd, 2006, 05:14 PM

This is a fascinating look at Dutch-era NY, an era that generally gets little attention. The book is based on newly-discovered documents, painstakingly translated from the old-Dutch, which allows us a glance at the everyday life of early New Yorkers (or should I call them New Amsterdamers? )

The most interesting thing I found about the book is that it shows that New York's long-established business-friendly attitude created conditions that made religious and social freedoms essential aspects of society. This is very much unlike other early American settlements that were based on strictly religious convictions. For example, within only a few years of New Amsterdam’s establishment, over a dozen languages were spoken, varying religions were practiced, and any pilgrim would have fainted on the spot after seeing some of types of business that was conducted openly. This situation was not tolerated solely because settlers were needed for the city’s growth; Dutch tradition, for the most part, encouraged the establishment of these freedoms.

The Dutch, in founding New Amsterdam, introduced many of the values that, even now, are the cornerstone of this nation.

October 22nd, 2006, 05:43 PM
Brilliant thanks everyone for your help.

Id quite like to start reading a few novels too after the history side of things. Will keep me going until i get to visit again!

they had these dvd postcards in some gift shops out there, the pictures were so good, anyone know of any good books full of pictures? we took loads ourselves but i cant get enough to be honest!

If you are looking for books with current photos of NY, there are an awful lot of them and its hard for me to recommend one without knowing more about what you are interested in seeing.

For historical photos I recommend:

1) The Historical Atlas Of New York City: A Visual Celebration Of 400 Years Of New York City's History by Eric Homberger
(This is must buy, for its history as well as its maps and other images)

2) New York: An Illustrated History by Ric Burns, James Sanders, Lisa Ades
(recommended above as well, and I second the recommendation)

3) The Destruction of Lower Manhattan by Danny Lyon
(a great look at NY in the 60s)

4) Berenice Abbott: Changing New York by Bonnie Yochelson and Berenice Abbott
(a great look at 1930-40s NY)

5) New York Changing: Revisiting Berenice Abbott's New York By Douglas Levere, Bonnie Yochelson, and Paul Goldberger
(I’ve not seen this book but it seems pretty interesting. Its displays Berenice's photos along with current photos of the same locales.)

I'm a bit of a collector of NYC and Hudson Valley themed books so feel free to reply here or PM me if you want for more specific recommendations.

October 25th, 2006, 02:28 PM
Edward posted this link in another thread. It has some very worthwhile books: http://www.amazon.com/gp/explorer/1568984731/2/ref=pd_lpo_ase/102-8824071-4892100?

July 20th, 2007, 05:33 AM
I am interested in finding out more about street and place names in NYC, and have sorted out the names of a couple of books I may buy.

a) Naming New York. Sanna Feirsein. New York University Press.

b) The Street Book (An Encyclopedia of Manhattan Street Names and Their Origins. Henry Moscow. Fordham University Press.

Any advice is welcome.

Also any opinions on ("The Encyclopedia of NYC". Kenneth T. Jackson. Yale University Press), would be helpful.

July 20th, 2007, 10:28 AM
I bought the "Encyclopedia" a couple years ago,and have spent many hours since digesting what is in there.This is a dense book,a proper encyclopedia.It has heft,both in weight and information.There are nearly 1400 pages,and they are all coated with squinty print.If you buy the book,get a magnifying glass to go along with it.

The book (at least the edition I have) is somewhat dated now,having been copyrighted in 1995,but as a source for the answers to the many questions those curious about the Big City may ask,it's invaluable.
Kenneth Jackson,a New York enthusiast and architecture pundit for the "Times",was editor.

Want to know who Phil Ochs was,and why Woody Guthrie wound up in NY,or read a history of the Normandie? Do you even know about The Mad Bomber,NY's own homegrown terrorist?
There are 8 full pages about architecture and probably another two hundred seperate entries about significant buildings.
Sports gets 4 pages.So do songs about the City.
You can find out who the Bruckner Expressway was named after,then read about how Robert Moses forever screwed up the Bronx by building it.How about something concerning Malba?
Probably anything discussed on these pages is represented in this book--except pizza,and that may be in there somewhere,under "Italians" or "restaurants"...

There are tons of photos,maps,lists,population figures,notable buildings,and hundreds of biographies of New Yorkers,some very interesting.
Whatever you need to know.It's probably the last pre-digital effort of it's kind.

Last week,I stopped into a little rare and used bookstore on Broadway in the 80s.He had a copy and wanted $40 for it;I bought mine online and paid about the same,considering the shipping charges.Shipping anvils would be cheaper,I think.

August 10th, 2007, 08:42 AM
I would definately reccommend The Mole People, by Jennifer Toth. An insight into life in the tunnels under New York. Written in the early 90's.

August 14th, 2007, 03:15 AM
New York In The Forties: Feininger

August 14th, 2007, 03:29 AM
A few of my favorite new books:

New York Streetscapes: A great book about the fascinating history and back stories behind great buildings, many of which will be newly introduced.

Robert Moses and the Modern City: A great book about parks, highways, and housing projects built under the Moses' era.

New York 2000: I would recommend this book on the pictures alone, I doubt I'll ever have the time to finish it, great great book.

August 14th, 2007, 08:55 AM
These don't concern just New York, but they're mostly focused on it:

- Sidewalk Critic: Lewis Mumford's writings on New York

- Form Follows Finance, by Carol Willis. It follows the development of skyscrapers in NY and Chicago and how market demands and zoning laws (literally) shaped them.

And I'm with Stern on New York 2000. I haven't bought the book yet, but I've probably spent about 5 hours in a Borders pouring myself over it. Great stuff.

August 14th, 2007, 07:31 PM
About halfway finished with Gotham - History of NYC up to 1898 - so far very interesting.

August 15th, 2007, 10:21 AM
If you want to dive into the deep end of New York's history pool,get "Island at the Center of The World" ,by Russell Shorto.

It's about the Dutch,the original settlers of Manhattan,who through the efforts of Henreich Hudson,"discovered" the perfect port in the New World and proceeded to create the City we are all so proud of today.

It's a book dense with the history of the early settlement of NY.

August 16th, 2007, 09:39 AM
quotable New York by Gregg Stebben is a great book with quotes of people from NYC about NYC like: Rudolph Giuliani, Ed Koch, Jerry Seinfeld, Donald Trump, Brooke Astor and many more

March 9th, 2008, 05:51 AM
McSorley's Wonderful Saloon, by Joseph Mitchell.

A collection of short stories, most of them about New York City in the 1930's and 40's.

A number of very amusing tales about old time NY, and characters such as Professor Sea Gull (Joe Gould) and street preacher the Reverend Mr. James Jefferson Davis Hall.

March 9th, 2008, 05:59 AM
Reading New York

Witness to the Poor, and a Grand Ship Undone

By SAM ROBERTS (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/r/sam_roberts/index.html?inline=nyt-per)
Published: March 9, 2008

EVERY generation needs to rediscover Jacob Riis for itself. Born with a preacher’s passion, building on decades of prodigious research by scholars and fellow reformers and empowered by the emerging potency of photography, Riis transformed himself from a penniless Danish immigrant into the conscience of New York and a confidant of Theodore Roosevelt (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/r/theodore_roosevelt/index.html?inline=nyt-per)’s.

Jacob A. Riis Collection
A scrub woman in 1892, from “Rediscovering Jacob Riis.”

In companion essays in “Rediscovering Jacob Riis: Exposure Journalism and Photography in Turn-of-the-Century New York” (The New Press, $35), Bonnie Yochelson, a former curator at the Museum of the City of New York (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/organizations/m/museum_of_the_city_of_new_york/index.html?inline=nyt-org), and Daniel Czitrom, a history professor at Mount Holyoke College (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/organizations/m/mount_holyoke_college/index.html?inline=nyt-org), assess Riis’s immediate and enduring impact without overlooking his weaknesses and prejudices.

“How the Other Half Lives,” the title of the work with which Riis remains most closely associated, was an understatement. The poor he chronicled probably accounted for more like three-quarters of New York’s population. An earlier version of the title was more to the point: “How the Other Half Lives and Dies.”

The authors trace Riis’s evolving reputation in the universe of fellow social activists. In the late 19th century, Riis was first and foremost an advocate for housing reform. Later, he was pigeonholed by progressives for his old-fashioned faith in Christian charity and his distrust of government. Finally, he was rediscovered as an inspiration for the New Deal.

“I had no special genius, no special ability,” Riis wrote. “I had endurance, and I reached at last the heart of men; that is all I can claim.”
“Although his innovations quickly became commonplace,” the authors write, “Riis posed a series of urgent, often implicit, questions to himself and his readers, which remain surprisingly apt today: What is the structural relationship between persistent poverty and new immigrants? If different ‘races’ and nationalities possess inherent moral and cultural characteristics, how can that be reconciled with the American creed of individualism? How does environment shape ‘character’? What are the proper roles of government, public philanthropy, and religion in reform efforts? How important is spectacle and entertainment in rousing the public conscience?”

The text is sometimes too technical and the images repetitive (though this is, after all, a book about imagery). But ultimately “Rediscovering Jacob Riis” is an evocative and valuable reminder both of one unrelenting individual’s ability to make a difference and of the relevance of his revelations to the painfully familiar problems we face today.

The painting on the cover of John Maxtone-Graham’s “Normandie: France’s Legendary Art Deco Ocean Liner” (W. W. Norton, $100) depicts the fabled liner’s maiden arrival in New York in 1935. It was the beginning of a storied romance that included the ship, its crew and passengers and its host city. Seven years later, the romance ended tragically and somewhat mysteriously on the West Side of Manhattan.

Mr. Maxtone-Graham, a New Yorker whose two dozen books on the great liners of the past include “The Only Way to Cross,” describes in riveting detail the ship’s exuberant life and its agonizing death throes.

On Aug. 28, 1939, passengers from Europe disembarked at Pier 88 from the Normandie for the last time. The ship was scheduled to return to France two days later, but the voyage was aborted. That same day, the Bremen sailed home to Germany from New York. Less than a week later, the world was at war.

For more than two years, the Normandie hibernated off Manhattan, its rugs preserved with four tons of mothballs and the vessel staffed by a skeleton crew of 114. Seized by the United States and rechristened the U.S.S. Lafayette, it was being converted into a troop ship when it caught fire and capsized. Six investigations later, the liner was refloated, towed to Brooklyn and sold for scrap.

“Lafayette was upended, demeaned and undignified, like a dowager who, slipping on a wintry sidewalk, falls with upraised skirt, helpless prey for voyeurs,” Mr. Maxtone-Graham writes in one of his many eloquent passages. “Thirty thousand of them showed up that first morning alone.”

Washington Irving (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/i/washington_irving/index.html?inline=nyt-per)’s name may not roll off the lips of Knicks fans, whose team drew its name from the author’s most memorable creation. But as Brian Jay Jones writes in his charming biography “Washington Irving: An American Original” (Arcade Publishing, $29.99), Irving ranked as one of America’s greatest writers, bon vivants and literary showmen.

It was Irving who not only wrote a “History of New York From the Beginning of the World to the End of the Dutch Dynasty” but also invented its author, Diedrich Knickerbocker, that mythological chronicler of Dutch New York, and perpetrated a literary marketing campaign that Madison Avenue might envy.

Irving, described by Mr. Jones as “the first American to earn a living by his pen,” was named after the first president (the village of Irvington, in Westchester County, was named after him), and he died not long after completing the final volume of Washington’s biography.

He left no formal epitaph beyond a literary legacy that included Knickerbocker, Rip Van Winkle and Ichabod Crane, along with the modest hope that while his writings “may appear light and trifling in our country of philosophers and politicians,” if they “possess merit in the class of literature to which they belong, it is all to which I aspire in the work.”

Copyright 2008 The New York Times Company.

March 10th, 2008, 06:51 PM
Shameless plug: Diary of a Real Estate Rookie is a memoir and about half of it takes place in Manhattan, in both swanky multi-million-dollar condos and the little studio near Lincoln Center where I'm writing this now.

Less shameless plugs: There are some great New York novels -- Washington Square, A Hazard of New Fortunes, and Manhattan Transfer come to mind. Time and Again by Jack Finney is not as literary, but it is a pretty wonderful window into the New York City of yesteryear.

ali r.
{downtown broker, and, er, author, of Diary of a Real Estate Rookie}

March 11th, 2008, 09:53 AM
Shameless plug: Diary of a Real Estate Rookie is a memoir and about half of it takes place in Manhattan, in both swanky multi-million-dollar condos and the little studio near Lincoln Center where I'm writing this now.

Less shameless plugs: There are some great New York novels -- Washington Square, A Hazard of New Fortunes, and Manhattan Transfer come to mind. Time and Again by Jack Finney is not as literary, but it is a pretty wonderful window into the New York City of yesteryear.

ali r.
{downtown broker, and, er, author, of Diary of a Real Estate Rookie}

Not shameless at all, perfectly relevant to this thread!

I really loved Finney's Time and Again too and also the sequel From Time to Time (with an eerie twist at the end).

March 11th, 2008, 10:00 AM
Purely a feast for the eyes, just gorgeous photos and captions, Manhattan New York (http://www.amazon.com/Gerrit-Engle-Manhattan-New-York/dp/3829601573/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1205243999&sr=1-1), by Gerrit Engel.

July 26th, 2008, 04:58 AM
July 25, 2008, 9:34 am

A New History for an Old Skyscraper

By Sewell Chan (http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/author/schan/)

The Woolworth Building, known for its height when it opened in 1913, is being extensively renovated. (Photo: Marilynn K. Yee/The New York Times)

Updated, 12:38 p.m. |

On the evening of April 24, 1913, President Woodrow Wilson pressed a tiny button inside the White House (http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=9907E3DA1F3AE633A25756C2A9629C94 6296D6CF), lighting up the Woolworth Building in Manhattan. It was “the tallest structure in the world, with the one exception of the Eiffel Tower in Paris,” The New York Times reported, and it was a marvel of architecture and engineering.

Of course, the Woolworth Building has been surpassed in height — by the Chrysler Building in 1930 and by the Empire State Building in 1931 — and it has at times seemed to recede into the fabric of Lower Manhattan. The building’s owners at one point considered converting the building into luxury apartments (http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=990DEFD61030F931A35752C1A9669C8B 63), but now the structure is being refurbished as top-end offices (http://www.nytimes.com/2007/05/30/realestate/commercial/30woolworth.html).

“The Skyscraper and the City: The Woolworth Building and the Making of Modern New York.”

“The Skyscraper and the City: The Woolworth Building and the Making of Modern New York,” (http://www.press.uchicago.edu/cgi-bin/hfs.cgi/00/219823.ctl) a book scheduled to be released next week by the University of Chicago Press, offers a new examination of the building and its significance in New York’s history.

The 400-page book is the culmination of more than 15 years of research by Gail Fenske, a professor of architecture at Roger Williams University (http://www.rwu.edu/) in Bristol, R.I., who began the project as a doctoral dissertation at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The book provides a new perspective on some of the most notable aspects of the Woolworth Building, like its eclectic design — Beaux-Arts with Gothic ornamentation, over steel-frame engineering. The building has been seen as “a throwback, a historicist building, not truly a modern building,” Professor Fenske said in an interview, adding that she instead sees the building as “in a sense emblematic of modernity,” capturing both “the excitement of the new — the breaking of technological barriers — and also, on the other hand, a discomfort with it.”

Designed by Cass Gilbert (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/g/cass_gilbert/index.html), the building, at 233 Broadway, between Park Place and Barclay Street, was commissioned by the retail magnate Frank W. Woolworth and constructed between 1910 and 1913. Woolworth famously financed the building without loans or help from developers. “He financed it on his own,” Professor Fenske said. “It was unnerving to speculators, because he could do whatever he wanted.”

The book contains numerous illustrations, including one showing a 1929 advertisement for the building, calling it a “Cathedral of Commerce” — a name that has stuck — and lauding its height (792 feet), number of floors (60), weight (206 million pounds), floor area (15 acres), exterior windows (3,000), tons of steel (24,000), bricks (17 million) and tons of terra cotta (7,500).

In the interview, Professor Fenske said she initially disliked the moniker “Cathedral of Commerce,” finding it glib and simplistic. But as she studied the context in which the tower rose, she said, she began to see the name as appropriate. Its Gothic gestures suggested comfort, “moralizing evocations” of the old world from which many of Woolworth’s customers had come. (Although Woolworth, the 5- and 10-cent emporium, was in some ways the Wal-Mart of its era, it also differed from today’s big-box retailers. For instance, Woolworth’s carried finely crafted products imported from Europe that would be particularly familiar — and appealing — to immigrant customers.) By turning to Beaux-Arts design, Professor Fenske writes, Gilbert and Woolworth “resisted the forces of sensationalism and spectacle” associated with advertising and mass culture.

The book places the Woolworth Building in the context of its time and place: the booming commercial culture of early 20th century New York; the often unsettling experience of modernization; advances in technology and communications; and a new phenomenon of “urban spectatorship” that made skyscrapers sources of public wonder and admiration.

Many innovations set the Woolworth Building apart. It contained a shopping arcade, health club, barber shop, restaurant, social club and even an observatory. Its use of technology — including an innovative water supply system, a electrical generating plan, high-speed electric elevators providing both local and express service and what Professor Fenske calls “the first prominent use of architectural floodlighting in the world” — also set it apart. So did the construction process, run by the builder Louis Horowitz of the Thompson-Starrett Company, who managed to avoid labor conflict, rationalize the building process and set a record for speed — paving the way for the famously rapid completion of the Empire State Building nearly 20 years later.

The building has survived the Woolworth Corporation itself. The company announced in 1997 that it would close its remaining discount stores (http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9800E7D81E38F93BA25754C0A9619582 60). The company was renamed the Venator Group (http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9402E4D71E3AF931A25755C0A96E9582 60), began focusing on athletic wear, and since 2001 has done business under the Foot Locker name (http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9407E1DD1E30F931A35752C1A9679C8B 63).

Although there are no longer Woolworth’s stores in the United States, the Woolworths Group (http://www.woolworthsgroupplc.com/), a former subsidiary of the American company, continues to operate hundreds of retail stores in Britain.

Summarizing the legacy of the Woolworth Building, Professor Fenske writes:

The question of whether the Woolworth Building is, indeed, a great work of architecture may still be open to debate. Yet Woolworth and Gilbert’s project represented in the eyes of contemporaries more than a vulgar contraption for producing a profit, and more than a dubious expression of corporate power, egregious advertising, or an aggressive assault on New York’s new signature skyline.
As the building approaches its centennial, she argues, New Yorkers should recognize not only its “aesthetic distinction” but also how “it reflected and refracted the many dreams and obsessions of the urban society that produced it.”


Copyright 2008 (http://www.nytimes.com/ref/membercenter/help/copyright.html) The New York Times Company (http://www.nytco.com/)

July 27th, 2008, 06:49 AM
“The End of the Innocence: The 1964-65 New York World’s Fair”

NOT long ago, I wrote that New York’s last World’s Fair, in 1964-65, paled in comparison with the 1939 version, but at least “did expose
Michelangelo’s ‘Pietà’ to millions and popularized the Belgian waffle.” In his new book, “The End of the Innocence: The 1964-65 New York World’s Fair” (Syracuse University (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/organizations/s/syracuse_university/index.html?inline=nyt-org) Press, $29.95), Lawrence R. Samuel rejects similar swipes as “dismissive thinking.” Instead, he delivers an overdue and well-deserved encomium to a largely denigrated chapter in the city’s history.

“There were,” writes Mr. Samuel, the author of several books of social history, “really two fairs in Queens in 1964 and 1965, or at least two constructions of its past. The first,” among the last gasps of the master builder Robert Moses (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/m/robert_moses/index.html?inline=nyt-per), “is steeped in its official memory, the business enterprise that lost money, overcharged exhibitors, offended the intellectual and aesthetic elite. The other can be found in its popular memory — the experience that most visitors found thoroughly enjoyable, if not enthralling, that sparked imaginations and reshaped people’s vision of the world.”

Mr. Samuel, like the fair itself, may sometimes overstate his case. But his book is a thoroughly enjoyable, if not always enthralling, reconstruction of both a largely forgotten era and of a society on the cusp of upheaval. No wonder, as he writes, the fair’s organizers bypassed “the uninviting near future” for a distant utopian vision.

I have my own recollections of the fair. I was 15, and my parents wouldn’t let me go on opening day because of fears that threatened civil rights demonstrations might turn violent, fears that, Mr. Lawrence writes, signaled America’s emergence from a “postwar cocoon.”

My own loss of innocence, though, was probably more attributable to the good times I enjoyed with various high school and college girlfriends during what must have been a dozen visits to Flushing Meadows over the next two years. These visits exposed me to, among other things, color television, the Ford Mustang, the Pietà and, yes, Belgian waffles.

For all of Moses’ faults, Mr. Lawrence reminds us, the legacy of his fair includes a mountain of magical individual reminiscences, along with the transformation of the part of Queens that F. Scott Fitzgerald (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/f/f_scott_fitzgerald/index.html?inline=nyt-per) once described as a “valley of ashes” into a great park where, even today, new memories are being made.


Copyright 2008 (http://www.nytimes.com/ref/membercenter/help/copyright.html) The New York Times Company (http://www.nytco.com/)

September 15th, 2008, 11:28 AM


The Brooklyn Historical Society (http://www.brooklynhistory.org/) was also at the Frolic today, hot off the presses with their latest publication, a Flatbush Neighborhood History Guide. (It's not yet up on their website to order, but surely will be soon.) Skimming it, I already found a nice tidbit combining two of my favorite things, Prospect Park and the Irish:

October 18th, 2008, 05:08 AM
Reading New York

Apocalypse Forever, a Sharp-Eyed Insider and a Pointed Pen

By SAM ROBERTS (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/r/sam_roberts/index.html?inline=nyt-per)
Published: October 17, 2008

NOW that the latest anniversary of 9/11 is behind us, with Wall Street rescued by Washington and New Yorkers sleeping easier because Mayor Bloomberg (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/b/michael_r_bloomberg/index.html?inline=nyt-per) has decided to run again, you can safely read “The City’s End” (Yale University Press, $37.50).Otherwise, it might be just a little bit too creepy, even tasteless, to wade into what the subtitle describes as “Two Centuries of Fantasies, Fears and Premonitions of New York’s Destruction.”


The New Yorker Collection 1997 Danny Shanahan, via Cartoonbank.com

But rather than celebrate the city’s mostly mythical apocalypses, though, Max Page, an associate professor of architecture and history at the University of Massachusetts (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/organizations/u/university_of_massachusetts/index.html?inline=nyt-org) in Amherst, examines why these events have been repeatedly invoked as a cultural device by, among others, W. E. B. Du Bois, Upton Sinclair (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/s/upton_sinclair/index.html?inline=nyt-per) and Collier’s magazine in a 1950 cover that envisioned an atomic blast over Manhattan.

In this erudite but lavishly illustrated volume, Professor Page, who also wrote “The Creative Destruction of Manhattan,” points out that so much of our real and imagined havoc was selfinflicted (from 19th-century overdevelopment that would sink the island to 21st-century climate change (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/science/topics/globalwarming/index.html?inline=nyt-classifier) that would inundate it) by residents who had no time for history.

You can argue with some of the author’s sweeping conclusions, but his premise is provocative: “Embracing these fantasies of the city’s destruction is a reaffirmation of New York’s greatness.”

“We destroy New York on film and paper,” he writes, “by telling stories of clear and present dangers, with causes and effects, villains and heroes, to make our world more comprehensible than it has become.”

For leavening, Professor Page includes the New Yorker cartoon of King Kong and Godzilla nonchalantly strolling past urban mayhem as pedestrians flee before them. “Let’s face it,” the scaly monster says cheerfully to his furry friend, “the city’s in our blood.”

You don’t have to know Richard M. Rosenbaum to thoroughly enjoy his charming memoir and political primer, “No Room for Democracy: The Triumph of Ego Over Common Sense” (RIT Press, $27.95). You don’t even have to like him, although nearly everyone does.

Mr. Rosenbaum, a former State Supreme Court justice, was New York’s gregarious Republican state chairman and a national committee member during the governorship and vice presidency of Nelson Rockefeller, as well as a gubernatorial candidate himself.

He’s at his best recounting the nuts and bolts (there were plenty of both) of local politics. His advice includes “If you want to get into politics, make sure you can count” and “There is no room for democracy in politics.”

But the discerning reader is left wanting even more detail on matters like why Mr. Rockefeller disliked Jacob Javits, the state’s senior senator (ego over common sense); which political insider was the middleman in a possible bribery scheme; and the risks of crossing the Rockefeller family (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/r/rockefeller_family/index.html?inline=nyt-per) and the power that family wielded.

Mr. Rosenbaum recalls flying over South Dakota on Mr. Rockefeller’s private jet in 1974, eager to see Mount Rushmore, but disappointed when the plane arrived after dark. Mr. Rockefeller left his seat briefly, and by the time he returned, the monument was bathed in floodlights. “One of the most powerful men in the country,” Mr. Rosenbaum remembered, “had just worked a miracle of sorts for my pleasure.”

Although the presidency was one miracle that remained elusive to Mr. Rockefeller, Mr. Rosenbaum did help him become vice president. And Mr. Rosenbaum shares Mr. Rockefeller’s thinking on the merits of that office.

“I have known well all the vice presidents since Henry Wallace,” Mr. Rockefeller wrote to Mr. Rosenbaum in 1979, “and I think it is fair to say that all of them were frustrated.”

“I don’t care a straw for your newspaper articles,” William Marcy Tweed said in 1870. “My constituents don’t know how to read, but they can’t help seeing them damned pictures.”

Before there was YouTube and “Saturday Night Live (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/subjects/s/saturday_night_live/index.html?inline=nyt-classifier),” there was Thomas Nast, whose devastating caricatures in Harper’s Weekly helped produce Boss Tweed’s ignominious downfall. And in “Doomed by Cartoon: How Cartoonist Thomas Nast and The New-York Times Brought Down Boss Tweed and His Ring of Thieves” (Morgan James,$19.95), John Adler, a self-described amateur historian, along with Draper Hill (himself a political cartoonist), present Nast’s work in serialized comic book form.

Nast’s drawings are fleshed out by an informative and engaging narrative that credits his impact without overlooking his political incorrectness. The caricatures are a vivid reminder that both campaigns and political commentary have, for the most part, gotten tamer.

Peter Golenbock, the sportswriter who compiled a memorable oral history of the Brooklyn Dodgers (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/organizations/b/brooklyn_dodgers/index.html?inline=nyt-org), returns to the borough and the genre with “In the Country of Brooklyn: Inspiration to the World” (William Morrow, $32.95).

“This is a recounting of the importance of immigrants to this land, with the spotlight on those who escaped war, hunger and deprivation to come to Brooklyn,” Mr. Golenbock writes. “It is also the story of those whose bigotry and narrow-mindedness caused them to fight to keep out those who were different from them.”

The book was born in a question that Mr. Golenbock asked himself one day in the shower: Why was Jackie Robinson (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/r/jackie_robinson/index.html?inline=nyt-per) beloved in Brooklyn, but hated just about everywhere else?

Through his interviews with an eclectic group of Brooklynites — Marvin Miller, Ira Glasser (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/g/ira_glasser/index.html?inline=nyt-per), Pete Hamill (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/h/pete_hamill/index.html?inline=nyt-per), Neil Sedaka, Bruce Morrow, John Hope Franklin (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/f/john_hope_franklin/index.html?inline=nyt-per), Charles Barron (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/b/charles_barron/index.html?inline=nyt-per) and Victor Robles, along with many others — Mr. Golenbock largely accomplishes his mission of letting Brooklynites, through their own stories, reveal the history of a borough that inspired the world and to which, according to some estimates, as many as one in seven Americans can trace their roots.

As he sums up his mission: “My goal was to try to do for Brooklyn what John Dos Passos did for America.”


Copyright 2008 (http://www.nytimes.com/ref/membercenter/help/copyright.html) The New York Times Company (http://www.nytco.com/)

October 30th, 2008, 09:51 AM
Ushering in the Avant-Garde

A venerable critic collects 40 years of writing on architecture

by Damian Da Costa (http://www.observer.com/2007/author/damian-da-costa)
October 29, 2008

This article was published in the November 3, 2008, edition of The New York Observer.


On Architecture: Collected Reflections on a Century of Chang
By Ada Louise Huxtable
Walker & Co., 496 pages, $35

The question of the day is about public taste, and whether there can any longer be such a thing. When I asked a few of my friends who are young architects what they thought of Ada Louise Huxtable, venerable critic most recently for The Wall Street Journal and for whom The New York Times invented the job of newspaper architecture critic, the response ranged from blank to neutral. One told me her parents had mailed to her clippings of Ms. Huxtable’s Journal pieces when she was studying at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, the way parents do when trying earnestly to relate to kids launched far into the realms of professional sophistication. “It’s cute when they do that,” she said.

Older architects certainly know Ms. Huxtable, and not just because they used to read newspapers. She began her career in the 1950s at Philip Johnson’s side as he helped found the Museum of Modern Art’s department of architecture and design. That early experience says it all about Mr. Huxtable’s eye for buildings: She’s been an avid explainer of architecture’s avant-garde, ushering each new trend (usefully embodied by gods like Louis Kahn and stars like Rem Koolhaas) safely into public understanding, all the while keeping a reporter’s eye on the real estate developers, whose ascendancy Ms. Huxtable, in her new collection of architectural journalism selected from a career spanning 40 years, describes with almost eerie equanimity:

“If the modern skyscraper has resolved any of architecture’s intrinsic ambiguities, it has done so in a thoroughly unexpected and unsettling way. Today’s big building is a masterpiece of economic manipulation, a monument to the marketplace and entrepreneurial skills. These are skills that command the kind of reverence and awe reserved for theological, moral, and aesthetic issues in earlier societies.”

On Architecture contains any number of similar remarks—expressions of disdain for the corruption of humane artistic values by the forces of profit, in a style compressed by the rush of daily journalism into simple statements of value and truth. No manifestos nor shrillness nor, most importantly for the critic, any hint of dogma. As she puts it in the book’s introduction, her authority derives simply from having been there—as a chronicler of the 20th century’s revolution in architecture, Ms. Huxtable never had the luxury of deciding whether a building or style or architect was worth thinking about. She processed it all, in real time, and the result is prose as self-assured as it is unadorned with the peacock feathers of architectural theory. “Deconstruction, building as ‘text’ or ‘narrative,’ contextualism, chaos theory, all have had their day and devotees,” she wrote in a 1995 New York Review of Books essay. “A few notable examples of work driven by theory become transient landmarks or textbook illustrations; the rest make it to the New York Times style pages, where styles go to die.”

If there’s one piece in this collection that distills Ms. Huxtable’s sensibility, it’s “The Way It Never Was,” her assault on the prefab mallification of America’s public spaces. South Street Seaport in New York, Faneuil Hall Marketplace in Boston, Disneyland and Colonial Williamsburg—all create theme-park versions of history divorced from any honest relationship with the past. Ms. Huxtable writes

“They deny imperfections, alterations and accommodations; they wipe out all the incidents of life and change. The worn stone, the chafed corner, the threshold low and uneven from many feet, the marks on walls and windows that carry the presence and message of remembered eyes and hands. … There is nothing left of the journey from there to here, nothing that palpably joins the past to the present, that makes direct physical and emotional contact with the viewer, the bittersweet link with those who have been there before.”

Like any good critic, Ms. Huxtable guards that bittersweet link with tenacity and eloquence, and it’s a principle that has filtered down to her successors at The New York Times. When Nicolai Ouroussoff recently complimented the New York Public Library for its choice of British architect Norman Foster to design its new, underground circulating library, it was pure Huxtable: “The project’s potential,” he wrote, “lies in the delicious tension that could be created between old and new.”

In fact, Ada Louise Huxtable’s standard of judgment is available to everyone, regardless of their expertise in the history and theory of architecture. It’s everywhere implicit in her decades of criticism: She urges us to ask the building if it’s telling the truth.

Damian Da Costa is on the staff of The Observer. He can be reached at ddacosta@observer.com


© 2008 Observer Media Group

November 11th, 2008, 09:38 PM
I'm reading "Gotham" by Mike Wallace and I think it is very interesting. Isn't it a Nobel-prize winner?

November 11th, 2008, 09:43 PM

December 8th, 2008, 03:59 AM
As for books specifically about NYC neighbourhoods, I highly recommend:

Neighborhoods of Queens (http://www.amazon.com/Neighborhoods-Queens-New-York-City/dp/0300112998/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1228725422&sr=1-1)

Neighborhoods of Brooklyn (http://www.amazon.com/Neighborhoods-Brooklyn-New-York-City/dp/0300103107/ref=pd_bxgy_b_img_b)

This series will eventually include books on the other boroughs as well. The one on The Bronx was meant to be published in February this year, but the publisher informed me that publication has been delayed until November 2009 :(.

Also these:

Brooklyn: People and Places, Past and Present (http://www.amazon.com/Brooklyn-People-Places-Past-Present/dp/0810991780/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1228725903&sr=1-1)

Greenwich Village and How It Got That Way (http://www.amazon.com/Greenwich-Village-How-Got-That/dp/0517573229/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1228725969&sr=1-1)

Manhattan's Turtle Bay: Story of a Midtown Neighborhood (http://www.amazon.com/Manhattans-Turtle-Bay-Midtown-Neighborhood/dp/0738525235/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1228726037&sr=1-2)

From the excellent historical series "Images of America":

Bedford-Stuyvesant (http://www.amazon.com/Bedford-Stuyvesant-Images-America-New-York/dp/0738550043/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1228726193&sr=1-1)

South Bronx (http://www.amazon.com/South-Bronx-NY-Images-America/dp/0738510203/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1228726274&sr=1-4)

Washington Heights, Inwood, and Marble Hill (http://www.amazon.com/Washington-Heights-Inwood-Marble-America/dp/0738554782/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1228726450&sr=1-1)


South Bronx Rising: The Rise, Fall, and Resurrection of an American City (http://www.amazon.com/South-Bronx-Rising-Resurrection-American/dp/0823221997/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1228726274&sr=1-2)

Harlem Lost and Found (http://www.amazon.com/Harlem-Found-Michael-Henry-Adams/dp/1580930700/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1228726525&sr=1-1)

December 9th, 2008, 05:40 AM
http://www.nyc.gov/html/lpc/includes/site_images/spacers/spacer_369_15.gif Revised Landmarks Guide Just Published!
The Landmarks Preservation Commission today announced it has just published the Guide to New York City Landmarks, Fourth Edition (John Wiley & Sons). Covering approximately 1,200 landmarks, 90 historic districts, and spanning four centuries of the City’s history, this updated and revised paperback is a walking tour guide, architectural primer and textbook all rolled into one. Packed with 200 photographs, 75 two-color maps and fresh details about the City’s newest historic districts, the Guide is the best way to get acquainted with the rich architectural history and beauty of the world’s greatest City.
http://www.nyc.gov/html/lpc/includes/site_images/misc/arrow.gifPurchase the Guide to New York City Landmarks at CityStore (http://a856-citystore.nyc.gov/ProductDetails.aspx?ProductName=Guide%20to%20NYC%2 0Landmarks%20–%20Fourth%20Edition&ProductID=6316&CategoryID=89)

December 9th, 2008, 11:04 AM
And the price is not so bad:

Guide to NYC Landmarks – Fourth Edition

Item No: 09400 (http://a856-citystore.nyc.gov/ProductDetails.aspx?ProductName=Guide%20to%20NYC%2 0Landmarks%20–%20Fourth%20Edition&ProductID=6316&CategoryID=89)

Price: $32.95

December 9th, 2008, 03:03 PM
Guide to NYC Landmarks – Fourth Edition

Looks like they moved the page.

Let's try this LINK (http://a856-citystore.nyc.gov/ProductDetails.aspx?ProductName=Guide%20to%20NYC%2 0Landmarks%20–%20Fourth%20Edition&ProductID=6316&CategoryID=89)

No. I'm getting the same message as the previous two links.

December 9th, 2008, 06:02 PM
go to that ^ link and then click the Books icon ...

December 9th, 2008, 06:17 PM
We actually should not be direct linking in this forum, especially for a cash generating venue.

December 9th, 2008, 08:15 PM
Then you would have to scrap most of this thread.

December 9th, 2008, 10:23 PM
We actually should not be direct linking in this forum ...

Does that mean one should only link to the main page of any other site?

I've never really understood the theory / etiquette behind that.

December 9th, 2008, 11:42 PM
It's the policy coming from Edward.

December 10th, 2008, 04:52 AM
I think this should be discussed in Forum Issues, because there are thousands of DIRECT LINKS given by members as help to other members, and also lots are embedded in articles.

Whoops, there goes another. You can't get Baseball Jackets here.

December 13th, 2008, 04:20 AM
Reading New York

Page Turners Amid the Mistletoe

By SAM ROBERTS (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/r/sam_roberts/index.html?inline=nyt-per)
Published: December 12, 2008

YOU might worry about both parties when a newspaper reporter admits to having a spiritual adviser, but it all worked out for the best for Michael Daly and especially his loyal readers.

http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2008/12/14/nyregion/14read.bridge.large.jpgTony Cenicola/The New York Times
The Brooklyn Bridge, from “Manhattan in Detail.”

http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2008/12/14/nyregion/thecity/14read.tall.jpg Tony Cenicola/The New York Times
"Skyscrapers: A History of the World’s Most Extraordinary Buildings," by Judith Dupré.

Mr. Daly’s latest book is a marvelously revealing, inspirational, sensitive and surprisingly candid account of the life and good works of the Rev. Mychal Judge, the Franciscan friar and New York City Fire Department chaplain who died on Sept. 11, 2001, ministering to his extended flock at the World Trade Center.

Just in time for the holidays comes “The Book of Mychal: The Surprising Life and Heroic Death of Father Mychal Judge” (Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin’s Press, $27.95). Father Judge was larger than life, a mythic holy man. Mr. Daly is a columnist for The Daily News, and his book accomplishes a minor miracle. To paraphrase Jim Dwyer of The New York Times, Mr. Daly rescues Father Judge from 9/11’s mythic piety by exposing and exploring his humanity.

Father Judge was as disconnected from the bureaucracy of the Catholic church as he was married to the church spiritually. He was a gentle and nonjudgmental man who, a priest who ran a shelter in Harlem for homeless people with AIDS, recalled, “used to put it to me, if you descend into somebody else’s private hell and stand there with them, it ceases to be hell.”

Mr. Daly’s affecting style bestows a surprising humaneness on mayors and commissioners and, through diary entries and other sources, reconciles Father Judge’s love of people generally, including the police officers and firefighters who lionized him, and his love of individuals.

“He seemed to them to be as close as any mortal could be to Christ on earth, and they did not even think of him as a sexual being, much less as gay,” Mr. Daly writes. “The very fact he could inspire them to believe caused him to fear that if he broke that spell they would feel betrayed and lose their faith.

“That they did not suspect, even after seeing his spectrum of guests get up and dance at the Emerald Society dinner, suggested how determinedly they believed their shape-shifting priest to be who they needed him to be.”

Father Judge was always who they needed him to be, and so is Mr. Daly.

Dominated by the looming Super Bowl, the holidays offer a timely reminder of the oversize role that gambling plays in America. Michael J. Agovino needs no reminder. His father was a bookie.

“The Bookmaker: A Memoir of Money, Luck and Family From the Utopian Outskirts of New York City” (HarperCollins, $24.95) is Mr. Agovino’s debut book. Here’s hoping it won’t be his last. A writer for various publications and Web sites, Mr. Agovino has produced a charming, evocative memoir about growing up a generation ago in Co-op City, the Bronx.

“ ‘How did we end up here?’ my mother said again and again,” he writes. “How did we end up here?” Once they had arrived (his father came from East Harlem, his mother from Bushwick, Brooklyn), “the object was to get out of this place.”

“The Bookmaker” is Mr. Agovino’s delightfully ironic New York story of how he succeeded, thanks, in part, to a 70-something yard touchdown run by Marcus Allen of the Los Angeles Raiders in the 1984 Super Bowl.

“That night, for us, Marcus Allen saved the world,” Mr. Agovino writes.

“The absurdity.” How he did so makes for an engaging story. Bet on it.

Here’s still another stranger-than-fiction story: “The Sun and the Moon: The Remarkable True Account of Hoaxers, Showmen, Dueling Journalists, and Lunar Man-Bats in Nineteenth-Century New York” (Basic Books, $26), by Matthew Goodman.With all those ingredients, it’s hard to go wrong. Mr. Goodman’s hucksterish subtitle lives up to its remarkable promise.

In this true tale of science fiction the author, a historian, succeeds in recreating mid-19th century Manhattan in vivid fashion. He brings history to life, beginning with one of those innocuous news items that have inspired many a science fiction movie (“some astronomical discoveries of the most wonderful description, by means of an immense telescope of an entirely new principle”).

Mr. Goodman also charmingly reminds readers of yet another forgotten man who, in his day, “had been known to everyone in New York , the center, for a while, of a great hubbub.” Fame, clearly, is fleeting.

Maybe it’s fitting that the forgotten story of the patriotic Americans who rotted in British prisons in New York during the Revolutionary War is now being retold by Edwin G. Burrows, the sometimes overlooked co-author of “Gotham: A History of New York City to 1898.”

http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2008/12/14/nyregion/thecity/14read1.190.jpg Tony Cenicola/The New York Times
From left,"Historic Photos of Brooklyn," compiled by John B. Manbeck, a former borough historian; "Times Square Spectacular: Lighting Up Broadway," by Darcy Tell, an editor at the Smithsonian Institution’s Archives of American Art; and "The Book of Mychal: The Surprising Life and Heroic Death of Father Mychal Judge," by Michael Daly.

Fittingly, the book has been published not long after Evacuation Day, the Nov. 25 anniversary of the British departure from New York in 1783. In “Forgotten Patriots: The Untold Story of American Prisoners During the Revolutionary War” (Basic Books, $27.50),Professor Burrows, a Brooklyn College (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/organizations/b/brooklyn_college/index.html?inline=nyt-org) historian, recalls the horrific mistreatment of captured Americans and adds slyly:

“I have refrained from drawing parallels to contemporary events, but I will not be sorry if readers find themselves thinking about Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo Bay, about the evasion of habeas corpus (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/subjects/h/habeas_corpus/index.html?inline=nyt-classifier), about official denials and cover-ups, about the arrogance and stupidity that can come with the exercise of great power. I hope they will also see that once upon a time, when the country was young, our own experience with prisoner abuse led us to believe that we are supposed to do better.”

The subtitle of “The George Washington Bridge” (Rutgers University Press, $22.95), by Michael Aaron Rockland, is “Poetry in Steel,” which belies the utilitarian nature of the world’s busiest bridge. Mr. Rockland’s prose poem to the bridge includes a poetic tribute but cries out for more photographs and drawings of one of the world’s most majestic spans.

Any book that reintroduces Jacob Riis (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/r/jacob_riis/index.html?inline=nyt-per) to another generation is a valuable addition to the New York canon. “The Other Half: The Life of Jacob Riis and the World of Immigrant America,” (W. W. Norton, $27.95), by Tom Buk-Swienty, does just that and through the unique perspective of a latter-day journalist and historian who lives in the Danish town where Riis was born.

Their shared roots endow Riis’s latest biographer with a special take on his subject’s motivation and his evolution from poor immigrant to accomplished photojournalist, reformer and friend of Theodore Roosevelt (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/r/theodore_roosevelt/index.html?inline=nyt-per).

Who can resist vintage photographs of Brooklyn? John B. Manbeck, a former borough historian, has compiled a resonant collection, “Historic Photos of Brooklyn” (Turner, $39.95), including rare glimpses of the 1908 Brooklyn Marathon and a triumphal arch celebrating the claim by a Brooklyn doctor to be the first explorer to reach the North Pole (“We Believe in You,” a sign proclaimed).

In “Times Square Spectacular: Lighting Up Broadway” (Smithsonian Books/Collins, $34.95), Darcy Tell, an editor at the Smithsonian Institution (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/organizations/s/smithsonian_institution/index.html?inline=nyt-org)’s Archives of American Art, recalls memorable images and their modern-day counterparts in a scholarly but lavishly illustrated look at the genesis of the Great White Way. The result is a feast of images worthy of a rave review.

“If the West Side does not stir you, you are a clod, past redemption,” Robert Moses (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/m/robert_moses/index.html?inline=nyt-per) once said. In “Riverside Park: The Splendid Sliver” (Columbia University Press, $24.95),the author Edward Grimm and the photographer E. Peter Schroeder celebrate the history and splendor of the greensward that abuts the city’s underappreciated waterfront south from Grant’s Tomb. An official map is included.

Nonclods who appreciate the rest of Manhattan, too, will be entranced by “Manhattan in Detail: An Intimate Portrait in Watercolor” (Universe, $17.95), by Robert L. Bowden, a landscape watercolorist. This nightstand-size book offers fetching paintings of familiar vistas that Mr. Bowden elevates to an ethereal dimension.

“Don’t Mind Me: And Other Jewish Lies” (Hyperion, $16.95) is Esther Cohen’s tribute to New York-style hyperbole and fibs. If these turns of phrase were ever unique to one group, they now seem universal. The author is executive director of Bread and Roses, the cultural arm of the hospital workers union. Roz Chast’s monumentally witty illustrations make this book gold-plated.

“Skyscrapers: A History of the World’s Most Extraordinary Buildings” (Black Dog & Leventhal, $24.95) features enough Manhattan edifices, including the twin towers of the World Trade Center, to qualify the work as a New York book. The author, Judith Dupré, skillfully couples a narrative with stunning photographs and factoids that distinguish this skyscraper-shaped book from so many touristy versions.

Marie Winn, the author of “Red-Tails in Love: Pale Male (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/science/topics/birds/hawks/pale_male/index.html?inline=nyt-classifier)’s Story,” now turns her attention to “Central Park in the Dark: More Mysteries of Urban Wildlife” (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $25). Her latest book is more engaging narrative than field guide, accompanied by sparse illustrations, but it is filled with keen insights and appealing anecdotes about bugs, birds and other critters that you generally wouldn’t mind meeting in the park after dark.

It’s been said that if you remember the 1960s, you weren’t really there. The same may be true of the Chelsea Hotel. Julia Calfee, who lived there and photographed the occupants for four years, has combined voices of guests with gauzy photographs to produce “Inside: The Chelsea Hotel” (Power House Books, $49.95).Ms. Calfee describes the Chelsea as “an Atlantis alive with myths and legends which has resisted the process of planetwide conformism” and where “the legend of reincarnation of talent and lives is still so strong that the residents are imbued with this fanatical belief.”


Copyright 2008 (http://www.nytimes.com/ref/membercenter/help/copyright.html) The New York Times Company (http://www.nytco.com/)

December 13th, 2008, 09:20 AM
Item No: 09400 (http://a856-citystore.nyc.gov/ProductDetails.aspx?ProductName=Guide%20to%20NYC%2 0Landmarks%20–%20Fourth%20Edition&ProductID=6316&CategoryID=89)
Thanks for the link, I just bought this book. Can't wait for it to arrive.

Common sense says links like this in a thread like this are fine; and I trust in Edward's common sense.

December 14th, 2008, 01:51 AM
Thanks for the link, I just bought this book. Can't wait for it to arrive.

Common sense says links like this in a thread like this are fine; and I trust in Edward's common sense.

Is it OK to say that it's cheaper at Amazon?...

...from whence my copy is now on its way.

I have the third edition, which is marvelous, but going by the description of the new edition, some enhancements/improvements have been made.

You also can't go past Barbaralee Diamonstein's Landmarks of New York (http://www.google.com/search?num=50&hl=en&rlz=1B3GGGL_en___AU231&sa=X&oi=spell&resnum=1&ct=result&cd=1&q=landmarks+of+new+york+barbaralee+diamonstein&spell=1), despite what I consider an inferior design/format in the latest edition compared to the previous edition.

Diamonstein's book is sorted in chronological order by year of construction and contains a photo of every landmark, along with accompanying text. There are maps and descriptive text for Historic Districts.

The LPC book is sorted by borough/neighbourhood and contains many photos. Each entry is numbered and appears on location maps, including Historic Districts. Several special interest sections are also included.

The two books complement one another, the former best for the armchair and the latter for that too but also ideal for walking tours. The two different formats also provide alternative means of seeking information.

December 16th, 2008, 02:03 PM
This book is one of my favorites. I refer to it constantly.


The Historical Atlas of New York City: A Visual Celebration of 400 Years of New York City's History (Paperback)
by Eric Homberger (Author), Alice Hudson (Illustrator)


"A beautifully produced reference work . . . here, in maps, drawings, photographs, and illuminating text, are the five little boroughs and how they grew." -E. L. Doctorow

"A treasure of a book. The historical notes are sharp, full, and often surprising. The graphics are fresh, colorful, and give one a new sense of New York, the world city in its everlasting drama." -Alfred Kazin

A New York Public Library Outstanding Reference Book

The rich and eminently browsable visual guide to the history of New York, in an all-new
second edition

The Historical Atlas of New York City, second edition, takes us, neighborhood by neighborhood, through four hundred years of Gotham's rich past, describing such crucial events as the city's initial settlement of 270 people in thirty log houses; John Jacob Astor's meteoric rise from humble fur trader to the richest, most powerful man in the city; and the fascinating ethnic mixture that is modern Queens. The full-color maps, charts, photographs, drawings, and mini-essays of this encyclopedic volume also trace the historical development and cultural relevance of such iconic New York thoroughfares as Fifth Avenue, Wall Street, Park Avenue, and Broadway. This thoroughly updated edition brings the Atlas up to the present, including three all-new two-page spreads on Rudolph Giuliani's New York, the revival of Forty-second Street, and the rebuilding of Ground Zero.

A fascinating chronicle of the life of a metropolis, the handsome second edition of The Historical Atlas of New York City provides a vivid and unique perspective on the nation's cultural capital.

April 18th, 2009, 03:45 AM
I can't wait for this.

April 19, 2009

The Grand Cornice-and-Pediment Tour


Norval White, left, and Francis Leadon, authors of the fifth edition of the AIA Guide, due out next year.

NORVAL WHITE, one of the great figures of New York architecture, was cruising around Long Island City a couple of months ago when he came upon an unexpected sight. On Jackson Avenue, in this still scrappy-looking section of Queens, stood a newish co-op sheathed in luminous squares of blue glass. Its designer, Robert Scarano Jr., is one of the less beloved figures among the city’s architectural cognoscenti, and much to Mr. White’s amazement, he didn’t actually hate the thing.

“It’s definitely a cut above his other stuff,” Mr. White, his lean, 6-foot-5 frame tucked into the front seat of a gray Subaru Forester, acknowledged in his plummy baritone. “It has some quality. We’ll have to include Scarano in the guide.”

On this matter, Mr. White, 82, got no argument from his companion on this expedition, a Yale (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/organizations/y/yale_university/index.html?inline=nyt-org)-educated professor of architecture named Francis Leadon, who at roughly half Mr. White’s age represents the new generation in the field.

“Holy moley,” Mr. Leadon murmured as the car in which they were traveling rounded a corner, offering an even more dazzling view of the building. It is a phrase he uses a lot.

The guide in question, as anyone with affection for the five boroughs would know, is the AIA Guide to New York City, which is scheduled to appear in its fifth incarnation in the spring of 2010. The work, being published by Oxford University Press, will comprise 1,100 pages and include entries for nearly 6,000 buildings, Mr. Scarano’s icy blue co-op likely among them.

Over its more than four decades of existence, the guide has evolved into a New York institution, as much a city fixture among a certain crowd as Fourth of July fireworks over the East River. Born during an era in which such guidebooks were a rarity, the publication splashed onto the scene in 1967, when Mr. White and another young architect named Elliot Willensky (W & W, some people called them) produced it for conventioneers at the annual meeting of the American Institute of Architects (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/organizations/a/american_institute_of_architects/index.html?inline=nyt-org), held that year in New York.

The original volume — “feverishly prepared,” as Mr. White later described the process — was a narrow, brick-shaped affair of 464 pages with a black and brown cover that contained entries on some 2,600 buildings. A trade version was published the following year (blue and white cover), followed by a second edition in 1978 (653 pages, brown cover, number of buildings uncertain since the authors never bothered to count) and a third, vastly expanded, in 1988 (913 pages, orange and white cover, 5,000 buildings).

In 1990, at the age of 56, Mr. Willensky died of a heart attack, leaving Mr. White, a self-confessed obsessive-compulsive who by then had developed a great fondness for the guide, as the sole author of the fourth edition, which was published in 2000 (1,056 pages, 5,000-plus buildings, mottled brick-colored cover).

There are two reasons the guide has entered the pantheon of New York books like “The Power Broker,” Robert Caro (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/c/robert_a_caro/index.html?inline=nyt-per)’s gargantuan biography of Robert Moses (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/m/robert_moses/index.html?inline=nyt-per); Kenneth Jackson’s Encyclopedia of the City of New York; and Jane Jacobs (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/j/jane_jacobs/index.html?inline=nyt-per)’s “Death and Life of Great American Cities.” One is its encyclopedic nature, and the other is its inimitable style — “smart, vivid, funny and opinionated,” as the architectural historian Christopher Gray once summed it up in pithy W & W fashion.

But after the publication of the fourth edition, the project stood at a crossroads. Mr. White’s mind is as agile as ever, his judgments just as incisive, his wit as razor-edged. Yet, despite his robust appearance, his legs are not what they were.

For the 2000 guide, he tramped the streets of Manhattan and reinspected nearly all the buildings cited to confirm the accuracy of their descriptions. A decade later, such intensive, firsthand observation was not an option.

In addition, Mr. White no longer lives in New York, or even within commuting distance. Five years ago, after three decades at 104 Pierrepont Street in Brooklyn Heights and several years in Connecticut, he and his wife, Camilla, transplanted themselves to a 150-year-old mini-chateau atop a hill in the village of Roques, in southwest France, because, as Mr. White explained, “We wanted an adventure before it was too late.”

FOR a fifth edition of the guide, Mr. White knew that he would need a partner. Thanks to a deal brokered by Mr. White’s close friend Stephanie Smith, director of administration of the School of Architecture, Urban Design and Landscape Architecture of the City College of New York (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/organizations/c/city_college_of_new_york/index.html?inline=nyt-org), where Mr. White taught for a quarter of a century, that partner was Mr. Leadon, a 42-year-old assistant professor at the school. George Ranalli, the school’s dean, was also an enthusiastic supporter of the idea.

Mr. Leadon, whose shock of dark hair falling over his forehead gives him a decided resemblance to the actor Hugh Grant (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/g/hugh_grant/index.html?inline=nyt-per), grew up in Gainesville, Fla., and now lives in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn. In addition to his academic responsibilities, he provides vocals and guitar for a Brooklyn bluegrass band called the Y’all Stars.

“I was hoping that wouldn’t come up,” Mr. Leadon muttered sheepishly when the subject was raised. Yet in Mr. White’s opinion, the fact that Mr. Leadon dwells in a world so different from the prewar Upper East Side in which he himself came of age is among the things that make the partnership so productive.

“Fran has lots of contemporary ideas,” Mr. White said earlier this year during a two-week visit to the city. “He has different associations with contemporary life in New York. He knows the music, the jazz clubs, the sort of things people do, the vernacular.”

Mr. White acknowledges that this will almost certainly be his last edition of the guide, but he hopes that his new partner will carry on the torch. Given their obvious mutual affection, not to mention the way their sensibilities and sometimes their very words echo each other’s — Mr. Leadon industriously seeks to emulate Mr. White’s directive to “damn with faint praise” — this scenario seems likely.

The new generation includes not only Mr. Leadon but also 11 students enrolled in a course he is teaching specifically designed to produce many of the words and all the images for the 2010 guide. Without the efforts of the students, a group Mr. Leadon describes as “stellar,” the guide wouldn’t have a prayer of meeting its October deadline.

THANKS to Google.doc, an application that allows the two men to all but simultaneously edit each other’s words — in contrasting colors, no less — work on the new edition of the guide is proceeding briskly despite the 3,000 miles separating its two authors.

Yet, even with a copacetic partner, to update a 1,056-page work of close-in architectural detail and thousands of images tracing the lineaments of a vast and endlessly changing metropolis is a formidable task. Virtually every entry is being rewritten. Some old buildings are being dropped in favor of more interesting and important newcomers, and a spiffier and more sophisticated layout will feature the footprint of every building mentioned, based on a digital map of the city.

The authors are also restoring what the writer Phillip Lopate (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/l/phillip_lopate/index.html?inline=nyt-per) called the “ghoulishly fascinating” Necrology section listing lost New York glories (the old Pennsylvania Station and a litany of beloved stores and restaurants).
Despite the miles separating the guide’s two authors, Mr. White’s role is hardly insignificant. During his recent visit to the city, he blitzed around town, catching up with buildings and entire districts that had sprung up or had been transformed since his absence, notable among them the World Trade Center neighborhood, in preparation for writing an entirely new section on the area.

“The World Trade Center was a particular challenge,” Mr. White admitted, mindful that this will be the first part of the guide many people turn to. “It’s a very touchy subject, and we’re being very careful.” The previous guide, which appeared just a year before 9/11, dismissed the twin towers as “stolid, banal monoliths.”

On this cloudy Saturday in early February, the day of the sighting of the not-so-dreadful Scarano building, Mr. White and Mr. Leadon were being ferried around Brooklyn and Queens by Ken Ficara, their Web guru and designated driver and a frequent guest performer with Mr. Leadon’s band. In the front seat sat Mr. White, looking very Brooks Brothers in a tweed jacket, tan corduroys, plaid shirt and a cane. In the back was Mr. Leadon, in jeans and a parka, along with a heavily annotated and much-scribbled-over copy of the current guide, so thumbed through it had broken into two.

As they headed south on Flatbush Avenue, the first leg of what would be a four-hour tour, the two architects snapped away with their cameras while trading one-liners that sounded uncannily like pages of the AIA Guide come to life. The undertaking seemed equal parts Architecture 101 and Norval and Fran’s excellent adventure.

“That’s a really good cornice,” Mr. White announced as they passed an old warehouse and Mr. Ficara, to the accompaniment of much honking, made the first of a series of highly questionable left turns. “All the buildings around here are interesting.”

Mr. White’s visual appetite seemed boundless. “I want to look at everything in the world,” he confessed as they approached Grand Army Plaza to check out Richard Meier (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/m/richard_meier/index.html?inline=nyt-per)’s new condominium, a major item on their to-do list.

After a few choice words for this contemporary beachhead on the otherwise traditional circle — “Oh, my God!” Mr. White gasped as 15 stories of shimmering glass swam into view — his gaze lingered on the plaza’s triumphal Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Memorial Arch. The sight prompted reminiscences about the old days. “When I was a kid,” Mr. White told his younger companions, “I thought Brooklyn was another planet. We never even went except on extraordinary occasions.”

A little later, they made their way to the onetime Victorian villa in Prospect Park that houses the Brooklyn parks department, not because the building was new or unfamiliar, but because Mr. White loves it so much.

“They invented their own corn-cob capitals for the occasion,” he told his companions, gesturing at the columns the 2000 guide called “Corinthian or Corn-inthian” (ouch). He reminded them of the inspirational role of the 19th-century landscape architect Andrew Jackson Downing, who drowned in the Hudson trying to save his mother-in-law after a steamer accident.
Mr. Leadon, no slouch himself when it comes to historical recall, marvels at this level of expertise.

“Norval is just amazing — amazing — in the depth of his knowledge about New York,” he had said in an e-mail message a few days earlier. “I’ve learned a lot over the last year of working on this, and get to feel pretty cocky sometimes about what I now know about the city. Then I talk to Norval and realize how little I know. You could literally plunk him down on any street in the five boroughs and he could tell you something about who lived there, which building was there 100 years ago, an old restaurant that no one else remembers ... on and on.”

Knowledge, however, does not necessarily translate into a sense of direction. By now the three men were driving around the park in circles, unable to find an exit. “We may have to spend the weekend here,” Mr. Leadon said cheerfully as they traveled and retraveled the same snow-bordered roads.

ALTHOUGH Mr. White knows much of the city like the back of his hand, he was unprepared for the transformation of the South Brooklyn waterfront. In his mind’s eye, the area was a desolate expanse of cobblestone streets lined with warehouses and other remnants of the city’s dying shipping industry. But that was before Ikea (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/business/companies/ikea/index.html?inline=nyt-org), Fairway and the gentrifiers moved in. By the time the travelers reached Van Brunt Street, Mr. White was utterly disoriented.

“I’m looking for something I recognize,” he said wanly, not seeming to hold out much hope. But the melancholy mood did not last, and for the most part the one-liners came thick and fast.

Of a Police Athletic League community center in Red Hook that Mr. Leadon wanted to retain in the 2010 edition despite its bedraggled appearance? “Remember,” Mr. White cautioned, “it’s not the AIA Guide for Social Progress.”

Of several unsightly structures near the Brooklyn waterfront? “There’s a couple of really bad buildings,” Mr. Leadon said. “Oh, sorry, I’m not damning with faint praise.”

Of a park on Coffey Street in Red Hook whose name no one could quite remember? “I’ll check the AIA Guide,” Mr. Leadon said. “Oh, wait, I’m writing the AIA Guide.”

Of a particularly formidable monolith? “What’s the other thing they need?” Mr. Leadon wondered aloud. “Oh, wait. People.”

Of Mr. Ficara’s navigational skills as they threaded through a series of tunnels en route to the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway? “One false move,” Mr. Leadon warned ominously, “and we’ll be in Battery Park.”

THE physical city has been hugely transformed since the 2000 guide. Yet the most significant change may involve something far less tangible.
Time and again, as Mr. Leadon’s students fanned across the city, snapping away with their cameras, they have been shooed away, not always gently, by anxious security guards. This is a post-9/11 city, and a young man or woman lingering on a sidewalk and gazing a little too long at a cornice or a doorway can arouse suspicion.

Amanda Chen, 22, who came to New York from China at the age of 6, was chased down the block by a doorman, and it was not even his apartment house she was photographing. Jon Fouskaris, 24, who grew up in Gerritsen Beach, Brooklyn, said that one woman, angry because he was taking pictures of her building, tried to rip his clipboard from his hand.

This altered state of affairs was particularly in evidence a few weeks ago when Mr. Leadon and a handful of his students paid a visit to Columbus Circle to check out the new Museum of Arts and Design (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/organizations/m/museum_of_arts_and_design/index.html?inline=nyt-org), the Time Warner Center and the circle’s new landscaping.

Inside the center, amid hordes of tourists and shoppers, they went about taking pictures until a woman who identified herself only as Jennifer and said she was the managing concierge sought to discourage them, telling them that they were in a private space and needed permission if they wanted to photograph any commercial signs or if their pictures were going to be published.

After a few minutes, a man who identified himself as Karl Daniel and said he was the center’s director of guest services joined the conversation and said the students were free to do as they wished.


May 10th, 2009, 06:37 AM
Ruthless in Manhattan

Published: May 7, 2009

Americans have always been ambivalent about men who turn small businesses into gigantic ones. We marvel at their cleverness and daring — and envy the manifold pleasures they buy and discard at whim. Yet we assume that anyone so big must also be bad. Tycoons get blamed for making the marketplace less free, for corrupting politicians, for exploiting the ordinary folk who work in their companies. Some of the corporate rich then try to enhance their reputations with ostentatious philanthropy. No wonder that in this most capitalist of nations, our leading capitalists usually garner as much suspicion as love.

http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2009/05/10/books/kazin-500.jpgLibrary of Congress
Cornelius Vanderbilt, circa 1845.


The Epic Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt

By T. J. Stiles
Illustrated. 719 pp. Alfred A. Knopf. $37.50

Cornelius Vanderbilt spent little of his long life fretting over his image. If Americans were not grateful for the many steamships he built, the major railroad lines he integrated into a common system, the stock market panics he soothed and the Grand Central Terminal (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/subjects/g/grand_central_terminal_nyc/index.html?inline=nyt-classifier) he constructed with his own millions, that was their fault, not his. Vanderbilt was the richest man in 19th-century America; at his death in 1877, he possessed, at least on paper, one-ninth of all the American currency in circulation. But like other corporate giants of his era and ours, he saw no reason to apologize for manufacturing and managing commodities everyone wanted and needed.

“Vanderbilt was many things, not all of them admirable,” T. J. Stiles says in this perceptive and fluently written biography, “but he was never a phony. Hated, revered, resented, he always commanded respect, even from his enemies.”

READ COMPLETE ARTICLE (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/10/books/review/Kazin-t.html?pagewanted=1&ref=business)


Copyright 2009 (http://www.nytimes.com/ref/membercenter/help/copyright.html) The New York Times Company (http://www.nytco.com/)

May 10th, 2009, 02:27 PM
I have 1 about Book Derek Jeter, 1 New York Yankees book, Joe Torre and Tom Verducci The Yankees 2 books about New York City. I will buy and get other books about New York City as Christmas gifts and birthday gifts starting aorund Christmas vacation 2009.

May 12th, 2009, 12:49 PM
anybody know when a new AIA guide to nyc will be coming out? i think the last was in 2000.

and while i'm at it, are any of the older versions of the AIA guides any better or worse than the 2000 version? just wondering if anyone can comment on the differences/similarities of the editions over time. thx.

May 14th, 2009, 06:09 AM
anybody know when a new AIA guide to nyc will be coming out? i think the last was in 2000.

Spring 2010. See this post (http://www.wirednewyork.com/forum/showpost.php?p=281238&postcount=59).

and while i'm at it, are any of the older versions of the AIA guides any better or worse than the 2000 version? just wondering if anyone can comment on the differences/similarities of the editions over time. thx.I also have the 1968 and 1988 editions (there was also a 1978 edition).

The format of the 2000 edition is more user-friendly and easier to read in my opinion. The location maps are much better and there are a lot more of them.

There isn't much difference between the 1968 and 1988 editions except that there are many more entries in the 1988 edition, of course.

The photos in the 1968/1988 editions are positioned within the building entry text and are mostly larger than the 2000 edition. The format of the 2000 edition has the photos mostly in the left/right margins and they are therefore much smaller. There are some larger photos within the building entry text. The photos differ from one edition to the next.

The symbols used to indicate architectural style are located in the (narrower) left/right margins in the 1968/1988 editions and at the beginning of and within each building entry in the 2000 edition.

As per the article in the above link, the 1988 edition contains a Necrology section, missing in the 2000 edition, which they plan to reintroduce in the new edition.

May 20th, 2009, 08:23 PM
wow, thee perfect reply -- thx so much merry!

i always look at it in the bookstore, but oddly enough i have never bought one. guess i'll hold on for spring 2010.

May 21st, 2009, 12:27 AM
The Rough Guide To New York City

May 21st, 2009, 08:29 AM

New York - Edward Rutherford.

I havent read it but I plan to soon. Im currently reading the authors book 'London' and Im really enjoying it. His books take you through time following different families through the city's history. Its a great premise and he writes it very well. I also have his book Russka to read which is the same concept.

May 24th, 2009, 02:37 AM
wow, thee perfect reply -- thx so much merry!

i always look at it in the bookstore, but oddly enough i have never bought one. guess i'll hold on for spring 2010.

Glad it was useful, meesalikeu. I forgot to mention that, based on a cursory look at each, apart from the odd word or sentence, the text doesn't differ much between the 1988 and 2000 editions.

From the article:

Virtually every entry is being rewritten.So, I guess we may get a completely new take on things with input from Francis Leadon and his students. I'm glad I have the 2000 edition just for comparison, and to look back at the original, often very amusing, "damn with faint praise" approach.

Some old buildings are being dropped in favor of more interesting and important newcomers...Well, if they dispense with any of my favourites, I'll still have the 2000 edition :).

September 12th, 2009, 02:15 AM
New book depicts New York City's efforts to shelter the Great Depression homeless

http://www.prlog.org/10339686-new-york-city-in-the-great-depression-sheltering-the-homeless.jpg (http://www.prlog.org/10339686-new-york-city-in-the-great-depression-sheltering-the-homeless.jpg)

New York City in the Great Depression: Sheltering the Homeless

During a time when fear of a second Great Depression lingers in the minds of America’s people, it is important to remember what was done over 80 years ago. Following the stock market crash of 1929, the rising unemployment rate and widespread depression made it necessary for the city of New York to provide more commodious quarters for the city's homeless.

In a new book by Arcadia Publishing, local author Dorothy Laager Miller uses vintage photographs to present the faces of New York citizens dealing with poverty, unemployment and homelessness during one of the worst economic times in recent history.

Highlights of New York City in the Great Depression: Sheltering the Homeless:

Features over 200 vintage photographs from the archives of Joseph A. Mannix, the New-York Historical Society and the Lower East Side Tenement Museum
Showcases the Municipal Lodging House and its annexes in Manhattan, the farm colony at Camp LaGuardia and the rehabilitation center at Hart Island
Includes images of the famous Great Depression breadlines, Tammany Hall, the city's immigrants and tenement housing
Spotlights Mayor Jimmy Walker, Gov. Al Smith and other pivotal city leaders

Dorothy Laager Miller has worked as a teacher on Long Island for 30 years and is a member of the Three Village Historical Society. She began researching New York City’s Great Depression after the discovery of her grandfather’s archive of photographs documenting the Municipal Lodging House, where he was the superintendent.


September 18th, 2009, 09:32 AM
New York Books to Look for this Fall

Greg Mortimer

Posted: September 17, 2009 11:27 AM

The five boroughs have never been lacking in their own body of literature, and so far 2009 (the 400th anniversary of Henry Hudson's voyage) has given us several books worth celebrating. Among many are E.L. Doctorow's Homer and Langley (http://www.randomhouse.com/catalog/display.pperl?isbn=9781400064946) (Random House, $26) about the infamously reclusive Collyer brothers and their Fifth Avenue mansion; Colum McCann's acclaimed Let the Great World Spin (http://www.randomhouse.com/catalog/display.pperl?isbn=9781400063734) (Random House, $25), a kaleidescope of New Yorkers' lives during the tumultuous summer of 1974; and Bronx zoologist Eric Sanderson's Mannahatta (http://www.abramsbooks.com/Books/Mannahatta-9780810996335.html): A Natural History of New York City (Abrams, $40) which traces the ecological evolution of the island with an astonishing array of charts, maps, drawings, and photos.

But we still have a few months until the holidays. Here are some of the books that should be on the radars of New Yorkers this fall:

Chronic City: A Novel
October 13th / Doubleday, $27.95


Some early reviews are in for Chronic City, the latest from Motherless Brooklyn author Jonathan Lethem. The Daily Beast calls it "realistic and fantastic, serious and funny, warm and clear-eyed." Publishers Weekly deems it "a luxuriously stylized paean to Gotham City's great fountain of culture that is drying up." Bookforum was more skeptical, saying that "for all the sprightliness and wit, it's too good-humored to attain real satiric bite." No matter -- Chronic City will give readers a vision of Manhattan that's as ambitious as its author.

Appetite City: A Culinary History of New York
October 13th / North Point Press, $30


It's hard to imagine a time when New York wasn't the capital of great food, but then again, it's also hard to imagine what it was like before the diverse culinary explosions of the last couple of decades, when celebrated establishments like Tavern on the Green, Lutece, and Delmonico's seemed to outshine everything else. Former New York Times restaurant critic William Grimes (http://topics.nytimes.com/topics/reference/timestopics/people/g/william_grimes/index.html) dishes up a historical tour of New York's ever-evolving culinary culture, from the days of "the boisterous beef-and-beans joints" to the Automat and beyond, complete with over a hundred photos and rare menus. With early blurbs from Jacques Pepin, Bobby Flay, and Mark Kurlansky (among others), Appetite City will undoubtedly whet the appetite of true-blue New York foodies.

Mapping New York
October 20th / Black Dog, $49.95


Manhattan map-o-philes, rejoice. If you're like me and wouldn't mind poring over an atlas all day, this book is for you. Mapping New York will be a lavishly-produced book, not unlike its successor from two years ago, Mapping London, and it'll remind readers just how simultaneously mammoth and intricate the city really is -- and how it continues to grow. Here you'll find maps from New Amsterdam to the present day, but the cartographic focus is on the 20th and 21st centuries, arranged thematically from commerce, water, transportation, military, and crime.

Only in New York: An Exploration of the World's Most Fascinating, Frustrating and Irrepressible City
by Sam Roberts, with an introduction by Pete Hamill
October 27th / St. Martin's, $23.99


Roberts, urban correspondent for The New York Times, collects 40 of his "Only in New York" (http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/category/only-in-new-york/) podcasts into a book that's "street-smart, informative and occasionally hilarious" (Publishers Weekly). This is a punchy panorama of the city: Among his many stories, Roberts explains the reasons behind the Manhattan baby boom, the gender gap and proliferation of testosterone below 14th street, the city's pooper-scooper law, and Jimmy Breslin's and Norman Mailer's 1969 political quest to see the five boroughs secede from the rest of the state.

New York: The Novel by Edward Rutherfurd
November 10th / Doubleday, $30


Rutherfurd is known for his sweeping, geographically-focused, brick-width sagas (Russka, The Princes of Ireland, London), and his new novel New York is no exception, clocking in at 880 pages and promising to traverse every genre as it chronicles the history of the city, with cameos by George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, J.P. Morgan, Babe Ruth, and others. If you were a fan of Pete Hamill's Forever, Kevin Baker's Paradise Alley, or Dennis Lehane's The Given Day, you'll want to check this one out.

Naked City: The Death and Life of Authentic Urban Places by Sharon Zukin
December 18th / Oxford University Press, $27.95


Brooklyn College and CUNY sociologist Zukin shows us New York's transformation (i.e., gentrification) since the early 90's in Naked City, whose subtitle echoes Jane Jacobs' seminal work from 1962, The Death and Life of Great American Cities. Indeed, this sounds like a valuable follow-up to that book, though in addition to looking at what gives neighborhoods like Harlem, Union Square, Williamsburg, Red Hook, and the East Village "a sense of place," Zukin argues that a civilian-driven craving for an authentic urban experience -- galleries, high-end food stores, quirky ethnic restaurants, the antiquity of buildings, among others -- is the very engine behind the city's trend towards localized homogeneity.


September 18th, 2009, 03:28 PM
I think the "Manhatta" book was also featured in a recent issue of "National Geographic".
I'm not sure what the date of the mag was, or even if it is the same author since it was read in a doctor's office and discarded as soon as my name was called. (...I thought about stealing it so I could finish the article, but it was gone when I came out of his office...).
The article is cool. There were a dozen interesting photos (and computer renderings) of Manhattan Island "on the day before the Dutch first landed", being compared to the same locations today.
One graphic was was a beautiful 3-page foldout of aboriginal New York on one side and a contemporary map on the other.

The author had done reverse-engineering on Manhattan, based on old English & Dutch maps from the 1600s, then he worked towards the past by identifying topographic features from them and determining what used to grow wild there.
Then he made digilital maps and renderings of what it must have looked like v. what is there now. The illustrations look like photos. The maps look like paintings.

New York was a dense forest, littered with ponds and well-sliced up by little streams.
Did you know that Times Square was once an oak and cedar swamp? Broadway and 7th was the source for a small creek that wound down to the Hudson...
And the City Hall/ Financial District had at least 5 ponds and lakes that were filled in in the 1700s to make geography for the growing City?

I'll have to make another Doctor's appointment and go back and get it...

September 18th, 2009, 05:46 PM
^ Hof, I steal journals from my doctors' offices all the time.

A recent one revealed that Woodrow Wilson was having micro-strokes the whole time he was negotiating the Treaty of Versailles.

The article suggested that consequently his diseased mind set up the conditions for the Third Reich.

September 18th, 2009, 09:00 PM
(...I thought about stealing it so I could finish the article, but it was gone when I came out of his office...).

I'll have to make another Doctor's appointment and go back and get it...

No immediate sudden illness/theft required :cool::


For those who haven't seen the Mannahatta (http://wirednewyork.com/forum/showthread.php?t=16819) thread.

September 19th, 2009, 02:20 AM
Recent acquisitions:


The Rowhouse Reborn, Andrew Scott Dolkart (http://www.amazon.com/Row-House-Reborn-Architecture-Neighborhoods/dp/0801891582/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1253339252&sr=1-1)

From the wonderful Postcard History Series:

New York City's Financial District in Vintage Postcards (http://www.amazon.com/Citys-Financial-District-Postcard-History/dp/0738500682/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1253339312&sr=1-2)

Along Broadway (http://www.amazon.com/Along-Broadway-NY-Postcard-History/dp/0738550310/ref=sr_1_6?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1253339556&sr=1-6)

The Upper West Side (http://www.amazon.com/Upper-West-Side-Postcard-History/dp/0738563161/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1253339607&sr=1-1)

This one is out of print, but I got a lovely copy second-hand:


Terra-Cotta Skyline : New York's Architectural Ornament, Susan Tunick (http://www.amazon.com/Terra-Cotta-Skyline-Yorks-Architectural-Ornament/dp/B00013AX8K/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1253339704&sr=1-1)

Not quite so recent (but a favourite):


New York: A Historical Atlas of Architecture, Alejandro Bahamón (http://www.amazon.com/New-York-Historical-Atlas-Architecture/dp/157912786X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1253339923&sr=1-1)

Coming soon:
Intersections: The Grand Concourse at 100, Antonio Bessa (http://www.amazon.com/Intersections-Grand-Concourse-at-100/dp/0823230783/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1253339022&sr=1-1)


Boulevard of Dreams: Heady Times, Heartbreak, and Hope along the Grand Concourse in the Bronx, Constance Rosenblum (http://www.amazon.com/Boulevard-Dreams-Heady-Heartbreak-Concourse/dp/0814776086/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1253340850&sr=1-1)

September 24th, 2009, 06:55 AM
Coming Soon: Updated Version of Legendary AIA New York Guide

September 23, 2009

By C.J. Hughes


Today in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village, 20 people aimed cameras at a three-story row house, snapped photos, and cheered. Part of the reason for their excitement may have been that the building was once the home of Jane Jacobs, the writer and activist. More likely, though, is that the picture-taking session marked the official end of the lengthy research phase for the fifth edition of the AIA Guide to New York City, the wryly written block-by-block directory of landmarks that’s become an essential reference for architects, planners, and developers, as well as residents.

About half of the new book, which is due in April from Oxford University Press, features content from earlier editions, most of which were written by architects Norval White and the late Elliot Willensky. A third contributor, Fran Leadon, AIA, a teacher at the City University of New York, joined the effort this go-around, roaming the five boroughs’ sidewalks over an 18-month period to research and photograph a good percentage of the book’s 9,000 buildings. Many of his former students also contributed to the new guide.

“It’s fantastic that it’s come to a close,” Leadon said during today’s event, attended by various contributors. “I’m so happy.”

The guide was first printed in 1968, with updated versions released in 1978, 1988, and 2000. A key reason for refreshing the book now is that since its last printing in 2000, an epic construction boom has transformed New York, adding scores of office towers, condos, and parks, Leadon said.

Today’s photo shoot of Jane Jacobs’ house marked the conclusion of research for the fifth edition of the AIA Guide to New York City, due out in April.

These get their due in the latest edition, as do burgeoning neighborhoods like Gansevoort Market, also known as the meatpacking district. Plus, the book will now feature “necrology” items about gone-but-not-forgotten buildings, similar to those that appeared in the third edition. Morever, the book’s 6,000 photos, which are being whittled down from a stack of 41,000, are larger on average than previously.

But, at 1,100 pages, the book is expected to be only slightly longer than the 1,056-page version released in 2000, which may explain the layout’s more compact font and smaller margins.

Although the new “AIA Guide” will predictably rhapsodize about, say, Grand Central Terminal, it also honors less-monumental places, like Jane Jacobs’ old home, which debuts in this edition, because overall the book is a celebration of neighborhoods, Leadon says. Similarly mentioned is Downtown Auto and Tire, a repair shop ringed by barbed wire at Great Jones Street and the Bowery, which is noted for its dying-breed status.

“The world is changing,” said owner Saeed Choudry today, gesturing to a gleaming hotel across the street. “There are no empty old lots left.”


September 24th, 2009, 07:29 AM
40,000 Photos Later…

By Fran Leadon, AIA

(Left): Fran Leadon, AIA, last winter in Midtown, with student Adrian Hayes and New York Times writer Constance Rosenblum. (Right): AIA Guide Research Assistants, December 2008. (L-R): Adrian Hayes, Amanda Chen, Christopher Drobny, Katja Dubinsky, Calista Ho, Marina Ovtchinnikova.

This week we completed the photography for the upcoming fifth edition of the AIA Guide to New York City (Oxford University Press, 2010), with help from 22 student assistants from the Bernard and Anne Spitzer School of Architecture at City College. Our combined efforts over the past year have yielded well over 40,000 new photos of more than 6,000 buildings and parks from the northern tip of the Bronx to the southern end of Staten Island.

We began with a group of four undergraduate architecture students (Calista Ho, Katja Dubinsky, Amanda Chen, and Marina Ovtchinnikova) and three Master of Landscape Architecture students (Jon Fouskaris, Christopher Drobny, and Adrian Hayes), and tackled Midtown, the Upper West and Upper East Sides during the fall 2008 semester. The photos students began to bring back to class were extraordinary. Years of design studios had trained their eyes to analyze and question. They didn’t simply drive by and shoot the buildings; they really studied them. Beautiful details emerged: courtyards, faded signs, lanterns, cornices, pediments, friezes.
Their work was extremely time-consuming and dependent on good light and weather.

Jon, Amanda, and Christopher continued their work into the spring semester, joined by two undergraduates, Glenn DeRoche and Douglas Moreno, and two Master of Architecture students, Bradley Kaye and Jason Prunty. Together we photographed the remainder of Manhattan (the Villages, the Lower East Side, Harlem, Upper Manhattan). Shooting photos in the winter months proved to be arduous. There were fewer good hours of light, and last winter’s temperatures were brutal (I almost got frostbite trying to shoot Yorkville one frigid week in January). As Manhattan neared completion, I redeployed three students (Bradley, Amanda, and Jon) to Brooklyn, and wonderful shots of Park Slope, Gerritsen Beach, Coney Island, and Sunset Park were added to our photo database.

By May we had finished all of Manhattan, and an enthusiastic group of undergraduate architecture students (Andrea Barley, Cinthia Cedeno, Mary Doumas, William Eng, Jaimee Gee, Tiffany Liu, Adrian Lopez, Ross Pechenyy, and Billy Schaefer) joined Jon for a summer ramble through the Bronx, Queens, and Staten Island, cameras in hand. Their work was painstaking. The students would make multiple visits to sites to get exactly the right shot, waiting for the light and shadows to cooperate. Frequently they were told to stop photographing by a homeowner or security guard (a constant, vexing problem).

As research assistants, the students weren’t acting only as photographers. We asked them to take notes on each place they visited, as we rewrote, updated, and added to the new edition’s text. It would not have been possible for us to complete the new edition in just one year without the help of our students. To commemorate their work over the last year, we will simultaneously snap one last “ceremonial” photo on September 23 at 11:00 AM. The building I have chosen was not included in the last edition of the Guide, but is a humble landmark and deserving of our undivided attention: Jane Jacobs’ house at 555 Hudson Street in Greenwich Village. I hope that AIA members and e-Oculus readers will come out to witness our “last photo.”

Down Under

By Fran Leadon, AIA

(L-R): Gair Building No. 5; Eskimo Pie Building; and 135 Plymouth Street in DUMBO.

Early in the morning on August 11th I visited the neighborhood known as Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass (OK, fine, let’s just call it DUMBO) to shoot some photos for the upcoming fifth edition of the AIA Guide to New York City (Oxford University Press, 2010), which I am completing with Norval White, FAIA. For those who experienced DUMBO in those long-forgotten days of the 20th century, a visit today can be a bit of a shock. Back then, circa 1994, the place was deserted. Most neighborhood activity seemed to revolve around the now demolished Between the Bridges bar on York Street and within Rudolph Daus’s 1901 former tin can factory at 135 Plymouth Street. That beautiful Romanesque pile, with monumental brick arches, was headquarters for a carting company that noisily compacted garbage on the ground floor. (I am somewhat happy to report this aromatic activity is still taking place there; the neighborhood hasn’t completely given itself over to cappuccinos and Jacques Torres chocolates.) After a series of shootings in front of 135 Plymouth in the early 1990s a police cruiser was positioned there 24 hours a day. That’s when I first visited DUMBO; a classmate of mine had a sculpture studio in the building. I had trouble sleeping.

Had I fallen asleep then, in 1994, and slept for 15 years and woken up last Tuesday, I would have thought I was in the middle of a film set for some happy, romantic comedy. Cafés? Restaurants? Children? Playgrounds? Bookstores? Pet stores (”all dog sweaters on sale this week only”)? Where am I? I still get a profound feeling of amnesia no matter how often I go to DUMBO. There are actual people streaming to and from the previously deserted and terrifying York Street station! (One indication of how quickly DUMBO has changed is the fact that the last edition of the Guide, in 2000, barely mentions it, and then only as an aside within the Fulton Ferry section of the book.)

The Landmarks Commission designated DUMBO a historic district in 2007, and there are many notable industrial buildings in the neighborhood in addition to 135 Plymouth. The former Grand Union Tea Company on Jay Street (between Front and Water Streets) was designed and built in phases from 1896 to 1907 by Edward N. Stone, and features an intact mosaic in the floor at the Jay Street entrance. Louis E. Jallade designed the onetime Eskimo Pie Building, originally the Thomson Meter Company, at 100 Bridge Street (between York and Tillman Streets) in 1908. Its beautifully arched façade has glazed terra-cotta decoration and was possibly inspired by Auguste Perret’s 25 bis rue Franklin in Paris. The Gair buildings, all seven of them, are extraordinary early (1888-1908) reinforced-concrete lofts erected by Robert Gair, a pioneering entrepreneur in the corrugated box industry. The Gair buildings form a solid mass that defines much of DUMBO and makes it feel as if the neighborhood’s cobble-stoned streets are spaces carved from a single piece of stone. Recent buildings by Scarano Architects, Gruzen Samton, and CetraRuddy tower above the bridges and don’t fit in as well as the older industrial buildings. Lately, we’ve been calling the area RAMBO (Rising Above the Manhattan Bridge Overpass).

The High Line is Real

By Fran Leadon, AIA

The High Line

On July 9 I went for a stroll on the High Line, from West 16th Street to Gansevoort Street. It was crowded on a sunny Thursday afternoon, and the people seemed to be divided into two groups: those who lounged casually about, reading or chatting as if the High Line had always been there, and those who seemed, like me, to be in a daze with dumbfounded expressions thinking, “I’m on the High Line. I’m actually on the High Line.” The long-awaited linear park has finally come to pass.

In preparing the new edition of the AIA Guide to New York City (Oxford University Press, 2010), Norval White, FAIA, and I have eagerly anticipated the completion of new projects (Atelier Jean Nouvel and Beyer Blinder Belle Architects and Planners’ 100 Eleventh Avenue, Morphosis Architects’ Arthur Nerken School of Engineering at Cooper Union), but perhaps none so much as the High Line. I remember first seeing the High Line in the early 1990s when I was a student at the Yale School of Architecture. Back then, both the High Line and the area around it seemed like one of Anton Furst’s stage sets from the 1989 “Batman” movie. Far West Chelsea, circa 1992, was in a kind of suspended industrial time warp: beautiful and romantic but also decaying and crime-ridden. Exploring beautiful relics like the High Line was risky. Intrepid friends would scale the elevated railroad track and report that it was sublime, covered by wildflowers, but I was too cautious to try it.

The thing the High Line always had going for it was its strength. Designed to accept the weight of two freight trains, it was highly unlikely to fall down on its own. Thankfully, the sturdy structure stayed where it was, snaking in and out of old factories and warehouses from Gansevoort Street up to 34th Street. Abandoned in 1980, photographers, artists, and urban adventurers attracted to the beautiful desolation began describing it as a 1.45-mile-long elevated meadow, and visions of a linear park began to form in earnest during the 1990s. A community group, Friends of the High Line, ultimately saved the winding trestle through ceaseless lobbying and fundraising.

When the first plans for a High Line park were unveiled, I was, admittedly, a little nervous. I feared the master plan left too little of the actual trestle. The further the design by James Corner of Field Operations with Diller Scofidio + Renfro was refined, the more cautiously optimistic I became, and as I hiked around Gansevoort Market and Chelsea during the past year, shooting photos of the High Line in construction for the Guide, the more I liked what I was seeing. As a linear park, the new High Line is meticulously thoughtful, perhaps even a bit over-designed. Many of the original rails were preserved and re-presented as artifacts, and native plant species have been arranged in beds with considerable care. The trail bed is a series of interlocking concrete strips that seem to grow and dissolve as needed, occasionally curving upward to form a bench. There are wooden lounge chairs that roll on tracks, and a plunging amphitheater where the High Line briefly widens at 17th Street.

It’s all extremely well done, but the surprising thing is that the wonder of the High Line isn’t in the design work. It’s seeing a familiar landscape (Chelsea) from a new vantage point, above, beside, and through the neighboring buildings. It remains to be seen how the delicate details will endure trampling by millions of human feet. The High Line, inevitably worn and frayed by continuous use, may find its most natural and profound beauty 10 or 20 years from now.

How It Began

By Norval White, FAIA

http://www.aiany.org/eOCULUS/newsletter/wp-content/uploads/2009/06/howitbegan.jpg (http://www.aiany.org/eOCULUS/newsletter/wp-content/uploads/2009/06/howitbegan.jpg)
Convention edition cover (left); notes on the second edition for the third.

In the Fall of 1965, the AIANY Chapter, preparing for AIA’s 100th anniversary in 1967, called for proposals for a guidebook to NYC. Elliot Willensky, FAIA, and I were figuratively waiting at the doorstep, having talked of such a guide since we first met in the office of Lathrop Douglass in June 1955. We were commissioned to prepare a prototype sample that would serve to show advertisers how they could participate, front and center, at the convention. Chapter PR consultant Andrew Weil sold 80 ads that paid for out-of-pocket expenses, a secretary, photo processing, a graphic designer, mechanicals (pre-digital), and the printing of 10,000 copies given to every convention attendee. We were effectively, in the name of the Chapter, the publishers.

For that convention edition (and its duplicate trade edition, complete with ads that MacMillan found too expensive to remove) Elliot and I acted as authors of parts, editors of the whole. John Morris Dixon, FAIA, had a major role, covering much of Midtown Manhattan, Lincoln Square, and Grand Army Plaza/Prospect Park. Richard Dattner, FAIA, wrote Upper Manhattan; Roger Feinstein, Harlem and the Bronx; Mina Hamilton, Staten Island; Greenwich Village, Ann Douglas; Central Park, Henry Hope Reed and Sophia Duckworth. The balance was split between Elliot and me. But a horde of supporters in all editions added detail that none of us could have produced alone. Since 1966, when research on the first version of the Guide began, innumerable individuals have contributed information, ideas, comments, corrections, and considerable moral support.

Previous editions and reprintings have recognized their contributions in the acknowledgments. This fifth edition is a linear descendant of the original, self-published version feverishly prepared over a nine-month period for the 1967 AIA convention in NYC. Because its approach profoundly influenced subsequent updates of the Guide, it seems appropriate to credit once again those who helped the authors to set the first edition’s tone: writers John Morris Dixon, FAIA, Ann Douglass, Mina Hamilton, Roger Feinstein, Henry Hope Reed, Jr., Sophia Duckworth, and Richard Dattner, FAIA.

The second edition by MacMillan, and the third with Harcourt Brace were jointly rewritten and expanded by Elliot and myself, again with an expanded legion, upwards of 180 supporters, who contributed anything from a correction of punctuation to a suggestion for a new entry.

The 4th edition, with Crown, I did alone, as Elliot had tragically died at an early age in 1990. Elliot had been not only a friend and colleague for 45 years, but had served New York as a public servant — first as Deputy Administrator of Parks and Recreation under Mayor Lindsay; then, at the time of his death, both Borough Historian of Brooklyn and Vice Chairman of the Landmarks Preservation Commission.

The fifth edition by White & Willensky and Fran Leadon, AIA, will appear Spring/Summer 2010 with Oxford University Press.

The City in Transition: The Bowery

By Fran Leadon, AIA

http://www.aiany.org/eOCULUS/newsletter/wp-content/uploads/2009/05/aiaguide-preview.jpg (http://www.aiany.org/eOCULUS/newsletter/wp-content/uploads/2009/05/aiaguide-preview.jpg)
(L-R): Bowery Poetry Club, New Museum, Fruit Stand at Bowery and Grand.

On Sunday, May 10, I set out to photograph the Bowery for the upcoming fifth edition of the AIA Guide to New York City (Oxford University Press, 2010). I had just re-read Low Life, Luc Sante’s 1991 social history of 19th-century Manhattan and was curious to walk the Bowery’s length, from Chatham Square in Chinatown north to Cooper Square, and see what had changed since the Guide’s last edition in 2000. I knew that the infamous old McGurk’s Suicide Hall had been torn down in favor of a new project by Arquitectonica, but I was curious to see what else was still there from the old days, and what was being built that was new and interesting.

De Bouwerie had originally been an Indian trail, then a bucolic lane winding through the farms, but it had become virtually synonymous with skid row by the 1850s, mythologized in comics and dime novels (and later in films) as a seedy district of flop houses, brothels, vaudeville theaters, and pawn shops. Today, little of the old skid row Bowery remains. The southern end of the Bowery is mostly discount jewelry outlets, Chinese jitneys (Fung Wah Bus at 139 Canal), and electronics stores. I passed a vacant lot at the corner of Hester Street, where the Music Palace Theater, reportedly designed by McKim, Mead & White, was recently demolished. Known in its later years as the Chuan Kung Theater, it was the last of the neighborhood’s Chinese language cinemas. Covered with sheet metal and murals, who knew a McKim, Mead & White building lurked underneath?

The Lighting District starts as the Bowery crosses Grand Street, and the Restaurant Supply District begins in earnest just north of Kenmare Street (Chairs! Tables! Stools! Dishes! Pots! Pans!). Colorful, wordy signs are the main feature here, but there are some architectural treasures as well, notably two landmark banks: Stanford White’s 1895 Bowery Savings Bank, just north of Grand, and Robert Maynicke’s 1898 Germania Bank, at Spring Street.

I began noticing more and more hipsters as I walked north, and new modern buildings began appearing in quick succession: Keith Strand’s skinny condo at 195 Bowery, SANAA’s stacked mesh New Museum, and the shiny glass boxes of Arquitectonica’s Avalon development on both sides of East Houston Street. In the midst of all the new glass and steel, I noticed the Bowery Mission, at 227, still soldiering on, helping the homeless since 1879.
Just to the east of Bowery and East 1st Street, surrounded by the Avalon development, I peeked into Extra Place, a notorious little alley, formerly cobble-stoned and garbage-strewn, now paved and cleaned up (but still empty). Extra Place is just outside the back door of what used to be CBGB’s, at 315 Bowery. That renowned club closed in 2006, and while the building is still there the energy is not. Across the street is the Bouwerie Lane Theatre in Henry Engelbert’s old Bond Street Savings Bank at 330 Bowery. (Much recent building behind the theater on Bond Street, but that is another story.)

Further north at East 3rd Street is the fritted-glass and steel Cooper Square Hotel, swelling at its middle, by Carlos Zapata, and finally the buildings of Cooper Union, including the main 1859 building by Frederick A. Peterson facing Cooper Square, and an exciting new building behind it by Morphosis, all peeling steel scrims, just nearing completion. At Cooper Square the Bowery disappears, splitting into Third and Fourth Avenues, so I caught the IRT at the Astor Place station, crowned by Rolf Ohlhausen, FAIA’s replica cast-iron kiosk.

Photographing the City

By Fran Leadon, AIA

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(L-R): Charles McKim’s University Club on Fifth Avenue at West 54th Street; Hong Kong Bank Building, Canal Street; Giorgio Cavaglieri’s Engine Co. 59, Ladder Co. 30, West 133rd Street; Former Forward Building, East Broadway.

Since last September my students and I have walked virtually every street in Manhattan. We’ve snapped 25,000 photos, visited just about every construction site in the city, poured over hundreds of architect’s websites, searched planning documents, and read miles of real estate blogs. It’s a huge project: we’re photographing new buildings and re-photographing old ones for the new AIA Guide to New York City, all 1,100 pages of it, one borough at a time.

Author Norval White, FAIA, (his original co-author Elliot Willensky, FAIA, died in 1990) needed someone to walk hundreds of miles of city streets, re-photograph everything from the fourth edition (Three Rivers Press, 2000), note significant changes (a favorite old café that’s gone under or a brownstone that’s bitten the dust), and to look through the peepholes at new construction sites and figure out what’s being built and if it’s notable enough for inclusion in the new Guide, which will be published by Oxford University Press in 2010.

When White enlisted me as co-author, I knew that I would need a lot of help if we had a chance of meeting our publication deadline. It was his idea that I would lead a squadron of my eager students from the City College of New York School of Architecture, Urban Design, and Landscape Architecture, fan out across the city, and (photographically speaking) wrestle Manhattan to the ground. I realized this was an opportunity to not only get the Guide done on time, but a unique new way to teach a class “in the field.” I hoped our perceptions of the city would change, as a succession of façades, gardens, streets, squares, statues, sidewalk clocks, signs, and people took up residence in our memories.

When I arrived for the first day of the fall semester, I discovered that the administration had, because of space constraints, given our classroom away to a seminar in construction technology. With no place to meet, I saw no reason why we couldn’t move our base of operations to the Shake Shack in Madison Square Park. The Shack, designed by James Wines, was ideally suited as a place to launch our assault on the city. It provided everything a modern classroom requires: benches, trees, wireless Internet connection (so we could “skype” White and upload photos to our database), new coin-operated public toilets, and delicious hamburgers.

My students soon discovered this was a ton of work, time-consuming, physically tiring, rewarding but often frustrating: a doorman gets territorial (”no photos, no photos!”), a moving van blocks the perfect shot, the sun doesn’t cooperate. But the 14 students who toughed it out have been stellar, conquering Midtown (over 800 buildings!), the Upper West Side, and the Upper East Side last fall, and Harlem, the Lower East Side, Chinatown, and the Village this spring. 25,000 photos later, we are scheduled to finish shooting Manhattan by May 1. The students have also been instrumental in reporting from the field, noting additions and demolitions, and more subtle changes (for example, a façade described as white stucco in the fourth edition has been painted bright yellow: ouch!)

I am constantly amazed at the quality of my student’s photos. Included here is a preview, in color, of a few of the best of my student’s shots from the new Guide.

The City in Transition: Gansevoort Market

By Fran Leadon, AIA

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Matthew Baird’s 829 Greenwich Street (left); Junya Ishigami’s Yamamoto boutique (right).

New York City has gone through tremendous changes since the last edition of the AIA Guide in 2000. The upcoming fifth edition (Oxford University Press, 2010) will reveal a city in transition: the aftermath of September 11, the Boom, the Bust, and the emergence of neighborhoods (Gansevoort Market, West Chelsea, DUMBO) that were barely even mentioned in the fourth edition.

The Guide’s fourth edition dedicated only one short paragraph to Gansevoort Market; it wasn’t really a neighborhood. In 2000, it was still very much the city’s gritty meat market, punctuated here and there by a hipster bar or a design studio. It was a world populated by butchers in blood-soaked smocks taking cigarette breaks on loading docks. The rusty, abandoned High Line snaked overhead. It was, according to the fourth edition, “busy, chaotic, earthy from before sunrise well into the day…empty, eerie, scary at night.”

For the fifth edition we have created an entire section devoted to Gansevoort, joining parts of the Village and Chelsea, and using the High Line as a thread that links the new neighborhood to the emergent enclave of West Chelsea. We are trying to describe Gansevoort at this particular moment of transition, when supermodels and butchers occupy the same space, side by side. Here are some excerpts from the upcoming edition:

Gansevoort Market, also known locally as the Meatpacking District, lies roughly between Ninth Avenue and the Hudson River, from Gansevoort Street north to 14th. From these wholesale meat markets came the beef for many of Manhattan’s restaurants and institutions. The cobblestone streets remain, but no longer run as deeply with the blood of sectioned livestock, although you may still encounter cattle carcasses hanging out to dry. Gentrification has been happening for at least a decade here, but the conversion of the High Line to a linear park promises to preserve its melancholy vistas while connecting the area to West Chelsea and spurring even more development.

829 Greenwich Street (house), bet. Horatio and Gansevoort Sts. 2005. Matthew Baird.

A small but uncompromising exercise in weight and weightlessness from the modernist Baird. Impossible to miss is the forty-foot high rusted steel “billboard” bolted to the facade. A funny take on privacy: the residents can peek out, barely. Don’t feel bad for them, though: the entire back of the building, not visible from the street, is glass. Baird’s billboard, emphasizing the vertical, works surprisingly well with Morris Adjmi’s horizontally-obsessed building next door at 40 Gansevoort.
Yamamoto (clothing boutique), 1 Gansevoort St. at crossing of W.13th & Hudson Sts. 2008. Junya Ishigami.

A drastic, but ingenious, approach to the adaptive re-use of old buildings. Japanese architect Ishigami has performed invasive but beautiful surgery on an existing brick shed, removing layers of green paint, punching big openings in the façade, and last but not least, slicing the building into two parts. One half is now a light-filled showroom and the other half provides storage and office space. The showroom gleams like a lantern at night, and comes to a razor-sharp point where Gansevoort and West 13th meet.

Writing the New AIA Guide

By Fran Leadon, AIA

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Leadon and White on Bleecker Street, January 30, 2000 (left); 40 Gansevoort Street (right).

The first edition of the AIA Guide to New York City was published on the occasion of the AIA’s annual convention, held in New York in 1967. That original version of the Guide, a slim 464 pages, was “feverishly prepared” by Norval White, FAIA, and Elliot Willensky, FAIA, and a team of contributors, including John Morris Dixon, FAIA, Ann Douglas, Mina Hamilton, Roger Feinstein, Henry Hope Reed, Jr., Sophia Duckworth, and Richard Dattner, FAIA. The Guide was all original field work: the team divided up the neighborhoods, hiked the streets, did the research, snapped the photos (thousands of them), and wrote the descriptions (”smart, vivid, funny, and opinionated,” according to the New York Times). It was true research and eyewitness reporting, covering all five boroughs, one church, school, row house, park, restaurant, and statue at a time.

For the second (1978) and third (1988) editions the collaboration continued between White and Willensky. White might write about Greenwich Village while Willensky wrote about Sheepshead Bay, and then they would swap for the following edition, revisiting each other’s territory and rewriting each other’s text. Willensky passed away in 1990, and the fourth edition (2000) was completed solo by White. My involvement in the Guide’s upcoming fifth edition (Oxford University Press, 2010) offered a chance for White to re-establish a true collaborative writing process, but a new mechanism for that collaboration had to be discovered, since White now lives in France and I live in Brooklyn. Sending a 1,200 page Word document back and forth was out of the question. Then, last summer, we discovered Google Docs.
The beauty of Google Docs is that our text resides on the Internet, where both of us can access it simultaneously. If one of us finds an interesting building we hadn’t noticed before, we post an initial description and then wait for the other to rewrite it. Many of the descriptions in the new Guide have been written equally by both of us, and rewritten so many times I can no longer tell which parts I wrote. Here are some examples from the new Guide in progress:

40 Gansevoort Street, SE corner of Greenwich Street. 2006. Morris Adjmi.

Gansevoort Market boasts unique vernacular architecture: block buildings with loading docks, canopies pendant over the sidewalk: their steel joists and translucent vinyl panels cabled to the facade. Here Adjmi, a disciple of the late, great Italian architect Aldo Rossi, attempts new canopies, using the same vocabulary.

Bar 89 (restaurant), 89 Mercer Street, between Spring and Broome Sts. 1995. Ogawa/Depardon.

89’s two stories of crisp steel and glass reveal a double height dining space (a mezzanine in the far corner). The skylight overhead, a parabola, washes the space with natural light, the curve of the bar repeating the trigonometry above.

Constructing the AIA Guide to New York City

By Fran Leadon, AIA

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Leadon’s dog-eared copy of the fourth edition of the AIA Guide to NYC, showing the many changes to the SoHo section (left). Leadon used a newspaper stand as a temporary desk while tracking down new construction sites in Tribeca (right).

Last spring Norval White, FAIA, asked me to co-author a new version of the AIA Guide to New York City. The fifth edition, the first new edition since 2000, will be published in 2010 by Oxford University Press. White, now living on a hilltop in the south of France, needed someone with time and energy to do the groundwork in New York. Every café, newsstand, cornice, mural, and stoop mentioned in the Guide would have to be re-visited, re-photographed, and reappraised, I told him I would be happy and honored to do it.

I remember first seeing the Guide when I was a graduate student at the Yale School of Architecture in the early 1990s. It was intimidating in its girth and weight, a book you couldn’t possibly read in less than five years, ridiculously ambitious in its scope. It included not only the physical facts of the built environment (the cupolas, pediments, gables, and mullions), but people and stories, too: the rivalries between long-dead architects, the unsuccessful fight for Penn Station, the hubris of Stanford White, the East Village tenement where the outlaw Butch Cassidy lived, the Upper East Side tenement where the Marx Brothers were born. What started in 1967 as a thin volume for an AIA convention, the Guide, tall and narrow, roughly brick-shaped, theoretically pocket-sized, has gradually become an epic poem.

Each edition has become both thicker and more astute in its appraisal of the city. The Guide explains things in layers. It tells the tale of just about every significant building on every block in each of the five boroughs: who designed it, when they designed it, why they designed it, in which style and with what materials, what was there before it, what is planned there in the immediate future, and what might have been ill-advisedly planned there at some point in the past, but (”happily” White would say) ended up as a future that never happened. Buildings, architects, and clients are generally treated by the Guide with the analytical respect of an archeologist as much as the razor edge of a critic. The writing, reduced to a prose more spare than Hemingway, is terse. “Prune and distill,” White tells me.

My involvement in the new edition represented an opportunity for White to re-establish a collaborative process with a co-author (founding co-author Elliot Willensky, FAIA, passed away in 1990 and the fourth edition was completed solo by White). One tradition of the Guide has been that it’s all eyewitness reporting: either White or Willensky personally visited and photographed each site. So I go out each day with a list of sites, camera in hand and good walking shoes on my feet. I check to see if the building is still there, jot down any alterations (additions, renovations, demolitions), and then upload the photos to our database. We’re completely re-writing the existing text and adding descriptions of significant new construction. One of us writes a new description, and the other re-writes it, back and forth.

In the coming year, I’ll offer a monthly preview of the new Guide in progress leading up to its publication in 2010, including excerpts from a revised SoHo section, a new Gansevoort Market section, and an expanded Brooklyn section.


September 29th, 2009, 09:36 AM
Triangle: The Fire That Changed America
by David von Drehle

From Publishers Weekly
It was a profitable business in a modern fireproof building heralded as a model of efficiency. Yet the Triangle Shirtwaist factory in New York City became the deadliest workplace in American history when fire broke out on the premises on March 25, 1911. Within about 15 minutes the blaze killed 146 workers-most of them immigrant Jewish and Italian women in their teens and early 20s. Though most workers on the eighth and 10th floors escaped, those on the ninth floor were trapped behind a locked exit door. As the inferno spread, the trapped workers either burned to death inside the building or jumped to their deaths on the sidewalk below. Journalist Von Drehle (Lowest of the Dead: Inside Death Row and Deadlock: The Inside Story of America's Closest Election) recounts the disaster-the worst in New York City until September 11, 2001-in passionate detail. He explains the sociopolitical context in which the fire occurred and the subsequent successful push for industry reforms, but is at his best in his moment-by-moment account of the fire. He describes heaps of bodies on the sidewalk, rows of coffins at the makeshift morgue where relatives identified charred bodies by jewelry or other items, and the scandalous manslaughter trial at which the Triangle owners were acquitted of all charges stemming from the deaths. Von Drehle's engrossing account, which emphasizes the humanity of the victims and the theme of social justice, brings one of the pivotal and most shocking episodes of American labor history to life.

From School Library Journal
Adult/High School-Von Drehle has embedded the intense, moving tale of the tragic Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in a fascinating, meticulously documented account of a crucial period in U.S. history. In addition to using an impressive list of secondary sources, the author has drawn heavily on newspaper articles, author Leon Stine's interviews with survivors, and trial transcripts. In a short prologue, he provides a poignant account of stunned, grieving relatives trying to identify burned bodies. To show why the tragedy occurred, he then goes back two years to the beginning of the 1909 general strike. The stifling, dingy tenements and the horrific conditions of the factories where immigrant workers toiled for 84-hour workweeks are described in evocative detail. Stories of the hardships they left behind in Italy and Eastern Europe contribute to the portraits of the victims and villains. Readers unfamiliar with Tammany Hall, the Progressive movement, or the rise of trade unions benefit from clear, concise background information. The account of the fire, the investigation, and the trial are both heartbreaking and enraging. The courtroom drama of defense attorney Max Steuer brazenly defending the factory owners overshadows any modern comparison. After concluding with the announcement of the trial verdict, the author provides an epilogue covering the final years of the key figures. An appendix gives the first complete list of victims. Eight black-and-white photos are included.

October 6th, 2009, 12:59 PM
This (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Works-Anatomy-City-Kate-Ascher/dp/0143112708/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1254848297&sr=8-1) book is an extremely in depth analysis of the city.

October 6th, 2009, 05:28 PM
I haven't been this excited about getting my hands on the new AIA Guide--or anything, really for years--at least not since The Beatles stopped releasing new albums.

The 2000 edition has been one of my primary resources for understanding the architectual diversity in NYC, and it is my touchstone for information before and after I visit.
Before I visit, I'll spend some time perusing, and I'll decide "Yep, I'm gonna find THAT building, and this other one, and I'll look closer at this one...", and I wind up with a page of notes and twenty yellow sticky notes in the book.

Often, on my trips to The City, I'll roam around long enough to see a building--or a park, or a historical site that I never heard of, or whatever-- and I'll usually be able to find it in the AIA Guide once I get back to my room. ( the book is really too unwieldly to always carry around, although it does come with me often when I roam).
One day, I saw an unusual apartment building in the 70s, off Broadway. A few blocks later, I spied a used bookstore and I went in and found the AIA book, then I found the building. I put the book back and went back to the apartment, filled with new, instant knowledge of the place.
I await the new edition with heightened anticipation. I'm buying sticky notes in bulk.

I just recently got a copy of "New York City Landmarks", a 2009 publication of the NYC Landmarks Commission. It's got 450 pages and it's filled with photos. It describes in detail all the things that are landmarked around the 5 boroughs, and there are some very interesting studies of entire neighborhoods and Historic Districts that have been Landmarked. There are also pages devoted to lamp posts, off-Broadway theatres and how new buildings are integrated into older neighborhoods, among other trivia that only dedicated students of Things New York would obsess over and clearly understand.
...Bloomberg wrote the Foreward...

--Did I say lots of photos???

You bet, and maps too. It's almost a miniaturized version of the AIA Guide, just more specialized. I spent a rainy Sunday comparing all the AIA photos and text with the entries in the "Landmarks" book ( most are in both books, but there are some glaring omissions in both efforts as well) and it convinced me that the 2000 AIA edition has gotten WAY long in the tooth.

October 16th, 2009, 09:42 AM
Book shines light on NYC’s underappreciated locales

Village author lives in landmarked home, champions local treasures


By Paula Rosenberg

It’s fitting that Judith Stonehill lives in a historically protected house in the West Village. “New York’s Unique and Unexpected Places”— her latest book — hit the shelves last week. “The house was landmarked before the Village was,” Ms. Stonehill informed me as we sat down in her living room (with her daughter/collaborator Alexandra) to discuss her book — and her life as a longtime Village resident.

The book, published by Universe, highlights fifty lesser-known landmarks throughout the five boroughs. “The original idea was that some of the forty seven million visitors who come here every year would be intrigued and want to go beyond Midtown and Ground Zero, but in fact I’ve discovered that a lot of New Yorkers are just as interested and haven’t ever been to some of these places,” said Ms. Stonehill. She set out to write a book for “adventurers and dreamers.”

It was important that all of the locations in the book be close to public transportation. Half of the spots are located below 14th Street (such as Economy Candy, Merchant’s House Museum and Film Forum). “There could have been five hundred places,” said the author. “The hardest part was cutting back.” It was also important that every place mentioned be open to the public.

The majority of the stunning photographs that accompany Stonehill’s descriptions of the featured locations were taken by the author’s daughter, Alexandra. This is not their first mother and daughter collaboration. Alexandra also enjoys finding archival photographs from the city’s past. These photographs were used in her mother’s prior books: “Greenwich Village: A Guide to America’s Legendary Left Bank” and “Brooklyn: A Journey Through the City of Dreams.”

Alexandra is no stranger to the Village. She grew up in the home that her mother currently resides in and now lives in the East Village. Judith Stonehill was reminded of E. B. White’s quote on the three different types of New Yorkers: “the ones that are born here, the commuters, and those that came from somewhere else with a dream.” Ms. Stonehill, who moved here in 1960 from the Finger Lakes region with her husband — the late architect John Stonehill — falls into that last category.

The book documents a mix of museums, cultural centers, and family-owned shops that are not visited by throngs of people on a daily basis. Some of the highlighted spots are locations within a location. Judith pointed out that “Everyone has been to the New York Public Library, but many people have not been to the Map Room — which has an incredible collection.”

A number of green spaces were also deliberately featured. As Alexandra pointed out, “Many tourists think that the only green space in the city is Central Park.” Some of these outdoor areas include Battery Park City’s Irish Hunger Memorial, The Museum of Jewish Heritage’s Garden of Stones, and the Lower East Side’s Hua Mei Bird Garden.

In addition to forgotten treasures, the book also highlights some newer attractions. The mother and daughter team noted that Lower Manhattan’s Poets House, SoHo’s Museum of Chinese in America, and Washington Street’s High Line were only opened to the public after the book was sent to print.

The longtime Villagers also included some of their favorite local spots — such as the Gardens at St. Luke in the Fields and Three Lives & Company. On a mini-tour of both locations, Judith explained: “Many people walk by and think this is a private property.” It was easy to tell that the space is well cared for and a hidden refuge that would be enjoyable in all four seasons. When we entered Three Lives & Company, owner Toby Cox was delighted to see two of his favorite customers and provided the time and attention that one would never see at a franchise bookseller.

Of course there are other locations, not listed in the book, that the Stonehills frequent. Alexandra likes to go down to the piers and also enjoys the Strand Bookstore. “I think one could easily do fifty places in the Village,” Judith comments — clearly regretting that the room afforded to her within the context of one book meant some worthy gems didn’t make it into print.

More so then any particular spot, she loves the character of the neighborhood she’s called her own for over four decades. Stonehill has always been attracted to the color of Greenwich Village. “My husband thought of the city as one building and in general the colors are silver, and gold, and grey; but the Village is red. Rosy, brick red.”

Judith and Alexandra also reminisced about places in Gotham City that are now defunct. Judith misses some of the antique stores that used to line Bleecker Street. She also remembers the old candy store on West 11th, and a comic book store that her son, David, liked to visit as a kid. She still misses her favorite restaurant — Trattoria da Alfredo — which used to be on Hudson and Bank. Alexandra points out that not all change in the neighborhood over the years has been bad — noting how a lot of the new stores that have opened up in recent years try and include the neighborhood with gestures such as having candy ready for children Trick or Treating during Halloween. “It is easy to think about all the ones that are gone, but it’s also important to focus on what’s there.”

Judith Stonehill has always had an interest in preserving the city’s past and future. She has sat on the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation for years. In the past, she served as a vice-president for the South Street Seaport Museum and as the director of the Corporate Fund at Lincoln Center. She was also co-owner of New York Bound Bookshop — which was located at Rockefeller Center for over twenty years. She reminisced, “It was completely and obsessively about New York.” Alexandra was involved there too — having found over nine-hundred archival images of the city that were sold as prints. Judith pointed out that, “When Michael Graves designed [the New York Hotel] for Paris, all of the photographs were from our collection.” The store was also instrumental in bringing formerly out of print books on New York back to the market at prices most consumers could afford. This included Miroslav Sasek’s classic children’s book, “This Is New York.”

Appropriately, the first event for “New York’s Unique and Unexpected Places” was held at the New York City Fire Museum — one of the places mentioned in the book. At first, I was afraid the book party would be poorly attended. It was at that point I realized Judith and Alexandra’s friends and fans were gathered around the security guard’s 13-inch TV — attentively waiting for a local news feature on the book that was set to air. Once it did, the party truly started.

The Stonehills have upcoming book events on Thursday, October 15, from 6-8 p.m., at Bowne & Company (between Fulton and Bleecker Streets, at the South Street Seaport Museum) and on Wednesday, October 21, from 7-9 p.m., at Idlewild Books (12 West 19th Street, near Fifth Avenue).


November 28th, 2009, 12:01 AM
Sensational facts, told with the gregarious affection

Get to know your LES gangsters, murderers, weirdos



For better or worse (usually depending on how close you live to the action), the Lower East Side of Manhattan has always been a, shall we say, colorful neighborhood.

Until recent times and through most of its history, the area has been a slum and a gangland battleground of ever-shifting ethnicities stretching all the way back to the mid 19th century. The Irish, the Germans, the Jews, the Chinese, the Italians, the Latinos, and even the Counterculture have successfully warred amongst themselves and each other over this relatively small piece of real estate — until it seemed like the melting pot was boiling to the point of eruption.

Isolated nutjobs have taken advantage of the crowds (at times the population density has been the thickest in the world), so as to better commit their acts of depravity under a cloak of anonymity. Murderers, mob bosses, anarchists, cannibals, brawlers, thieves, hookers and drug addicts have always dwelt amongst the law-abiding majority who reside on the LES.

And to help you keep it all straight in your head, we now have “A Guide to Gangsters, Murderers and Weirdos of New York City’s Lower East Side” by Eric Ferrara.

Other books have trod this territory before. Herbert Asbury’s “The Gangs of New York” and Luc Sante’s “Low Life” are the best known, although these portraits of New York’s seedy underbelly also include Hell’s Kitchen and other neighborhoods. On the other hand, Tyler Anbinder’s “Five Points” concentrates on a single bygone section within the LES neighborhood. The fact that Ferrara’s contribution to this lurid subgenre concentrates specifically on the entire area east of Broadway, south of 14th Street and north of City Hall Park, is just one of several differences with those earlier books.

First, “Gangsters” is literally a tourist guidebook, organized by street address — providing us with the lurid history of each building. For this reason, it is not such a good book to sit and read straight through. You’re better off grazing and reading a single entry at a time. Otherwise, it often reads like a 19th century police blotter — a tad repetitive. Or, better still, take to the streets and use it as the guide it was meant to be. For the latter purpose, the book contains not only sensational facts, told with the gregarious affection of a local whose family has resided in the area for a century, but useful tips. For example: don’t stand outside the headquarters of the Hell’s Angels staring and taking pictures for too very long. And when they tell you to move on: do so. They have been known to throw their own girlfriends off roofs.

The presence of the Angels in the book points up the work’s second distinguishing feature. Unlike the previously mentioned books, “Gangsters” takes us all the way to the present day. So, the counterculture is a major thread in the history: radicals, artists and underground weirdos of all types.

We get the story of Weatherman Sam Melville, who masterminded a series of bombings in 1969 to protest the Vietnam War, and led the Attica Prison riots in 1971. There’s the sordid overdose and unbelievable funeral of punk rocker G.G. Allin in 1993. Then there’s the quasi-religious street prophet Daniel Rakowitz, who carried around a live chicken and “prayed to marijuana.” In 1989, he killed and ate his performance artist girlfriend Monika Beerle, serving her as a mysterious “soup” to passers-by until finally caught and apprehended.

In the realm of more traditional transgressions, Ferrara also brings us as far as the modern era. Here we get some detail about more recent organized crime activity, for example. While earlier books may contain juicy stories about the likes of the Dead Rabbits, Paul Kelly and Monk Eastman, “Gangsters” gives us the lowdown on several more modern figures like Vito Genovese, Carlo Gambino, Albert Anastasia, Frank Costello, Paul Castellano and John Gotti. You learn not only in which restaurants and cafes they did (or received) their hits, but also the houses in which they grew up. Also covered in detail are central figures in the Chinatown Tong wars (more words to the wise from Ferrara: history is alive here, too: as with the environs surrounding the Hell’s Angels headquarters, use your common sense).

Another interesting sidelight to the story is the neighborhood’s longstanding reputation as a haven for the political fringes. Not only the previously mentioned Weather Underground, but also the Black Panthers, and much earlier seditious types like Emma Goldman, Leon Trotsky, and the Fascio Centrale (an American Fascist organization) made their homes here — almost always temporarily.

Then there are the riots: at least four major ones in the Tompkins Square Park area over the past century and a half, most recently in 1989, when the NYPD decided to “clean out” the hundreds of homeless people who were living in the park in a Tent City. And then there were the Police riots of 1857, when NYC’s Municipal Police Force and New York State’s Metropolitan Police Force battled for supremacy of the streets for four days.

But the meat and potatoes of this book is your everyday tabloid grade murder. Startling fact: nearly every building Ferrara investigated was the site of at least one killing during the past two hundred years. Many of them are gang related, but a tragic amount of them spring from domestic violence. These stories are heartbreaking and are just like the ones pulled from today’s newspapers, usually concerning a husband’s anger at a wife and his subsequent loss of control. Poverty, cramped living conditions, alcoholism — the Lower East Side’s historic social statistics read like a recipe for TNT. In a way, it’s surprising there was so little murder.

You just might want to take Ferrara’s tour backwards, for one of the first addresses he introduces us to is where all the bad Lower East Siders wind up: New York City’s jail, better known as “The Tombs.” The current building is the fourth one to be located at the corner of Centre and Franklin Streets, and as you can imagine it has been the site of many a hanging, riot and jailbreak.

All in all, “Gangsters” is a must for the historical crime lore tourist — and there are more of them out there than you might think. Mr. Ferrara turns a nice phrase, and I’ve only got a couple of quibbles. One must be a typo — how is it possible that 20th century city planner Robert Moses redesigned Tompkins Square Park in 1878? The other is that the book badly needs an index. If you want to find out about, say, gangster Big Tim Sullivan, you have to thumb through addresses. But I won’t quibble with Mr. Ferrara. He’s the guy who knows where all the bodies are buried.

Eric Ferrara’s “A Guide to Gangsters, Murderers and Weirdos of New York City’s Lower East Side” (June, 2009) is published by History press. Ferrara will be among the panelists in “The Gotham Center Presents: The Lower East Side Remembered and Revisited” — a free discussion on Wednesday, December 2, 6:30 p.m., at CUNY-Graduate Center (365 Fifth Ave.). For information, call 212-817-7000 or visit www.gothamcenter.org (http://www.gothamcenter.org).


November 28th, 2009, 11:38 PM
Bookshelf | Looking at the City

63 Windows and What They Show


“A HOUSE without books is like a room without windows,” said Horace Mann, the educator. Matteo Pericoli (http://www.matteopericoli.com/), the Italian-born architect, illustrator and author, wittily provides both in his delightful paean by 63 famous New Yorkers to the views from their houses and apartments. It’s called “The City Out My Window” (Simon & Schuster, $21.99).

“What is less in our control than a city view?” Paul Goldberger (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/g/paul_goldberger/index.html?inline=nyt-per) asks in his introduction. Mr. Pericoli adds, “The way you see the city from the window is yours and only yours. And your view describes your city as much as it tells something about yourself.”

The cover of the book is a view from the studio of Saul Steinberg, whose famous New Yorker cover, “View of the World From Ninth Avenue,” reaffirmed our insularity and defined it for the rest of the world. Each of the 63 selections includes an elegant drawing by Mr. Pericoli, who moved to New York in 1995, and a mini-essay from the viewer.

We learn that Gay Talese (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/t/gay_talese/index.html?inline=nyt-per) never washes his windows because he prefers a view that is “rather opaque and opalescent, like a Monet painting” and that leaves much to his imagination. The neurologist Oliver Sacks (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/s/oliver_sacks/index.html?inline=nyt-per) describes the “interlocking symmetries” that he finds calming and the “ever-moving flow” of people and traffic that are “counterpoint to my own thinking and writing.” Mark Morris, the choreographer, who can see neighbors having sex, is one of only a few among the 63 viewers who can discern individuals from their windows. The book, Mr. Goldberger adds, has “no ‘Rear Window’ tales.”

Several people declined to participate in the book, but they gave a reason — “I am sorry, but I would rather not share a personal aspect of my life” — that Mr. Pericoli said made him happier than he would have been had they agreed. “Which seems to me perfectly understandable and right,” he writes of their reason for refusal. “After all, what lies beyond that thin sheet of glass mounted on our window frame belongs to our inner selves, and not to the outside world.”

“Breadwinners: Working Women and Economic Independence, 1865-1920” (University of Illinois Press (http://www.press.uillinois.edu/books/catalog/53twq5se9780252034718.html), $70), by Lara Vapnek (http://www.stjohns.edu/academics/undergraduate/liberalarts/departments/history/faculty/vapnek), reads almost like a prequel to “When Everything Changed,” a history of American women since 1960 by Gail Collins, an Op-Ed columnist for The New York Times.

Ms. Vapnek, who teaches history at St. John’s University (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/organizations/s/st_johns_university/index.html?inline=nyt-org), chronicles the labor movement through capsule biographies of largely forgotten individuals who had a profound impact on the lives of working women. Her account is national in scope, but New York women figure in it prominently.

Among them were Helen Campbell, a journalist and poverty researcher, who helped start the consumer movement in the 1880s. She urged educated women like herself to consider the welfare of the women who made their clothing and to become ethical consumers.

Another was Leonora O’Reilly (http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/USAWoreilly.htm), who left school at age 11 to work in a garment factory and support her widowed mother and family. She would emerge as a leader of the 1909 shirtwaist makers’ strike and as a suffragist. “Women, whether you wish it or not, your first step must be to gain equal political rights with men,” she declared. “The next step after that must be equal pay for equal work.”

As bad as the Great Recession is, “New York City in the Great Depression (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/subjects/g/great_depression_1930s/index.html?inline=nyt-classifier): Sheltering the Homeless” (Arcadia, $21.99), by Dorothy Laager Miller, is a reminder of how much worse things were back then. The stark black-and-white vintage photographs of municipal shelters and bread lines speak volumes.


December 30th, 2009, 07:35 AM
This is very sad.

Norval White, of AIA Guide, Dies at 83


Norval C. White, a co-author of the authoritative, encyclopedic, opinionated and constantly consulted AIA Guide to New York City, died Saturday at his home in the village of Roques, in southwest France. He was 83.

The cause was a heart attack, said his wife, Camilla Crowe White.
First published in 1968, the AIA Guide tapped into and fostered a growing national awareness that America had an architectural past worth preserving, a present worth studying and a future worth debating. It also offered a template for other city guides. But after four decades, it stands alone.

“No other American or, for that matter, world city can boast so definitive a one-volume guide to its built environment,” Phillip Lopate wrote in The New York Times in 2000, when the fourth edition came out.

The fifth edition is to be published in June by Oxford University Press. Elliot Willensky, the original co-author, died in 1990. Mr. White’s co-author on the new edition is Fran Leadon, an assistant professor of architecture at City College.

The original AIA Guide contained thousands of thumbnail essays on buildings, some of them overprinted with the word “Demolished.” These were punctuated by restaurant reviews, shopping tips and sociological profiles of neighborhoods and districts, like the “belly-dancing center.” The designer Herb Lubalin tied everything together with a bold graphic format.

The guide made architecture accessible to a broad public by discussing buildings in context rather than treating them in isolation. And it did not require readers to know the difference between a volute and a voussoir.

It celebrated the vernacular background buildings that are as much a part of the city’s character as its best-known landmarks. By establishing the provenance of these structures, the guide introduced readers to a legion of second-tier architects who had done first-rate work. It also raised the profile of the American Institute of Architects and its New York chapter, which sponsored the guide.

Mr. White, an architect himself, was a native New Yorker. He was born on June 12, 1926, and raised on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, then spent much of his adult life in Brooklyn Heights. He earned a bachelor’s degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1949 and a master’s degree from Princeton in 1955. He also attended the architecture program at the Fontainebleau Schools in France.

He taught at the Cooper Union and in 1968 became the founding chairman of the City College School of Architecture and Environmental Studies (now the Bernard and Anne Spitzer School of Architecture). That was where he met Camilla Crowe, who, in her late 40s, had returned to the classroom. They wed in 1992.

Mr. White’s first marriage, to Joyce Leslie Lee, ended in divorce. He is survived by their sons, William and Gordon, both of Seattle; Alastair, of Manhattan; and Thomas, of Brooklyn. He is also survived by his stepsons, Seth Nesbitt of Seattle and Christopher Nesbitt of Belize.

In the early 1960s, Mr. White was a leader of the fight to save the original Penn Station, as chairman of the Action Group for Better Architecture in New York. “Pennsylvania Station is total architecture, giving commodity, firmness and delight,” he wrote in May 1962. It is “a strong part of our urban landscape,” he added, offering “a sequence of glorious entrance spaces into our city.”

Its replacement, he correctly predicted, would be an “eight-foot-high spatial sandwich for the traveler to wend his way through into the city — past a probable morass of pretzel stands and vending machines.”

The architectural project he was most proud of was the Essex Terrace complex, built in 1970 in East New York, Brooklyn. He saw it as bringing a human scale to subsidized housing, and he liked the fact that mothers could keep an eye on their children outdoors through their kitchen windows.
Mr. White was the author of “The Architecture Book” (1976) and “New York: A Physical History” (1987). But the AIA Guide was his landmark and legacy.

In 1967, he and Mr. Willensky prepared a 416-page guide for delegates attending the American Institute of Architects’ national convention in New York. That was the basis of the first public edition of the AIA Guide, which came out a year later with 464 pages. The current edition, the fourth, has 1,056.

This spring, when he was touring New York with Mr. Leadon, The Times noted, “Mr. White acknowledges that this will almost certainly be his last edition of the guide, but he hopes that his new partner will carry on the torch.”


January 12th, 2010, 05:23 AM
A great thread, guys.

I've got a question. I'm looking for a book about Manhattan neighborhoods, like a description of each neighborhood, some pictures. I found something like that for Brooklyn and Queens, but had no luck with Manhattan. I tried googled it, looked on Amazon, but still nothing, so I thought maybe some of you knew about a book like that.
Thanks everybody! :)

January 16th, 2010, 10:42 PM
Norval White, 1926-2009

By Fran Leadon, AIA

Norval White in France, 2008.

The manuscript for the fifth edition of the AIA Guide to New York City was completed on December 15, 2009. Two weeks later Norval White, FAIA, was suddenly gone. He died of a heart attack at his home in Roques, France, on December 26. Of the previous four editions of the guide (1968, 1978, 1988, and 2000), the first three were co-authored with the indefatigable Elliot Willensky, FAIA, who passed away in 1990. The two made quite a pair, by all accounts (White, taciturn and tall; Willensky, loquacious and mutton-chopped). I never had the pleasure of meeting Willensky (I was still in college when he died), but I have had the great honor of knowing Norval as collaborator, friend, and mentor.

Norval was a practicing architect and well-known professor (at Cooper Union and City College) in addition to his work as a writer and historian. He maintained his own practice, and for years was a design partner at Gruzen Samton (he was the lead architect on such notable projects as Essex Terrace in East New York, Brooklyn, and 1 Police Plaza on Park Row, at the foot of the Brooklyn Bridge). A New Yorker through and through, he was born and raised on the Upper East Side but lived in later years on Pierrepont Street, in Brooklyn Heights. He was a leader in the unsuccessful but influential fight to save the original Penn Station (he picketed alongside Willensky), and while he was a staunch preservationist, he was admirably open to new ideas (and a fan of the firms Herzog & deMeuron and SHoP in recent years).

Norval “retired” to France in 2005, but remained more up-to-date on the architectural goings-on in NYC than just about anyone I know. He daily perused the postings on Curbed and Brownstoner, and devoured The Architect’s Newspaper, compiling meticulous lists of buildings in progress. In January 2009, he flew across the Atlantic and spent a month touring the city, joining me for madcap, careering drives through the five boroughs (one pell-mell dash around Brooklyn featured Connie Rosenblum of the New York Times riding shotgun, furiously scribbling away, trying to keep up with Norval’s one-liners). During one drive through Lower Manhattan, every street corner and building seemed to prompt a memory for him (”I went to a party there, on the third floor, in 1954″), and he would grill me whenever he saw a new building under construction: who designed it, when would it be finished, what did it replace? Full of curiosity and energy, he insisted we cover everything from Battery Park to Chelsea in one day. Exhausted, I finally convinced him to break for lunch at the NoHo Star, where he continued to snap photos at our table: the staff, the food, the light fixtures. There was simply no stopping him. When I told him some months later that my students and I had finally completed all the photographs for Manhattan, his response was, “What about Brooklyn?”

Norval constantly told me to stop what I was doing and “Go out! Go out!” He didn’t like it when I was editing photos at home, or doing research on the Internet. The AIA Guide has always been first person, fly-on-the-façade research, conducted on-site by hiking through neighborhoods like old-time newspaper reporters on the beat (like Joseph Mitchell with an architecture license). Architectural research is always the most accurate, and the most fun, when it is conducted at stoop level, looking hard at the city from its sidewalks, up close. Norval didn’t want the Guide’s readers sitting at home. He wanted them to explore the city, to walk New York’s streets, and to ramble through its parks.

Fran Leadon, AIA, is an architect and professor at the Bernard and Anne Spitzer School of Architecture at the City College of New York. He is the co-author with Norval White, FAIA, and Elliot Willensky, FAIA, of the fifth edition of the AIA Guide to New York City (Oxford University Press, 2010).


January 16th, 2010, 11:07 PM
A great thread, guys.

I've got a question. I'm looking for a book about Manhattan neighborhoods, like a description of each neighborhood, some pictures. I found something like that for Brooklyn and Queens, but had no luck with Manhattan. I tried googled it, looked on Amazon, but still nothing, so I thought maybe some of you knew about a book like that.
Thanks everybody! :)

Welcome to WNY, mls.

I've never come across a book devoted only to Manhattan neighbourhoods, but there are quite a few books about specific parts of Manhattan.

A collection of information on neighbourhoods is in progress here (http://wirednewyork.com/manhattan/) at WNY.

There are also several WNY Book Recommendations (http://wirednewyork.com/books/) pages.

The series you are referring to is intended to eventually include all the boroughs. The Neighborhoods of The Bronx was supposed to be published late last year after a lengthy delay, but unfortunately wasn't. No news on the Manhattan and Staten Island books.

The Encyclopedia of New York City (http://www.amazon.com/Encyclopedia-New-York-City/dp/0300055366/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1263700112&sr=1-1) contains brief entries on all New York City neighbourhoods.

The Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Manhattan_neighborhoods) entries aren't too bad sometimes.

Edit: How could I forget the marvelous Forgotten NY (http://www.forgotten-ny.com/NEIGHBORHOODS/neighborhoodhomepage/neighborhoods.html).

January 19th, 2010, 04:18 PM
Thanks so much, Merry!
The WNY book recommendations are terrific, thanks for the link!

February 27th, 2010, 12:47 AM
Audio Books With a New York Accent


In one room, Meade Esposito, the Democratic boss from Brooklyn, was tightening his grip on the Brooklyn waterfront.

Next door, New York’s former mayor, John V. Lindsay (http://topics.nytimes.com/topics/reference/timestopics/people/l/john_v_lindsay/index.html?scp=1-spot&sq=John%20v.%20Lindsay&st=cse), was struggling with the teachers strike of 1968. And in the third room, an idealistic young woman from the Midwest was trying to teach poetry at Rikers Island. (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/organizations/r/rikers_island_prison_complex/index.html?inline=nyt-org)

It was just another day at a recording studio in Manhattan where New York stories are lifted off the printed page and into the spoken word for blind New Yorkers seeking audio versions of books about their city.

The little-known service is run by the New York Public Library out of the Andrew Heiskell Braille and Talking Book Library (http://www.nypl.org/locations/heiskell) on West 20th Street.

“A lot of the books we record fall into that ‘New Yorkana’ category,” said Susan Mosakowski, a playwright and theater producer who runs the program, which puts out up to 50 titles a year, many of them New York-related books that have not had wide enough appeal to have been recorded by a publisher. “We have a lot of readers asking for books with a local interest, a local focus,” she said.

Dozens of New York-related books are displayed here: “NYPD: A City and Its Police (http://books.google.com/books?id=U7DgrNHPYIQC&dq=nypd+a+city+and+its+police&printsec=frontcover&source=bn&hl=en&ei=ZE2IS8jGAomXtgfH5MXGDw&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=4&ved=0CBsQ6AEwAw#v=onepage&q=&f=false),” by James Lardner and Thomas Reppetto;” “The Seltzer Man (http://www.amazon.com/SELTZER-MAN-Rush/dp/0027779173)” by Ken Rush, about a veteran Brooklyn seltzer-schlepper; “Upper West Side Story (http://www.upperwestsidestory.net/uwsspreface.html),” by Peter Salwen.

A federal regulation enacted in the 1990s allows the library to record audio versions of books without having to secure publishing rights. Ms. Mosakowski has the luxury of being able to draw on New York City’s deep pool of vocal talent. Readers have included the Broadway actor Jeffrey Kuhn and Julie Pasqual (http://juliepasqual.blogspot.com/), a storyteller, dancer and circus clown.

“It’s crucial to match the right voice with the right book, and because New York is so diverse, we can find people with any kind of accent to read a particular book,” Ms. Mosakowski said, proving her point by playing excerpts of Jean Grier’s lilting narration of “Brown Girl, Brownstones (http://www.amazon.com/Brown-Girl-Brownstones-Paule-Marshall/dp/1558611495),” Paule Marshall (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/m/paule_marshall/index.html?inline=nyt-per)’s 1959 novel about Barbadian immigrants in Brooklyn. Then she played Louise Favier, who has acted with the Irish Repertory Theater (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/organizations/i/irish_repertory_theater/index.html?inline=nyt-org) in New York, reading “Mary McLean and the St. Patrick’s Day Parade (http://www.amazon.com/Mary-McLean-St-Patricks-Parade/dp/0590437011)” by Michael Dooling with a fine brogue.

The audio books are available to library users in New York and on Long Island and nationwide via a library network, said Mark McCluski, the Heiskell library’s chief librarian. Both the readers and the people who monitor the recordings for errors volunteer their time.

One day last week, Joe Avellar (http://www.wcbs880.com/pages/182205.php?), an anchor for WCBS Newsradio 880, was recording “The Ungovernable City (http://books.google.com/books?id=Upv5ezVPBOMC&dq=ungovernable+city&printsec=frontcover&source=bn&hl=en&ei=EU-IS8TsCpK1tgfSv62zDw&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=4&ved=0CBsQ6AEwAw#v=onepage&q=&f=false),” a book about Mr. Lindsay’s mayoralty.

In the next studio, Kathleen Frazier (http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1860355/), an actor who has appeared in “As the World Turns (http://www.cbs.com/daytime/as_the_world_turns/),” was recording “Channeling Mark Twain (http://www.randomhouse.com/catalog/display.pperl?isbn=9780375509278)” a Carol Muske-Dukes novel about an idealistic poet who moves to New York in the 1970s.

Pete Larkin (http://www.petelarkin.com/), a professional voice-over actor who grew up in the Irish neighborhood of Sunnyside, Queens, was essaying Meade Esposito’s relationship with Edward I. Koch (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/k/edward_i_koch/index.html?scp=1-spot&sq=Ed%20Koch%20&st=cse)from Chapter 8 of Marc Eliot (http://marceliot.net/index.htm)’s “Song of Brooklyn (http://www.amazon.com/Song-Brooklyn-History-Americas-Favorite/dp/0767920147/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1267224516&sr=1-1),” an oral history of the borough.

“I do it to help the people who couldn’t otherwise read these great books,” said Mr. Larkin, who has also worked as a rock radio D.J. and was once the Mets’ public-address announcer. “But also, doing this work helps me get other work and keeps my voice in shape between gigs.”

After a brief break, Mr. Larkin resumed his reading, monitored closely by a library volunteer named Peter Serritella, a retired corporate lawyer.

“I got rid of my New York accent for my career,” Mr. Larkin said, “but I can pull it up and use it when I need to.”


March 12th, 2010, 08:47 PM
Review> Vicarious Living

Mark Alan Hewitt admires a beautiful book of Village houses that is also quite thoughtful

The front parlor of the Malcolm McGregor House (1832) has the original fireplace.

Paul Rocheleau
The Houses of Greenwich Village
By Kevin D. Murphy, photography by Paul Rocheleau
Abrams, $45.00

New York is a city of neighborhoods. Many appear in fiction, but very few get architectural coverage. Greenwich Village is the exception. As the most storied place in Gotham, the Village has been well researched, has its own historical society, and its streets have been photographed by everyone from Edward Steichen to Annie Liebowitz. Nearly every New Yorker has her favorite haunt, a bistro, bar, or street corner with an indelible memory attached.

The attic of the cornelius Oakley House (1828) has been converted into an artist's studio

One might, then, be nonplussed to find another book on the quaint row houses that make up most of this intimate place of twisted streets and artsy cafes. Kevin Murphy’s new treatment has an advantage that no previous book can boast: beautiful photographs of the interiors of many houses not normally open to the public. As in his previous book on the American town house, the author gets right to the heart of his subject and provides fascinating stories on both the houses and the people who built them. Paul Rocheleau provides the splendid photographs.

The two have chosen 20 of the most interesting houses in the Village and devoted a substantial photo essay to each, with accompanying text. Their book is nicely designed and produced by Abrams, the noted art book publisher. This book would make an excellent gift for your friends with an interest in New York and its architecture.

Murphy’s short essay on the history of the Village covers no new ground, and might well have been more specific about the kinds of houses that were chosen for case studies. It has the advantage of presenting street scenes in historic photos from the collection of the Historic American Buildings Survey in the 1930s, a nice contrast to the vivid color photos by Rocheleau. But most of the interesting narrative is reserved for the individual houses, and there is a lot more behind these brick facades than meets the eye.

The basement kitchen of the Merchant's House Museum (1831-32) looks much as it did two centuries ago.

Unlike most coffee table art books, this one marries probing, insightful photography with equally analytical text. Since Murphy is a noted art historian with expertise in American architecture, he seldom misses a chance to educate the reader about the subtleties of Federal and Greek Revival details, or the impact of economic development on New York in the 1830s, when the Village had the hottest real estate market in Manhattan.

He points out that the John Grindley house (1827) owes some of its remarkable elegance to the fact that it was built by John Jacob Astor as a means of converting a former country estate, “Richmond Hill,” into a real estate development that presaged the eventual expansion of housing northward on the island. As each house is presented chronologically, beginning in 1827, Murphy is able to relate the social history of the eras to the features and styles of each example. Modest dwellings such as the David Christie house (1824), built for the middle class, are contrasted with lavish houses for “swells” such as Irad Hawley, president of the Pennsylvania Coal Company, whose Fifth Avenue mansion (1852-53) is home to the Salmagundi Club.

The Cherner O'Neill House is an updated east village townhouse from 1801, where a mezzanine overlooks the kitchen.

The lives of original owners are not the only ones examined, for many houses became significant after the Village was a mecca for artists and intellectuals during the 20th century. An 1827 house was renovated in 1893 to become the studio of Robert Blum, an artist associated with Whistler and early Japonisme America. The design, by Carrère & Hastings, reminds us of the bohemian atmosphere that existed in New York around 1900, when modern art was in a period of gestation on both sides of the Atlantic. The building later served as the studio of the noted architectural painter, Jules Guérin.

At the end of the book are two patently modernist interventions into the fabric of this charming corner of New York, and both seem very much at home. One, designed in 2003, is a clever insertion into an 1801 row house. The other, from 2005, is a new house occupying a small slice in the streetscape. One quibble with this necessarily abbreviated story is that little is said about the period of the “Brown Decades,” from the 1860s until 1900, when many sandstone-fronted Italianate and Richardsonian houses were built in Manhattan. Though the Village was by this time a mature neighborhood, there are significant examples from this period, such as the twin houses designed by Robert Mook at 74 and 76 Perry Street in 1866. Perhaps we’ll see a second volume.

One of the best things about The Houses of Greenwich Village is its intimate, insider’s point of view. Both Murphy and Rocheleau bring us as close as possible to the artifacts and lives of the people who made these domestic environments. My favorite is the restoration/conversion by contemporary photographer John Dougdale of the 1828 Cornelius Oakley house. The contrast between the Greek Revival décor and his wonderful collection of artifacts offers a compelling story of rebirth. Before he arrived, the house had been converted to apartments, destroying its character. He lovingly restored every original room. Today he makes old-fashioned photographs in a charming top-lit studio, just as his bohemian brethren did a century ago.


May 19th, 2010, 09:25 AM
The hard cover edition of the AIA Guide to New York City has been published!

Mine is on the way, how exciting :). Although a bit pricey, I thought I'd go for the hard cover this time, because my 2000 paperback edition is falling to bits from extensive use.

The paperback is coming soon.

There's quite a chunky preview at Google Books (http://books.google.com.au/books?id=t0gj61QSgk8C&printsec=frontcover&dq=AIA+Guide+to+New+York+City+fran+leadon&source=bl&ots=H9_Vns5CbX&sig=SrdVidi82uvfQFOI5VSpanvBeck&hl=en&ei=_ODzS8fbG4zc7APS6LSNDA&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CBgQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q&f=false).

May 27th, 2010, 03:32 AM
Paperback edition...

The AIA Guide, Updated


The fifth edition of the AIA Guide to New York City ($39.95; Oxford University Press) will be published next week, and like the previous editions, it is a witty, informative and delightful critique of thousands of buildings and spaces in the five boroughs. It is also richly updated with new material — not just additions to the city since the last guide in 2000, like the High Line park and the Time Warner Center, but also sweet entries like the one on 447 West 18th Street and 459 West 18th Street: “Two young apartment buildings standing arm in arm, cheek to cheek, dancing the Chelsea Waltz around the corner from the High Line.”

“It was the backwater places, however, that were the most amazing,” said Fran Leadon, an author of the book with Norval White. (Mr. White, who died in 2009, was one of the two original authors of the series; Elliot Willensky, the other author, died in 1990.) Fort Totten in Bayside, Queens, was completed in 1864, and was “reportedly designed by Robert E. Lee when he was still a Yankee, just prior to the Civil War,” Mr. Leadon said.

“You go through a 100-yard tunnel, and you’re in this thing that’s like a Mayan ruin, that’s completely overgrown with Virginia creeper, poison ivy and some morning glory.”


Update: The paperback has also been published and is now available (http://wirednewyork.com/books/).

May 27th, 2010, 11:16 PM
Inside, Rivers of Blood



slide show (http://www.nytimes.com/slideshow/2010/05/25/nyregion/0530joint.html)

It looks so cute and small and quaint from the outside. Is that classical music playing? How nice. The only real hint of the vast and bloody body count behind the door at 44 Greenwich Avenue is the wee bit of crime-scene tape that decorates the display window.

There simply is not enough of that trademark yellow tape in New York to block off every crime depicted within the four walls of Partners & Crime (http://www.crimepays.com/), a 16-year-old survivor in the shrinking world of independent bookstores.

For readers of mysteries and crime fiction, a visit is a must. I first ventured down that little staircase eight years ago, and I’ve lost a lot of shelf space, sleep and dollars to the store ever since. I literally have a line of credit there, a gift card from my brother-in-law that I am rapidly burning through.

The employees at Partners & Crime pride themselves on their breadth of knowledge of the genre. But for the shy customer who does not feel like chatting them up, there are the “shelf talkers,” as they are called in the business — little handwritten notes of praise for books or writers that, chances are, you’ve never heard of.

“Five thumbs up for a thriller that really thrills!” reads the card below Michael Gruber’s debut, “Tropic of Night” (2004). “Author’s first novel blends anthropology, scholarship, voodoo and violence in a story that will keep you spellbound from the opening scene to the last page — and beyond.” (Sold! I devoured it and ran back for the sequel.)

There is a shelf marked “Serial Killer Thriller.” Another is marked “Great Tough Guys,” near one for “Great Tough Girls.” Another shelf moves on hinges — secret entrance! — to block off a room for monthly live performances of old-time radio plays.

I stopped in recently and saw a new little section labeled “Scandinavian.” A friendly clerk, Steve Viola, approached. “This guy’s terrific,” he said, holding a book by Arnaldur Indridason called “Silence of the Grave” (2006). I scanned the first sentence — “He knew at once it was a human bone, when he took it from the baby who was sitting on the floor chewing on it.” — and felt a brisk Icelandic chill.

One of the store’s owners, Maggie Griffin, 53, said the ability to make informed recommendations set Partners & Crime apart from bigger — and admittedly less expensive — chain stores. “Someone comes in and says, ‘I read a book where a guy dies on a boat in Boston Harbor. I can’t remember the title.’ Our staff does,” she said.

People tell Ms. Griffin that they read every kind of book, “and I say, ‘Well, I’ve got this great book where the cat solves the crime,’ and they’re like, ‘No, no,’ rejecting it. I say, ‘Tell me two books you wish you could read again,’ and I triangulate” to help them choose.

I tested her: I like Mo Hayder, she of the twisted “Birdman,” a serial-killer-shelf discovery. Ms. Griffin stopped me there: “Val McDermott. ‘The Mermaids Singing.’ ‘Wire in the Blood.’ ”

I tried again: “I liked that ‘Girl With the Dragon Tattoo’ book.”

“What did you like about it? The plot? Or the setting?” I said the setting, and she said, “You probably should try ‘The Redbreast’ or ‘Nemesis’ by Nesbo.”

Try having that conversation with a Kindle.


June 3rd, 2010, 05:31 AM
Good on 'em :).

Top 10 Bitchiest Architecture Reviews in the New AIA Guide

June 2, 2010, by Joey

Somebody finally has something nice to say about controversial architect Robert Scarano, and surprisingly, it's the gatekeepers of one of the most respected texts on NYC architecture! This week the fifth edition of the AIA Guide to New York City gets dropped on the brains of archigeeks everywhere (careful, it's 1,055 pages), and this latest version of the beloved manual is full of surprises—such as the praise not only for Scarano projects like ScarBow (http://ny.curbed.com/tags/scarano-on-the-bowery) and Long Island City's Vere (which the authors already let us know (http://ny.curbed.com/archives/2009/04/20/it_happened_one_weekend_scarano_hits_the_books_som eone_is_still_buying_uws_fakes_modesty_more.php) they were digging), but also the hilarious ways in which the book takes swipes at those buildings deemed unworthy.

You may have noticed that the city went through a bit of a building boom in the decade since the book's previous edition came out, and authors Fran Leadon and Norval White (who passed away late last year; original co-author Elliot Willensky died in 1990) go after the new stuff with gusto. While the majority of the book celebrates the good, the AIA Guide is at its most entertaining when applying its witty and pithy critiques to things considered by the authors to be crapitechture. Here are some examples!

The book tackles over 6,000 buildings across all five boroughs, so we haven't been through the whole thing just yet. But while flipping we took note of our favorite catty remarks made about new buildings. For those without the book (order it already! (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0195383869/ref=pd_lpo_k2_dp_sr_1?pf_rd_p=486539851&pf_rd_s=lpo-top-stripe-1&pf_rd_t=201&pf_rd_i=0812931076&pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_r=0JRNXBPR21RBE39N9SJ1)), we've added links to photos of the buildings being panned to serve as visual aids. Enjoy!

10) 15 Central Park West (Robert A.M. Stern): "A stage set: an attempted re-incarnation of the spacious, luxurious apartment architecture constructed along Central Park West between the two world wars. Everything's exaggerated, retro and gigantic, from the marble lobby to the bathrooms, from private screening rooms to wine cellars. The Century, next door, was a founding father of this Central Park West apartment row, and the real thing." [photo (http://www.worldarchitecturenews.com/news_images/2182_1_15CPW1big.jpg)]

9) One Ten 3rd (Greenberg Farrow Architects): "Another Blue Tower? Scarcely. More an incoherent construction of glass." [photo (http://ny.curbed.com/archives/2007/05/18/one_ten_3rds_summer_plans_include_moveins.php)]

8) Chelsea Enclave (Polshek Partnership): "The new building includes some space for the [General Theological Seminary's] theological pursuits, and has helped the seminary financially, but architecturally it's a real intrusion. What had been a secret, and sacred, garden is now the shared back yard of yuppies." [photo (http://ny.curbed.com/archives/2010/01/14/exploring_chelsea_enclaves_historic_holy_land.php)]

7) On Prospect Park (Richard Meier): "A massive beached whale...Fortunately, it's not actually on the park; it just seems that way." [photo (http://wirednewyork.com/real_estate/1-grand-army-plaza/)]

6) Avant Chelsea (1100 Architects): "A glassy high-rise offering five-star hotel living, but the floor to ceiling glass and chiseled blue shell has nothing to do with the street to which it belongs. The sales pitch is 'Your Life Here.' Is that an offer or a threat?" [photo (http://www.archdaily.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/02/1630823782_avant-chelsea-5-337x450.jpg)]

5) William Beaver House (Tsao & McKown Architects): "The Post-It Note Building." [photo (http://ny.curbed.com/archives/2008/02/07/renderingreality_william_beaver_house.php)]

4) The Chapin School (Farewell Mills Gatsch Architects, 2008 addition): "Said the modernist addition to the neo-Georgian brick school: 'Sorry! I landed on your roof! Pardon me! Now I seem to be stuck to your cornice! Oh, well...'" [photo (http://ny.curbed.com/archives/2008/09/23/half_of_yorkvilles_chapin_school_now_a_cyborg.php)]

3) Astor Place Tower (aka the Sculpture for Living; Gwathmey Siegel): "It might be more at home on the skyline of some other town: Stamford, Charlotte, Tampa all come to mind." [photo (http://www.designobserver.com/media/images/glass_astor_lg.jpg)]

2) Palazzo Chupi (Julian Schnabel): "This 12-story eruption is a mess of competing balconies, arched windows, faux-Venetian details, and hot pink stucco. At a smaller scale it might be funny, but it's too big to be a good joke." [photo (http://ny.curbed.com/archives/2009/07/28/palazzo_chupis_secret_inspiration_revealed.php)]

1) These three consecutive Williamsburg entries: Northside Piers (FxFowle): "Three glass towers along the East River. This is Brooklyn?" The Edge (Stephen B. Jacobs Group): "More towers along the water, just north of Northside Piers. Presumably named for its proximity to the water, not for the Irish guitarist. Again, this is Brooklyn?" 20, 30, 50 Bayard Street (Karl Fischer): "Mr Fischer, of Montreal, has been busy in Williamsburg. These three glass boxes, with a few curves thrown in here and there, stare down at the park. There are dozens of other similar projects in the neighborhood, and a stroll west and south will reveal them, but seeing these three is probably more than enough." [Northside (http://ny.curbed.com/archives/2010/04/08/more_limited_time_only_price_cuts_at_northside_pie rs.php), Edge (http://ny.curbed.com/archives/2010/02/25/subsidized_renters_at_williamsburgs_edge_ask_whats _the_holdup.php?o=4), Karl Fischer Row (http://ny.curbed.com/archives/2009/12/07/williamsburgs_20_bayard_is_half_rental_all_broke.p hp)]

http://ny.curbed.com/archives/2010/06/02/top_10_bitchiest_architecture_reviews_in_the_new_a ia_guide.php

June 12th, 2010, 04:05 AM
I've started a leisurely, long-term browse through the new AIA Guide to New York City.

Space has been maximised this time, with no wasted margins. Entries are arranged in 2 columns instead of one for the first time and a new condensed font has been used.

The thumbnail photos arranged in the margins of the 4th edition have largely been replaced by larger photos of varying sizes inserted into the text (as with the 3rd edition), including the occasional full page spread. I always found it a bit annoying that photos often don't appear on the same page as the related entry, but needs must with this format, I suppose. Don't toss out your old editions, folks; the photos are all different.

The footprint of buildings is shown on the new maps. Designated Historic Districts are shown, as previously. I don't agree with this (http://www.architectmagazine.com/books/the-good-book.aspx) assessment of the maps, or photos.

To save space, the index is now arranged in 3 columns and a very handy Address Index is now included.
Architectural style symbols have been retained, as have the apples to signify landmarks.

Instead of a separate Necrology section, as in the 3rd edition, entries are included at the end of each section. Unfortunately, these entries aren't numbered and included on the maps. They perhaps could have used the same numbers as the replacement buildings where applicable, as a useful geographical reference for further information. It's interesting that along with an entry for the new 2 Columbus Circle, which "wears a fancy gown for another ball", there is also an entry in the Necrology for the old lollypop version.

As with previous editions, there are maddening omissions. The Graybar Building is still not included. Too big to ignore, surely? And how dare they, it's Art Deco! Just a personal thing :sigh: Oh well, there's always Google and other books. A more recent building surprisingly not included, I just discovered, is One Jackson Square (http://wirednewyork.com/forum/showthread.php?t=8629) (I was actually looking for nearby 80 8th Avenue (http://www.emporis.com/application/?nav=building&lng=3&id=808avenuenue-newyorkcity-ny-usa), also sadly missing).

A small gripe with the hardcover edition: I was expecting it to come with a dust jacket (as with the 1st edition). Although illustrated as being the same red, white and blue cover as the paperback edition on Amazon and other places, my copy is sadly under-dressed, especially for the price.

I think the new format could have benefited from a little more colour, similar perhaps (not necessarily the same) to the Access (http://www.amazon.com/Access-New-York-City-Guides/dp/0061350370/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1276328531&sr=1-1)guide, to delineate entries and provide visual markers, for Historic Districts, for example. Going overboard? It is already quite a busy format. Along with the symbols mentioned above, the Necrology entries and other general commentary are in the browish colour also used in the maps, which helps a lot, especially with the new condensed format.

The writing style is as enjoyably informative and entertaining, often amusing, as ever, even with new blood. It's a blessing that we have the benefit of Norval White's contribution, submitted just before he died, but it's very sad that he didn't get to see the finished product and won't be with us for future editions. I hope Fran Leadon and friends carry on the tradition.

Does all this really matter? To someone like me, who lives on the other side of the world (and loves books), yes! To those lucky devils whose home is NYC, especially those frequenting this forum :jealous:, probably less so.

June 18th, 2010, 06:21 PM
Thanks for your review, Merry. The previous edition was somewhere between unusable and lousy.

June 19th, 2010, 04:23 AM
^ In what way/s did you find it unusable and/or lousy?

I guess the sheer volume of information will always present difficulties in presentation and ease of use.

If it weren't for the narrow width of the book, and the now maximised use of margins, perhaps some tabs down the side, even just in different colours, would assist navigation and enhance the usefulness of the headings across the top?

Is it supposed to be a reference work or a tour guide? Lugging it around on the suggested walking tours is not very practical. At least this edition doesn't have very confusing maps (3rd edition).

Although the opinions expressed are entertaining, I'd rather just see more facts, often frustratingly missing when I've looked things up.

Something I didn't mention before is, in addition to the Necrology entries, there are now also headings like "Unbuilt, but Inevitable", "As Good as Dead", "Probable" and "Doubtful", which offer brief tidbits about the future.

June 25th, 2010, 06:33 AM
Author Sheds Light on Fort Greene Park Designer


Frederick Law Olmsted is often called the father of modern landscape architecture. His landscape designs stretch across 25 states and three Canadian provinces. In New York alone, he played a part in developing 24 parks, including Central Park, Prospect Park and the entire Buffalo public parks and parkways system. A lesser-known park that he designed is Fort Greene’s.

http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4005/4705859689_8614501bb5_m.jpg (http://www.flickr.com/photos/fort-greene/4705859689/)

Fort Greene Park was the first time Olmsted worked with Calvert Vaux to make a small park, said Robert Twombly, an expert on the architect who has just edited a collection of his writings. Before then, the pair had built large, destination parks.

“It was not viewed as a park for the city as a whole, but for a specific neighborhood,” Mr. Twombly said of Fort Greene Park.

Olmsted was commissioned with Mr. Vaux to design Fort Greene Park in 1867. Though the area was small, Olmsted found ways to make the 30-acre space feel large, Mr. Twombly said.

“Olmsted didn’t think a park should reveal itself in totality from any given place,” Mr. Twombly said. “He thought the park should unfold itself constantly as you walk through it. So there’s always a surprise, there’s always something new.”

One fact that may surprise many, Mr. Twombly said, is the park originally had rustic shelters scattered around the open space. He said the shelters, removed before the Prison Ship Martyrs Monument redesign in 1908, were an important part of the park’s design to Olmsted and Vaux, who wanted to give people places to rest and contemplate life.

“Olmsted said there were two types of recreation to do in the park — one is contemplative, the other is exertive,” Mr. Twombly said. “The rustic shelters were meant for thought.”

Mr. Twombly has collected Olmsted’s thoughts on cities, small residential sites, urban parks and landscape architecture in his new book, “Frederick Law Olmsted, Essential Texts.” The book, published by W.W. Norton & Company, is set to come out on August 16.

(http://javascript%3Cb%3E%3C/b%3E:NYTD.Blogs.email_this%28%2739422%27,%20%27htt p%3A%2F%2Ffort-greene.thelocal.nytimes.com%2F2010%2F06%2F24%2Faut hor-sheds-light-on-fort-greene-park-designer%2F%27%29;)

June 29th, 2010, 06:32 AM
The Flatiron Building as Metaphor and So Forth

By Nick Juravich

http://www.observer.com/files/article/51mmMrZsQeL__SL500_AA300_.jpg (http://www.observer.com/files/full/51mmMrZsQeL__SL500_AA300_.jpg)

Skyscrapers make the best metaphors. Whether fortress or phallus, they offer the urban writer an unparalleled literary device for capturing the audacity and arrogance of the people who build and finance them. They're not half-bad for synecdoche, either, standing in for whole American cities in more than a few popular histories. In her new book The Flatiron: The New York Landmark and the Incomparable City That Arose With It, Alice Spareberg Alexiou strives, as the mouthful of a subtitle indicates, to accomplish both of these things, to capture the spirit of the freewheeling financiers who built the pride of Madison Square and, in the process, to tell the story of all New York at the turn of the last century.

full review (http://www.observer.com/2010/real-estate/flatiron-building-metaphor-and-so-forth)

July 1st, 2010, 07:49 PM
That's great. While I'm deep my favorite has to bee Mr Cheap's New York. Can't beat it for fun reading and great bargain hunting.

July 9th, 2010, 02:13 AM
I finally got my copy of the new AIA Guide. I was a little slow on the uptake, then I found a copy on Amazon for only 23 bucks. It's a perfect edition, unmarked in any manner.
It arrived today, and the first thing I did was compare the size of the book with the last edition; I was surprised to see that the new one occupies the same space as the old one, same format save for one interesting difference. The 2010 book is SLIMMER, compared to the 2000 publication, DESPITE having the same page count--1055. What alchemy is THIS ???!!!

They both weigh about the same, despite considerably more content in the new edition, which feels denser.

The differences--the upgrades-- are immediately noticible. There are now TWO columns of print on each page, and while most of the photos are still stamp-sized, there seems to be more of them, with quite a few in half-page size. Some photos are of Olympian size, owning a full page. They STILL employ a nasty editorial shortcut-- using florid, detailed descriptions of some buildings, with NO PHOTO to accompany it, leaving me hungry as a wolf for more information. Thank God for Google streetview. Didn't have that back in 2000, but still.

I am disappointed that there is no DVD available, something you can plug into a laptop when you cruise the neighborhoods, looking for that one certain building that you just read about...maybe with some interactive stuff, like overheads or pans of certain neighborhoods where you can click on interesting buildings and get immediate feedback as you stand, gawking, on a busy sidewalk...with a music track made up of NY-themed songs. Aah, it's but a dream...

The Necrology has re-appeared, showing up in a nice dried-blood print, to remind you that it's BACK...
Which is really a gift, but, GRRR... same oversight here, as well--there are few photos of what was there, before.

They didn't evade the destruction and changes wrought by 9/11, mentioning it when appropriate, finally devoting a couple pages to the site.

Navigation is much better. The rat's nest of maps in the 2000 book were horrible. They got easier to decipher, thankfully, almost simple, and the different neighborhoods in the new maps have little ghost outlines of all the buildings along the way. A kind of fill-in-the-blank neighborhood guide. As you walk down a street, observing, you can fill in all the ghost blanks, like taking a test or voting on paper, and you will have a record of what you have seen.

I have only scanned the book so far, and I'm really looking forward to plowing through it.

July 9th, 2010, 03:44 AM
The 2010 book is SLIMMER, compared to the 2000 publication, DESPITE having the same page count--1055. What alchemy is THIS ???!!!

It's just printed on thinner paper ;).

July 14th, 2010, 06:01 AM
Queens Through the Ages

by Macy Halford

Ah, the enigma that is Queens. Why have only Twenty-third Avenue when you can also have Twenty-third Drive, Twenty-third Road, and Twenty-third Terrace, all in a row, and all of which intersect with Twenty-third Street, but not with Twenty-second Street, because there is no Twenty-second Street? This, however, is just part of a broader mystery: neighborhoods with no hard boundaries and no real centers, so that one can live, as I do, in Astoria, which is also Long Island City, though Long Island City is in no way Astoria.


full article (http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/books/2010/07/queens-through-the-ages-1.html#ixzz0teJp6Auy)

July 16th, 2010, 12:37 PM
Garden Guide: New York City (Revised Edition) (http://www.amazon.com/Garden-Guide-York-City-Revised/dp/0393733076)

Terrific and compact (6.1" x 4.5") overview of gardens throughout NYC.


Product Description

A horticultural escape and guided tour through all the best- and little-known gardens in New York City’s five boroughs. Tucked inside venerable museums, perched on rooftops, concealed behind sleek midtown facades, and waiting beyond unassuming gates you may have passed a hundred times, if you know where to look, remarkable gardens welcome visitors in almost every corner of New York City.

From the windy bluffs of The Heather Garden in Fort Tryon Park to the bold, contemporary Gantry Plaza State Park in Hunters Point, Queens, to the innovative, recently-opened High Line, this pocket-sized guide tells the stories of more than 100 gardens in New York City’s boroughs. In addition to presenting the flora and fauna of New York’s urban fabric, it also chronicles the history, events, and personalities behind the green spaces visited by generations of New Yorkers. More than 50 color photos showcase the gardens, with each garden entry offering complete visitor information, clearly-labeled maps of each borough or region, and lively anecdotes sprinkled throughout.

July 31st, 2010, 02:54 AM
Review> New York, Guided By Voices

by Matthew Postal

Adding a rare appraisal of industrial architecture, the Guide includes the so-called Egg Digesters
by Polshek Partnership, a waste treatment plant in Greenpoint.

St. George's Ukranian catholic Church reflects off the facade of Morphosis' 41 Cooper square.

Bernard Tschumi's Blue Building (left) and Office Da's Switch Building,
recent additions to the Lower East Side and the AIA Guide.

About every ten years, a new edition of the AIA Guide to New York City arrives. Published in 1968, 1978, 1988, 2000, and now in 2010, it has grown to more than 1,500 densely packed pages, chronicling the city from the days of Mayor John V. Lindsay, who contributed a “message” to the first edition, to the present.

In the first four editions, Norval White and Elliot Willensky, both architects, received credits as editors and writers, working with a team of architects, critics, and historians to research and write the text. Now, with the death of Willensky in 1990 and White in 2009, the baton has passed to Fran Leadon, an assistant professor at the School of Architecture at City College. To prepare this fifth edition, he worked closely with White, who had been living in France since 1993, and 22 student research assistants.

For all its quirks, the guide remains a “one-of-a-kind” read. Written in haste (reportedly six or nine months) to coincide with the 1967 AIA convention in New York City, the original volume was conceived to be portable, with scattered commentary about local history, stores, and restaurants, as well as routes for walking tours.

Over the years, the number of entries has quadrupled, and though this edition has 20 percent more than the last volume—over 6,000 in all—the spine is slightly slimmer and the number of pages is approximately the same. To accomplish this, a tighter, two-column layout was adopted. The new maps are generally strong, clearly designed and easy to read, with building footprints for each structure. When sites are close, in Manhattan or parts of Brooklyn, one can easily devise a personal itinerary.

In recent years, many excellent books have been published on New York City. Websites and blogs have also made significant contributions, the latter of which the AIA Guide frequently resembles in tone. Though many entries are identical or slightly updated, most of the new entries, especially along the transformed waterfront, appear to have been written by Leadon.

Here, he is completely on his own, sometimes astute and concise, and other times merely riffing on his predecessors. A great effort has been made to keep the text as current as possible and to extend the book’s usefulness—an enviable goal but an impossible task, especially in Lower Manhattan, where the map of the World Trade Center is at least two years old and lacks entry numbers.

A “necrology” section of varying length now follows each neighborhood, paying respect to buildings that were included in previous editions but have been lost or significantly altered. These somewhat poignant, brown-tinted entries do not appear on the maps, and would be more useful if integrated into the main text, allowing users to better evaluate their successors. Gone are the vertical rows of thumbnail images that populated the 2000 edition, replaced by fewer and more prominent photographs that make the page design more appealing but, perhaps, less useful to armchair readers.

The AIA Guide has always been a lively, informative, and opinionated publication, but it is hardly authoritative, and should be referenced with care. For instance, when the text says that LEED stands for “Leadership in Energy and Everything Designed,” are the authors trying to be clever, or just sloppy? And in describing new construction along West 18th Street, Leadon smugly writes that there is “a startling collection of cutting-edge architecture (ouch! the building cut me!).” Moreover, as years pass, the tone has become predictable as the authors lament the continued conversion of historic office buildings to condos (“what else?”) and the transformation of neighborhoods by “yuppies”—arguably a dated and meaningless term.

Attractive and generally well designed, the AIA Guide features excellent indexes that make it possible to find a building by its name or address. Yet it still tries to achieve too many things. Do we really need to know a museum’s hours, phone number, and web address? Readers with a strong interest in New York City and architecture will continue to value this single volume as an essential point of departure, but it is by no means the final word.


September 4th, 2010, 12:44 AM
Not strictly about New York City specifically, but great for Mad Men fans and maybe "children of the '60s" :cool:.

Mad Men Unbuttoned, by Natasha Vargas-Cooper


Entering its fourth season on July 25, AMC's critically acclaimed TV series Mad Men takes place on Madison Avenue during the early 1960s in the fictional Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce ad agency. Inspired by the TV series, L.A. freelance writer Vargas-Cooper launched a nicely designed and engaging blog, the Footnotes of Mad Men, to survey not only the show but also the real-world historical and cultural artifacts of that period. Now her attractive blog has been adapted into an equally attractive book. As Vargas-Cooper sees it, the series is "about the culture clash and contradictions that occurred during the twilight of the Eisenhower era, the great societal shake-up of the 1960s" and its impact on modern America. She focuses on advertising, design, films, literature, politics, sex, style, and the workplace in order to probe "the most dramatic cultural shift in the 20th century." She begins by detailing all the series' regular characters and then moves on to profile real-life ad man Leo Burnett (Tony the Tiger, the Pillsbury Doughboy, the Marlboro Man), followed by everything from skinny ties, condoms, John Cheever and Frank O'Hara to Jackie Kennedy's White House tour on CBS and The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit. All are neatly linked with specific TV episodes, making this both an entertaining read and the definitive companion book for the series.

Look inside (http://www.amazon.com/Mad-Men-Unbuttoned-Through-America/dp/0061991007/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1283575021&sr=1-1#reader_0061991007)

Natasha Vargas-Cooper's blog (http://madmenunbuttoned.com/)

September 16th, 2010, 06:43 AM


Max's Kansas City, hottest cultural melting pot of the 1960s and 1970s, celebrates 45th birthday

By Jim Farber

Debbie Harry is seen at Max's Kansas City in its heyday.

© Bob Gruen / www.bobgruen.com (http://www.bobgruen.com)
(L. to r.) Dee Dee Ramone of the Ramones, Vera Ramone,
Richard Robinson and Lenny Kaye in stairwell at Max's Kansas City in 1979.

Bruce Springsteen at Max's Kansas City as a young musician.

Imagine Andy Warhol trading barbs with Halston in one room while artists Jackson Pollack and Willem de Kooning mix it up in another. At the same time, Lou Reed, Diana Vreeland, and Janis Joplin drink, gossip, or hook up with whatever bright young things catch their fancy.

This isn't some star-struck fever dream from beyond the grave. It's a snapshot of an average night at Max's Kansas City - club-house to the coolest people on earth during New York's most out-there era, the ‘60s and ‘70s.

"Max's was the place where those who stood at the tip of every pyramid hung out," says Danny Fields, the legendary manager, writer and p.r. man who spent many a night there.
"There was never a more exciting time, culturally, in New York, and all of it was brewing at Max's," says Steven Kasher, editor of a book published this week called "Max's Kansas City: Art, Glamour and Rock ‘n Roll" (Abrams Image $24.95).

Comprised mainly of stark black and white photos of the scene's bold-face names, the book nails Max's unrepeatable mix of grit, sex, glamour, and creative mania. The tome arrives amid a rush of events meant to toast the 45th anniversary of this arty oasis created, and nurtured, by its late owner Mickey Ruskin.

Wednesday, an exhibit opens at The Steven Kasher Gallery (521 West 23rd St.) featuring over 100 vintage photos shot at Max's, as well as sculptures and paintings by the visual Gods of its day. A simultaneous show takes place at the Loretta Howard Gallery (33 East 68th St.), focusing on the club's peak, from 1965 to ‘74. Later this year, we'll see a film documentary covering the demimonde. For those who want to sport the aura of Max's on their own bods, a new T-shirt is being manufactured emblazoned with the club's iconic logo.

While the original location of Max's (near 17th Street and Park Avenue South) now bustles with ritzy restaurants and high priced lofts, back in the day you could roll tumbleweeds through the area after work hours. "There was no street traffic after the insurance companies closed up for the night," explains Fields. "So no random people showed up. People came there as a destination - and for a real reason."

Mainly the reason was to mingle with other hipsters of the day (if you were established), or to try to pry your way into that company (if you weren't). Young wanna-bes Patti Smith and photographer Robert Mapplethorp hung around the club's less exclusive areas hoping to be invited into the inner sanctum: the back room. As observers tell it, the club's front and back rooms had very different characters. Crowding the front was what Fields calls "the abstract-impressionist heterosexual alcoholics" - like Pollack. The back got the more androgynous, and outrageous, Warhol "superstar" crowd.

To Kasher, the split between those two worlds captured a key shift in the notion of hip. "At Max's we go from this older, more macho model of cool, from James Dean, Marlon Brando, and Miles Davis to one with Lou Reed and Iggy Pop, Janis Joplin and Andy Warhol. That's a very different model of what cool is."

While both the front and back room scenes involved lots of booze and sexual hook-ups, drugs were a no-no. "You went around the corner to smoke a joint - out of respect for the club," says Fields.

Owner Ruskin got the artists to come to his club by wooing them at earlier Village bars he owned. He kept them there by setting up a barter system in which they could drink on an endless tab in exchange for works of art. Later came the Warhol crowd. Ruskin credited Fields with bringing in the music people, from Jim Morrison to The Velvet Underground.

Ruskin, who died of a drug overdose in 1983, abandoned the club in ‘74, at which point it became a very different place. In the late ‘70s, Max's functioned as a kind of adjunct to CBGB, hosting many of the same punk and new wave bands. At the same time, Studio 54 became the new star petting zoo. Which leads to the inevitable question: Can a place like Max's ever happen again?

"Only if there's a huge cultural revolution," Kasher says, "The model of cool would somehow have to shift from Western models to Japanese or African or Middle Eastern models. Whatever happens, you can be sure New York would be the last place it would happen."

http://www.nydailynews.com/entertainment/music/2010/09/16/2010-09-16_maxs_kansas_city_hottest_cultural_melting_pot_o f_the_1960s_and_1970s_celebrates_.html?r=entertain ment#ixzz0zgi66Czs

October 15th, 2010, 07:01 AM
Rare Books About New York


DO you think it’s too early for holiday shopping for New York-related books? Hardly! Indeed, you may be too late.

Many of the best nonfiction titles are out of print, and difficult to find. Once upon a time, you had to haunt out-of-print bookstores for years, and certainly there is nothing more wonderful than time spent wandering among old books. But now you can go online to sources like abebooks.com (http://www.abebooks.com/) and bookfinder.com (http://www.bookfinder.com/), or to the Web sites of stores like the Strand and Westsider Books.

If I were to choose one present to put under a tree, it would be John Kouwenhoven’s magisterial “Columbia Historical Portrait of New York” of 1953. This is the granddaddy of New York picture books, an exquisite pleasure to hold. It’s not just old photos, but engravings, prints, maps and broadsides, some dating back to the 17th century, with expert captions. For a gift, get only the original hardcover, a 550-page feast. The other day abebooks.com had copies ranging from $20 to $140, and even that is an absolute steal.

Following is a list of my favorite out-of-print books about the city, with a cutoff at 1960, and, in parentheses, the top price that I saw on the Web at the time of writing.

“King’s Handbook of New York City,” by Moses King, 1893 ($300). This is widely available in various reprint editions, but the 1,008-page original is such a joy, with its heft and its gilt brown covers, that, as with Kouwenhoven, it is a different work altogether. Moses King also put out a slightly shorter 1892 edition, a reasonable substitute.

“King’s Handbook” seems to have entries and photographs for every possible major store and business, and even the most obscure clubs, associations and charities. Have you been wondering about the Chinese Joss House, the Eclectic Dispensary, the Ladies’ Fuel and Aid Society or the Home for Little Wanderers? This is your ticket. Very difficult to find where the front board is not parting; live with it. Many reprint editions; be careful.

“King’s Views of New York,” by Moses King, 1895 ($800) and later editions. After his handbook, King began producing big, voluptuous hardback quartos, often using the photographs he had assembled for his guide. With a good, intact cover, these are spectacular, with lots of high-quality photography and better than his handbook. The reprints are of lesser quality but all right.

“The New Metropolis,” by E. Idell Zeisloft, 1899 ($2,450). Huge, just huge; an oblong quarto, 600-plus pages, and thus often in bad shape. Zeisloft’s exhaustive compendium is not so much a guide as a narrative account of how the city operates; where the rich live, and the poor; how the charities work.

Too expensive? The shorter “Shepp’s New York City Illustrated,” 1894 ($1,250) is similar to Zeisloft but with a richer, more immediate narrative.

http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2010/10/17/realestate/SCAPES-1/SCAPES-1-popup.jpg http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/misc/spacer.gif

“Both Sides of Broadway,” 1911 (I saw only one copy, damaged, at $65). Wow, talk about scope! Someone photographed both sides of New York’s jumpingest street, from the Battery up to 59th. The pictures are sometimes mediocre, but this captures street life like few other works. Paperbound and terribly difficult to find, almost never in good condition.

“The Iconography of Manhattan Island,” by I. N. Phelps Stokes, 1915 ($9,000). The aristocratic architect I. N. Phelps Stokes used much of his fortune compiling this O.E.D.-like six-volume history of New York, so stop whining about the price. The original set is majestic in the quality of the printing of the many engravings and illustrations. The text is dense; have Tylenol ready.

“Metropolis,” by Frederick Lewis Allen and Agnes Rogers, 1934 ($100). Moody black-and-white coverage of day-to-day life in New York in the ’30s. Beggars, snow-shoveling squads, schooner crews, railroad commuters, subway crowds, tenement life, tugboats, a sidewalk craps game — this is a romantic masterpiece of street photography, little of it credited. The cover soils easily; don’t be picky.

http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2010/10/17/realestate/SCAPE-SUB/SCAPE-SUB-popup.jpg http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/misc/spacer.gif

“Once Upon a City,” by Grace M. Mayer, 1958 ($100). The late, great Miss Mayer, long a curator at the Museum of the City of New York, worked with the Byron photographs there to weave a hypnotically rich diaristic account of New York at the turn of the 19th century. She read unindexed works like The New York Herald, Leslie’s Weekly and The Illustrated American that other researchers didn’t dare attempt. Street kids playing “cat stick,” the Joseph Guttenbergs’ golden anniversary in 1902, the Floradora Sextette: she breathed life into all these very minor acts in the drama of New York.

“The Golden City,” by Henry Hope Reed Jr., 1959 ($39). The father of the neo-Classic re-revival in New York produced a genius diatribe of howlingly funny comparison spreads of vintage and contemporary architecture, deftly skewering the modernist agenda. The majestic Grand Central versus the deadly Port Authority Bus Terminal; the Stock Exchange versus the United Nations; a luscious bronze flagpole base at the New York Public Library versus one at the Seagram Building.

Mr. Reed took no prisoners (and still doesn’t); if you were a modernist architect, the best you could hope for was “no comment.” A fitting riposte to the advent of minimalism. Get the hardcover.


October 15th, 2010, 10:27 PM
Review> Camera Obscura

Two gorgeous new photography books stalk the evocative ruins of Brooklyn's industrial waterways

Andrew Atkinson

North elevation of the Navy Yard's Building 128 once home Machine Shop 31.

Photographic projects dedicated to urban ruin and dereliction have become quite common, and offer timely metaphors for America’s current difficulties. Yet photographers who use their craft can still attempt nuanced articulations by entering into sustained dialogues with the worlds they encounter. Presented here are two such books that speak to Brooklyn’s industrial present and offer distinct readings of their respective spaces.

The Brooklyn Navy Yard consists of 80 richly printed, black-and-white images portraying Brooklyn’s famous waterfront complex. Each image is beautifully prepared: The highlights are delicate and controlled, midtones luminous, shadows deep and sensual. Photographic craft dominates the publication.

Interior of Navy Yard's Building 128 showing a 25-foot tall Toledo press.

The 250-acre yard is compressed into sensibly conceived chapters of industrial buildings, docks, infrastructure, the hospital, and officers’ housing. In each section of the book, Bartelstone capitalizes on the site’s dramatic potential: Images of electronic testing facilities evince fallen modern industry, while empty dry docks persist as hollow monuments to an “industrial sublime.” Throughout, images exploit the descriptive ability of the large-format camera—its sheer power to carry detail—and fill every square inch with handsomely toned, seductive texture. Indeed, the relentlessly formal intensity of Bartelstone’s images is overwhelming, and nearly buries the living dockyard.

http://www.archpaper.com/uploads/brooklyn_navy_yard_02.jpg (http://www.archpaper.com/uploads/brooklyn_navy_yard_02.jpg)

http://www.archpaper.com/uploads/brooklyn_navy_yard_03.jpg (http://www.archpaper.com/uploads/brooklyn_navy_yard_03.jpg)
Aerial view of Dry Dock 4 viewed from the roof of Building 280 with the Manhattan skyline in the background (left),
and Dry Dock 1, the oldest at the Navy Yards, dating to 1850. (right).

The author’s aesthetic—in choosing what to represent as much as how to represent it—seems to suggest that this is a project about a space in use. Bartelstone takes care to point out in the introduction and captions that the docks are not abandoned, noting that the yard now employs 5,000 people (up from 3,500 in 1994, when he began the project), and mentioning its increasing use by the Steiner film studio and others. But even as the photographs draw our attention to the occasional worker or ship under repair, the predominance of the ruinous misdirects us. Photogenic decay, pathos, and nostalgia trump change or reuse. The present yard is seen almost in spite of the photographs, and the project’s confusion undermines the care that has been paid to the individual images.

English Kills from Metropolitan Avenue, East Williamsburg.

It is against this at times beautiful but stifling project that the quiet poetry of a seemingly more prosaic book deserves attention. Anthony Hamboussi’s Newtown Creek presents a six-year survey of the waterway and environs that function, in part, to separate Queens from Brooklyn, but mostly serves as “New York’s backyard.” Like The Brooklyn Navy Yard, the book considers the changing industrial landscape of New York, but reserves more empathy for its subject.

Hamboussi approaches Newtown Creek through a number of restricted decisions that inform the book’s aesthetic. His ostensible subject, the industrial landscape from Hunter’s Point to Greenpoint along and around the creek, is always viewed from afar and from outside. This constancy creates a sober objectivity reminiscent of Berlin photographer Michael Schmidt. Like Schmidt, most of his images are shot under overcast skies. Hamboussi’s leaden light may be less striking than that of The Brooklyn Navy Yard’s, but it fascinates. Alluring grays glance off tarmac and concrete, and the warm whites of warehouse roofs resonate against cream skies. Accented with the occasional blue tarp or red container, Hamboussi’s surveyor’s vision finds an understated aesthetic path.

Newtown Creek's remnant industries still linger on its banks.

Organized chronologically, Newtown Creek patiently circles the waterway, beginning with the razed Maspeth Gas Holders and the foundations for the Greenpoint Water Pollution Control Plant. These opening images signal the theme of change and perseverance that runs through the book, as it sustains a sophisticated commentary on the landscape in flux, its dereliction, temporary occupation, destruction, and renewal. Across hundreds of images, the camera repeatedly observes the elements of the landscape as they develop or fade, in a kind of urbanist’s fugue. Some aspects remain consistent, such as the Kosciuszko Bridge, as others develop into counterpoints. The destruction of the Norvel Concrete Silos constitutes a short but notable motif in the middle of the book, contrasting with the slow construction of the water treatment plant, which provides an overarching image that reveals the life of the creek over time. As the book reaches its later stages, several sequences amount to a recapitulation. The last of these offers a sweeping panoramic gesture, uniquely viewed from high up, before returning to ground level and the nearly completed treatment plant, the Kosciuszko Bridge, and Hunter’s Point.

http://www.archpaper.com/uploads/newtown_creek_03.jpg (http://www.archpaper.com/uploads/newtown_creek_03.jpg)

http://www.archpaper.com/uploads/newtown_creek_04.jpg (http://www.archpaper.com/uploads/newtown_creek_04.jpg)
Towering cranes (left), and the Pulaski Bridge (right) define the character of Newtown Creek today.

It is because of such relatively modest aesthetic decisions that Newtown Creek stands out as a thoughtful meditation upon the complex identity of the industrial landscape, particularly as opposed to the populism of more sensationalist approaches, and will provide a useful and engaging document for some time to come.

Andrew Atkinson directs the MFA program at Montclair State University's Department of Art and Design.


November 19th, 2010, 11:39 PM
I'm hoping there will be less general entries in number and content (advertising, economy, politics, religion, etc.) and more information specific to New York City in this edition, e.g. more detailed neighbourhood entries. A couple of paragraphs in the current edition left me asking "and...?"

New Edition of Iconic Book About NYC Comes Out

It's all about New York City as iconic encyclopedia out with first new version in 15 years

By DEEPTI HAJELA Associated Press


In 1983, a young man named Barack Obama graduated from Columbia University. But the future leader's New York life didn't merit a mention in the first edition of "The Encyclopedia of New York City," published in 1995.

What a difference 15 years makes.

Now, sharing a page in the newest version of the reference guide — with entries on the Staten Island neighborhood of Oakwood and the Obie Award — is one on "Obama, Barack (Hussein)." It recounts his time in the city, the apartments in which he lived, the work he did. Oh, and the little fact that he later became president.

The Obama entry is just one of almost a thousand new additions to "The Encyclopedia of New York City," the second edition of which is officially being launched on Dec. 1. A compendium of practically anything you might want to know about the city, it includes the people, places and events that have played a part in making New York what it is.

The second edition — with its additions, deletions and revisions — is a window into how much New York City has changed in recent years. New entries include the Sept. 11 attacks, the High Line elevated rail-turned-park on the west side of Manhattan and Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

"New York City is always evolving, and especially so in the last two decades," the book's preface says.

Nowhere is that more clear than in the entry on the World Trade Center. In the first edition, it didn't measure a whole column length. The entry talks about its construction history, criticism of the design and ends with a one-paragraph reference to the 1993 attacks.

In the second edition, the entry stretches across four pages, with photos, and touches upon everything from the death toll of 9/11 to rebuilding efforts. Sept. 11 gets its own entry, complete with images of smoke coming from the towers, as does "Ground Zero."

The Times Square entry has been revised, and like its real-life counterpart, is much brighter than it was 15 years ago. The first edition mentioned efforts to clean up the area, once known as a hub of erotic theaters and seedy entertainment, but said the lighting on the area "offered a pale reminder of Times Square in its prime."

Compare that to the second edition: "By the early twenty-first century Times Square was more successful, attractive, opulent and brilliantly lit than in any previous decade."

Other new entries are a trip down New York City's memory lane, both positive and negative. There are references to Amadou Diallo, killed by police in 1999; Wesley Autry, the construction worker who saved a fellow subway rider from getting hit by a train in 2007; and Bernard Madoff, the Wall Street money manager who pleaded guilty to a massive Ponzi scheme in 2009.

Overseen by Columbia University Professor Kenneth T. Jackson, the book is arranged in alphabetical order, meaning entries on people are mixed with entries on places, events and themes such as agriculture, real estate and terrorism. The entries for any people mentioned focuses on the time they spent in New York City, as opposed to an overview of their entire lives.

"It's just a fabulous resource," said Richard K. Lieberman, history professor and director of the LaGuardia and Wagner Archives at LaGuardia Community College in Queens.

And even in this digital age, with a universe of information at one's fingertips, it offers something that an Internet search can't, he said.

"As much as we're in love with the Internet, with Google, students still love to turn the page," he said. "There's that wonderful moment when something catches their eye that they weren't interested in, because it's on the same page."

Of course, in as fast-changing an environment as New York City, any reference book about the city is at least somewhat out-of-date when it's published.

That doesn't reduce the value of the encyclopedia, said Mike Wallace, a history professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and author of "Gotham: A History of New York City to 1898."

"New York is a moving target, but that doesn't mean that you give up hope of nailing it," he said. "It's such a colossal enterprise that when you change hundreds of items and you add hundreds of new items, you're making a serious dent in catching up to things."

The editors of the project don't plan to make readers wait another 15 years for additional versions. They said an electronic edition, with updates, is planned.


November 29th, 2010, 05:51 AM
An Encyclopedia Sure to Please and Irritate


Joe DiMaggio made it this time. So did Amadou Diallo, ground zero, CompStat, the Halloween parade, the African Burial Ground, Chelsea Market, Michael R. Bloomberg. “The Gates,” the MetroCard and Pale Male are in there, too — each an idiosyncratic totem of New York City’s evolution in less than a generation.

Those subjects are among the nearly 800 newly memorialized in the second edition of the Encyclopedia of New York City, which Yale University Press is publishing Dec. 1 along with the New-York Historical Society. It comes 15 years after the original version captivated exacting scholars and not-so-serious students of the city alike.

“People love New York City,” said Kenneth T. Jackson, a professor of history at Columbia University who edited both volumes. “They were transformed by it, attracted to it, they remember it. This is a physical manifestation of a love affair.”

The first edition, published in 1995, spawned imitators in other cities and provoked enduring debates over why some people, places and institutions were left out and why some others received short shrift.

If that is not exactly the point of the encyclopedia, it is half the fun, which is also one reason why it is being published in print, though an electronic edition will probably follow.

“On the Internet, you cannot look up something that you do not know exists,” the editors write in the preface. “Serendipitous discoveries are often the best kind.”

The second edition is 211 pages longer (it sells for $65, the same price the first edition was soon raised to) and has 5,000 articles, mostly signed, on subjects ranging from Berenice Abbott, the photographer, to Louis Zukofsky, the poet.

Weighing in at nine pounds, the encyclopedia has about two million words on 1,561 pages and includes a diverse roster of loosely defined New Yorkers, including more sports stars, home addresses of historic figures, maps, illustrations and updated statistics (in metric measurements, too, to appeal to readers globally) and entries on 450 neighborhoods (ever hear of Hook Creek or Tallapoosa Point?) and a hundred ethnic groups.

Most of the original entries, which range from about 30 to 7,500 words, were revised and were current as of March 31 of this year.

Still, with hundreds of other entries deleted for space, bickering is inevitable:
Why is Frederic Church, the painter, included but not Francis Pharcellus Church, who wrote the famous “Yes, Virginia” editorial? Why does Abe Hirschfeld, the eccentric parking garage magnate, get the same space as Al Hirschfeld, the artist, (and more than Morris Hillquit, the Socialist whose policies helped inspire the New Deal)? How come Century 21 is there, but not the Carnegie Deli (it appears in the entry on delicatessens)?

There are lists of television shows produced in the city, Leon Trotsky’s address when he lived in the Bronx, Lee Harvey Oswald’s connection to New York (but not the fact that he was radicalized after he read a leaflet denouncing the execution of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg) and a squib on the origin of Barbicide (the ubiquitous disinfectant in barber shops).

Arthur Ashe was inadvertently left out (Arthur Ashe Stadium is in), which may or may not provoke the same avalanche of dissent as when Joe DiMaggio was missing from the first edition because he did not fit the editors’ definition of a New Yorker.

“Robert Redford may live here, but people don’t associate him with New York,” Dr. Jackson said. “DiMaggio was from San Francisco and went home,” he added, relenting in the new edition in an example of the present influencing the past.

“There’s a sense of self-identify,” Dr. Jackson, a Tennessee native, said. “You can become a New Yorker in a week.”

Abraham Lincoln is listed. “If it hadn’t been for his few days in New York, he would not have been president,” Dr. Jackson said. So are Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt and Barack Obama because of their connections to the city.

“As professors,” said Lisa Keller, who teaches history at the State University of New York in Purchase and is the executive editor of the second edition, “we have to believe the past informs the present and the present informs the future.”

“One of the things we learned is that some things you can’t have an absolute answer to,” Dr. Keller said.

Among them is when the city was founded. The encyclopedia points out that while the City Council changed the city seal from 1664 to 1625, “the first Dutch settlers arrived in 1624 and the town was incorporated as New Amsterdam in 1653.”

Other experts on New York praised the project.

“In our Internet age, we can access an infinite number of pieces of information — but they are of indeterminate trustworthiness,” said Mike Wallace, an author of “Gotham,” a history of New York City, and a history professor at the City University of New York Graduate Center. “The contributions not only provide vetted data, but they serve as portals to ongoing conversations within the scholarly community, giving us the latest thinking, as well as the latest facts.”

Sarah Henry, deputy director and chief curator for the Museum of the City of New York, said she was impressed by “how characters and events from the city’s distant past have also made an appearance, reflecting the advancement of historical scholarship.”

As an example, she cited Adriaen van der Donck, who lived in New Amsterdam and appeared in the Museum of the City of New York’s recent exhibition “Amsterdam/New Amsterdam: The Worlds of Henry Hudson.”

“In the new edition, he has his own entry explaining his role in the politics of the colony, as described by recent historians,” Dr. Henry said. “And even short entries — like the description of the 19th-century Seneca Village, located in what is now Central Park — got a thorough reworking.”

Since the first edition was published, Dr. Jackson said, “the biggest story in New York is the safer city.” That story is addressed by the encyclopedia, but it is necessarily vaguer about where the intersection of people, place and time will lead a city that does not spend much time dwelling on its past.

“New Yorkers didn’t care about its history, and neither did the cities it’s in a race with now, like Shanghai and Hong Kong,” Dr. Jackson said. “But New York seems to have found a balance between change and preservation — it’s an uneasy balance, but it’s not like Shanghai, where you knock everything down, or Paris, where you can’t change anything.

“Just think,” he added. “A half-century ago, New York was the leading industrial city in the world and the biggest port in the world. The truth is, New York could have become Detroit. Instead, it revived. Does New York provide a road map to a world city that will survive into the 21st century? Think of all the things that have happened here. It’s worth studying.”


December 7th, 2010, 06:13 AM
Newfound Colors for a Portrait of New York


(see article (http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/12/06/big-bold-snapshots-of-new-york/) for slide show)

A picture-book history of New York.

Gee, there hasn’t been one of those since — let’s see, what day of the week is this?

“It was fundamental that we found images that people haven’t seen before,” said Reuel Golden, the editor and author of the newly published “New York, Portrait of a City” (Taschen). The goal, Mr. Golden said, was to “unveil hidden gems that would excite even the most jaded New Yorkers and then print them big and bold.”

He succeeded. At about 280 cubic inches, “New York” is one of those coffee table books large enough to serve as a coffee table — or at least an end table — if you happen to have four spare legs and a screwdriver handy.

It’s very inviting, all the same. From its front cover onward, “New York” seems to burst with fresh imagery, including the striking color photography of Esther Bubley (1921-1998) and Evelyn Hofer (1922-2009). There are, to be sure, some very familiar pictures with very familiar credit lines, but even these take on new life when juxtaposed with little-known masterpieces.

There are also witty detours from well-worn paths. Mr. Golden skipped over the customary Weegee photo, “The Critic (http://www.getty.edu/art/gettyguide/artObjectDetails?artobj=46305),” showing Mrs. George Washington Kavanaugh and Lady Decies arriving at the Metropolitan Opera House, furred and bejeweled, as a scowling vagabond looked on. Instead, he picked Weegee’s picture from behind the women, showing the battery of photographers greeting their arrival.

Mr. Golden and I exchanged e-mails last week about how the book was produced. My questions and his answers have been condensed and edited.

It appears that you tried to mix iconic images with obscure ones, famous photographers with the lesser known.

It was a conscious thing right from the start and was part of the original brief Taschen gave to me.

In practical terms, there are several key archives — for example, the New-York Historical Society — where virtually nothing has been digitized. The society has folders and folders of prints, dating back from the mid-19th century, arranged according to almost every street in Manhattan. So it’s a question of going through, block by block, until you find something that’s unknown, compelling and helps to tell the story of the city.

At the same time, the book has to be accessible for an international and national readership. So throughout each chapter, we would sprinkle a few iconic images that people immediately identify as New York. For example, the Dennis Stock shot of a moody James Dean walking through Times Square is so familiar, but that doesn’t detract from the fact that it’s a very powerful, classic environmental portrait.

There are many women photographers in the book. Did you deliberately search for women, who might have been under-represented in earlier collections?

To be honest it’s not something I went out of my way to address. There is just a rich lineage of female photographers throughout the city’s history. It started with Alice Austen, one of the city’s first street photographers, who was around in the 1880s and 1890s, through Berenice Abbott in the 1930s and 1940s, to all those great unheralded photographers of the 1950s who feature so prominently in the book: Ruth Orkin (Slide 9), Erika Stone (Slide 8), Esther Bubley (Slide 11) and so on.

It appears as if you’d made a concerted effort to ferret out color photographs from eras in which we don’t typically expect to see color.

Finding early color was something that we were pretty obsessive about. Early color is something that the publisher really likes to see in this genre of photography book.
Color presents the past in a different light and, in my opinion, can contextualize a period in a more ‘real’ way than black and white. It’s got that cool retro factor, as well. Those 1950s color photos of ordinary New Yorkers walking the streets and going about their business are wonderful glimpses into city life at the time, but they still resonate with us in 2010.

What is your proudest ‘get’; that is, the photo that emerged from the most arcane source or took the most negotiating to secure?

I think my two proudest ‘gets’ — and they weren’t necessarily the most arcane nor did they take the most negotiating to secure — are the 1950s color work by Esther Bubley (Slide 11) and the amazingly prolific and versatile photographer Evelyn Hofer (Slides 1 and 14), who died last year.

I knew that Bubley had a rich black-and-white archive, but it was Sean Corcoran, curator of photographs and prints at the Museum of the City of New York, who told me about her color series on the el train taken in the very early 1950s. I visited the archive in Park Slope, run by her niece, and indeed I saw these wonderful color slides.

I wasn’t familiar with Hofer’s New York work, and it bowled me over. The photograph “Arteries,” taken on the West Side in the early 1960s, is so ahead of its time. It is art photography. It is very evocative of that period in the city’s history when Robert Moses was trying to recklessly turn New York into something it clearly wasn’t: a city of endless highways.

Hofer’s work is seriously underrated. I can’t say the same thing about Robert Moses.

What was your biggest disappointment? What photograph would you love to have had that you couldn’t obtain?

There was a color image taken in the very early 1970s, at sundown, of a plane flying, from the perspective of what appeared to very close to the World Trade Center. It was dramatic, obviously portentous, and would have made people draw their breath.

Unfortunately, the photographer decided that he didn’t want to release the image.


December 24th, 2010, 11:28 PM
The Encyclopedia of New York City, Second Edition

By Tara MacIsaac

NEW YORK—Kenneth T. Jackson, professor of history and social sciences at Columbia University, released the second edition of his The Encyclopedia of New York City on Dec. 1.

Michael Bloomberg, bodegas, broken windows policy, Brooklyn cyclones, Chelsea Piers, Joe DiMaggio, graffiti, Harlem Renaissance, jaywalking, Bernard Madoff, MetroCard, Marilyn Monroe, parking—a few of the 2 million words in the nine-pound tome that squeezes all the complexities and intricacies of New York City between two covers.

“New York City has never been a static entity, and neither is ‘The Encyclopedia of New York City,’” writes Jackson in the preface.

The first edition was published in 1995. Jackson, the editor-in-chief, added 800 entries to his latest edition. With a total of more than 5,000 entries from about 800 contributors—experts on a vast array of topics—the book brings together the city’s multifaceted history in a way Google never could, says Jackson.

“Although third-graders may know how to use an Internet browser, browsing a book is a very different experience,” writes Jackson, “There is a joy in leafing through the pages to make unexpected discoveries about topics in which you did not think you had an interest.”

Just flipping through the “M” section to get to Marilyn Monroe, one is taken through the early days of a thriving marine economy up to the subsuming of Merrill Lynch by Bank of America in 2008. In between lie all sorts of interesting tidbits and the many stories that have formed this city’s history.

During World War II, the government secretly developed a nuclear weapon in a lab at 270 Broadway. The operation is known as the “Manhattan Project.”
“At one point the Columbia football team was recruited to move thousands of pounds of uranium for experiments that resulted in the first nuclear reactor,” writes Richard Rhodes, author of the encyclopedia entry and of "The Making of the Atomic Bomb."

“Marine pollution” chronicles the history of the harbor. “It’s hard to believe that this was once an oyster city,” says Jackson. The first study of harbor pollution in 1907 deemed the mollusks unfit to eat. The water was described as “almost a thick black oil.” The city poured its sewage into the harbor from the time of the first Dutch settlers to Mayor Fiorello La Guardia’s reign in the 1930s. In 2009, the sludge boat, Red Hook, collected sewage to use as fertilizer, and volunteer groups began opening new oyster beds.

Continuing to flip through the pages, one comes across “Maybelline New York.” In 1915, chemist T.L. Williams observed his sister, Maybel, mixing Vaseline and coal dust to darken her lashes; a cosmetics empire was born.

Under mental health, one learns that convicts from the city prison once staffed the city’s poorly run asylums. The “Mercury Theater” entry tells the story of a broadcast that had many Americans believing Martians were invading. On Halloween, 1938, the theater produced a rendition of H.G. Wells’s "The War of the Worlds" that aired on the radio and was mistaken by some as a news broadcast.

Entries for Mabel Mercer and Ethel Merman bring to life the cabaret and nightclub scene of the 1920s and ’30s and recall Broadway classics such as Anything Goes (1934) and Annie Get Your Gun (1946).

“Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner, and Smith” catches the eye as one flips nearer and nearer “Monroe, Marilyn.” The short article summarizes the history of the stockbrokers’ firm established in the early 1940s. It is a tale of success and innovation.

The firm was the first to publish annual reports, aggressively advertise, and prepare research reports, and training for new brokers—practices imitated throughout the industry in following years. The final two sentences summarize the most recent developments:

“In 2007 Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner, and Smith was the largest brokerage firm in the United States, with more than 500 branches worldwide. It was acquired by Bank of America during the financial crisis in 2008.”

These few words speak volumes. This tome defies chronology, however, and one is drawn out of the economic woes of the present and into the life of Marilyn Monroe.

“It’s not about Marilyn Monroe’s life, it’s about Marilyn Monroe’s life in New York,” says Jackson. Monroe landmarks include the subway grate at 52nd Street and Lexington Avenue that set the scene for some iconic photos—and enraged her husband, Joe DiMaggio, as air wafted upward and brought her skirt with it; Madison Square Garden, where she sang “Happy Birthday” to John F. Kennedy in 1962; and the list of addresses she called home, some psychiatric centers among them, unfortunately.

Professor Jackson spoke about his encyclopedia at The Tenement Museum Shop on the Lower East Side shortly after its release. Lining the walls of the shop were hundreds of books: “Graffiti New York,” “Brooklyn Then and Now,” “Five Hundred Buildings of New York,” and many more.

The length of entries in “The Encyclopedia of New York City” averages 200 to 800 words, far from comprehensive explorations of each topic. It does, however, touch on many topics of interest in this city of endlessly interesting phenomena. The topics are ordered alphabetically, rather than by theme or chronology, bringing to the reader a random assortment of knowledge—a characteristic unique to this form.

“It’s a city of mystery, the unexpected, and of diversity,” said Jackson.

Changing Face of New York: 1995 to 2010

At the Tenement Museum Shop, Jackson touched on the many changes in the city over the last 15 years that prompted him to work on his second edition.

There have been some smaller changes—the Nabisco factory became the Chelsea Market; the minor league farm team for the Mets, which was named the Cyclones after the Coney Island roller coaster, formed in Brooklyn—and some more dramatic changes.

Jackson pointed out that “9/11 is probably as big a difference as you can find.” He had the highest praise for the Fire Department of New York (FDNY). He dedicated five pages to firefighting in a book that barely has any entries over two pages, and usually only half a page or less.

“They didn’t say, ‘you’re not paying me enough to do this,’” said Jackson; instead, they got to work right away, even if they were not on duty. A little-known fact is that every single member of the FDNY elite team, the team that is called when the firefighters themselves need rescuing, Rescue One, was killed on Sept. 11, 2001. Their command post was under the World Trade Center.

New York is constantly growing and changing. Development is everywhere, from Citi Field, the new home of the Mets, to Trump Tower, completed in 2001.

“You can like them or not like them, but they are the signs of change,” said Jackson of the skyscrapers built by real estate tycoon Donald Trump. Jackson argues that New Yorkers no longer want space—they want what’s happening instead: places to eat, to see a show, and to have a night out.

Some audience members at the Tenement Museum Shop insisted that historic buildings are too often lost to new developments. Jackson said he lives in a historic area and appreciates that aspect of the city, but also stated:

“The city I came to, I want to continue to see grow and change. … If you’re about history, you’re not about now.” Jackson says the city is about the hustle and bustle, about movement and change.

The drop in crime rate over the last 15 years is the biggest change as Jackson sees it. The encyclopedia includes a list of television shows set in New York City. He noted that the city used to be associated with shows such as Escape From New York, Death Wish, and Midnight Cowboy. Now it is better known for Seinfeld and Friends.

New Yorkers watch their city change (is this a sub heading or a sentence)

Perry (last name withheld upon request) has lived in Manhattan for more than 30 years. He says the biggest change in the last 15 years has been:

“Wealth—it’s overtaken New York. Gentrification—and that’s a bad thing.”

Jocelyn Strutt, a 34-year-old fashion designer, has lived in many different parts of the city since she graduated from college 12 years ago.

“The different neighborhoods have transformed a lot,” said Strutt. She sees a safer city with more places to enjoy. In the Lower East Side, “you couldn’t go past Avenue A [before], and now you can go all the way down to Avenue D and it’s totally safe and hip and fun,” says Strutt.

She moved from the Lower East Side to Hell’s Kitchen, which she also saw open up. She says past Eighth Avenue was a bad part of town and she would not venture there before. “Now you can go down to Ninth and 10th and it’s all built up.”

She moved to Tribeca Sept. 1, 2001, and watched the area’s metamorphosis from 9/11 up to now. Businesses were hit hard, and a lot shut down after the terrorist attack, she recalled. Strutt credits Lower Manhattan Commission grants for helping to revive the area.

“I watched that whole downtown area come back to life, which was pretty amazing,” recalled Strutt.


December 30th, 2010, 04:55 AM
Someone bought me this as a Christmas gift.

Only a 100 photographs but every one a gem.

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/5108DVET2KL._SL500_AA300_.jpg (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/images/0810950111/ref=dp_image_0?ie=UTF8&n=283155&s=books)

December 30th, 2010, 07:44 AM
Hey Brianac, welcome back!

I also have this book and agree the photos are fabulous.

December 30th, 2010, 10:33 AM
Newly published chronicle of Tribeca (http://www.dnainfo.com/20101230/downtown/tribeca-writer-illuminates-neighborhoods-past) from Oliver E. Allen -- formerly an editor at LIFE magazine and Time-Life Books ...

Tribeca: A Pictorial History (http://www.tribecapictorialhistory.com/)

December 30th, 2010, 05:56 PM
Someone bought me this as a Christmas gift.

Only a 100 photographs but every one a gem.

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/5108DVET2KL._SL500_AA300_.jpg (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/images/0810950111/ref=dp_image_0?ie=UTF8&n=283155&s=books)

I've got that one and I love it. The photos are so crisp... every awesome detail is visible. For those interested in pre-war skyscraper coffee-table books with lots of visuals (renderings & photos), I highly recommend 'Skyscraper Rivals' by Dan Abramson.

December 30th, 2010, 08:45 PM
^ They're both marvelous. Also in the same vein, "The Mythic City, Photographs of New York by Samuel Gottscho, 1925-1940", by Donald Albrecht.

December 31st, 2010, 11:51 AM
Hi Ablarc.

I've had this book for a few years now and have found it to be very useful.

Careful though, it makes your arms ache.

One Thousand New York Buildings [Hardcover]

Bill Harris (Author), Jorg Brockmann
Jorg Brockmann (Photographer)

December 31st, 2010, 04:32 PM
Manhattanville: Old heart of West Harlem. by E. Washington

Unlike most books on the subject of Art/Architecture the physical size 'Manhattanville' is small; a paperback of only 6X10 inches and about a half inch thick - but this is one of those 'good thinks that comes in a small package'.

It consists mostly of vintage photos accompanied by brief written descriptions and background information.

The site Amazon books website offers a "look inside" option, and with this particular book that small sample is more than enough for you get good sense of all else contained inside: in fact, the entire 'subject' matter itself is contained on that great cover photo (http://www.amazon.com/Manhattanville-Heart-Harlem-Images-America/dp/0738509868).

This small section of uptown Manhattan is where the new Columbia University campus is currently being constructed.


December 31st, 2010, 08:58 PM
Careful though, it makes your arms ache.

I can relate to that. I bought the smaller, lighter paperback version for casual, bedtime browsing :), while the hardback gets lugged out onto a table for more in-depth perusal. It's not as heavy as New York 2000 (http://www.amazon.com/New-York-2000-Architecture-Bicentennial/dp/1580931774/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1293846972&sr=1-1)!

January 7th, 2011, 09:03 PM
Not directly about New York City, but still relevant.

Review> Triumphs and Failures in Retrospect

Esteemed critic Blair Kamin journeys through architecture and planning of the early 21st century

Terror and Wonder: Architecture in a Tumultuous Age by Blair Kamin

Terror and Wonder: Architecture in a Tumultuous Age
Blair Kamin
The University of Chicago Press

Blair Kamin has been a salient voice in the field of architecture and urban planning for several decades now. In addition to being The Chicago Tribune’s leading authority on architecture, he is also a contributing editor to Architectural Record and was given the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism in 1999.

His latest book, Terror and Wonder: Architecture in a Tumultuous Age, is a highly informative and accessible survey of the architecture and planning of the past decade, a period indelibly marked not only by the tragedies of 9/11 and the devastation of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, but also more recent concerns about the importance of environmentally sensitive design practices, as well as renewed concern about our nation’s infrastructure.

In light of these circumstances, Kamin’s recent book highlights the triumphs as well as the inevitable failures of architectural design in the decade following the turn of the millennium. As Kamin argues, the development of design is not a singular trajectory, but a more complex interplay of different political and cultural undercurrents.

Through 51 of his columns from The Chicago Tribune and other relevant publications, Kamin provides his readers with a retrospective look at the diverse developments affecting the nature of contemporary architectural discourse. The author begins with his response to the effect that the loss of the Twin Towers had on New York City’s skyline, and ends with an editorial reflecting on President Obama’s turn to developing our infrastructure by funding transportation systems instead of iconic structures denoting the primacy of Western democracy. Kamin’s collection of editorials convey the changing nature of aesthetics in response to extant socio-political forces.

By looking back at writing from the middle of 2001 until today, Kamin teases out the underlying logic imbued in the birth and destruction of iconic structures in the United States and abroad. Postscripts added to the majority of Kamin’s editorials function as an adhesive that binds this logic together, allowing his writing to be charged with new meaning and relevance in light of the events that exceed the date of each article’s original publication.

Though his writing may pivot around the more historically prominent events in the past decade, he also includes essays that convey the cultural relevancy of such structures as Renzo Piano’s bold Modern Wing addition to the Art Institute of Chicago, and the iconic Rock-N’-Roll McDonald’s in the Near North Side neighborhood of Chicago. He treats these structures as telling artifacts of the values of the culture that espoused them.

For instance, the author describes how after the McDonald’s corporation rejected proposals to redesign its space-aged looking building in Chicago, the company rehabilitated its interior to include Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s Barcelona chairs and other modernist fixtures. These implicate the fast food restaurant with a highly postmodern form of pastiche: it meshes high art and low art to a degree that would send Clement Greenberg into a coma.

Kamin notes the marked impact that the success of Starbucks has had on restaurant franchise aesthetics. These occasional departures from analyzing the monumental inject Kamin’s critique with a deeper, more everyday relevance than one may expect from the onset of his book.

Turning from the decades of excess predating 9/11, we can begin to look at a future of design that accounts for the shifting needs of society. Skeptical of the propensity for environmentalism to be commodified, Kamin nevertheless suggests that green architecture informs a marked change in our culture’s attitude of visual decadence and fiscal responsibility in the aftermath of the economic downturn.

His critique is one that extends beyond the physical facades he analyzes into the broader context of socio-economic activity. Poignant and timely, his survey underscores the importance of thinking critically about design in a time when opulence becomes a liability and natural disasters demand the reorganization of our nation’s fundamental priorities.

Jeremy Stephen Shedd Jeremy Stephen Shedd studies visual culture at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.


January 9th, 2011, 09:17 PM
This isn't about a specific book, but rather the decline of bookstores in the city. Hopefully, they won't completely disappear. I'd hate to think I have to use a browser to browse for books in the not too distant future. Also, it's just as important to have bookstores that sell new books as it is to sell used.

Shelf life (http://www.nypost.com/p/news/opinion/opedcolumnists/shelf_life_xHT2uTxVgugXkx5vyGkBHP)

Losing bookstores -- even chains -- chips away at New York's soul (http://www.nypost.com/p/news/opinion/opedcolumnists/shelf_life_xHT2uTxVgugXkx5vyGkBHP)

Last Updated: 4:58 AM, January 9, 2011
Posted: 11:28 PM, January 8, 2011
Comments: 3 (http://www.nypost.com/p/news/opinion/opedcolumnists/shelf_life_xHT2uTxVgugXkx5vyGkBHP#comments_block)

[/URL] (http://www.addthis.com/bookmark.php?v=250&winname=addthis&pub=nypost&source=tbx-250&lng=en-us&s=buzz&u508=1&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.nypost.com%2Fp%2Fnews%2Fopini on%2Fopedcolumnists%2Fshelf_life_xHT2uTxVgugXkx5vy GkBHP&title=Shelf%20life%20-%20NYPOST.com&ate=AT-nypost/-/-/4d2a67c5a431aa93/1&sms_ss=1&at_xt=1&CXNID=2000001.5215456080540439074NXC&pre=http%3A%2F%2Fsearch.nypost.com%2Fsearch%3Fq%3D book%2Bstores%26sort%3Ddate%253AD%253AS%253Ad1%26e ntsp%3Da%26client%3Dredesign_frontend%26entqr%3D0% 26oe%3DUTF-8%26ud%3D1%26getfields%3D*%26proxystylesheet%3Dred esign_frontend%26output%3Dxml_no_dtd%26site%3Ddefa ult_collection%26filter%3Dp%26search_submit%3DSear ch&tt=0)More (http://www.addthis.com/bookmark.php?v=250&username=nypost) http://www.nypost.com/rw/SysConfig/WebPortal/nypost/images/icon_print.gif Print (http://www.nypost.com/f/print/news/opinion/opedcolumnists/shelf_life_xHT2uTxVgugXkx5vyGkBHP)

http://www.nypost.com/rw/SysConfig/WebPortal/nypost/images/columnist_headshots/kyle_smith.pngKyle Smith
Blog: Movies (http://www.nypost.com/blogs/movies)

Looks like Kathleen Kelly had the last laugh.
Kathleen (Meg Ryan) was the winsome book peddler who, in “You’ve Got Mail,” found her small shop swamped and driven out of business by a Barnes & Noble-style superstore chain led by Tom Hanks’ Joe Fox. In a happy coda, she wound up managing the childrens’ book department of the big-box store, and everyone was content in that gleaming Nora Ephron (http://www.nypost.com/t/Nora_Ephron)way.
Kathleen and Jim found each on the Internet. Now their real-life counterparts are both looking for a new line of work — thanks to the Internet.
The same economic forces that drove her store, The Shop Around the Corner, out of business in the 1990s last week killed the Lincoln Triangle Barnes & Noble megastore. It was a multistory bookplex that, for 15 years, was an excellent place to read, browse, flirt, attend readings — and never actually buy anything, since everything it offered was much cheaper and could be delivered free via Amazon.com. Which didn’t even have to charge sales tax until recently.
http://www.nypost.com/rw/nypost/2011/01/08/news/photos_stories/barnes--300x300.jpg Helayne Seidman
The now closed Lincoln Triangle Barnes & Noble bookstore

The B&N was essentially the Upper West Side’s grooviest public library.
In the “You’ve Got Mail” era, there were five huge book/music stores between West 66th and West 86th streets. Now there’s only one — the doomed B&N at 82nd and Broadway, where tumbleweeds roll across the gigantic second floor. You could leave cash in the dictionary aisle and it would be as safe as it is in the mattress.
The majority of the prime space on the ground floor is given over to a display for the e-book reader the Nook (motto: “Someday we’ll be almost as good as the iPad!”). It’s like walking into a fire station and seeing an engine has been replaced with a display of Molotov cocktails.
“You’ve Got Mail” was inspired by the real-life dramas of struggling bookstores. Broadway’s Shakespeare and Co. (where a scene in “When Harry Met Sally” was filmed) was KO’d by a B&N a block away (and three blocks from Ephron’s Apthorp home). This was a big improvement: S&C was a fusty little nest of disaffected graduate students with the highest snobbiness-to-income ratios ever seen. As The New York Times reported in 1996, it “had developed something of a reputation for surly service.” Its replacement was democratic, comfortable and welcoming.
Dave Barry once defined an Irish town as “several buildings, one of which is always a bar, called a ‘pub.’ Next to this there will typically be another pub, which is adjacent to several more pubs.” The Upper West Side is now a Chase next to a Citibank next to three Banks of America and a Wachovia.
Just think: Banks, in the last couple of years, have faced (i.e., caused) once-in-a-lifetime cataclysmic horrors — and they’re still doing better than bookstores. Perpetually rising rents are creating a modified Yogi Berra (http://www.nypost.com/t/Yogi_Berra)situation in Manhattan’s better neighborhoods: No one can afford to live there anymore; it’s too crowded. Bookstores where people could gather to chat and soak up the best writing from down the centuries (or Stieg Larsson) were slightly more integral to the urban landscape than another Duane Reade (http://www.nypost.com/t/Duane_Reade)or T-Mobile (http://www.nypost.com/t/T-Mobile)branch.
Other humble hangouts, like Laundromats, are also in trouble: The Post reported last week that residents of Hell’s Kitchen are now in a sudsless tundra from 51st to 67th streets. Laundromats can’t pay $20,000 a month rents. Some residents are taking to washing their clothes in the sink. Which sounds like another paradox worthy of Yogi Berra: Her neighborhood has gotten so rich, she had to buy a washtub.
Online interaction, like online retailing, is in many ways an improvement over the random happenstance of finding a friend in Personal Growth. Just as it’s better to book a plane ticket online, it’s easier to find someone to discuss Jonathan Franzen (http://www.nypost.com/t/Jonathan_Franzen)on a blog than by hanging around bookstores. And you can’t blame landlords for charging the highest rents they can.
But often landlords kick out one profitable tenant only to have the space sit vacant for months or years. If there’s anything more dismal than another Citibank branch, it’s a boarded-up storefront.
Bookstores (and music stores) provided something special and New Yorky, their former density giving soul-sustaining reassurance that you were at the center of the creative community — people who care about art and ideas more than shoes. Every time one of them disappears, a part of what makes this city special dies.

Read more: [URL]http://www.nypost.com/p/news/opinion/opedcolumnists/shelf_life_xHT2uTxVgugXkx5vyGkBHP#ixzz1AawEcMw9

January 12th, 2011, 04:30 PM
Edmund White's top 10 New York books

From Edith Wharton to Martin Amis, the novelist selects his favourites from the thousands of books spawned by the great American city

Wednesday 12 January 2011 12.24 GMT

Manhattan's skyline, seen from Greenwich Village. Photograph: John Madere/Corbis

Edmund White (http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/edmund-white) is the author of more than 20 books including the acclaimed novels A Boy's Own Story and The Married Man as well as his biography of Jean Genet. His most recent novel is 2007's Hotel De Dream. City Boy, his memoir of the social and sexual lives of New York (http://www.guardian.co.uk/travel/newyork) City's cultural and intellectual in-crowd in the tumultuous 1960s and 70s, is published in paperback this month by Bloomsbury.

City Boy: My Life in New York During the 1960s and 1970s

by Edmund White
http://static.guim.co.uk/sys-images/Books/Pix/covers/2011/1/12/1294835581619/City-Boy-My-Life-in-New-York.jpg (http://www.guardianbookshop.co.uk/BerteShopWeb/viewProduct.do?ISBN=9781408809426)
Buy it from the Guardian bookshop (http://www.guardianbookshop.co.uk/BerteShopWeb/viewProduct.do?ISBN=9781408809426)
Search the Guardian bookshop

"New York has been the subject of thousands of books. Every immigrant group has had its saga as has every epoch and social class. While writing City Boy, I relied mainly on my own memories. In particular I was able to describe the effect of gay liberation on an individual life (mine) as events paralleled my own growing self-acceptance; in this case the political truly was the personal.

"I was also interested in counterpointing erotic adventure and artistic ambition in a period – after the invention of the birth control pill and antibiotics and before the advent of AIDS – that was one of the few when people were free to do what they wanted sexually.

"I immersed myself in books about New York, partly to remind myself of its past and partly to enhance my ability to see the cityscape around me."

1 Kafka Was the Rage by Anatole Broyard

The best New York memoir, an ebullient and exquisitely written account of Greenwich Village in the 1940s during the immediate post-war period.

2. A Walker in the City by Alfred Kazin

Another great document of New York, about growing up poor and Jewish in the Brooklyn of the 1930s. "The Kitchen" chapter is an affectionate look at the whole family's life getting lived in the largest room of the apartment. His mother, a dressmaker, worked in it all day long with her sewing machine and her customers sitting around in their robes. The family ate all their meals there. "I did my homework and first writing at the kitchen table, and in winter I often had a bed made up for me on three kitchen chairs near the stove..." On Friday evening, of course, no one could work at all or even cook but friends and neighbours came in to partake of the already prepared meals.

3. Old New York by Edith Wharton

This collection of four novellas portrays a quiet, almost provincial world of the upper middle-class before New York became a world capital. The most heartbreaking of these tales is "The Old Maid", about a woman who disguises the illegitimate birth of her daughter by allowing her sister to adopt the child. The little girl grows up worshipping her adopted mother and dismissing her real mother as nothing but a cranky spinster. Wharton had total recall for all the social rituals and tedium of this vanished world of her own childhood.

4. Dancer from the Dance by Andrew Holleran

The great novel of gay New York, written under a pseudonym and published in 1978, this pre-Aids novel renders all the melancholy of a life devoted to nothing but pleasure and all the glamor of a recently liberated sexuality. Disco culture, Fire Island, drugs, great sex – it's all in this remarkable and wonderfully written book.

5. The People With the Dogs by Christina Stead

A study of indolent, comfortable New Yorkers in the period just after the war. These are people who are constantly visiting one another, sitting on their stoops, playing with their pets, enjoying life to the fullest. I can think of no other novel that is so agreeable and so devoid of incident.

6. Old Love by Isaac Bashevis Singer

These are late stories by the Nobel prizewinner, all set in Manhattan or Miami. Most of the characters are Yiddish-speaking old timers who live (as Singer did) in the Upper West Side, eat at kosher cafeterias and continue their Polish feuds and loves in the new world. Cultured, poor, haunted by nightmares of the Holocaust, these characters are pulsing with life until their last breath.

7. Collected Stories by John Cheever

Brought together by the Library of America, these stories are often about well-heeled WASPs living on the Upper East Side or in exurbia, the world of Martini-drinking executives and their bored, brittle wives. Many of these stories were originally written for the New Yorker, but they are as much fairytale as sociology. In "The Country Husband", a man survives a plane crash but when he returns to his house none of the members of his family listen to his story; they're all too immersed in their own activities. The husband becomes bewitched by the teenaged babysitter – but nothing comes of this enchantment except beautiful prose.

8. Money by Martin Amis

One of the best novels about New York excess I know. Holed up in a Times Square hotel, John Self treats himself to booze, junk food and prostitutes on the principle that too much is never enough.

9. Bricks and Brownstone by Charles Lockwood

A detailed and always interesting study of New York domestic architecture. The same author's Manhattan Moves Uptown reveals how the island was settled in waves of building and fashion.

10. Here is New York by EB White

A little book written one sweltering summer from the author's room in the Algonquin Hotel. White no longer lived in New York but he was invited to write something about the city. He barely emerged from his hotel but his memories and observations of New York came flooding back in cautious, immaculate prose.


January 12th, 2011, 10:50 PM
Charles Lockwood's Bricks and Brownstone, originally published in 1972, was updated in 2003, including a marvelous colour photography section at the beginning of the book. Authoritative and very interesting read, with many black and white photos. There's also a "Best of the Brownstones Walking Tours" section at the end of the book with more colour photos.

There are two different covers:



January 18th, 2011, 12:32 AM
isnt there a new tourist travel book out for harlem?

January 18th, 2011, 04:23 AM
^ Yes :)!

Valerie Bradley, Carolyn Johnson are tour guides for 'Harlem Travel Guide'

Clem Richardson



Valerie Bradley and Carolyn Johnson have been showing visitors the beauty of Harlem for years.

So it made sense to finally write it all down.

Their four-year collaboration culminated in "Harlem Travel Guide," which was released last month.

The longtime friends, and Harlem residents, say they hope the 242-page tome will help clear up some of the misconceptions about their neighborhood, as well as attract more tourists - and their money - to its streets.

"I was kind of sick and tired of outsiders coming into Harlem with their own spin on what Harlem was or is," Bradley said. "I would go on some of the tours and some of the verbiage was pretty negative. Sometimes they implied that Harlem was still dangerous and it wasn't."

"A lot of tourists are here, but they're not really experiencing Harlem because their sneakers are not hitting the ground," Johnson said. "They're not walking around, they're not really mixing and mingling with people here because when they come they're taken to these churches, where they sit them in one general area and they leave before the sermon is done.

"So they are not getting the full experience, which is unfortunate."

Bradley, 65, was a spokeswoman for Andrew Young while he was U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, and also held offices in the administrations of former Mayor David Dinkins and former Gov. Mario Cuomo.

In addition to hosting walking tours, Bradley runs a public relations company, The Bradley Group, and operates a bed-and-breakfast, Harlem 144 Guesthouse, out of the Mount Morris Park area home she bought in 1980.

"What began as a real estate investment ended up as a romance with a neighborhood," she said.

Fed up with the tour buses that "paused on 125th St. for 10 or 15 minutes so people could snap pictures of the Apollo," Bradley collaborated with City College's Adult Continuing Education Department to secure a grant to teach Harlem residents how to conduct tours of their neighborhood.

Johnson, 48, was one of the first graduates of that program. A senior project leader with the New York State Liquidation Bureau, Johnson four years ago opened "Welcome to Harlem," a welcome and tour company with offices at 2360 Eighth Ave.

"I just wanted to put a positive spin on a community that I love and I live in," Johnson said. "What better way than to be a mouthpiece for your community?"

Both live in the Mount Morris Park neighborhood and conduct walking tours of the entire community, which include entering private homes.

Their comprehensive travel guide is divided into the Central Harlem, West Harlem, East Harlem and Washington Heights sections and includes everything from historic sites, restaurants and museums to service stations, Postal Services branches and live entertainment venues.

They hope the guide, which also contains street maps suitable for self-guided walking tours, will encourage visitors to explore the Harlem and spend money there.

"Harlem is the third-most-visited site in Manhattan but gets hardly any of the multibillion dollars tourist spend in the city," Bradley said. "We want to change that."

The "Harlem Travel Guide" is available on Amazon.com, at local bookstores, and at
www.welcometoharlem.com (http://www.welcometoharlem.com).

http://www.nydailynews.com/ny_local/2011/01/17/2011-01-17_guide_to_harlem__from_two_insiders.html#ixzz1BN R7Vtm7

January 21st, 2011, 08:26 PM
Review> Bloomberg Makes Space in New York

Studying the transformation of place in New York under the Bloomberg administration

by Fran Leadon


Bloomberg's New York: Class and Governance in the Luxury City
Julian Brash
University of Georgia Press
$69.95, cloth; $24.95, paper

It’s always bracing to read urban studies not written by architects. Bloomberg’s New York: Class and Governance in the Luxury City is an exhumation of the three (and counting) terms of Mayor Mike, written by Julian Brash, who is an anthropologist and therefore refreshingly uninterested in arguments based on aesthetics. Brash is primarily concerned with issues of class—always a tricky and elusive subject—and the commodified “place-making” promoted by Bloomberg stalwart and former deputy mayor Daniel Doctoroff, described here as a “youthful man blessed with a preternatural ability to maintain both a set jaw and an ingratiating grin.”

Brash makes it clear that his allegations of class warfare are tied to “the production of space,” and it is that focus that makes Bloomberg’s New York worthwhile reading for architects and planners. He examines the Bloomberg administration’s various over-scaled proposals for Hell’s Kitchen (“Hudson Yards”), a key puzzle piece in Doctoroff’s unsuccessful attempts to bring the 2012 Olympics to New York. Brash reveals that the plan’s ultimate defeat was due in large part to the ability of neighborhood groups, including the Hell’s Kitchen Neighborhood Association and Community Board Four, to co-opt the Bloomberg administration’s use of rhetoric and renderings that promoted an idealized, “elite” city.

Aerial view of Hudson Yards in Manhattan.

Beyond issues of who’s part of “the elite” and who’s not (and Brash applies the term too often and too vaguely) the “luxury city” has, in fact, become a reality, and Brash smartly ties class politics to place-making. By examining Hudson Yards in detail, Brash shows how a supposedly “placeless” group he calls the “Transnational Capitalist Class”—bankers, investors, and developers with global aspirations—don’t “transcend space,” but in fact inhabit and change the city on a very local scale. Brash’s insights here are thoughtful and intricate, offering a more vivid, not to mention more accurate, explanation than the tired and simplistic label “gentrification.”

In fact, I would go a step further than Brash and say that while “transnationals” do indeed occupy and transform physical space in the city, they often do so in a deliberately non-contextual way that is the very definition of placelessness. Many of the startlingly daring condominiums, for example, built during Bloomberg’s first two terms from 2002 to 2009, were promoted more often as good investments than nice places to live. Some of the flashier projects seem completely shrink-wrapped and divided from the city, marketed as opulent interior worlds uncorrupted by the neighborhood lurking outside. Tsao & McKown’s William Beaver House in the Financial District has an indoor dog run, a movie theater, and an on-site auto mechanic. Annabelle Selldorf’s 200 Eleventh Avenue in West Chelsea has an elevator that lifts your car directly into your apartment. Meanwhile, Trinity Real Estate president Jason Pizer, who manages Trinity Church’s six million square feet of space in a neighborhood north of the church that he insists we call “Hudson Square” (in honor of the previous Hudson Square neighborhood that Trinity helped to destroy between 1867 and 1918), refers to the church’s vast parcels of land as “the portfolio.” Under Bloomberg, much of the physical space of New York became a kind of three-dimensional futures market.

A 2004 rally supporting a New York Jets stadium in Manhattan.

There is much to enjoy in New York City under Mayor Bloomberg, notably new public spaces like Hudson River Park and Brooklyn Bridge Park and the High Line. And I certainly don’t feel nostalgia for the “good old days,” 20 or so years ago, when there were 2,605 murders in a single year (1990) and New Yorkers regularly carried “hold-up money” (usually a crisp $100 bill) in order to have something to offer the inevitable mugger. But over the last decade, things have definitely swung towards a monocultural, less sustainable city. Brash points to New York’s lack of economic diversification as a disturbing trend, and this is where his argument against the “Bloomberg Way” is most convincing. A city overbuilt with offices, condominiums, and chic restaurants for the “creative class” isn’t actually very creative urban planning. When I first moved to Cobble Hill in Brooklyn 15 years ago, there was still an active furniture factory at the corner of Smith and Warren Streets. Now it’s a condo. It’s impossible to imagine light manufacturing in my neighborhood today; industrial spaces have universally transformed into boutiques and bars.

Pizer, in a recent interview in Trinity News, practically crowed about the death of industry in Hudson Square: “ 1999 we were still primarily a printing area, and to see the portfolio morph from light industrial into the creative office tenants we have now is very exciting.” Exciting? I find the over-reliance on “creative office tenants” a precarious gamble. A city built only for the “elites” means that if they go down, we all go down.

[I]Fran Leadon is an architect and co-author, with Norval White, of the fifth edition of the AIA Guide to New York City.


January 26th, 2011, 08:43 AM
January 26, 2011, 7:00 am

A Well-Preserved Road Map to Perdition

By ALISON LEIGH COWAN (http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/author/alison-leigh-cowan/)

http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2011/01/24/nyregion/BROTHELPOLICEGAZETTE480/BROTHELPOLICEGAZETTE480-blog480.jpgNational Police Gazette
A drawing titled “The Genius of Advertising” from an 1880 issue of the National Police Gazette shows men outside a brothel gazing at pictures of some of the attractions awaiting them inside.

Encyclopedic in breadth but compact enough for the vest pocket of a 19th-century gentleman on the go, the book was an insider’s guide to Manhattan, easily picked up at the newsstand before a night on the town, much the way tourists and locals now consult a guidebook when they are in the mood for a memorable restaurant or meal.

Only this palm-sized book, published in 1870 and long hidden away at the New-York Historical Society (http://www.nyhistory.org/web/default.php?section=library), did not confine its anonymous critique to the quality of wines or the ambiance of the 150 establishments listed between its covers. Rather, it defined its role as delivering “insight into the character and doings of people whose deeds are carefully screened from public view.”

http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2011/01/24/nyregion/BROTHELCOVEROFGENTSDIRECTORY/BROTHELCOVEROFGENTSDIRECTORY-articleInline-v2.jpgMarilynn K. Yee/The New York Times
Alan Balicki of the New-York Historical Society took the 141-year-old directory out for a spin at the request of The New York Times.

Vest Pocket Guide to Brothels

Only 4-3/4-inches tall, this detailed guide to New York City brothels in 1870 hints at what people did before they had tools like the Internet to help navigate an unfamiliar urban scene.

The Brothel Directory (http://documents.nytimes.com/a-vest-pocket-guide-to-brothels-in-19th-century-new-york-for-gentlemen-on-the-go)
Especially fragile, the book is usually kept under lock and key. At the request of The New York Times, however, the historical society took it out for a spin this month so readers could experience one of the more colorful and detailed guides ever produced on the ins and outs of New York City’s brothels.

Readers of the book, “The Gentleman’s Directory,” learned that “an hour cannot be spent more pleasantly” than at Harry Hill’s place on 25 East Houston Street. And they learned that Ada Blashfield of 55 West Houston Street had “8 to 10 boarders both blondes and brunettes,” playing host to “some of our first citizens.” The book also divulged that Mrs. Wright’s place at 61 Elizabeth Street had “everything that makes time pass agreeably,” and that Miss Jennie Creagh had spared “neither expense nor labor” at 17 Amity Street, a one-time Manhattan address, to conjure a “palace of beauty” out of French mirrors, rosewood furniture and fine bedding.

All of those listings can be viewed here (http://documents.nytimes.com/a-vest-pocket-guide-to-brothels-in-19th-century-new-york-for-gentlemen-on-the-go). Just as historians might someday parse Zagat dining guides to see how our generation ate and lived, “The Gentleman’s Directory” provides this generation with a glimpse of the simultaneously libertine and puritanical city that came before it. Prostitution was illegal, but brothels were rampant in the decades after the Civil War, operating under the noses of police and census takers. And proprietors were not shy about using newfangled marketing techniques to stand out and gain a share of the market.

Timothy J. Gilfoyle (http://www.luc.edu/history/fac_resources/gilfoyle/gilfoy.htm), a professor of history at Loyola University, put the number of brothels in Manhattan in 1870 close to 500 in his 1992 book “City of Eros: New York City, Prostitution, and the Commercialization of Sex, 1790-1920” (http://www.amazon.com/City-Eros-Prostitution-Commercialization-1790-1920/dp/0393311082). While “The Gentleman’s Directory” did not survey every brothel, it managed to include more than 150 establishments — 23 on West 27th Street alone — in the book’s 55 pages of commentary and advertisements. Readers might almost come to pity the researchers who knocked on all those doors, collecting information and sampling the wares.

Coincidentally or not, all nine brothels that advertised in the book were found to be “first-class.”

In the column on “profession, occupation or trade,” census workers in 1870 bluntly wrote “House of Prostitution.” Click to enlarge. (http://documents.nytimes.com/1870-census-document)

Readers were warned on Page 5 that they would not learn where Central Park or the Croton Aqueduct were from the book’s contents. What they would find, the book stated, were facts about New York hospitality “which could not be procured elsewhere.”
The mission, its author (or authors) wrote with a wink, was to tell people where not to go.

“Not that we imagine the reader will ever desire to visit these houses,” the text stated. “Certainly not.”

“We point out the location of these places in order that the reader may know how to avoid them,” the book insisted, “and that he may not select one of them for his boarding house when he comes to the city.” It compared itself to the buoy that “warns the inexperienced mariner to sheer off, lest he should be wrecked on a dangerous and unknown coast.”

It apparently took effort for businesses in this line of work to displease, and only a dozen or so landed reviews harsh enough to scare people away. Mme. Pauline Beck of 69 Elizabeth Street came close, running “a noisy and untidy den of assignation, visited only by the lowest class of people” while the landlady at 105 West 27th Street was said to be “as sour as her wine.” The book was equally withering about Hattie Taylor’s house at 111 Spring Street, which it contended drew a sketchy crowd of “roughs and rowdies and gentlemen who turn their shirts wrong-side out when the other side is dirty.”

At least 50 businesses got rave reviews. Sportsmen were advised to check out 25 Houston Street. Nervous types could rest easy at 128 West 27th Street, where a doctor was on stand-by. Those with a fetish for furnishings could call on 108 West 27th Street for a peek at the frescoes. And anyone craving good conversation might have enjoyed seeing the “seven beautiful young lady scholars” of the “Ladies Seminary” on 123 West 27th Street put to the test.

One of the stranger entries was 127 West 26th Street, run by a Madame Buemont. “There is a report of a bear being kept in the cellar but for what reason may be inferred,’’ the book reported.

Modern roués, of course, have tools like the Internet. But in 1870, the closest anyone could come to getting a road map to the nearest den of iniquity was the police blotter or perhaps the federal census. (Though it was hardly the norm to be so blunt, census workers in 1870 knew enough about the goings-on at 114 West 26th Street and 116 West 26th Street to twice write “House of Prostitution” in the column asking about residents’ “occupation, profession or trade.”)

Books like “The Gentleman’s Directory,” filled the information gap, and because only a handful survived, Dr. Gilfoyle suspected that patrons sensibly had ditched their copies before heading home.

http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2011/01/24/nyregion/BROTHELOGDEN/BROTHELOGDEN-articleInline.jpgMarilynn K. Yee/The New York Times
Ogdensburgh, most likely a variant spelling for the city in northwestern New York, qualified as one of the “principal cities in the union,” along with Boston and Philadelphia, in this 1859 “Directory to the Seraglios.”

Picking up “The Gentleman’s Directory” in a gloved hand, Alan Balicki, the historical society’s senior conservator, pointed to its thumbed pages as proof that the little book got around. He also indicated telltale signs of hurried assembly: runny inks, pages that appear askew, breaks in the borders. “This is not a fine printing,’’ he said. “This is for information.”

A similarly themed book at the society is the “Directory to the Seraglios,” pictured on the right. Compiled by the pseudonymous “Free Loveyer” in 1859 and stitched together haphazardly, the earlier book promised coverage of New York, and “all the principal cities in the union.” Philadelphia had 57 listings, about half as many as New York. Washington landed 7, Boston 6 and Ogdensburgh, N.Y. (http://www.ogdensburg.info/webphotos/tnoldstfordst.jpg) was apparently one of the cities that had to make do with a one-woman welcome committee.

As a comparison of the two guidebooks made clear, stepping out with an out-of-date directory had its perils. According to the 1859 book, gentlemen “wishing to enjoy the comforts of connubial feeling with their wives intended” were well-served at 83 Crosby Street in Manhattan. Eleven years later, “The Gentleman’s Directory,” pronounced the same spot, possibly under new management, “small potatoes.”

The earlier book recommends several addresses on Greene Street, while the later directory warned readers to steer clear of the street, calling it a “complete sink of iniquity.”

Though a few guides of this type circulated in New York in the decades before “The Gentleman’s Directory,” Dr. Gilfoyle said he thinks this was the first to solicit ads.

http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2011/01/24/nyregion/BROTHELSAFES/BROTHELSAFES-articleInline-v2.jpgMarilynn K. Yee/The New York Times
This advertisement for condoms and related services appeared on the last page of “The Gentleman’s Directory.” Click to Enlarge. (http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2011/01/24/nyregion/BROTHELSAFES/BROTHELSAFES-popup-v2.jpg)

Safe sex was delicately broached in the last page of the book in an ad that advised anyone needing “French imported male safes,” otherwise known as condoms, to see Dr. Charles Manches any time until 9 p.m. Another, possibly in-house, advertiser was John F. Murray of 57 West Houston Street, offering additional copies of the directory for $1 or copies of “Dr. Groves’ Marriage Guide” for fifty cents. Take your pick.

The low-rise buildings that housed these quaint “temples of love” have mostly vanished.
City Room thought it had spotted one still standing at 105 West 27th Street, the place whose landlady was “as sour as her wine.” But PropertyShark (http://www.propertyshark.com/mason/) suggests on its Web site that the sooty-looking, four-story building only went up a century ago.

There is also no trace of an opulent three-story brownstone that once ruled West 25th Street and catered to an aristocratic crowd. Ten years ago, a hulking residential building, known as Chelsea Towers, took over much of the block.

Dr. Gilfoyle, who used police records, guidebooks and news clippings to plot the location of 5,000 known brothels for his book, said the oldest brothel he found still rooted to its spot was at 105 Mercer Street. A squat brick building with a fan-shaped window over the door, it got only the briefest mention in the 1859 book and was not cited in the 1870 work.

http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2011/01/26/nyregion/BROTHELMERCER/BROTHELMERCER-articleInline-v2.jpgMarilynn K. Yee/The New York Times
105 Mercer Street was built for a seamstress in 1819, according to a former owner, and later converted into a brothel.

Jeremy Spear, the home’s previous owner, agreed it was the real deal. He said he did extensive research at the New-York Historical Society after buying it and was surprised, but pleased, to learn that what started as a seamstress’ home in 1819 was later converted to a brothel. “There’s a certain grit in New York City history, and people love to hear that everything wasn’t all rose-smelling,’’ he said. “It is part of the city’s fabric.”

Readers familiar with the fate of other places in the book are invited to send their findings to City Room in the space below.

Alain Delaquérière contributed reporting.


January 26th, 2011, 01:19 PM
105 Mercer (last photo above) just recently got a face lift / makeover. For years the bricks here were painted dark green, but that was stripped off this past fall and the brick facade restored. Too bad they felt the need to leave the bars up on the main floor window. Up top there is a fantastic roof deck, lushly planted.

105 Mercer last fall ...



105 Mercer faces onto the fantastic 101 Spring (http://blog.ounodesign.com/2009/04/25/donald-judds-loft-at-101-spring-street/), the home (http://www.readymade.com/blog/design/2010/06/24/at-home-with-donald-judd) and studio of artist Donald Judd (http://wirednewyork.com/forum/showthread.php?t=8801&page=1), now home to the Judd Foundation (http://www.juddfoundation.org/new_york.htm). It's covered in scaffolding and undergoing an extensive restoration (http://www.departures.com/articles/restoring-donald-judds-soho-building).

Here's a shot of 105 Mercer, back when it was painted blue gray, taken from 101 Spring and included in a Judd commemorative booklet (http://www.readymade.com/blog/design/2010/06/24/at-home-with-donald-judd):


February 4th, 2011, 04:04 AM
A New City Handbook Demystifies Zoning

By FRED A. BERNSTEIN (http://query.nytimes.com/search/query?ppds=bylL&v1=FRED A. BERNSTEIN&fdq=19960101&td=sysdate&sort=newest&ac=FRED A. BERNSTEIN&inline=nyt-per)

Published: February 3, 2011

SINCE becoming New York City (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/classifieds/realestate/locations/newyork/newyorkcity/manhattan/?inline=nyt-geo)’s planning commissioner in 2002, Amanda M. Burden has presided over the rezoning of wide swaths of the city.

http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2011/02/06/realestate/SUB-jp-zoning/SUB-jp-zoning-popup.jpgDepartment of City Planning
A new 168-page handbook contains cartoonlike illustrations of what each zoning designation allows.

Some changes have served traditional zoning goals — encouraging higher density on commercial thoroughfares (particularly near transit hubs) while lowering density in residential neighborhoods. And some have served goals not usually associated with zoning — improving food choices (by encouraging grocery stores to open in underserved neighborhoods) and promoting nonpolluting transportation (by requiring bike parking inside new residential buildings, for example).

"It turns out that boring old zoning, when used creatively, can be used to solve a whole lot of problems,” Ms. Burden said in a telephone interview.

The catch is that the rules can be found only in the zoning resolution, a 1,500-page tome incomprehensible to all except city officials — if it’s even comprehensible to them. (In a recent case, a judge said the word “development,” which appears at least 2,500 times in the resolution, did not mean what the city said.)

That the resolution is “impossible to understand,” Ms. Burden said, has taken the tool of zoning out of the hands of the public. She hopes to change that, with a new handbook, available Monday, that she said not only “demystifies zoning, but I think is entertaining — it’s fun to read.”

Along with admirably lucid prose, the 168-page book contains cartoonlike illustrations of what each zoning designation allows, as well as images showing successful applications of the provisions.

Zoning designation R8A, for example, is illustrated by 459 West 18th Street, an angular black-and-white building by the Brooklyn (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/classifieds/realestate/locations/newyork/newyorkcity/brooklyn/?inline=nyt-geo) architects Della Valle Bernheimer (http://www.d-bd.com/). And the designation R8X is illustrated by On Prospect Park, (http://www.onprospectpark.com/) the Richard Meier (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/m/richard_meier/index.html?inline=nyt-per)-designed condominium building facing Grand Army Plaza in Brooklyn. Ms. Burden said she went over every “line, every illustration, every photo,” adding, “I love this guidebook with a passion.”

But this is no coffee-table tour of the city’s architecture; it is meant, Ms. Burden said, to be a tool.

Ms. Burden said a property owner (or a potential one) could use the book (parts of which were adapted from a less extensive 2006 handbook) to determine what is allowed on a given lot.

Rachaele Raynoff, the spokeswoman for the department, said: “It won’t replace lawyers and architects. But even before you bring in professionals, you’ll already have an idea of what you can build.”

Conversely, if a neighbor is already building, the book will help show if rules are being followed. “It will make it much easier for communities to flag early if something looks wrong,” Ms. Burden said.

Beyond identifying uses for specific parcels, the book could help activists and residents shape their neighborhoods, Ms. Burden said. “You might flip through the book, see an illustration that appeals to you, and think, I’d like my neighborhood to look like that — and you’ll see that it’s R3A or R4A,” she said. “And you might go to the Planning Commission and ask for one of those designations.”

“Without the handbook,” she added, “you would never have known that in a million years.”

During Ms. Burden’s tenure, the city has created 10 new zoning designations, with names like R9D and C4-5D, to reflect more closely the qualities of specific neighborhoods, and 23 special zoning districts, for places like Coney Island and the Bronx (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/classifieds/realestate/locations/newyork/newyorkcity/bronx/?inline=nyt-geo) side of the Harlem River. All together some 9,400 city blocks have been rezoned, Ms. Raynoff said.

But how to know which of the myriad districts you’re in? The book doesn’t have a zoning map, which could never fit on its 8.5-by-11-inch pages. One is available on the city’s Web site, and soon the commission will have a system called ZOLA (for Zoning and Land Use Application). Clicking on the map will open a Web version of the relevant zoning handbook section. (Until then, the book can be bought for $35 at the planning department bookstore, 22 Reade Street, or by downloading an application at nyc.gov/html/dcp/pdf/pub/orderform.pdf (http://nyc.gov/html/dcp/pdf/pub/orderform.pdf).)

Ms. Burden says she will be happy when residents start attending meetings with dog-eared copies of the new book. “Planning,” she said, “is most effective when it’s in the hands of the community.”


February 5th, 2011, 01:55 AM
Jana Leo's Rape New York: Scary Tale About What Happens When a Bad Landlord Won't Fix Your Front Door Lock

By Elizabeth Dwoskin

If someone strolls into your building because the front door's lock is broken, forces his way into your apartment, and then rapes you at gunpoint, can you sue your landlord?

The answer is yes, of course. And a new book, Rape New York, by conceptual artist and former Cooper Union prof Jana Leo, unfolds the tragic and strange court saga about what happens when a woman decides to do just that.

Rape New York opens with a terrifying scene.

In January 2001, a man showed up at the door of her apartment at 408 W. 129th Street in Harlem, and raped her at gunpoint. He had entered through the lobby door, which, like that of many neglected buildings, had broken locks.

At the police station, Leo asked if the cops could force her landlord to replace the locks. She had begged the landlord for repairs long before the rape. But she writes that she was told that the police had no authority to change the locks on a privately owned building. When she called her landlord to complain, she was told, "If you don't like it, move out."

This was the second break-in at gunpoint that had taken place in Leo's building. "My life was worth less than the cost of a lock to my landlord," Leo writes.

Her landlord, Steven Green, had been named to the Voice's 10 Worst Landlords list in 1990 and was later dubbed by the Post as the "landlord from hell." (Green is no relation to Stephen L. Green, a mega-landlord who is the brother of former Public Advocate Mark Green.)

In Leo's case, she didn't give up. She brought a civil suit against her landlord, who was a notorious real-estate figure both here and in Florida; the case became a six-year-long battle. During that time, the rapist was found through DNA matching, convicted, and sent to jail.

Meanwhile, the landlord argued that Leo was at fault because she "had let the attacker in," even though he was holding a gun in her face. The judge sided with Leo and found the landlord negligent in not providing a safe building.

But because the property happened to have changed hands on the day of the rape, it was unclear whether the new landlord or the old landlord was responsible (Green was the old landlord). The case was finally settled out of court, on the day before it was scheduled for trial.

Leo not only wrote this book about her case; she also staged an exhibition about it at Invisible-Exports (an art space on Orchard Street just north of Canal Street).

Green wound up stiffing the city for more than $2 million in fines for numerous violations in numerous buildings, and he moved on to new ventures in Tennessee and Florida. He eventually got his due. In January 2007, Green was convicted and sent to jail for fraud in Florida. He had used a false Social Security number on a multimillion-dollar loan and had failed to pay taxes.

During the widely publicized Florida case, Green was hailed as a great guy by celebrities such as Sopranos star Lorraine Bracco.


February 5th, 2011, 04:19 PM
Douche. Now he gets a taste of his own medicine. I'm glad Ms. Leo was able to channel her anguish toward a constructive, informative outlet.

February 7th, 2011, 08:42 PM
Good. Thumbs up to booksellers who actually care about books, unlike the big chains.

New York City indie book stores bounce back, as big-box retailers struggle
BY Dino Grandoni


Independent bookstores may be making a comeback in New York City , as big-box book sellers face increased competition from Amazon and other online vendors.

More than a half a dozen indie bookstores have opened citywide over the last couple of years, according to Crain’s New York Business.

Take Posman Books. The store expanded from its original location in Grand Central Terminal to Chelsea Market in 2009. Revenues at the new 2,000-square-foot store were reportedly more than $1 million last year - enough for the store to commit to a 10-year lease - while sales at his Grand Central location have dropped.

“If you do your numbers right, it can work out,” Robert Fader, of Posman Books, told the outlet.

One way indie book stores have been able to stay afloat, according to the outlet, has been to diversify their selection of merchandise. Posman Books, for example, gets only 75 percent of its revenue from books; much of the rest comes from greeting card sales.

“Part of the success of the store is creating an atmosphere for buying things that are not just books,” Chris Doeblin, owner of indie store Book Culture, told Crain's.

Meanwhile, Borders, one of the Goliaths of the industry, is reportedly on the verge of bankruptcy and is predicted to close at least 150 stores, Bloomberg reported last week.

But the outlook still isn’t entirely rosy for smaller shops.

According to Crain's, digital book sales are projected to have 50 percent of the book market in five years, up from 10 percent currently. However, indie shops can expect to see some short-term gains if Borders shutters some of its stores.

http://www.nydailynews.com/money/2011/02/07/2011-02-07_with_bigbox_book_sellers_faltering_some_indie_b ookstores_bounce_back.html#ixzz1DKMDRwBT

February 11th, 2011, 07:20 PM
Review> Mining a Gilded-Age Milieu

by Kevin D. Murphy

Triumvirate: McKim, Mead & White by Mosette Broderick

McKim's New York State Building at the World's Columbian Exposition, 1893.
Courtesy H.R. Hitchcock Collection

A great biographer of an important cultural producer accomplishes two things: First, he or she explains for the reader the subject’s motivations and shows how that person was able to climb to the heights of his or her field; second, the author provides the reader with the feeling that you are there at the making of a work or works of great importance.

In her new firm biography, Triumvirate: McKim, Mead and White: Art, Architecture, Scandal and Class in America’s Gilded Age, Mosette Broderick, an art historian at New York University, accomplishes just such feats. The book’s subtitle piles up the themes to be addressed in this monumental study, and indeed, they are all considered in a comprehensive account of what the author justifiably styles “America’s greatest designers from the death of Richardson to World War I.”

McKim's building at Chicago's COlumbian Exposition, 1893.

It has been more than a quarter century since two books on McKim, Mead & White appeared in 1983, one by Leland Roth and another by Richard Guy Wilson. Those pioneering studies were followed by Paul Baker’s biography Stanny: The Gilded Life of Stanford White (1989), and by a spate of more popular accounts of White’s liason with the chorus girl Evelyn Nesbit, whose husband Harry K. Thaw murdered White. In addition, White’s great-grandson, Samuel G. White, has published beautifully-illustrated books with Rizzoli that capture the visual richness of the firm’s work, and art historian Wayne Craven has written Stanford White: Decorator in Opulence and Dealer in Antiquities (2005), which considers the architect’s talents with interiors as well as his extensive practice as an antiquities dealer. The acceleration of publishing on McKim, Mead & White has corresponded to the emergence of architectural postmodernism that made the firm’s historicism critically palatable after the ascendancy and entrenchment of modernism had made it anathema, and also to the expansion of architectural history’s purview beyond its original concerns to include decorating, landscape, and other related fields.

The University Club on Fifth Avenue in New York, 1896-1900.

The earlier, sometimes more pious accounts provide in some cases more thoroughgoing formal analyses of the buildings than does this new biography, and certainly more extensive illustrations, but Broderick has truly accomplished what she sets out to do, namely, provide “a study of the path of the architects.” That may sound like a prosaic undertaking, but it isn’t. For one thing, such an effort requires the biographer to get inside her subjects’ head, to understand what led them to make certain career moves and what formal attitudes inspired the look of the work. For another thing, it requires the author to reconstruct the world around the subject in great specificity. Both of these things Broderick has done in astonishing detail, while acknowledging that the historical record for two of the partners—McKim and White—is much richer than for Mead, who left little in the way of either a personal or professional record and who, consequently, is less well understood than his peers. Indeed, this is the kind of book that can only be written over the course of years—even decades—by an author who hasn’t merely studied the material, but lived it. Thus Broderick is able to reconstruct the labyrinth of social relations between the architects, their artist collaborators, and patrons. Moreover, as a New Yorker, she can plot all of their actions in the city itself, recreating its appearance at the turn of the century and helping the reader see how the surviving works of the architects fit into their historical contexts. Broderick immerses us in the social set that McKim, Mead, and White navigated in becoming major American tastemakers.

The pleasure palace at Madison Square Garden, 1887-91.

In so doing, she fleshes out the identities of the three partners: White, the socialite charmer whose high living finally does him in; McKim, who finds solace from personal tragedy by fashioning himself the dean of American architecture in his later years; and Mead, the shadowy but level-headed manager of the firm, who held his partners in check. None of the three emerges as anything less than fascinating dinner company, if deeply flawed humans. Clearly, they could not have survived without their assistants, especially Joseph Wells, who comes across as perhaps the firm’s most talented designer and whose embrace of historical architecture shaped the direction the firm would take. His death in 1890, Broderick suggests, ended its most creative period of production. Without belaboring the point, Broderick shows that the works of McKim, Mead, & White were not the products of three men, or even of their vast office that helped establish a new form of architectural practice, but of an entire social milieu—at once high-minded and scandalous.


February 15th, 2011, 12:34 AM
A Legal Manual for an Apocalyptic New York

NY TIMES (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/15/nyregion/15doomsday.html?hp)

... this month, an official state legal manual was published in New York to serve as a guide for judges and lawyers who could face grim questions in another terrorist attack, a major radiological or chemical contamination or a widespread epidemic.

Quarantines. The closing of businesses. Mass evacuations. Warrantless searches of homes. The slaughter of infected animals and the seizing of property. When laws can be suspended and whether infectious people can be isolated against their will or subjected to mandatory treatment. It is all there, in dry legalese, in the manua (http://www.nycourts.gov/whatsnew/pdf/PublicHealthLegalManual.pdf)l, published by the state court system and the state bar association.

The most startling legal realities are handled with lawyerly understatement. It notes that the government has broad power to declare a state of emergency. “Once having done so,” it continues, “local authorities may establish curfews, quarantine wide areas, close businesses, restrict public assemblies and, under certain circumstances, suspend local ordinances.” ...

Ronald P. Younkins, the chief of operations for the state court system, said the book’s preparation was similar to other steps the New York courts had taken to plan for emergencies, including stockpiling respirators and latex gloves ...

“It is a very grim read,” Mr. Younkins said. “This is for potentially very grim situations in which difficult decisions have to be made.” ...

PUBLIC HEALTH LEGAL MANUAL (http://www.nycourts.gov/whatsnew/pdf/PublicHealthLegalManual.pdf) [pdf]

© 2011 The New York Times Company

February 18th, 2011, 08:14 PM
It's so depressing and an outrage that this is still happening :mad:.

Cops Are Missing the Bad Guys While Profiling the Black Guys

David A. Love

Twelve Angry Men: True Stories of Being a Black Man in America Today
Edited by Gregory S. Parks and Matthew W. Hughey

The history of African Americans is one of great accomplishments amidst the legacy of slavery and Jim Crow. That legacy follows black people, and particularly black men, to this day. And it is enough to make you red-hot burning mad. Although some are ready to usher in a new post-racial era of colorblindness, it is clear that their efforts are grossly premature.

In America, race is a proxy for violence. Black men are regarded as a criminal element, and racial profiling is a practice that goes far beyond the justice system. It is culturally ingrained and normalized. In the days of old, when black people were not allowed to roam about unattended or without permission, slave patrols policed the plantations and hunted down fugitives.

Similarly, today, police sweep through communities of color, searching for criminals. Any black man will do. And cops are searching for drugs, not because black or Latino people use the most drugs, but because of preference, of policy. Drug use among white youth is greater than among youth of color, but you will never see the police descend upon the nation's college campuses, round up those who "fit the description" and force them to endure a demeaning arrest. After all, society views them as the victims. Society has already decided who should be designated as its criminals, even if the "suspects" are as innocuous and upstanding as Henry Louis Gates (http://www.boston.com/news/local/breaking_news/2009/07/harvard.html) -- a Harvard professor who was arrested for standing on his front porch and attempting to enter his own home. But status is not what counts; it's all about race.

Twelve Angry Men: True Stories of Being a Black Man in America Today (http://www.amazon.com/12-Angry-Men-Stories-America/dp/1595585389) is a new book which tells the first-person accounts of black men who, like Professor Gates, have been there. These twelve men were victims of racial profiling, at the wrong place at the wrong time -- which for a black man could mean anywhere. Edited by Gregory S. Parks and Matthew W. Hughey, Twelve Angry Men contains a powerful introduction by Harvard law professor Lani Guinier.

A diverse group of people shares their encounters with the police, including a New York Times reporter who was detained while on assignment; Joe Morgan, a baseball legend who was racially profiled at LAX; Joshua T. Wiley, a hip hop artist who is constantly harassed by police, and Paul Butler, a law professor and former federal prosecutor who was stopped by the cops for living in a nice neighborhood. Meanwhile, Byron Bain, a Harvard Law student, was told by his arresting officer that he must attend the school on a "ball scholarship." Bain compiled a tragically comical "Bill of Rights for Black Men," which includes as its first and second amendments, "Congress can make no law altering the established fact that a black man is a n****r," and "The right of any white person to apprehend a n****r will not be infringed." Newly arrived, foreign-born black men with British accents are not immune from profiling and arrest. Even lawmakers are not exempt, as Congressman Danny Davis recounts his experience of racial profiling by the Chicago police while driving home from his weekly radio show.

Throughout the book, which is factual yet reads like a novel, these twelve men share the humiliation of being told that you are not allowed in a certain neighborhood, and the terror that comes with having a gun pointed to your head. Told where they can and cannot go and forced to produce their identification, they compare their experiences to antebellum slaves, black South Africans under apartheid, and Palestinians in the Occupied Territories. One man, who was stopped at least once a month and as many as three times, had to leave home early enough in order to account for the possibility of being stopped. Perhaps one of the more appalling cases was of a boy in Prince George's County, Maryland, who was accused of shoplifting by a police officer moonlighting as a department store security guard. The guard made the youth take off his shirt, go home and return with his sales receipt to prove that he purchased it. The young man was awarded $850,000 in damages by a federal jury.

Although much of Twelve Angry Men deals with the anecdotal and the personal, the book also delves into the statistical, including a report on racial profiling as practiced by the New York Police Department. According to the report (http://ccrjustice.org/ccr-reports%3A-racial-disparity-nypd-stop-and-frisks), which was released by the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), race, not crime, drives police stops and frisks. This is what blacks and Latinos have been saying for years. And no matter what the neighborhood -- low crime or high crime, black, Latino, white or mixed, the results are always the same.

For example, 80 percent of the stops made by the NYPD between 2005 and 2008 were of African Americans, who are only 25 percent of the city's population. Whites, who make up 44 percent of the city's population, were stopped only 10 percent of the time. Over the past six years, nearly half of all stops were made on the basis of a vague category called "furtive movements," while only 15 percent cited "fits relevant description." In over half of the stops, the officers noted "high crime area" as an "additional circumstance," even in low crime areas.

"CCR has been litigating against the NYPD's racial profiling and suspicionless stops-and-frisks since 1999. For its part, during all this time, the police have claimed that they stop people based upon reasonable suspicion that a crime has been committed, based upon a description of a perpetrator, and as an effective tool to get guns off the street," Vincent Warren, CCR's executive director, recently told me. "The significance of this report is that New York City must finally come to grips with its racial profiling problem. There are hundreds of thousands of innocent Black and Brown New Yorkers who daily suffer the indignities of these illegal police tactics. And the police department should be protecting them and not harassing them."

Reading Twelve Angry Men made me angry, not because the subject matter was brand new to me, but because it was far too familiar -- not only as a black man, but also as a human rights advocate who worked with police brutality victims and their families back in the 1990s and decided to go to law school as a result. Whether or not racial profiling is a new subject for you, this book should spark some discussions. And bringing this problem into the light is the only way we can begin to fight it. Black folks are not the only victims of racial profiling, to be sure. But examining America's badge of slavery is a good place to start.


February 26th, 2011, 08:31 PM
In 1860, The New York Times complained that the newly minted Ramble in Central Park lacked signs to help visitors find their way out. It was no accident. “The Ramble’s designers’ goal was to make this small area of 38 acres seem large and complex by utilizing winding, twisting paths, and shrubbery and rock hills that blocked visibility,” the photographer Robert A. McCabe writes.

http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2011/02/27/nyregion/27-BOOK1/27-BOOK1-popup.jpgFrom "The Ramble in Central Park" by Robert A. McCabe [Abbeville Press]
FLORA, FAUNA The Ramble, a 38-acre wilderness that some call the soul of Central Park.

In “The Ramble in Central Park: A Wilderness West of Fifth” (Abbeville Press, $35), Mr. McCabe presents his dazzling full-color, four-season photographs of the Ramble, which Douglas Blonsky, president of the Central Park Conservancy (http://www.centralparknyc.org/), calls “indisputably still the soul of Central Park.” Other contributors weigh in on the Ramble’s flora, fauna and geology in a book that itself is a welcome harbinger of spring.


February 26th, 2011, 08:34 PM
Brownstone Brooklyn is also the subject of a cultural, architectural and political history by Prof. Suleiman Osman, who was raised in Park Slope and teaches American studies at George Washington University (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/organizations/g/george_washington_university/index.html?inline=nyt-org).

In “The Invention of Brownstone Brooklyn: Gentrification and the Search for Authenticity in Postwar New York” (Oxford University Press, $29.95), Professor Suleiman explores how Brooklyn south of the old city was transformed into trendy neighborhoods like Cobble Hill and Park Slope by “young white-collar émigrés.” Beginning in the 1970s, they made up a “new postindustrial middle class” of pioneers who were later pilloried as gentrifiers amid debates about displacement, development and affordability.

“Brownstone Brooklyn was committing the cardinal sin of middle-class romantic urbanism: it was becoming ‘inauthentic,’ ” he writes. But, he adds, while newcomers in search of “the real Brooklyn” venture deeper into the borough, beyond Park Slope, “it is safe to say that Seventh Avenue represented both the remarkable potential of the politics of authenticity and its limits.”


March 8th, 2011, 05:23 AM
The roots of gentrification — it’s all in this new book

By Meredith Deliso


Park Slope — you either love it or hate it, and the strollers, coffee shops and yoga studios that are quick jokes and symbols of gentrification.

“So many people feel very strongly about the changes that are happening,” said Suleiman Osman, a Park Slope native and professor at George Washington University in DC. “Park Slope has become a city-wide symbol of either people love it or have disdain for it. It’s fascinating to see the evolution of that story.”

Osman traces just that in his new book, “The Invention of Brownstone Brooklyn,” a historical look at Brooklyn from the post-World War II years until the late 1970s. It’s a period ripe with complex forces at work — the arrival of a new middle class (so-called “brownstoners”) who, filled with idealist, romantic views of authentic urban living, reclaimed blighted neighborhoods, in turn raising rents and displacing long-time tenants. They’re the hallmarks, and, in this case, origins, of gentrification, a force that’s been at work here long before there was a well-known word for it.

“There was never a time when you could point to Brooklyn and say, ‘This is Brooklyn,’ ” said Osman. “It’s always been dynamic and shifting over time.”

One of the lasting contributions of that time was neighborhood names, including Cobble Hill, Boerum Hill and, of course, the overarching Brownstone Brooklyn, coined in the early 1970s and proliferated by neighborhood groups, real estate agents and activists alike.

As he traces the invention of Brownstone Brooklyn, Osman’s story ends where it might start to become more familiar to readers — the emergence of an anti-gentrification movement in the 1980s — but not before asking a few questions.

“Was this movement a success?” said Osman, who may answer that question at Greenlight Bookstore on March 14. “And what’s the end of the story?”

Sounds like a sequel in the making.

http://www.brooklynpaper.com/stories/34/10/24_brownstonebook_2011_3_11_bk.html?utm_source=fee dburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+TheBrooklynPaper-FullArticles+%28The+Brooklyn+Paper%3A+Full+article s%29

July 9th, 2011, 01:31 AM
Excerpt> The New York Public Library

Pride in detail at the People's Palace.

The New York Public Library in 1914. Courtesy Library of Congress




An excerpt from The New York Public Library: The Architecture of the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building (W.W. Norton & Company) by Henry Hope Reed and Francis Morrone. Photograph by Anne Day.

What is the classical? One definition, based on that of the artist Pierce Rice, is the generalized and idealized interpretation of nature begun by the Greeks and the Romans and continued in the Renaissance. The Renaissance that began in Italy in the fifteenth century spread the classical throughout Europe and across the Atlantic. The classical took root in American soil in the colonial era and, following the vagaries of eclectic nineteenth-century taste, attained a climax in the early twentieth century, when America produced one of the great flowerings of classical architecture and decoration in the history of Western civilization.

Central to the Western tradition is the importance given the human figure. In the art of no other civilization does it have the chief role that it does in the art of the West, Pierce Rice in his Man as Hero: The Human Figure in Western Art has pointed out that the archetype of the idealized and generalized part of the human body is the Greek female profile, an ever-recurring image, even in our own time. The treatment of the classical figure is seen in the outline of the profile applied to the whole body. In this way, says Rice, “we are offered…a kind of synthesized view of nature. The continuity of the arm is emphasized, not its interruption by elbow and wrist…. The limbs and heads themselves are subordinated to the unity of the body itself.” The result is “the ennoblement of the human figure.”

More than any of the human figures, the baby, according to Rice, symbolizes the art of the West. It is wonderful to see this figure, even the baby with wings—the cherub—which is so much a part of the decoration of the Library. There are, in addition, any number of winged figures and a variety of masks. All this ornament, like the detail of the towers of classical skyscrapers, goes unnoticed.

The generalized and idealized treatment extends to an array of beasts, real and mythical. The classical artist draws on the animal kingdom as often as he draws on the human, if not more so. The visitor can go about the building, counting lion masks, lion paws, dolphins, and variations on the eagle and the griffon.

If that is insufficient, flora abounds. Here the great generalized and idealized form is that of the common Mediterranean plants, Acanthus mollis and Acanthus spinosus, commonly known as Bear’s Britches. It has been a source of classical enrichment for centuries, one that achieves its most splendid shape in the Corinthian and Composite capitals. For this reason, it is almost as symbolic of the tradition as the cherub. For some architects, such as John Barrington Bayley, the acanthus is the morphological symbol of Western civilization, much as the chrysanthemum is that of the Japanese or the lotus that of the ancient Egyptians.

The enrichment is hardly confined to the acanthus. Some of the more common decorative motifs are the egg-and-dart, the leaf-and-dart, pearls, and bead-and-reel. And there are the several plain treatments of surfaces in the form of moldings with such names as cyma recta, cyma reversa, ovolo, and cavetto….

John Merven Carrère and Thomas Hastings gathered this heritage as they went about designing the Library. It was not enough that the building had to stand up, that it had to serve as a giant warehouse for printed matter, manuscripts, and incunabula, and that it had to meet the needs of a large reading public. The building had to be a monument, a triumphant adornment to the city, the people’s palace to assuage the visual hunger of local pride.


August 20th, 2011, 01:48 AM
See article for pics.

Are These 12 Firms the Future of New York Architecture?

by Kelsey Keith


Capital NY reports on a new book by Michael J. Crosbie that spins off the group of mid-century architects called the New York Five (Richard Meier, Charles Gwathmey, Peter Eisenman, John Hejduk and Michael Graves) and updates the moniker to a round dozen. So what's the big difference, besides seven additional members, fifty years, the rise of fall of Postmodernism, and a tendency to capitalize seemingly random letters? Writer Katharine Jose 'splains, sort of: "It's hard to explain exactly what the ethical sensibility of the Dozen is, but social responsibility is all over it, and 'pure' architectural theory, of the kind practiced by the Five, isn't."

There's no visible aesthetic cord binding these projects or firms, and what they have in common is time, not taste. Jose writes: "The lack of explicitness is not just a feature of the book. It's a feature of the generation of architects he's writing about." If that sounds slippery, it is! Our question is: will these architects be canonized in 2060, like Meier and Eisenman are now? Or do all those abbreviations and capital letters spell out a more egalitarian future for architectural legacy?

Introducing the New York Dozen (http://www.capitalnewyork.com/article/culture/2011/08/2929186/introducing-new-york-dozen-anti-movement-movement-new-york-architect) [CapitalNY]

http://ny.curbed.com/archives/2011/08/19/are_these_12_firms_the_future_of_new_york_architec ture.php

October 19th, 2011, 07:22 AM
High Line Founders' Book Hits Shelves

By Mathew Katz


CHELSEA — The High Line Park (http://www.thehighline.org/) is an international tourist destination for thousands of visitors and a regular strolling spot for the neighborhood's workers and residents.

But only years ago it was a derelict section of train tracks, and it took nearly a decade of fighting to turn the High Line into what it is today.

That story is chronicled in a book now available in stores, "High Line: The Inside Story of New York City's Park in the Sky," written by park co-founders Joshua David and Robert Hammond. It tells the tale of the project, from its inception in 1999 to the opening of its first phase in 2009.

The book features early plans for the park and 250 pages of color photos of the elevated green space. It also chronicles the unique public-private partnership that made the project possible.
All proceeds from the new book will go toward maintaining the park. It's priced at $30 and is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Indie Bound and through the park's website (http://www.thehighline.org/shop/fhl-collection/high-line-the-inside-story-of-new-york-citys-park-in-the-sky).


October 23rd, 2011, 06:12 AM
400 Years of Artifacts Enrich a Book


CHANGES "Fulton Street Dock, Manhattan Skyline (1935)," by Berenice Abbott, documents the city's evolving waterfront.

A postcard image of the Brooklyn Academy of Music, about 1914.

With the holiday season soon upon us, you might want to order one of these coffee table books for a friend who loves New York:

“New York: The Story of a Great City” (Andre Deutsch) taps the Museum of the City of New York’s vast archive of ephemera to capture rare views and replicas of forgotten artifacts, from instructions on what to do in an air raid to postcards and a brochure celebrating the groundbreaking for Lincoln Center.

Sarah M. Henry, the museum’s deputy director and chief curator, edited this imaginatively designed volume. She embellishes the vivid photographs and other illustrations with enlightening text on topics ranging from New York in the Revolution to New York’s Finest and Bravest.

As Susan Henshaw Jones, the museum’s director, wrote in the introduction, “New Yorkers continue to reinvent their city in ways unimaginable a century ago, constantly renewing it as one of the most exciting places on earth.” If you think you’ve seen the city before, this book reinvents your view of its 400-year history.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/23/nyregion/new-york-the-story-of-a-great-city-draws-on-museum-archives.html?_r=1&kjnd=3lUy8Fit%2Bczh8ULOza9xrP2hLcZKWujbXTaHbctupXc %3D-560158e3-3ea1-4426-a03d-97e2e919ace0_7LuDQEcCY4Kxtk6Sdd%2FqqGXjpc8duRAVy2M B2%2FyYOyWLbF7R8bzTvgD0AZvqiJ78

November 5th, 2011, 12:38 AM
This book was self-published last year and is wonderful. Wishing Brian Rose every success with mainstream publishing.

Photographer Brian Rose's 30-Year Project Documents Changing Face of LES

by Kelsey Keith

http://cdn.cstatic.net/images/gridfs/4eb42bcb85216d071e033748/houstonstreet_1980.jpg (http://cdn.cstatic.net/images/gridfs/4eb42bcc85216d071e03374b/houstonstreet_1980.jpg)

http://cdn.cstatic.net/images/gridfs/4eb42bcf85216d071e033759/e4thstreet_1980.jpg (http://cdn.cstatic.net/images/gridfs/4eb42bce85216d071e033755/e4thstreet_1980.jpg) http://cdn.cstatic.net/images/gridfs/4eb42bd285216d071e033763/orchardstreet_1980.jpg (http://cdn.cstatic.net/images/gridfs/4eb42bd185216d071e033760/orchardstreet_1980.jpg) http://cdn.cstatic.net/images/gridfs/4eb42bd485216d071e03376e/e5thstreet_1980.jpg (http://cdn.cstatic.net/images/gridfs/4eb42bd385216d071e03376a/e5thstreet_1980.jpg) http://cdn.cstatic.net/images/gridfs/4eb42bd785216d071e033779/e5thstreet_2010.jpg (http://cdn.cstatic.net/images/gridfs/4eb42bd685216d071e033775/e5thstreet_2010.jpg) http://cdn.cstatic.net/images/gridfs/4eb42bda85216d071e033784/houstonstreet_2010.jpg (http://cdn.cstatic.net/images/gridfs/4eb42bd985216d071e033780/houstonstreet_2010.jpg) http://cdn.cstatic.net/images/gridfs/4eb42bdd85216d071e03378f/plaza_cultural_e9Street_2010.jpg (http://cdn.cstatic.net/images/gridfs/4eb42bdc85216d071e03378b/plaza_cultural_e9Street_2010.jpg)
(click to enlarge)
[Photos courtesy of Brian Rose (http://www.brianrose.com/photohome/photohom.htm).]

Architectural photographer (http://www.brianrose.com/photohome/photohom.htm) Brian Rose started documenting Lower East Side streetlife back in 1980, along with a buddy named Ed Fausty and a 4x5 view camera. He's paired those old photos with contemporary snapshots of the neighborhood, soon-to-be-published (http://evgrieve.com/2011/11/helping-publish-time-and-space-on-lower.html) by Golden Section Publishing with a forward by none other than Suzanne Vega. Rose's Kickstarter campaign (http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1174699454/time-and-space-on-the-lower-east-side) for the book Time and Space on the Lower East Side is wrapping up with five more days to contribute. In the meantime, Rose sent us a few preview images from the series, including a before-and-after shot of an empty lot-turned-community garden on East 5th between Avenues C and D.

Helping publish 'Time and Space on the Lower East Side (http://evgrieve.com/2011/11/helping-publish-time-and-space-on-lower.html) [EV Grieve]
Time and Space on the Lower East Side (http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1174699454/time-and-space-on-the-lower-east-side) [Kickstarter]
Official website: Brian Rose (http://www.brianrose.com/photohome/photohom.htm) [brianrose.com]

http://ny.curbed.com/archives/2011/11/04/photographer_brian_roses_30year_project_documents_ changing_face_of_les.php

December 14th, 2011, 04:06 PM
For those who've lived through it, & those who wished they did.


Lucking Out: My Life Getting Down and Semi-Dirty in Seventies New York (https://www.amazon.com/dp/0385527780/ref=as_li_ss_til?tag=slatmaga-20&camp=0&creative=0&linkCode=as4&creativeASIN=0385527780&adid=0CP3KZJGV9CPC3QS0AQ1&), by James Wolcott
The subject matter was enough to suck me into these pages: The Village Voice in the 1970s, Patti Smith and the punk scene, porno theaters in Times Square, Pauline Kael and her acolytes—New York City journalism at its gossipy best. But Wolcott’s sometimes almost crazy style is what kept me reading: the “rootin’ tootin’ double-shootin’ Pauline, alternating from cig to sip in a torrential outpour of words, was not the Pauline alighting at the Alonquin,” he writes, describing one encounter with the famous film critic (and paying tribute, perhaps, to her own prose style). Of Patti Smith he says, “Even when chewing gum, she seemed to be chewing it for the ages.” At times the metaphors jostle overmuch, but they don’t usually feel superfluous: Wolcott wants to convey the energy of his first heady experiences in New York, and mostly succeeds—in the process crafting a narrative ars poetica for cultural criticism (http://www.slate.com/blogs/browbeat/2011/10/26/james_wolcott_on_critics_an_excerpt_from_lucking_o ut.html): “when something hits you high and hard, you have to be able to travel wherever the point of impact takes you and be willing to go to the wall with your enthusiasm and over it if need be, even if you look foolish or ‘carried away,’ because your first shot at writing about it may be the only chance to make people care.”
—David Haglund, “Brow Beat” editor

[URL]http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/books/2011/12/best_books_of_2011_bossypants_the_pale_king_a_danc e_with_dragons_and_our_other_favorites_reviewed_.h tml

January 21st, 2012, 01:04 AM
Review> Cityscape Census

Guide to Contemporary New York City Architecture by John Hill.

by Jan Lakin

Weiss/Manfredi's Diana Center at Barnard College (2010). Paul Warchol

It may come as a surprise that John Hill’s Guide to Contemporary New York City Architecture is, in fact, the only guidebook devoted exclusively to recent design in the city. New York’s millennial building spree and its concurrent affinity for high-profile design could have yielded a guide filled with bold-faced architects making their mark on the skyline. While it’s within the rubric of construction from the past decade, Hill’s Guide instead reveals a cityscape altered by modest as well as mega projects.

In his more than two hundred entries across the five boroughs, Hill’s intent is to gather projects that enduringly and “prominently occupy the public realm.” Mostly absent are many of the ephemeral—even if influential and award-winning—retail, dining, and interiors projects. And while the Guide includes Cook + Fox Architects’ One Bryant Park and other significant commercial towers, for the most part, as the author avows, tall buildings—practically the visual trope for New York—play a minor role (even if the Austrian Cultural Forum graces the book’s cover).

http://www.archpaper.com/uploads/hill_guide_04.jpg (http://www.archpaper.com/uploads/hill_guide_04.jpg)

http://www.archpaper.com/uploads/hill_guide_05.jpg (http://www.archpaper.com/uploads/hill_guide_05.jpg)

http://www.archpaper.com/uploads/hill_guide_03.jpg (http://www.archpaper.com/uploads/hill_guide_03.jpg)

Left to right: BKSK's Queens Botanical Garden pavilion; the connector The Academy of Arts & Letters by JVC Architect; a detail of Weiss/Manfredi's Diana Center.
Albert Vecerka/ESTO, Cody Upton, Paul Warchol

Instead, Hill is focused on assembling contemporary designs that engage us in interesting ways at street level throughout New York’s neighborhoods. The result is a nuanced perspective of the city’s recent architecture. The Shigeru Ban, Jean Nouvel, and Neil Denari condos in Chelsea get their due but so do notable designs for affordable housing. A section covering Manhattan’s West Side above 110th Street includes the award-winning Diana Center at Barnard College by Weiss/Manfredi along with a clever glazed passageway by James Vincent Czajka that connects a McKim, Mead & White building to a Cass Gilbert at the American Academy of Arts and Letters. In Brooklyn, the guide leads the reader to a David Adjaye-designed artist studio with a skin of black polypropylene that rewards in-person inspection as well as to an elegant but tiny security kiosk at Pratt Institute by Hangar Design Group that might otherwise be overlooked. The reader may even be compelled to make a first-ever trip to the Queens Botanical Garden to see its Visitor & Administration Center by BSKS Architects—to date, the greenest building in New York.

http://www.archpaper.com/uploads/hill_guide_01.jpg (http://www.archpaper.com/uploads/hill_guide_01.jpg)
David Adjaye's Vanderbilt Studio in Brooklyn (2006). John Hill

If one doesn’t get out to see the architecture firsthand, the book’s meticulous design can’t be faulted. Broken down into 22 neighborhoods—each headed by a map designed by the author with just the detail needed—the guide is thoroughly cross-referenced. Periodic sidebars address categories such as firehouses and police stations, street furniture, and even retail and dining spaces by brand-name architects since presumably it couldn’t be avoided. A final section comprises forthcoming buildings through 2020 organized by building type.

Hill’s entries privilege context and facts over critique, but some spiky commentary can be gleaned, as with his Hearst Tower entry: “One word can be used to describe Foster’s design: diagrid.”

That he seems equally frustrated by the failure of the renovated base building by Joseph Urban to connect with the public on the sidewalk seems fitting for this New York-based architect and writer with urban planning training. Hill is also the author of the popular blog A Daily Dose of Architecture—initiated in 2004 and currently receiving 32,000 hits a month—where he posts images and commentary on contemporary architecture around the world as well as book reviews. This may account for a guidebook that feels both inclusive and curated, inviting its users to investigate a range of new works making their mark on the cityscape.


April 3rd, 2012, 07:49 AM
Beautiful book. This is a sad loss.

Charles Lockwood, Who Wrote the Row-House Bible, Dies at 63



Charles Lockwood (http://bricksandbrownstone.com/),whose 1972 book, “Bricks and Brownstone: The New York Row House, 1783-1929 (http://bricksandbrownstone.com/bricksandbrownstone.html),” both chronicled and furthered the row-house revival that transformed many New York neighborhoods, died on Wednesday at his home in Topanga, Calif. He was 63.

The cause was cancer, said Patrick Ciccone, Mr. Lockwood’s collaborator on a newly revised edition of the book, tentatively scheduled for publication next year.

The architecture critic Paul Goldberger, in his introduction to the revised edition of 2003 (http://www.rizzoliusa.com/book.php?isbn=9780847825226#), said “Bricks and Brownstone” gave the row-house revival “a kind of moral impetus, making it clear how much genuine architectural and urban history lay within these buildings, and how much the row houses of New York are, in fact, the underlying threads of the city’s urban fabric.”

While the book concerned New York, such revivals occurred in many cities. After the Great Depression and World War II, old brownstones had ceased being symbols of middle-class stability and affluence. Often carved into multiple dwellings, they had instead become emblems of decay, desperation and overcrowding.

Mr. Lockwood was not the first to rediscover their beauty and importance, but he and the photographer Robert Mayer documented them in exceptional detail. Mr. Lockwood placed the houses in historical context and sorted them by style and era, explaining how architectural features can give away a building’s provenance. In the Dec. 1, 2003, issue of The New Yorker, Judith Thurman called “Bricks and Brownstone” a “bible for buffs, architects and preservationists.”

Charles Lockwood was born on Aug. 31, 1948, in Washington. His mother, Allison, survives him, as do his brother, John, with whom he wrote “The Siege of Washington: The Untold Story of the 12 Days That Shook the Union (http://www.oup.com/us/catalog/general/subject/HistoryAmerican/CivilWarReconstruction/?view=usa&ci=9780199759897)” (2011), and his husband, Carlos Boyd, whom he married last September in New York.

“Bricks and Brownstone” was born in the summer of 1969, between Mr. Lockwood’s junior and senior years at Princeton University. At a New York Public Library branch, he asked where he could find a book about brownstones. (The term is often used as a synonym for row houses, even for structures clad in limestone or brick.)
“We don’t have one,” the librarian answered. “It’s never been written.”

That was all he had to hear. Buoyed by “youthful enthusiasm and more than a little naïveté,” Mr. Lockwood said, he decided to write his senior thesis on brownstones, with the hope of publishing it as a book.

While preparing the thesis, he and Mr. Mayer happened to be on West 11th Street on March 6, 1970, photographing a Greek Revival doorway, when a tremendous explosion (http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/01/16/recalling-an-accidental-blast-at-a-homemade-bomb-factory/) tore through a nearby house that had been covertly turned into a bomb factory by the radical Weathermen group. They took a picture of the burning building that was published the next day on Page 1 of The New York Times (http://www.scribd.com/doc/87370988/Charles-Lockwood-s-Page-1-Photograph-1970).

That was Mr. Lockwood’s first appearance in The Times, but not the last. He wrote more than two-dozen articles and essays for The Times and The Wall Street Journal, as well as Smithsonian magazine and The Atlantic. He moved from New York to California in the late 1970s and wrote several books there, including “Suddenly San Francisco: The Early Years of an Instant City” (1978) and “Dream Palaces: Hollywood at Home” (1981).

But “Bricks and Brownstone” was his favorite, he said in the foreword to the 2003 edition. Working on it again, he wrote, was joyful and exhilarating — “for I will never tire of exploring New York’s historic neighborhoods.”


April 23rd, 2012, 05:52 AM

Bette Midler and other NY celebs are really roofin’ it


They’re on top of the world! In a city starved for space, nothing says wealth — or luck — like a rooftop oasis. Aerial photographer Alex S. MacLean captured a rare bird’s eye view of these little slices of heaven in his new book “Up on the Roof: New York’s Hidden Skyline Spaces” (Princeton University Press).

“You get a sense that there’s a whole world going on right above us,” MacLean said. “When you’re down on the street, you have no idea.”

MacLean took the pictures from a helicopter without the knowledge of owners; his book contains no details about the spaces.

But The Post reached out to some of the rooftop denizens to see what life is like above the rabble.

PHOTOS: HIGH-UP HIDEAWAYS OF THE RICH (http://www.nypost.com/p/news/local/these_nyers_are_really_roofin_it_U8LD8R13mZbxUPgWa knwJK)

1125 Fifth Ave.
Bette Midler may have the wind beneath her wings, but it could make for a rough landing on her tree-lined rooftop garden in Carnegie Hill. The “Divine Miss M” shares the Upper East Side penthouse with her longtime hubby, Martin von Haselberg. The 3,100-square-foot sprawling rooftop overlooks Central Park, and includes a glass-enclosed patio and plenty of shaded areas to park your tuches on hot days.

70 Little West St.
The city’s most impressive secret garden (more like secret farm) is 35 flights up in Battery Park at the home of high-powered financial lawyer Fred Rich. With the help of his “team,” headed up by rooftop farmer Annie Novak, his 2,000-square-foot terrace has seen a wide array of edibles: grapes, apples, pears, berries, kale, broccoli and tomatoes.
“I feel incredibly privileged to be able to pick and eat fresh fruit and vegetables in the city; the flavor of fresh-picked food is incomparable,” Rich told The Post.
There’s only one space that’s not covered in green grass: his outdoor yoga studio (the flat, cross-thatched space in the middle). The view of the Freedom Tower and Hudson River is all the sweeter in an upward-facing dog pose.

12 E. 14th St.
Peter Nakada, his wife, Ellis Wood, and their three youngsters all got game. Their oldest son, Aki, 8, loves to play hoops. So they installed a blue and orange half court on their rooftop with an adjustable net. The 200-pound base ensures it doesn’t fly off the roof. Nakada, who is in catastrophic-risk management, quipped, “The real risk is if the basketball goes over the ledge.” Not to worry; the walls are high enough. But sharing such coveted space in Union Square can mean making concessions to your neighbor in the next patch. Singer Sunny Leigh said the dribbling of the ball was driving her crazy, so the Nakadas moved the court to the other side of their enclosure.

225 Central Park West
Alan Winston is the true constant gardener. For the past 40 years, the retired primitive-arts dealer has been tending to his 83-foot-long wraparound “Eden” of marigolds, impatiens and wildflowers. But his real love can be a bit prickly — he keeps his cacti collection from the unseasonable weather inside one of his two greenhouses on the 17th floor of his penthouse apartment on the Upper West Side. He has a bird’s-eye view of the Metropolitan Museum of Art on his right and Central Park to his left. At night, he has a panorama of the skyline. “It is one of the greatest views in the world,” he says.

166 Bank St.
It was once Heidi Klum and Seal’s secret getaway — complete with a Jacuzzi. The now-estranged supermodel and singer enjoyed their penthouse and two-story roof deck until they sold it two years ago. Now the 1,600-square-foot rooftop with Hudson River views and a statue of a woman diving in a hot tub belongs to an unnamed finance exec. A neighbor who has been up to the exclusive West Village rooftop says you can’t help but “think of the poor people down below.”

684 Broadway
Plastic is a dirty word. Real-estate developer Matthew Blesso, of Blesso Properties, has an eco-friendly, 3,100-square-foot apartment in Nolita, and that includes his rooftop of sustainable harvested wood and walnut structures. A cistern under the deck reroutes the drain so the water collects into the tank and waters the plants. The soundproof insulation in the walls is made of recycled blue jeans. There’s also low-energy, fiber-optic lighting and dual-flush toilets. Of course, there’s an outdoor shower for those gritty days of summer. “I’m a water person,” Blesso said. “The outdoor hot tub and shower are my favorite part of having a rooftop space in the city. I enjoy the privacy and pleasure of being able to roam nude from one to the other. Between May and October, I never shower inside.”

5 Tudor City Place
This lush, tree-covered, two-story terrace (the left tower) is a Hollywood favorite, featured in “Spider-Man,” “The Bourne Ultimatum” and Woody Allen’s “Bullets over Broadway.” The majestic duplex (with 1,700 square feet of rooftop space) went on the market in March after the death of its owner, Harper & Row publisher Brooks Thomas. After a heated bidding war, an unnamed Midwestern businessman scooped up the property for more than its asking price of $5.895 million, according to Brown Harris Stevens senior VP Howard Morrel. That Midwesterner will now spend his nights amidst the various sculptures — grotesques, as they are called, of dragons, gargoyles and even a goat — the tall arborvitae trees, holly bushes, day lilies and geraniums, while soaking up the view of the 59th Street Bridge to the east and the Empire State Building and Chrysler Building to the west.

151 Wooster St.
When this ultra-private hedge-fund moneymaker wants to play a round of golf, he just steps out onto his patio and onto his golfing green. The luxury SoHo penthouse, which was originally two units, was merged into one in 2009 and sold for a jaw-dropping $14 million. It was bought by a private company to hide the identity of the owner.

http://www.nypost.com/p/news/local/these_nyers_are_really_roofin_it_q5KEHbYgpGcljMIS4 KzzPO#ixzz1sr6UvzI3

May 2nd, 2012, 07:20 AM
This is a nice little book.

A Pocketbook Full of Architecture

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-FXYAchw4_Qg/T3MJfIrMD8I/AAAAAAAAN2A/BgUXP6AjDGU/s320/how+to+read+new+york.jpg (http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-FXYAchw4_Qg/T3MJfIrMD8I/AAAAAAAAN2A/BgUXP6AjDGU/s1600/how+to+read+new+york.jpg)

(click to enlarge)

At a size of 5.4 x 6.5 inches, How to Read New York: A Crash Course in Big Apple Architecture by Will Jones (Rizzoli, February 2012, 256 pages) (on Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0789324903?ie=UTF8&tag=walki-20&linkCode=xm2&camp=1789&creativeASIN=0789324903)) conveniently slips into a purse or travel bag. For those who like to look at buildings while they walk, as opposed to looking down for the latest text message, this handy book helps sort out the complex features of our city's varied built environment. While out on walks I would enjoy consulting the fifth edition of the witty and comprehensive AIA Guide to New York City by White, Willensky, and Leadon (Oxford 2010, 1088 pages) (Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0195383869?ie=UTF8&tag=walki-20&linkCode=xm2&camp=1789&creativeASIN=0195383869)), but preferring an easier burden, I will enjoy the lightness of Mr. Jones's crash course.

New York City provides a great feast of historical architectural styles, and we all could brush up on our architectural literacy. The intention of the book is to provide a guide to identifying the key elements of Classical & Colonial, Renaissance, Deco styles, and the various eras of Modern. While the style overviews are at times muddied and anachronistic, the choice of buildings under discussion is fresh and enlightening. Jones gives attention to some of the well-known buildings in Manhattan such as Grand Central Terminal, Chrysler Building, the Flatiron, and the Seagram Building, but he also introduces the reader to places like the John Browne House, a Dutch Colonial house in Queens, and the Valentine-Varian House, a Georgian farmhouse in the Bronx. His inclusion of intriguing Staten Island buildings may have you jumping on the ferry.

A typical entry includes a paragraph on the background of the building, a photograph (of varying quality - some are too dark), and illustrations on specific style features accompanied by short descriptions. For example, we learn that the classical Low Memorial Library on the campus of Columbia University, built in 1895 and designed by the eminent firm of McKim, Mead & White, takes its inspiration from the Pantheon in Rome. Inside the reading room, the arched windows show the influence of the Baths of Diocletian. As noted, the library takes the form of a Greek cross. An entry on the modern United Nations Secretariat building anchors the design origins in Le Corbusier's Pavillon Suisse in Paris and the ample outside public space in the same architect's plan for the Ville Radieuse.

While the background information and style guidelines may seem too elementary for some architecture fans, the strength of this "crash course" rests in the detailed information accompanying the small drawings. Here we find the fun stuff such as the Greek satyr candelabrum at the Lyceum Theatre on 45th Street, the six angels under the cornice of Louis Sullivan's Bayard-Condict Building on Bleecker, the bronze carved allegories on the American Radiator Building, and the true function of the interior water feature of the Hearst Magazine Building (the circulating filtered rainwater regulates the atmosphere). Any book that helps with appreciating the built environment is worth sticking in the pocketbook.


June 3rd, 2012, 12:06 AM
A Different Angle on Building in New York



SAMUEL C. FLORMAN’S memoir of life in the construction trade opens with a bang. He recalls overhearing an argument between a contractor working on a six-story apartment building in the Bronx and a city inspector threatening to shut down the job because of a missing permit. Mr. Florman writes: “Suddenly the shouting stopped, and very quietly the inspector said, ‘O.K.’ Pause. ‘It’ll cost you a hundred bucks.’ ”

“You gotta be kidding,” the subcontractor replied softly. Then, he whispered to the inspector: “I can have you killed for fifty.”

Mr. Florman, the chairman of the construction firm Kreisler Borg Florman, doesn’t write like an engineer. He is blessed with a master’s degree in English literature from Columbia and has produced a number of insightful and accessible books, including “The Existential Pleasures of Engineering.” This latest volume is buoyant, but suffers because too many of its anecdotes are delivered secondhand.

The book is titled “Good Guys, Wiseguys and Putting Up Buildings: A Life in Construction” (Thomas Dunne Books, $15.99), but the gritty dialogue on the first page is virtually Mr. Florman’s only personal account of corruption.

Likewise, he singles out the World Trade Center site cleanup as a marvel of engineering, but his company had nothing to do with it. He meets lots of celebrities at groundbreakings and dedications, but chooses to highlight moments like the time he stood next to Adlai Stevenson in line for a urinal in 1964.

Mr. Florman is a charmingly guileless writer, and he takes touching pride in the physical legacy of a profession he describes as “math and science with a paycheck.” He offers some life lessons — don’t do business with friends — and recounts a hellish eight-year lawsuit over a troubled project that makes even “Bleak House” seem like a sandbox spat.

Still, you’re left longing for more personal insights, especially into the specifics of the corruption he invokes. (Reassuringly, he writes, most of it does not involve skirting safety rules: “The big money isn’t paid to save a few pounds of steel or a bit of cement in the concrete mix; it is paid to save interest on building loans or the idling of a working crew.”)

“If I had known, years ago, that I was going to write this book,” Mr. Florman acknowledges, “I would have kept a diary.” This reader was left wishing that he had.

If you think you know all there is to know about the Statue of Liberty, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by Edward Berenson’s “The Statue of Liberty: A Transatlantic Story” (Yale University Press, $25). This charming little book is part of the Icons of America series, which previously told the stories of institutions like the hamburger, Joe DiMaggio and the Hollywood sign. Mr. Berenson, a history professor at New York University, starts with the statue’s origins (“The story begins, as many French stories do, around a dinner table”). Chapters cover the monument’s manufacture and the challenges in finding a home for it in New York Harbor, as well as its emergence as a universally recognizable symbol — not so much of liberty, as the originators intended, but of America’s welcome to Europe’s “huddled masses.” But those welcoming arms were folded on occasion. A public outcry forced the federal government to shift a planned immigration center from the statue’s home, Bedloe’s Island (now called Liberty Island), to Ellis Island next door.


June 17th, 2012, 03:04 AM
A great website devoted to what people are reading on the subway:

Underground New York Public Library (http://undergroundnewyorkpubliclibrary.com/)

After having read very short excerpts (that was way more than enough) of Fifty Shades of Grey, I wouldn't be caught reading it anywhere. I didn't get to any of the spicy bits; the writing is just total crap imo.

As for the rest of that list...:rolleyes:.

The Most Awkward Books To Read on The Subway

By Victoria Bekiempis

One of the many reasons New York is perf[ect] for bookworms is mass transit: You can read during your commute! If you have ever been on a subway or bus during rush hour, you will have noticed how close the transit quarters are and how tempting easy it is to eye other peoples' books and periodicals -- and vice versa.

Obviously, literary creeping creates conundrums: You probably don't want to look over at some dude's Newsweek only to find that the cover conceals an IRL Flesh World. You probably also don't want to be that guy who's, yannow [sic], checking out porn on a packed train. (Seriously, dude: Take your hand out of your pocket already. We know you haven't been checking for your keys for the past hour, OK?)

While certain mags should clearly be kept away from the commute, some meatier works might also fit that bill. Here are the most awkward books to read on the subway.

In no particular order...

Natural Harvest - A Collection of Semen-Based Recipes, Fotie Photenhauer
Nothing weird with openly learning about flan! Who doesn't like a good custard? Of course, this is true unless said custard is made of cum.

Mein Kampf, Adolf Hitler
Failed artist as autobiographer isn't anything new, but read outside the right context, this story will raise a few eyebrows and not in the good, meaningful, conversation-generating way but in the bad, what-the-**** way.

Manson in His Own Words: The Shocking Confessions of 'The Most Dangerous Man Alive,' Charles Manson, Nuel Emmons
Only one psycho killer makes for apropos entertainment when you're jammed against a bunch of other people, and it's a Talking Heads song.

Women, Charles Bukowski
Ever wonder: How many times can an unlovable protagonist use the word "c***" to describe his doting romantic interests? Well, here's the answer to that question.

Chlamydia: Learn About Symptoms, Treatment, Prevention, and More
Carol Langhart
You've surely heard about those serendipitous subway meetings, when total strangers strike up a conversation and wind up being soulmates? Want to guarantee this conversation will never, ever take place? Then check out this handy guide to the clam!

Fifty Shades of Grey, E.L. James
As a general rule, we recommend against publicly perusing any media that might make your nipples hard enough to cut glass. New York is a city of windows -- mirrored ones at that! You need to be careful.


July 9th, 2012, 09:56 PM
'Lost New York' (Nov/2011)

Demolished, disappeared, discontinued, decommissioned. Happened across this in the bookstore over the weekend. All the well-known sites that are no longer, including old Penn Station, Polo Grounds, Singer Building, Hippodrome, the mid & uptown grand old mansions, Brooklyn Navy Yard, even the downtown pushcarts, and more. Good photography and backstories on each one.


August 3rd, 2012, 03:32 PM
PHOTOS: ‘Up on the Roof: New York’s Hidden Skyline Spaces’ shows the city from above

Aerial photographer Alex MacLean documents the changing roofscapes of the Big Apple in a new book. See how New Yorkers take advantage of space in the sky.

By Gina Pace (http://wirednewyork.com/authors?author=Gina Pace) / NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

Published: Thursday, August 2, 2012, 4:19 PM
Updated: Thursday, August 2, 2012, 4:19 PM

http://assets.nydailynews.com/polopoly_fs/1.1127428.1343924355!/img/httpImage/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_635/rooftops3bpw-1-web.jpgUp on the Roof by Alex MacLean (Princeton Architectural Press)/Landslides Aerial Photography

Windsor Tower, in Tudor City, is featured in "Up on the Roof: New York's Hidden Skyline Spaces" by Alex MacLean.

Forget Central Park. Some of the most plentiful outdoor space in New York City is above our heads.
In his new book, “Up on the Roof: New York’s Hidden Skyline Spaces,” aerial photographer Alex MacLean documents the changing roofscapes of the Big Apple, which make up a whopping 30% of the total outdoor space in the five boroughs.
While working on an aerial assignment in 2010 as part of the redesign of Brooklyn Bridge Park, MacLean, who takes photographs for artistic purposes as well as architectural ones, spotted a faux-castle façade on top of a Tudor City building.
http://assets.nydailynews.com/polopoly_fs/1.1127424!/img/httpImage/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_635/rooftops3bpw-5-web.jpgUp on the Roof by Alex MacLean (Princeton Architectural Press)

The Ansonia, one of the city's most historic residences.

“I had the opportunity to look around on some of the rooftops, and I was amazed how many different things were going on, from swimming pools to playgrounds to bars, to the beautiful gardens on the upper East and upper West Sides — even urban agriculture,” MacLean said.
MORE PHOTOS: A look at New York's hidden roofs (http://www.nydailynews.com/life-style/real-estate/new-york-hidden-rooftop-spaces-gallery-1.1127580?pmSlide=0)
While MacLean photographed some of the most iconic rooftops in the city, including the Empire State Building, the Chrysler Building and Rockefeller Center, he was drawn to the potential that smaller rooftops had on apartment buildings.
http://assets.nydailynews.com/polopoly_fs/1.1127426!/img/httpImage/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_635/rooftops3bpw-3-web.jpg(At left, the Visionaire, in Battery Park City, one of the greenest condos in the world. Solar panels are above a resident roof lounge. Photo credit: “Up on the Roof”by Alex MacLean, Princeton Architectural Press)
“I hadn’t expected to see so many people out on roofs,” MacLean said of the 17 helicopter flights he took to collect photos for the book. “In the more affluent areas of the city, the space was very elegant, with elaborate rooftop structures and beautiful gardens. In more marginal areas, you start to see people look like they were appropriating roof space by moving deck chairs out, putting plants out. It looked more like homesteading — roofsteading. There were other roofs that looked like suburban backyards, with barbecue grills and basketball hoops and aboveground swimming pools for kids.”

MacLean has also noticed the effects of an initiative from Mayor Michael Bloomberg that requires buildings that are redoing their roofs to paint them white. The initiative encourages buildings that aren’t in need of repair to do the same.
When he first started photographing the city in the 1970s, the vast majority of roofs were heat-trapping black roofs. By 2005, a checkerboard pattern had emerged. Now, he estimates about 80% of the roofs are white, helping to keep buildings cooler in the summer.
http://assets.nydailynews.com/polopoly_fs/1.1127416!/img/httpImage/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_635/rooftops3bpw-12-web.jpgUp on the Roof by Alex MacLean (Princeton Architectural Press)

122 Fifth Ave. has an eclectic range of rootop style and usage.

Russell Unger, the director of the U.S. Green Building Council of New York, said that the emphasis on white and green roofs — roofs covered in vegetation or used as a garden — has changed New Yorkers’ attitude about this prime real estate.
“People are seeing roofs not just as these wastelands for mechanical equipment, but as an asset, an area of their building that had been undervalued and could open up all sorts of possibilities,” Unger said. “All of a sudden, it opens up other parts of the city for you to enjoy.”

Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/life-style/real-estate/photos-roof-new-york-hidden-skyline-spaces-shows-city-article-1.1127429#ixzz22VsfRaXG

August 3rd, 2012, 03:53 PM
Some of those little treasures are not exactly legal.......

My own experience has been seeing people put WAY too much weight on a roof that was only designed to hold the snow.

October 26th, 2012, 11:24 PM
Seeking Funds to Chronicle the History of NYC's Street Names

by Sara Polsky


The latest NYC-themed Kickstarter (http://ny.curbed.com/tags/kickstarter) focuses on that confusing, fascinating aspect of NYC history: street names. Don Rogerson has launched a campaign (http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1614314267/manhattan-street-names-past-and-present-a-guide) seeking $2,670 for an alphabetical guide to NYC's street names. The book will include not only current streets but, cross-referenced, historic streets that have vanished from NYC's memory. Rogerson's already done with a first draft, sourced from city records, memoirs, maps, and newspapers, and plans to finish the book by spring 2013. The Kickstarter is at $1,168, and backers have a shot at a paperback copy.

Gothamists (http://gothamist.com/2012/10/26/manhattan_street_names.php) points out that the curious—and cheapskates—can also follow Rogerson's journey on his blog (http://www.manhattanpast.com/). We've already learned all kinds of things we didn't know about the illuminated street signs (http://www.manhattanpast.com/2012/street-sign-controversy-1899/) of 1899.

Manhattan Street Names Past and Present (http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1614314267/manhattan-street-names-past-and-present-a-guide) [Kickstarter]
Uncovering the Origins of Manhattan Street Names, Past and Present (http://gothamist.com/2012/10/26/manhattan_street_names.php) [Gothamist]

http://ny.curbed.com/archives/2012/10/26/seeking_funds_to_chronicle_the_history_of_nycs_str eet_names.php

November 30th, 2012, 08:05 PM
Iconic New York ‘Then & Now’ comes alive in photo book

Architectural photographer Evan Joseph compares photos from New York City at the turn of the century with photos from today.

By Jason Sheftell (http://wirednewyork.com/authors?author=Jason Sheftell) / NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

Published: Friday, November 30, 2012, 4:21 PM
Updated: Friday, November 30, 2012, 5:58 PM

http://assets.nydailynews.com/polopoly_fs/1.1211039.1354308450!/img/httpImage/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_635/article-thennow3-1130.jpgEvan Joseph

A view of the New York stock exchange from this year.

For more than a decade, architectural photographer Evan Joseph has taken pictures of New York City homes, shooting more real-estate listings than any other lensman in history. His archive contains more than 389,000
Joseph has also gone on helicopters at dawn to test cameras for Canon. He's been on rooftops and giant terraces, and stood in backyards looking at all-glass townhouses. He's shot the top apartments known to man, including the latest $100 million listing in midtown.

http://assets.nydailynews.com/polopoly_fs/1.1211040!/img/httpImage/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_635/article-thennow4-1130.jpgLibrary of Congress

A view of the New York Stock exchange in 1921.

In the process, Joseph has come to know New York in ways others never will. His new book, "New York: Then and Now," done with writer Marcia Reiss, tested that knowledge. Focusing on Manhattan, the book's third edition from Thunder Bay Press is a must-see for anyone in love with NewYork City and how it changes.
Using photos from the turn of the century, Joseph juxtaposes the older image with his modern example, attempting to take the same shot from the exact location used for the earlier image.
"The book is a love story," says Joseph, dressed in his characteristic black-on-black, on-the-go fashion ensemble. "I love old photos of New York City, and I'll do anything that has New York in the title. In every instance, I tried to get myself exactly in the same spot as the other photographer. In some cases, it was impossible, but we got pretty close."

http://assets.nydailynews.com/polopoly_fs/1.1211063!/img/httpImage/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_635/article-thennow8-1130.jpgLibrary of Congress

Historical view of Union Square in NYC.

http://assets.nydailynews.com/polopoly_fs/1.1211045!/img/httpImage/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_635/article-thennow7-1130.jpgEvan Joseph

Evan Joseph was able to restage a similar pose by a flower salesman in Union Square.

Joseph tried everything to get the image precise. He tied a pole to his camera to get more height. He searched his contact list to gain entry into buildings that would give him the same view. Joseph bought a ticket like a regular tourist to get the photograph from the top of Rockefeller Center. He even tried to match the exact hour and time of day.
"I became very hip to the sun patterns of when they hit certain buildings," Joseph says. "It was really interesting getting into the first photographers' heads to see what they were thinking and attempting to capture. When it worked, it worked really well. Like Gapstow Bridge in Central Park. I know I was within inches of where he took that earlier photograph. That was really exciting."
Many times, as with the first Penn Station, the buildings weren't there anymore. Sometimes smaller buildings served as references for measuring the shot.

http://assets.nydailynews.com/polopoly_fs/1.1211042!/img/httpImage/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_635/article-thennow6-1130.jpgLibrary of Congress

The Bethesda Fountain in Central Park, shown in 1905.


Evan Joseph

The Bethesda Fountain, shown today, has an eerily similar feel to how it looked in 1905, down to the iron railings.

"You get such a feel for how New York City has changed over the years," he says. "Full blocks are totally different. Sidewalks are double the size. Sometimes it's totally different, save for one or two buildings. I have such an appreciation for the tiny little buildings in between that never changed. Those are like little landmarks to a lost New York. I have much more care for old New York."
The photographs of old New York show a more peaceful, quieter and formal city, in the middle of its ascent to being the most powerful urban center on the planet. The manner in which people dress, with women in long dresses and men in dark suits with hats and ties, displays the more elegant style of the time.
The buildings are raw and clean, iconic like Roman and Greek structures, and show a city that understands its greatness. Several early shots show buildings in a half-constructed stage with early forms of scaffolding.

http://assets.nydailynews.com/polopoly_fs/1.1211037!/img/httpImage/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_635/article-thennow2-1130.jpgLibrary of Congress

New York City Flatiron building.

http://assets.nydailynews.com/polopoly_fs/1.1211036!/img/httpImage/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_635/article-thennow1-1130.jpgEvan Joseph

General view of the Flatiron Building in NYC present day.

The modern photos, shot in color, have more familiar scenes. Crowds are heavier, suggesting a more densely populated New York. The addition of cars is a metaphor for the city's faster pace of life. In an image of the Bowery Savings Bank photographed in 1905, the elevated subway depicts a romantic New York with horses and buggies and low-slung buildings with large signage. Joseph's modern photo, however, shows a bland street. The bank building is now the event space known as Capitale.
In a charming photo of Union Square East from 1903, a flower vendor picks up a bouquet for a man in a top hat and overcoat with two boys wearing knickers and wool suits. In today's image, a flower vendor prepares a similar bouquet for a young adult wearing a T-shirt and backpack. The change in dress reflects today's laissez-faire attitude.
The older buildings look more regal.
"I asked the guy to lean down to mimic the earlier version," says Joseph. "The park is so different now, but I found it amazing that there was a flower market in the exact same spot."
In the same image, the Barnes & Noble store, originally the Century & Company Building, has been halved in size.
On Madison Square Park, the Metropolitan Life Building tells another great story. The base of the building was built in 1892. It was sturdy, with a limestone facade. The 50-story tower was added in 1909, making the building the tallest in the world until the completion of the Woolworth Building on Broadway in 1913. Modeled after the tower in San
Marco Square in Venice, it was stripped of much detail in 1964 to give it more modern lines. The base building was destroyed, replaced by a more institutional-looking office building.
"In some cases, you become sad seeing what was lost," says Joseph. "At other times, you're just in awe of what was built. It's such an incredible city. I hope the book shows that."

http://assets.nydailynews.com/polopoly_fs/1.1211133!/img/httpImage/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_635/article-thennow9-1130.jpgCraig Warga/New York Daily News

Photographer Evan Joseph photographed at Grand Central Station.

Other photos include shots of Macy's from 1905 and now; the Empire State Building, once the site of the first Waldorf-Astoria Hotel; Grand Central Station; Bryant Park, and the New York Public Library. A vintage shot of Times Square would make a sign historian's day. The older signs have more class and show less sex appeal.
For his next project, Joseph may tackle the world of private-luxury lifestyle. He wants to shoot penthouses, combining interiors with exteriors.
"It's mind-blowing that people build structures like houses on top of buildings," says Joseph, who will shoot the exteriors from a helicopter or neighboring buildings. "What interests me now is how architecture and people live and work together. I'm intrigued in how people live. Some of these spaces are the most extraordinary spaces ever built. People love to look at that."
You should know
What: "New York Then and Now," by Marcia Reiss and Evan Joseph, is available at fine bookstores and Amazon.com for $19.95.
Why: A rare and fascinating look at our changing city, with scenes 100 years apart.
What else: Photographer Joseph will donate part of the proceeds from a book party to Architecture for Humanity, a group that helps out after disasters such as Hurricane Sandy.
http://assets.nydailynews.com/polopoly_fs/1.1211035!/img/httpImage/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_635/article-nythennow1-1130.jpgThunder Bay Press

'New York: Then and Now'

Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/life-style/real-estate/iconic-new-york-alive-book-article-1.1211077#ixzz2Dl1Qoi00

December 4th, 2012, 05:41 AM
Really looking forward to seeing the updates to this excellent book.

New York Then And Now: Stunning Portraits of Our Beloved City by Evan Joseph

by Holly Cara Price

"One belongs to New York instantly, one belongs to it as much in five minutes as in five years," Tom Wolfe famously said, and he was right. This city drew me in back in the late '70s and, in a very short while, turned me into a bona fide New Yorker. All roads led here; as I crisscrossed the country from the Northeast to the Southeast to the Midwest, New York was always the shining star at the end of my journey. I fell in love with Manhattan over thirty years ago and it is a love affair that has never waned.

It is clear that photographer Evan Joseph knows this great love and shares this passion. His new book New York Then and Now, published today by Thunder Bay Press, is a fascinating look at this city both now and in its glorious past. Joseph, a well-known photographer who mostly trains his lens at the city's architecture and luxury real estate, became interested in fine art at a very young age. "When I was 13, I was given a pro-level fully-manual Nikon, and used it every day. I was fascinated with the darkroom, and revived a unused one at my high-school to ostensibly use for the newspaper, but really I was experimenting with the process and spending much more time shooting my own work."

New York Then and Now is an incredible collection of then-and-now mirror images of iconic New York locations. I asked Evan how it was possible to narrow down the list of places in the book.

Praising the talent and patience of editor David Salmo whom he and writer Marcia Reiss worked with on the project, he explained that their goal was to come up with a representative sample of as many different areas of the city as possible. "We began with all the THEN photos which we liked, and then I began the long process of scouting each one of those locations." Joseph brought an iPad with the archival images to the shoot so he could attempt to figure out the camera position of the original photograph. "I took test shots and made notes about the best time of day to match the light in the THEN," he said. So many of the archival images had been taken from an elevated perspective (for instance, from train platforms which were no longer there) that a major part of the process became how to match the shot and creatively gain access to a similar view.

After the initial scouting process, Joseph worked his vast network of real estate developers, architects, property managers, and the like to see if he knew anyone who could gain access to the target buildings. "Once we figured out what was even possible, we started narrowing down the list to things which made good THEN/NOW comparisons. There were several great THEN images we wanted to use but a NOW photo just didn't make sense; the interior of Penn Station for example. We kept whittling down until we felt good about our pairs." He admitted he would have loved to keep going, "And yes, I would love to go on and have a much larger book... it became obsessive. But it truly takes a lot of time, and I had to visit those locations over and over to make it work, so a larger book would be years in the making and become obsolete before it was finished."

As he went on his journey to match up iconic locations city-wide (and in some cases finding it impossible), Joseph noted:

"What I learned overall is that although it is sad to see beautiful buildings that no longer exist, we do have so many amazing new ones, and New York is unusually liberal in allowing for free expression in architecture. In most countries, they would never allow a giant International Style rectangle to sit next to a Gothic Cathedral, but here you have it all over, and it makes New York a fascinating patchwork of design styles."

He admitted, "I have a historian's nostalgia, and I am an architectural romantic, but New York is a practical city and my own life is enhanced by the energy of constant change that makes the city unique... so I don't usually feel bulldozer regret. Except for Penn Station! That does seem like a huge loss." The original Penn Station's demolition began in 1963 and the two-block-long "engineering and architectural marvel" (to quote Marcia Reiss' text in the book) was torn down to make way for Madison Square Garden, with the train station at the base of the building. The city clearly never forgot this particular loss; New York's first landmark protection law was inked in 1965 due to this very incident.

Another of the book's logistical challenges was presented by the old Singer Building on Broadway, downtown. "It was gorgeous and strangely many similar buildings in the neighborhood have survived. I told Marcia and David that there was just no way to get a decent NOW shot of that, as it's currently a giant black monolith of a building, just north of the now-famous Zuccotti Park.

Plus there was a new building being constructed on the opposite street corner where the THEN was taken, so I could not get into that building at all - in addition the construction bled onto the street, so I couldn't even stand back far enough for a decent perspective." It was decided that the contrast would still be worth it, so Joseph went back to the location on a Sunday and stood on top of a concrete construction barrier in the middle of Broadway to line up the shot and get out as fast as possible. "I could never get away with that during the week," he quipped.

http://images.huffingtonpost.com/2012-12-03-aerialthen.JPG http://images.huffingtonpost.com/2012-12-03-aerialnow.JPG
(c) Evan Joseph, Used With Permission

I asked Evan what his favorite type of photography was, as his palette is so varied. "For me, whether it's an interior with a fashion model or an aerial with the Chrysler Building, what ties it all together is a relentless obsession with composition...bI love putting pieces together until they "lock" tight for me."
He went on:

"That's what I love about photography, that it's obvious tie to reality never fails to grab your attention, but it's the formal and expressive underpinning of the work that makes you linger... My ongoing obsession is to find projects that combine aerial, interior, fashion and street photography, to make a blend of these disciplines that can be so much more than they are alone."

What are some of his favorite New York City places, I asked.

"I love the water side parks on the West Side... the ability to walk from the Fairway in Harlem to the Staten Island Ferry and see everything from crumbling docks to the Intrepid to Chelsea Piers to kayakers to children hula-hooping in Battery Park... it's like a slideshow of New York in a 3-mile walk... and the fresh air and sun glinting on the water, it's magical in the late afternoon with the sun in the southwest. I also love the Main Library on Fifth Avenue, and all the cozy reading rooms with their obscure exhibitions of drawings and letters."

His greatest work challenge so far?

"My greatest challenge has been to find ways to grow while building my career. I am so lucky to have clients who trust me with their projects, and who want the look that I have developed, so finding aspects of those projects that allow me to push myself a bit beyond the usual is always my 'secret side mission.' I very frequently stay on location late, long after completing an assignment, just to try out a new piece of equipment or a new technique. I'm frequently fortunate enough to find myself shooting someplace very special, so I'll bring extra gear and do extra work, often way beyond the specification of the project. And frequently these 'off menu images are the ones that everyone loves best. Making the time to experiment, and investing deeply in experiments, is frequently difficult to justify, but for me, it's always worth it."

New York Then and Now is published by Thunder Bay Press and available in bookstores and through Amazon.


December 12th, 2012, 05:18 AM
Replicating the NYC of Old in New York Then and Now

by Sara Polsky

[All photos courtesy of Evan Joseph (http://www.evanjoseph.com/portfolio/G0000GlBRUYCF6Dw#I0000mqdOBfN_hLQ).]

Evan Joseph is one of the city's best-known interiors photographers (http://www.evanjoseph.com/), his photos anonymously illustrating many a high-profile listing. He is also the new, not anonymous co-author of a book, New York Then and Now (http://www.amazon.com/New-York-Then-Now-Thunder/dp/1607105799/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1355176087&sr=8-2&keywords=new+york+then+and+now), with photos by Joseph and text by Marcia Reiss. The book, an update to an earlier edition, pairs old photos of New York City with current photos of the same location. While photos in the previous edition didn't always match exactly the heights and camera angles of the originals, in this edition, Joseph went through a painstaking process of matching the angle of each old photo. He did so by loading each historical image onto his iPad, he explained to us last week, going to each street photographed, and looking around until he could lock down the location of at least one building in the old photo. "Then I would keep doing it…keep moving around and around until I could get that building into the same location."



While Joseph had no desire to use 100-year-old photography equipment to replicate the old photos—and is, in fact, known in the photography community for carrying around a lot of modern equipment—he found that he did miss one aspect of "then" photography. "What I quickly figured out was that the elevated subway lines that ran all over New York…were amazing photographic vantage points that no longer exist. So many of them were taken from 25 feet off the ground," he says. "That is just an amazing place to shoot a building. It gets you above the traffic, it gets you above people, but not so high up that it's a rooftop view. It renders the target…in a very natural and flattering perspective." Joseph was left to replicate that perspective as best he could with a monopod, "really like a window-washer's stick that I attached a photo mount too. Then I rigged up some remote triggers so I could fire the camera from holding a stick 10 feet about my head." (Joseph also used his connections to developers and real estate brokers to get some of his shots from within other buildings.)



The book also gave Joseph the opportunity to do a little aerial photography, with a helicopter shoot of lower Manhattan. The goal was to replicate a photo that was probably taken from an airplane c. 1935—the result is the then-now pairing above.

Aside from that photo of lower Manhattan, downtown is underrepresented in the book, Joseph says, because most of the century-old photos of New York were taken by commercial architectural photographers, and there wasn't much call for them to take photos of residential buildings. Instead, the photos of residential areas are snapshots, incorporating streets more than buildings. Still, Joseph thinks there may be material there for a future edition of the book, and we look forward to it.

Official site: Evan Joseph (http://www.evanjoseph.com/) [evanjoseph.com]

http://ny.curbed.com/archives/2012/12/11/replicating_the_nyc_of_old_in_new_york_then_and_no w.php#more

December 13th, 2012, 12:44 PM
1935? (ariel shot at bottom).

Last I checked, the WTC wasn't around yet.......

December 13th, 2012, 05:04 PM

December 14th, 2012, 04:33 AM
The 1935 reference has been removed in the original Curbed post. Just a typo.

December 14th, 2012, 01:26 PM
It really did not matter to me what year it was, I just found it funny to say 1935 with the 2 towers right there above it... ;)

March 10th, 2013, 01:26 AM
Treasure in the Air Up There

Damon Winter/The New York Times
Robert A. King goes on an urban safari to find and record sculptural figures on city buildings.


“People just walk by all this artwork and pay no attention," Mr. King said, "there are owners who don’t even notice it on their own buildings.”

“Look, there she is, up there — oh, she’s cute,” he said gazing at a row house on Fiske Place and admiring a face carved into the brownstone on a frieze above the doorway. He snapped a long lens onto his camera and began photographing the sooty stone face. He jotted the address on an index card to file the new addition to his computer archive of roughly 10,000 other sculptures — mostly faces or animal figures — that decorate New York City’s building facades.

“Ah, this could be the mother,” he said, looking at a similar but more mature face on a nearly identical adjacent building.

“She looks very serious — and oh, let me get those griffins,” he said, turning to a winged beast on the facade.

Even on an empty city street, Mr. King is not alone. He is never far from a menagerie of sculptured animals, or the faces in stone that he says he can feel staring down at him from the buildings.
“They almost come alive for me,” he said. “I can walk down a street and hear them say, ‘Psst, I’m over here.’ ”

To many a New Yorker’s eye, the sculptures — perched above doorways, flanking windows or topping off columns — often simply go unnoticed.

“People are busy catching the train or catching the bus; they don’t look up,” Mr. King said. “People just walk by all this artwork and pay no attention — there are owners who don’t even notice it on their own buildings.”

Mr. King feels obliged to rescue the overlooked faces and figures from obscurity. He has been walking the city with binoculars for about 15 years, seeking them out.

“I’ve covered most of New York City,” he said, rattling off a list, including the sculpture of Teddy Roosevelt that presides over a supermarket on West 145th Street and the nautical bas-reliefs at 74 Wall Street.

“Don’t ask me how I remember these — it took me years to remember my own wife’s birthday,” said Mr. King, who is married with two grown daughters and lives in the same 1897 row house on Hamilton Terrace in Harlem where he grew up, near City College.

The hobby is not without its perils. Mr. King has dodged traffic while shooting the American Indian hunting scenes on the Manhattan Bridge. And with all the walking, he is due for a second knee replacement. He initially injured his knees while checking out a dilapidated brownstone and falling three stories after its floors collapsed. Both knees were replaced with steel joints.

It was one of several injuries incurred in the 1980s, when his clients were restoring crack houses and burned-out buildings, Mr. King said. There was the time he was shot in the shoulder by drug dealers who had stashed their goods in a building he was inspecting.

Mr. King, who is profiled in “Stonefaced,” (http://stonefacedthemovie.com/) a new short film (https://www.facebook.com/stonefacedthemovie?ref=hl) by Vivian Ducat, has written two books (http://www.amazon.com/Faces-Stone-Architectural-Sculpture-York/dp/0393732347) on New York City building sculptures (http://www.amazon.com/Faces-Stone-Architectural-Sculpture-York/dp/039373286X).

Most of these carved faces seem based on real-life people, though information on the models is scant for less-notable buildings, Mr. King said. Many of them were created by artisan immigrants who brought their Old World training to their laborer jobs.

Mr. King forms attachments with these figures. He revisits some repeatedly and coos to them, asking for their secrets.

He is fun-loving, but not delusional. He has been teaching for 25 years — city building code and systems, along with historic preservation — at the New York School of Interior Design in Manhattan. His interest in facade artwork began in the late 1990s with an assignment for a photography class, but it really stems from his passion for preservation. He remembers a lovely terra cotta soldier he used to admire on a York Avenue apartment building cornice. One day, it was simply removed.

“It was just gone — now, that’s criminal,” he said on Thursday in the basement office of his row house, which has never gotten a proper restoration.

“My own place comes last,” he said. Mr. King has worked as an auto mechanic, an engineer and a construction worker. He studied architecture at Columbia and in London, and opened his office in 1977.

While looking at a building on Carroll Street in Brooklyn on Wednesday, he wore cargo pants and a brimmed hat, looking like someone on safari.

“When you discover this stuff, it’s like a whole other world,” he said, his face lighting up again now as he spied another trove of facade figures. “You can almost hear them calling out, can’t you?”



April 12th, 2013, 10:46 PM
Wonderful book.

"Bricks and Brownstone" Book, Revised

by Hana R. Alberts


The preservation-focused nonprofit New York Landmarks Conservancy is releasing a revised version of its comprehensive tome on row houses, "Bricks and Brownstone (http://bricksandbrownstone.com/)," in early 2014. First published in 1974, it's about time it got updated... but it needs funds to make it happen. Head here (http://www.nylandmarks.org/publications/bricks_and_brownstone) to donate. [CurbedWire Inbox; official (http://bricksandbrownstone.com/)]

http://ny.curbed.com/archives/2013/04/12/bricks_and_brownstone_book_revised_the_dep_on_domi no.php

October 3rd, 2013, 11:04 PM
Saw these new titles in the store but haven't picked them up yet.

Floating City: A Rogue Sociologist Lost and Found in New York's Underground Economy (Sep/2013)

Battle for Ground Zero: Inside the Political Struggle to Rebuild the World Trade Center (Aug/2013)

The Village: 400 Years of Beats and Bohemians, Radicals and Rogues, a History of Greenwich Village

October 5th, 2013, 07:07 AM
New Book House of Outrageous Fortune Reveals 15CPW

by Jessica Dailey

The Zeckendorfs created a bastion of modern wealth with 15 Central Park West, attracting celebrities (http://ny.curbed.com/archives/2013/07/18/racing_legend_jeff_gordons_15_cpw_apartment_in_con tract.php), Wall Street millionaires (http://ny.curbed.com/archives/2010/11/30/a_studio_apartment_just_sold_for_26_million_guess_ where.php), Russian billionaires (http://ny.curbed.com/archives/2011/12/19/worlds_93rd_richest_person_buys_88m_15_cpw_penthou se.php), and bigwig tech (http://ny.curbed.com/archives/2011/01/06/gps_exec_picks_up_recordbreaking_15_cpw_apartment. php) execs, and real estate author Michael Gross pulls back the curtain on the exclusive building for his forthcoming book, House of Outrageous Fortune: 15 Central Park West, the World's Most Powerful Address. Having already written the book on old-money New York real estate (http://books.simonandschuster.com/House-of-Outrageous-Fortune/Michael-Gross/9781451666199), Gross was given "unprecedented" access for this endeavor. From the publisher, Simon and Schuster:

Granted unprecedented access to the Zeckendorfs, New York's premier real estate dynasty, Gross offers a penetrating look at their billion-dollar development and into the mindset of its residents, today's upper-crust. With its two concierge-staffed lobbies, walnut-lined library, screening room, sixty-seat dining room with a private chef offering room service, and subterranean health club, Fifteen Central Park West emerges as a character in itself—a towering Olympus for plutocrats whose power and excess stand as emblems of our age of extreme inequality.

It hits shelves in March.


http://ny.curbed.com/archives/2013/10/04/new_book_house_of_outrageous_fortune_reveals_15cpw .php

November 3rd, 2013, 01:11 AM
One Sociologist's Epic Quest: Walk New York City, All 120,000 Blocks

by Stephanie Garlock

rSnapshotPhotos (http://www.shutterstock.com/gallery-306976p1.html)/Shutterstock.com (http://www.shutterstock.com/)

Sociologist William Helmreich likes to play a game with students in his intro class at the City College of New York. “You’re going to raise your hand and say what neighborhood you’re from,” he tells them, “and I’m going to tell you a story about it.” Though his students hail from all five boroughs, he’s never once been stumped, not by the edges of Brooklyn’s East New York, not by the village-like enclaves of Staten Island.


Because after 40 years of teaching in and about the city – and after spending nearly all of his 67 years calling it home – Helmreich’s seen it all. Now, this encyclopedic knowledge is quite literal. The ethnographer has spent four years on an epic quest to crisscross the city, walking all five boroughs, all 120,000 city blocks. He compares himself to a marathoner, regularly pulling out the statistic that his research has taken him the distance from New York to L.A. and back, plus another 900 miles, the equivalent of a side jaunt to St. Louis.

The result is his new book, The New York Nobody Knows: Walking 6,000 Miles in the City (http://press.princeton.edu/titles/10060.html). The expansive sociological study relies on Helmreich’s on-the-ground research, culled from thousands of hours of observation and casual conversations with local residents, to help parse hot-button issues like immigration, assimilation, and gentrification. But more than that, the miles and miles clocked – he wore out nine pairs of shoes in his trek across the city – come through as a sort of extensive love letter to the frenetic energy and diversity of New York.

Few sociologists were as well-equipped for the task. As a child growing up in Manhattan, Helmreich used to join his father on the weekends for a game they called “Last Stop,” exploring the neighborhoods at the far reaches of the city’s expansive subway system. Since then, he’s spent four decades shuttling students from City College and the CUNY Graduate Center around the city, teaching them to use its neighborhoods as a sort of living laboratory. Just this week, he and his graduate students spent the day walking along 9th Street in lower Manhattan. “Every block can be interesting,” Helmreich says. “It’s not just about covering ground, it’s about how you cover ground.”

“It’s not just about covering ground, it’s about how you cover ground.”

In his four years of research, Helmreich averaged more than 30 miles a week, but even this figure obscures the hours he spent on the task, walking up to strangers and asking about how safe the neighborhood is, or what's sold in that interesting store, or whether there are any good parks nearby. This method of ethnography is usually a far narrower process, as a researcher focuses on just a single community, neighborhood, or even block for years at a time. But, Helmreich jokes, “When you decide that you’re going to do the entire city, you can’t do that. You’d be 800 years old.”

So, with this bold title, what has he found out about New York that we don’t know?

For non-New Yorkers, the time the book spends on the outer boroughs is a fairly obvious corrective for what Helmreich sees as the tourism-generated, Manhattan-centric view of New York. And for all its diversity – the book spends hundreds of pages on the immigrant communities of the city – New York comes off as an inextricably linked web of groups that constantly must interact, change, and adjust. “It’s almost as if you dropped a hundred towns in Nebraska into the middle of the city,” Helmreich says. But what sets New York apart, he adds, is that "there's this duality to New York that you can be in these places, but you can also be in the city." Even those who live in more isolated pockets, such as the waterfront community of Edgewater Park in the Bronx, have a sense of connectedness.

http://cdn.theatlanticcities.com/img/upload/2013/10/31/flickr%20HLIT%201.jpg http://cdn.theatlanticcities.com/img/upload/2013/10/31/shutterstock_99855551.jpg
The Bronx's Edgewater Park, at left, and Manhattan's Times Square, on the right, have very
different atmospheres, but both are tied together through their New York identity.
(Images courtesy Flickr user H.L.I.T. (http://www.flickr.com/photos/29311691@N05/), left, and Luciano Mortula (http://www.shutterstock.com/gallery-178732p1.html)/Shutterstock.com (http://shutterstock.com), right.)

This “New Yorker” identity made for thousands of hours of observation and conversation for Helmreich. “He’s gruff, fancies himself to be knowledgeable, and cannot resist a challenge of answering, on the spot, in a wisecracking type of way, a spontaneous question. That’s a New Yorker,” he says.

By necessity, given the size of the city, Helmreich calls his book no more than a much-needed "introductory work" to the diversity of New York City. His method is, in some ways, a throw back to a much earlier form of social criticism, when walking was curiously in vogue for the self-styled intellectuals and elites of 19th century Europe. Think of Charles Dickens's night walks through London or the well-dressed flâneurs of Paris. And it's one that anyone can learn from. "If I accomplish anything besides sociology," Helmreich says, "it's to encourage people to walk through what I call the greatest museum in the world."


December 8th, 2013, 03:08 AM
Hell on Shoe Leather


Annie Ling for The New York Times
William B. Helmreich poked his nose into many a storefront and dead-end street while doing
the legwork for his new book, “The New York Nobody Knows.”

http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/misc/spacer.gif http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2013/12/08/realestate/08DEBRIEF1_SPAN/08DEBRIEF1-popup.jpg
Annie Ling for The New York Times
Among Mr. Helmreich's discoveries is the often-overlooked George Hecht Viewing Gardens at the busy
intersection of Third Avenue and Ninth Street.

During the golden weeks of autumn, it seemed as if everyone in the world wanted to go for a walk with William B. Helmreich. The journalist from Norway. Students who have lapped up his courses at City College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. The publicist at Princeton University Press, which just published “The New York Nobody Knows: Walking 6,000 Miles in the City,” (http://press.princeton.edu/titles/10060.html) his doorstop-size account of four years of trekking into every corner of the five boroughs, dead-end streets and desolate industrial areas included.

“New York is so varied,” said Mr. Helmreich (http://www.ccny.cuny.edu/profiles/William-Helmreich.cfm), who has practically made a second career out of explaining so ambitious an undertaking. “But if you don’t walk the streets, you never really understand that. Plus my philosophy is, everything’s interesting.”

Mr. Helmreich, who is tall and blue-eyed with close-cropped gray hair, likes to call himself a flâneur, in a tip of the hat to the boulevardiers who strolled the streets of 19th-century Paris. This particular flâneur is 68, the child of parents who immigrated to New York from Switzerland in 1946 and settled in a tenement apartment on the decidedly unchic Upper West Side.

Mr. Helmreich, who also describes himself as the ultimate city kid — “I was a member of the little gang on my block” — stayed put in New York until 1984, the year that he and his wife, Helaine, a writer, moved with their three children to Long Island, albeit to a town just a 15-minute walk from the Queens border.

Mr. Helmreich’s popularity as a tour guide is hardly surprising, because his 449-page book is a chatty, buoyant and, despite his four decades in academia teaching classes on New York City and sociology, an unstuffy love letter to the delights of street-smart walking. His publisher described the work as “four years plus nine pairs of shoes plus 6,000 miles equals an epic journey,” and judging by the reactions of people who study the city for a living, the approach has much to recommend it.

“Too many of the current crop of book-length urban analyses rely on statistics, policy, and critiques of earlier theories of city life,” said Cassim Shepard (http://urbanomnibus.net/author/cassim/), the editor of Urban Omnibus, an online publication of the Architectural League. “Mr. Helmreich’s book should provoke all urbanists worth their salt to leave their desks and get out into the street.”

Fran Leadon (http://ssa1.ccny.cuny.edu/people/leadon.html), a City College architecture professor who is writing a history of Broadway, agreed. “New York is much more complex than people think,” Mr. Leadon said. “But nobody knows the whole story because the city is too big and too complicated. So the discussion about New York gets reduced to a few predictable topics: politics, restaurants, the supposed death of the middle class. That’s the reason Mr. Helmreich’s project is so important.”

And as an author of the most recent A.I.A. Guide who walked many of these same streets, Mr. Leadon understands the challenges Mr. Helmreich faced. “It takes a lot of courage to walk through all of New York,” he said. “The city is full of surprises, and not all of them are pleasant.”

Mr. Helmreich doesn’t just walk. A gregarious man who seems hard-wired to strike up conversations with strangers, he pokes his head into one storefront after another, engaging the occupants in chat. As his wife affectionately summed up his approach: “Bill will talk to a stone. What’s more, the stone will answer.”

A mile-long trek along Ninth Street one recent Friday gave Mr. Helmreich a chance to display his expertise and revisit a few haunts. He ticked off a few famous occupants of the long-defunct Women’s House of Detention — “Dorothy Day, Ethel Rosenberg, Angela Davis: Can you imagine if they were all under that roof at the same time?”

Then he ducked into World Class Cleaners, at 66 West Ninth Street. A plaque proclaimed that the business had been honored by the American Academy of Hospitality Sciences. “Good customer service,” said the woman behind the counter when Mr. Helmreich inquired about the award.

He asked what it would cost to have a Hermès tie cleaned, and was told it would set him back $21. Hermès might not be Mr. Helmreich’s designer of choice, although he was looking dapper this day in chinos and a natty blue and-white-striped Ralph Lauren shirt. Generally, he said, he avoids bright blues and reds that might be read as gang colors, but attire provocative in this way is hardly an issue in the manicured West Village.

A reminder that this neighborhood once served as an epicenter of Japanese culture stood at Third Avenue. A nondescript doorway led to a second-floor emporium overflowing with everything from Japanese-language editions of Golf Digest to packages of mascara emblazoned with bold Japanese lettering.

At Whiskers Holistic Pet Care, 235 East Ninth Street, where sales clerks remembered Mr. Helmreich from a visit five years ago, he leafed through a binder bulging with handwritten tributes to the store’s remedies and employees. “Phil has rejuvenated my 5-year-old English setter,” one grateful customer wrote.

Once in a while the streetscape offers up flashes of Mr. Helmreich’s personal history, as it did at Mud, a cafe at 307 East Ninth Street. A beatnik brother-in-law of Mr. Helmreich’s lived for a time in an apartment in the rear, and a portrait of his bearded face gazed out from a mural near the front door. A few steps down, another local boy, named Jimi Hendrix, was memorialized by a sign that urged passers-by to write him letters and place them in an orange mailbox nearby, promising that they’d go “directly to heaven.”

At Veselka, the Ukrainian restaurant at Second Avenue, Mr. Helmreich took time to trace the roots of his passion for urban walking. His father, who died recently at 101, had been a prodigious walker, helping him to come to know and love the city early on. “I feel at home on any street in New York,” he said. “East New York, South Jamaica, the West Bronx. You name it.” Over the decades he has walked in cities and countries around the world, even clocking 500 miles in car-obsessed Los Angeles.

This book, Mr. Helmreich’s 14th, grew out of a suggestion by his department chairman, Philip Kasinitz, and an early plan was to focus on 20 iconic streets, like Myrtle Avenue and Broadway. Then came second thoughts: “I asked myself, what’s iconic in a city of 120,000 blocks?”

So he began walking, his tape recorder and pedometer in a pocket along with little maps annotated like tick-tack-toe games, a line drawn through each street after he completed it. He walked in the heat, in the cold, in the rain, covering at least two miles a day. “People thought I was crazy,” he said cheerfully.

And although he had walked the city’s streets many times before, this time he approached the task systematically, sometimes joined by his wife (800 miles) or by his second most reliable companion, Heidi, who appropriately is part Swiss mountain dog (400 miles).

He also did more than walk. He danced the bachata in a club in the South Bronx. He attended community meetings. He conducted formal interviews with mayors past and present. “And I have to admit that I cheated a little,” Mr. Helmreich said. He skipped 300 miles, mostly in homogeneous residential neighborhoods like Marine Park, Brooklyn.

But such lapses were rare, and by the end he had covered 6,048 miles and come away with vivid observations about everything from the transcendent impact of immigration on the city to the clues that a neighborhood was poised for gentrification.

“In East Williamsburg, for example, you see half-million-dollar apartments in a tower across the street from a city-run shelter, and people don’t mind,” Mr. Helmreich said. Friends in the real estate business ask him to recommend areas where it’s still possible to buy property and make a killing. His answers include the Lower Grand Concourse in the Bronx and Prospect-Lefferts Gardens in Brooklyn.

Although New York is far safer than in years past, Mr. Helmreich admitted to an occasional close call, notably the time he found himself unexpectedly surrounded by a knot of young toughs. “I suddenly realized that I was in the middle of a drug deal that was going down, and they clearly thought I was a cop,” he said. “Believe me, I walked out of there fast.”


December 3rd, 2014, 11:42 PM
8 Long Lost Islands That Used To Be Part of New York City

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Everyone knows (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manhattan) the (http://ny.curbed.com/archives/categories/staten_island.php) big (http://ny.curbed.com/tags/governors-island) islands (http://ny.curbed.com/archives/categories/roosevelt_island.php) of New York City, some people know the smaller ones (http://ny.curbed.com/archives/2014/08/26/get_to_know_34_of_new_york_citys_most_obscure_isla nds.php), but what about those that are no more? The area has always been an archipelago, but some landmasses went the way of Atlantis or were subsumed into the five boroughs we know today. In their book The Other Islands of New York City (http://www.amazon.com/Other-Islands-New-York-City/dp/0881509450), Sharon Seitz and Stuart Miller catalogue the lesser-known and lost islands of our city, from sandy beaches that were washed away to manmade forts consumed by landfill. Here, we remember eight of those forgotten.

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Present day Locust Point, at left, with the Throg's Neck Bridge, via Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Throggs_Neck).

Wrights/Locust Island:

Originally an island of the South Bronx, this chunk of land was privately owned and named for Captain J.T. Wright, but it was later renamed Locust Island. The small waterway which isolated it from the mainland Bronx was eventually filled in, and it lost its island designation and became Locust Point (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Locust_Point,_Bronx), a residential community with a yacht club (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Locust-Point-Yacht-Club/144054232327292) and lots of Irish people.

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Fort Lafayette:

An island coastal fortification known for a time as the "American Bastille," Fort Lafayette (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fort_Lafayette) was built atop Hendrick's Reef, a natural island in the Narrows of New York Harbor. Construction of the fort began during the War of 1812, but it wasn't finished until 1818. Later, it was used as a Civil War Prison, ammunition storage, and as a transfer site during World War II. It was destroyed in the 1960s, replaced by one of the Brooklyn-side pillars of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge (http://ny.curbed.com/archives/2014/11/20/the_verrazano_bridge_americas_longest_span_is_50_y ears_old.php).

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(http://ny.curbed.com/uploads/arrows-1873_Beers_Map_of_South_Hempstead%2C_Long_Island%2 C_New_York_-_Geographicus_-_HempsteadSouth-beers-1873.jpg)An 1873 map with two Hog Islands. Via Wikimedia Commons (http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:1873_Beers_Map_of_South_Hempstead,_Long_Islan d,_New_York_-_Geographicus_-_HempsteadSouth-beers-1873.jpg).

Hog Island:

The history of Hog Island is a bit convoluted—it may have actually been two islands (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hog_Island_%28New_York%29)—but it was definitely located near Rockaway. Wikipedia says its name comes from the fact that Native Americans used to raise pigs here, but the New York Times (http://www.nytimes.com/1997/03/18/nyregion/queens-spit-tried-to-be-a-resort-but-sank-in-a-hurricane.html) believes it was because "its shape resembled a pig's back." It was about a mile-long, and likely destroyed in the 1893 New York hurricane (http://blog.nyhistory.org/what-really-happened-to-hog-island/). But before it met its fate, it became a popular seaside getaway for Tammany Hall big shots. It is outlived by nearby Barnum Island (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barnum_Island,_New_York), which survived the hurricane and is still inhabited today.

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Approximate location of where Codling Island was located.

Codling Island:

In 1880, part of the Hutchinson River in the Bronx, near where the New England Thruway crosses in Eastchester, was straightened and a tiny hunk o' mainland was severed, creating Codling Island. Owned by George F. Codling, Codling Island rejoined the mainland around 1900 after the channel silted up so thoroughly it became reconnected. This island has truly been forgotten (at least by the digital world), as Seitz and Miller's book (http://books.google.com/books?id=zRjMPZW4heMC&pg=PA148&dq=%22George+F.+Codling%22&hl=en&sa=X&ei=5kZ_VK6IM9KZyASj0YLABA&ved=0CB8Q6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=%22George%20F.%20Codling%22&f=false) has the only mention of it on the internet.

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An 1896 ad for an amusement park to rival Coney Island. Via Lost Amusement Parks (http://lostamusementparks.napha.org/Articles/NewYork/BergenBeach.html).

Bergen Island:

In the early 1900s, a small island off Canarsie's coast, known as Bergen Island, was connected to the mainland using landfill and was transformed into the neighborhood of Bergen Beach. The Wall Street Journal (http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052970204464404577114802575137094) stands in awe of how remote and suburban it still is—a part of Brooklyn that's not trendy yet, how strange!

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Dead Horse Bay in 2013. Photo by Hannah Frishberg (https://www.flickr.com/photos/hannahfrishberg/13681420464/in/set-72157643604436623).

Barren Island:

Existing for years as a dumping ground, Barren Island (http://articles.baltimoresun.com/2000-12-03/news/0012030148_1_barren-island-garbage-new-york) was a horrid, trash-filled nightmare in Jamaica Bay during its time apart from mainland Brooklyn, housing a glue plant and the garbage that has since created Dead Horse Bay. Like many other islands on this list, landfill eventually connected it to the rest of the borough in 1930, and in 1936, it was condemned by Robert Moses (http://www.brooklynrail.org/2007/07/local/outer-borough). Residents—yes, people lived here—were given 30 days to leave, and the land now holds the Marine Park Bridge.

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Via Historic Pelham (http://historicpelham.blogspot.com/2014/07/image-of-second-pelham-bridge-built-in.html).

Blizzard Island:

Another former landmass of the Bronx, Blizzard Island has also been joined to the mainland with landfill, making it part of Pelham Bay Park. According to The Other Islands of New York City (http://books.google.com/books?id=zRjMPZW4heMC&pg=PA149&dq=%22blizzard+island%22+other+islands+of+new+york&hl=en&sa=X&ei=wER_VLL4BZWvyATMqYK4Cg&ved=0CC8Q6AEwAQ#v=onepage&q=%22blizzard%20island%22%20other%20islands%20of%2 0new%20york&f=false), when Blizzard Island was still an island, a man named David Blizzard would sell tackle and rent boats across from it on Tallapoosa Point. The island also supported the eastern arch of the original Pelham Bridge, the second incarnation of which is shown in the sketch above (http://historicpelham.blogspot.com/2014/07/image-of-second-pelham-bridge-built-in.html). The original bridge was destroyed by a storm only a year after it was built in 1815.

(http://ny.curbed.com/uploads/castle-clinton.jpg)Castle Clinton on the 1811 Commissioner's Plan, via Untapped (http://untappedcities.com/2014/09/10/up-close-with-the-original-1811-commissioners-plan-for-nyc/). Castle Clinton today, via NYC Architecture (http://nyc-architecture.com/LM/LM003-CASTLECLINTON.htm).

Castle Clinton:

Currently enjoying a peaceful retirement in Battery Park, Castle Clinton (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Castle_Clinton) was built in 1808 on an artificial island off Manhattan's southern shore to protect New York from British forces; only a drawbridge connected it to the mainland. The second half of the 19th century saw Castle Clinton transformed into an entertainment complex complete with opera house and theater. From 1855-1890 it was an immigration complex, then an aquarium, and today it is a restored historic site (http://www.nps.gov/cacl/historyculture/index.htm). What a life.

—Hannah Frishberg

The Other Islands of New York City (http://www.amazon.com/Other-Islands-New-York-City/dp/0881509450) by Sharon Seitz and Stuart Miller [Amazon]

http://ny.curbed.com/archives/2014/12/03/8_long_lost_islands_that_used_to_be_part_of_new_yo rk_city.php

January 20th, 2015, 01:37 AM
Wonderful book.

Review> Tempered by Restraint

Paul Gunther reads New York Transformed: The Architecture of Cross & Cross.

by Paul Gunther

Jonathan Wallen

New York Transformed: The Architecture of Cross & Cross (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1580933807/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=1580933807&linkCode=as2&tag=brokesidew-20&linkId=YAL3VKRT5DH5HM7P)
By Peter Pennoyer and Anne Walker
Monacelli Press, $60

Towards the end of his foreshortened career, the late, colorful art historian Henry Geldzahler organized a painting show at PS 1 in Queens called The Underknown: Twelve Artists Re-Seen in 1984.

After leaving his successive posts as first-time curator of 20th century art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and as New York’s just-hatched commissioner of cultural affairs in 1978, he turned much of his critical attention to the work of older artists once widely recognized and collected (including by leading museums), but then relegated indefinitely to unseen storage. It was like taking a 30-year-old Whitney Biennial catalog and restaging its content as a way of recalling the once recognized and now ignored, far outnumbering as they do those withstanding the fullest measure of time’s passage.

In a world focused evermore on the young, emerging, and diverse, it was a refreshing curatorial impulse and a sobering reminder of how few era-shapers end up gaining a lasting hold on our collective attention.

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An elegant, curved staircase by Cross & Cross at the Links Club in New York (left, center). The crown of the RCA Victor building in New York (right).

Ironically, with architecture, despite its status as the most social and publicly accessible of the arts by dint of formal intent and (excepting secluded private houses) exterior visibility, such credit-giving is stingier still for past and present practitioners alike.

In the history of the United States Postal Service, for example, there has been a single stamp commemorating an architect and in case you have not guessed already it was in 1966 for Frank Lloyd Wright, who also got one for Falling Water, the original Guggenheim Museum, and the Robie House among the measly total of seven stamps that have had anything to do whatsoever with those who shape the built environment. Maybe some of the internationally branded stars anointed more recently and redundantly by critics, like the late Herbert Muschamp, will hold up to long-term scrutiny but it is too soon to tell.

Such lack of attribution and the according anonymity of practitioners, whose contributions are thus hidden in plain sight, helps underscore the important joint contribution of the authors Peter Pennoyer, an architect, and Anne Walker, a historian, with their ongoing series about important “Underknowns” from the first half of the last century. And they come at a time when much of their subject examples still stand in moot contrast to the frenzy of up-zoning and air-rights laden exuberances now taking root across the five boroughs and their surrounding region.

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Cross & Cross' Brick House.

There is no justification for the accomplishments and business practices of these masters to be lost to history, especially if and when the constructed results are overlooked, demolished, or at risk. Yet this backward glance is not a nostalgic yearning for better days past, nor a disguised plea for preservation. On the contrary, by always adding analysis of what building their subjects’ work replaced, they acknowledge the changing social dynamics and economic circumstances imposed on the profession by varying clients. At the same time, however, they refuse
to ignore such precedents and look instead for ways it can inform this inevitable continuum, especially given the sometimes blinding juggernaut of Modernism.

New York Transformed: The Architecture of Cross & Cross (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1580933807/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=1580933807&linkCode=as2&tag=brokesidew-20&linkId=YAL3VKRT5DH5HM7P) (aka brothers John Walter (1878–1951) and Eliot Cross (1883–1949)) arrives as the series’ fourth, following Delano & Aldrich (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0393730875/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=0393730875&linkCode=as2&tag=brokesidew-20&linkId=OESBWUD5LRD4CQHB), Warren & Wetmore (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0393731626/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=0393731626&linkCode=as2&tag=brokesidew-20&linkId=32XCCJQDXKJ5NOAY), and Grosvenor Atterbury (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0393732223/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=0393732223&linkCode=as2&tag=brokesidew-20&linkId=BXGW724ZF2PCHHGV). All subject architects are united by success in terms of both design and client engagement in the shadow of the “progressive torpedo,” as foreword writer Robert A. M. Stern puts it, of Modernism’s inexorable concurrent rise so accelerated as it was by the advent of worldwide war. The record of these labors is twice confounded: by their polemical peers as well as by the profession’s relative anonymity in general.

The 35-year duration of the fraternal partnership ranged from the Colonial Revival, which was under way as the Crosses launched their firm (e.g. the Flemish-bonded simple Georgian symmetry of the American Foundation for the Blind, 15 East 16th Street), to the sky-scraping proto-modern art deco of their late career (RCA Victor Building at Lexington Avenue and 51st Street) with its tacit acceptance of new technologies as well as the budgetary trimming born of depression and warfare. There was always a client- and architect-shared tie to the past and an acknowledgement of its best lessons cast anew. Like Peter Pennoyer Architects today, Cross & Cross deployed a broad and varied vocabulary, yet one descending from a rigorous classical point of departure and manifesting in continuously innovative ways.

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Bayberry Land gardens and living room. Courtesy Monacelli Press

Enlivening the text are ample blueprints and illustrations, especially in an occasional photographic essay contributed by Jonathan Wallen, of a surviving example of each building typology that defines the volume’s thematic chapters. The Lee, Higginson & Co. tower at 41 Broad Street stands out for its instructive glimpse of structure and ornament in vital symbiosis.

And who knew? Far from their Federally inspired clubs and Cotswold Cottage-inflected homes on Long Island’s North Shore, Cross & Cross landed in 1940 at the stripped down swank of Tiffany & Co. at Fifth Avenue and 57th Street with what was then the largest column-free merchandising hall in the country. Here the window dressers have enjoyed more attribution than those who created the beguiling vitrines of irrepressible yet concentrated attention on the goods for sale: bling for the masses as much as for the potential customer, overall, however, tempered by restraint of the stylistic commission.

Another narrative drive found here, lacking in most contemporary architectural narratives, are lively and unapologetic accounts of the Cross & Cross clients, who, like them, grew up in the small world of interconnected families at the center of wealth and power which, without knowing it, were witnessing the end of this age of birthright privilege. All the Pennoyer/Walker books do so not as gossipy peeks at the rich and discreetly renowned, but as measures of doing business—that can still instruct even as a WASPy upper class hegemony depicted in these pages has long ago yielded to the finance and real estate meritocrats and foreign oligarchs who prove more elusive as illuminating ingredients in the complex business of getting things built.

Ironically, despite their well set place at the exclusive elite table, Cross & Cross, and in particular Eliot, also worked as speculative developers with the associated firm of Webb and Knapp that has evolved into today’s Zeckendorf Development, thriving as never before. While benefitting from the decorous rules of Social Register propriety, Eliot and his profit-minded cohorts simultaneously contributed to its ultimate dismantling by the tools of investment, marketing, and the general free-for-all of accumulated wealth alone as the real drivers of growth.

In this way too, the invisible impact of forgotten trailblazers emerges from the historical shadows as with the authors’ earlier series’ subjects. The profession, like an evermore design savvy public, gains as a result of these insights. Its creative intent is worth sharing for the sake of drawing back a curtain blocking the artistry we inhabit daily whether, frankly, we want to or not.


May 31st, 2015, 10:10 AM
http://static2.nydailynews.com/polopoly_fs/1.2241223.1433012313!/img/httpImage/image.JPG_gen/derivatives/splash_300220/splash-savulich-0530.JPG PHOTOS Sneak peek News lensman Andrew Savulich's new book 'The City' (http://www.nydailynews.com/news/sneak-peak-city-andrew-savulich-gallery-1.2241244)Longtime Daily News photographer Andrew Savulich created a collection of his best 125 photos of the Big Apple from the early 1980's to the late 1990's called 'The City.' (http://www.nydailynews.com/news/sneak-peak-city-andrew-savulich-gallery-1.2241244)

June 12th, 2015, 10:09 PM


August 7th, 2015, 05:15 AM
Just got this today. Stunning black and white street view photography.



October 5th, 2015, 11:41 PM
Review> Paul Gunther on preservation and the ongoing exhibit, Saving Place: 50 Years of New York City Landmarks

Monday, October 5, 2015
by Paul Gunther

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Grand Central Terminal, 2014. (Iwan Baan)

Saving Place: 50 Years of New York City Landmarks (http://www.mcny.org/exhibition/saving-place)

An exhibition at the Museum of the City of New York and Catalog edited by Donald Albrecht, Andrew Dolkart, and Seri Worden
Through January 3, 2016

Since the first trace of the species homo sapiens, human evolution only represents four one hundred thousandths of one percent of the earth’s age. In proportion to an 80-year life span, that means just 31 hours—less than a day and a half of the 701,280 hours lived.

With the existential threat of climate change and ecological ruination gaining traction in collective consciousness—combined with the outsized expectations of breath-holding fundamentalists for whom earth’s rapturous end can’t come soon enough—our sense of what permanence means has begun to shift. If all human culture to date is just four-dozen millennia and we’ve wreaked so much havoc already, “forever” strikes a dubious chord.

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TWA Flight Center at JFK Airport, Queens, c. 1978. (Edmund V. Gillon, Courtesy Museum of the City of New York)

This temporal dynamic is one prism through which Saving Place (http://www.mcny.org/exhibition/saving-place) and the anniversary it examines can be seen. Another is the end of the post-World War II order and with it a sense that history hasn’t ended after all, including the survival of world monuments (especially amidst the tribal strife in the Middle East) that a united (albeit Western-centric) world had deemed essentially imperishable. It turns out historic places of exceptional human accomplishment can disappear as readily as an endangered species can; the risk of disorientation resulting from the obliteration of common orthodoxies is always high.

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Irving Underwood, New York Post Office, 1902. (Courtesy Museum of the City of New York)

Such sobering reflection informs this worthy stock-taking anniversary enterprise, which focuses more on the role of the preservation movement as part of the plodding, existential course of civic engagement, rather than some celebratory juggernaut tied only to the singular examples of past excellence like Grand Central Terminal or the Guggenheim Museum. Among the most valued places saved are those of daily routine that most identify as the common bonds of a vibrant community. Only with such coherence can change occur in ways that succeed—and that hold value.

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Jefferson Market Branch, New York Public Library (originally Jefferson Market Courthouse), 2014. (Iwan Baan)

Fifty years ago, New York City Mayor Robert Wagner signed into law the first landmarks designation statute in the nation with the creation of the Landmarks Preservation Commission. With its advent came new public authority and civic duty to adjudge the aesthetic and historic value of elements of the built environment, including privately owned or nonprofit properties, whose future disposition affects the commonwealth of all citizens.

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Mayor Robert F. Wagner signing the landmarks law, 1965. (Margot Gayle, Courtesy New York Preservation Archive Project)

It was as controversial then as it continues today, whether held as the basis for NIMBY battles by the privileged few or the evergreen bane to developer dreams clipped by what they sometimes assert are its onerous and subjective restrictions blocking the growth and change endemic to sustained livability.

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St. Patrick’s Cathedral, 2014. (Iwan Baan)

That is not an easy distinction for a metropolitan region. Since first launched by the colonizing Dutch, the bonanza of real estate development has been the golden egg of the regional economy.

It is the essential cornerstone of New York commerce and the obsession of dwellers from those born and bred to those beckoned by its promise of opportunity and fresh beginnings.

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Astor Place, 2014. (Iwan Baan)

This relatively recent chapter of local land use policy and its record of impact are the inspirations for Saving Place, delivered with a welcome sobriety of tone and presentation calmly sharing its results along with the means and personalities that made it happen. An underlying intent born of civic pride stays in lively focus.

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Aaron Rose, Demolition of Pennsylvania Station, 1964-65. (Courtesy Museum of the City of New York)

Like any thorough history show, gray wins out over black and white: The movement started far before the generally shared crucible of the 1963 demolition of McKim, Mead & White’s uplifting Beaux-Arts Pennsylvania Station (giving way to the peerless bathos of Penn Plaza by designer and businessman, Charles Luckman, whose clients took the train users of 1968 to be some dying breed of rodents) and has learned as much from its failures and occasional compromises as from its best known victories.

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St. John’s Chapel being demolished, 1918. (Courtesy American Scenic & Historic Preservation Society/Metropolitan History)

The movement’s roots took hold not so much against change, but against failed progress when the exchange of present conditions for some promised social gain fell short and urban well-being emerged impoverished.

Like the l965 law, the 1978 majority ruling by the United Sates Supreme Court, written by Justice William J. Brennan, Jr. (upholding the City’s designation of Grand Central Terminal and thus laying to rest once and for all any lingering assertions that landmark designation was unconstitutional), is far more nuanced than its friends and foes would have New Yorkers believe.

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Wurts Brothers, Dyckman House after restoration, 1942. (Courtesy Museum of the City of New York)

The preservation work done, like the battles to come, are perpetually a collective work in progress. The places and leading players presented in such a context emerge more as dynamic case studies than as fixed heroics.

The commissioned photographs by Iwan Baan (whose work is characterized as usual by the vehicles, people, and quotidian activity of such places, so often absent in studies of planning and architectural design). Like the exhibit installation by Wendy Evans Joseph and her firm Studio Joseph, record individual designations are not just bright beacons of superior significance but indispensable, stabilizing place holders that bind community even when hidden in plain sight.

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Sylvan Terrace, 2014. (Iwan Baan)

Saving Place respects the value of landmarks by gently reminding its audience of what we take for granted and by offering (without insisting) on a greater depth of meaning for sites both individual and district-wide.

And yet its overwhelmingly beneficial impact on all corners of today’s five boroughs, not to mention the quality and measure of visitor appeal (like it or not, tourism means jobs), cannot be denied or scoffed away as a Luddite blockade to change.

Whatever else New York may risk in 2015, a dearth or loss of dynamic change is not one of them. Saving Place shows instead how traces of the past can at best stand alongside the new for at least the relatively small measure of time that our present civilization can endure. Like the natural world, today we know that the built world also demands balance as a basis of sustenance.

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Washington Street with Manhattan Bridge, 2014. (Iwan Baan)

The exhibit’s iconic original architectural models and array of primary artifacts are brought to the fore as the landmark’s legacy of material sensuality in historic terms both material and artisanal. The society we keep is well served by some record of past beauty that for all kinds of reasons simply cannot be replicated, and how that should be done.

These strands tie a knot of quiet reflection for the Saving Place initiative that bodes well for a landmarks movement pausing only briefly to recall the reasons its work will never end in the messy marketplace of a healthy city. Coexistence is the key; landmarking works best as one part of the overall planning process, not the bejeweled hobbyhorse of some nostalgic elite.

In a world with a foreshortened sense of permanence, the longer we can maintain this democratic equilibrium the better off we all will be.