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Thread: New York City Books

  1. #136

    Default “The Ramble in Central Park: A Wilderness West of Fifth”

    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.

    From "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, 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.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/27/ny...er=rss&emc=rss

  2. #137

    Default “The Invention of Brownstone Brooklyn: Gentrification and the Search for Authenticity

    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.

    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.”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/27/ny...er=rss&emc=rss

  3. #138
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    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...ll+articles%29

  4. #139
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    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.

    http://www.archpaper.com/news/articles.asp?id=5525

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    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 [CapitalNY]

    http://ny.curbed.com/archives/2011/0...chitecture.php

  6. #141
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    High Line Founders' Book Hits Shelves

    By Mathew Katz



    CHELSEA — The High Line Park 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.dnainfo.com/20111018/chel...#ixzz1bE2uhdPA

  7. #142
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    400 Years of Artifacts Enrich a Book

    By SAM ROBERTS


    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/ny...zTvgD0AZvqiJ78

  8. #143
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    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




    (click to enlarge)
    [Photos courtesy of Brian Rose.]

    Architectural photographer 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 by Golden Section Publishing with a forward by none other than Suzanne Vega. Rose's Kickstarter campaign 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 [EV Grieve]
    Time and Space on the Lower East Side [Kickstarter]
    Official website: Brian Rose [brianrose.com]

    http://ny.curbed.com/archives/2011/1...ace_of_les.php

  9. #144

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    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, 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: “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

    http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/b...reviewed_.html

  10. #145
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    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).

    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.


    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.


    http://www.archpaper.com/news/articles.asp?id=5848

  11. #146
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    Beautiful book. This is a sad loss.


    Charles Lockwood, Who Wrote the Row-House Bible, Dies at 63

    By DAVID W. DUNLAP



    Charles Lockwood,whose 1972 book, “Bricks and Brownstone: The New York Row House, 1783-1929,” 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, 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” (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 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.

    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.”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/02/ar...rss&emc=rss%3f

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    WOW!


    Bette Midler and other NY celebs are really roofin’ it

    By SUSANNAH CAHALAN and CYNTHIA R. FAGEN

    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

    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.


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    This is a nice little book.


    A Pocketbook Full of Architecture



    (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) 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), 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.

    http://www.walkingoffthebigapple.com...hitecture.html

  14. #149
    NYC Aficionado from Oz Merry's Avatar
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    A Different Angle on Building in New York

    By SAM ROBERTS



    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.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/03/ny...f-liberty.html

  15. #150
    NYC Aficionado from Oz Merry's Avatar
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    A great website devoted to what people are reading on the subway:

    Underground New York Public Library



    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....


    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.

    http://blogs.villagevoice.com/runnin...ubway.php#more

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