Remembering Flight 587

November 12, 2015

On November 12, 2001, American Airlines Flight 587 departed JFK International Airport en route to the Dominican Republic. At 9:16 am, seconds after take off, the jet crashed into the community of Belle Harbor, killing all 260 passengers and crew and five Belle Harbor residents.

People from France, Haiti, Israel, Taiwan, the United Kingdom, and the United States and Puerto Rico were on the flight. Yet the majority were of Dominican descent, traveling to their homeland, or returning from visiting family. The plane struck the ground at the intersection of Beach 131st Street and Newport Avenue, where members of the fire and police departments (many of them off duty) and numerous volunteers rushed to the scene. Despite their heroic efforts, the crash of Flight 587 stands to date as the second largest aviation tragedy in U.S. history.

All New Yorkers were devastated by this terrible event, occurring only two months and a day after the World Trade Center attack. The communities of Washington Heights and Belle Harbor were uniquely affected. Many of the passengers lived in and around Washington Heights. Belle Harbor was home to many police officers and firefighters who lost their lives on 9/11.

These communities, together with the families of the victims and the city of New York, have created this monument to honor those who perished and ensure that we never forget those we have loved and lost.

Freddy Rodriguez, a Dominican-born New York City artist, designed the Flight 587 Memorial that stands near the beach in Rockaway, Queens. It was dedicated on November 12, 2006, the fifth anniversary of the day the packed Airbus A300 crashed in nearby Belle Harbor.

Placement of the Memorial was controversial: many of the victims’ relatives wanted it to be built at the scene of the disaster, while residents opposed the idea, saying it would create a constant reminder of the horror that had traumatized so many of them. The conflict was resolved by placing the structure within the boundaries of the neighborhood, but about 15 blocks from the crash site.

The Memorial stands at the end of a street full of shops and apartments near the Ocean Promenade. Its curving wall has window-like openings providing broken views of the Atlantic Ocean. Near the center of the wall is an open door angled towards the Dominican Republic. The rose granite blocks are inscribed with the names of all 265 of the victims. A large block is inscribed with the description of the incident (quoted above).

Directly above the door are the words of the late Pedro Mir, Poet Laureate of the Dominican Republic: “Después no quiero más que paz (Afterwards I want only peace).”

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Inscription on a nearby wall

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The memorial includes a plaza and bench

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The doorway faces the Dominican Republic

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Another view of the doorway

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Names of victims

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Victims

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A family

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Victims

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Victims

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Men, woman, children

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Victims

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Victims

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A family

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Victims

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Victims

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A family

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Afterwards I want only peace

City of New York: Flight 587 Memorial Project
USA Today: Reaction Mixed on Flight 587 Memorial
Pedro Mir


Halloween in the Heights

October 31, 2015

While their fellow New Yorkers complain about how the city is being destroyed by greedy developers, the residents of Brooklyn Heights bite their tongues. That’s because little has changed in the neighborhood in decades.

In 1965, the newly created New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission designated Brooklyn Heights as city’s first historic district. Later that year the neighborhood was also named a National Historic Landmark and the following year, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

All of that governmental recognition and legal protection mean that Brooklyn Heights essentially looks the same today as it did 50 years ago—a mixture of brick homes, brownstones, grand mansions, and wooden houses (some dating back to the Civil War), punctuated with century-old shops and churches.

The area is beautiful at any time, but it takes on a special appeal when decorated for Halloween. These are streets where young trick-or-treaters still troop from door to door, and few homeowners neglect adding at least a touch of seasonal color to their stoops and thresholds.

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Pumpkins and cobwebs

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Skeleton and pumpkins

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Dried corn

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Tombstone and ghost

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“Boo” says the pumpkin

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Pumpkins and evergreen

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Pumpkins and cobwebs

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Skeletons, cobwebs, etc.

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Pumpkins and ivy

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Pumpkins and potted mums

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Pumpkins and squash

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Mums and pumpkins

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Pumpkins, cobwebs and a blue planter

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Witch, bats and ghosts

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Pumpkins and spider

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Pumpkin and metal pots

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Big pumpkins

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Pumpkins and skeletons

Curbed: How Brooklyn Heights Became the City’s First Historic District
National Park Service: Brooklyn Heights Historic District
National Historic Landmarks in New York
National Register of Historic Places
NYC: Brooklyn Heights


Little House on the Brooklyn Prairie

April 9, 2014

Take a look around and guess where we are.

There’s a white-washed building topped by a stout brick chimney. Rough hewn wooden posts holding up a shingled roof. Wood framed double-hung windows with slightly sagging screens. A wide porch holding an assortment of ladder-back rocking chairs, some with seats of woven rush, others with canvas webbing.

Are we in a small, sleepy Southern town? Or are we someplace in the American Heartland, perhaps an old farmstead out on the wide prairie?

Sorry, but no and no.

Actually, this rustic-looking structure is the Avenue H subway station on the Q line, deep in the heart of Brooklyn. Built in 1906, over the years the station has been updated and renovated but, thankfully, never replaced.

Now, don’t just stand there. Grab a glass of lemonade and let’s do a little rocking before we catch the next train to Brighton Beach.

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The Epoch Times: Renovated Brooklyn Station House, Relic With Modern Feel
NYC Subway: Avenue H Station
Subway Nut: Avenue H 


The Land Where St. Patrick Walked

March 17, 2011

The St. Patrick’s Day Parade on Fifth Avenue is the world’s biggest, noisiest, happiest celebration of Ireland and its patron saint. Between the dancing, drinking and green hair, it is easy for an observer to think that those who hail from “the land with 40 shades of green” have always been welcome and accepted here.

But the story of the Irish in New York has many a tragic side. Most terrible is the reason that so many Irish citizens arrived on our shores 150 years ago; they were fleeing the disaster known as An Gorta Mór (the Great Hunger). The devestation began in the late 1840s, when a virus attacked the potatoes planted in the fields of the land where St. Patrick had walked.

Cheap, filling, and easy to grow, potatoes were an essential source of nutrition for poor, rural Irish families. When the virus caused the potato plants to wither and their crops to fail, it wasn’t long before starvation set in.

The Great Hunger, also known as the Great Potato Famine, lasted from 1845 to 1852. During that period approximately one million Irish people died and two million more emigrated, many of them landing in New York Harbor. Now, in a quiet corner of Battery Park, near the spot where those desperate survivors arrived, stands the Irish Hunger Memorial.

Created by New York artist Brian Tolle, the memorial opened in 2002 on a quarter-acre of land shaped to resemble a burial mound cut from an Irish hillside. The base of the memorial is made of slabs of concrete interlaced with bands of plexiglass-covered metal bearing excerpts from reports, poems, songs, sermons and letters describing the desperation and destitution of the victims of the famine. These are intermingled with information about world hunger today.

After walking around the base, visitors walk through a short, dark corridor where recorded voices recite facts about the Hunger and emerge into a small atrium lined with stone walls. A dirt path winds up the hill past thirty-two massive stones, each marked with the name the Irish county that donated it, a roofless stone cottage, wildflowers and grasses, all imported from Ireland.

Every aspect of this small patch of land is significant and symbolic; even the size of the space reflects the Irish Poor Law of 1847, which denied relief to those living on land larger than a quarter of acre. Small, subtle and enormously moving, the Irish Hunger Memorial helps illuminate the wonderful, terrible history of the Irish in New York City.

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Approaching the memorial from West Street

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Closer to the entrance

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Plantings overhanging the concrete

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Through the entry corridor

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Words on the walls

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More quotations on the walls

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The words stretch on

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Climbing the hill

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The view from the top of the hill

CRG Gallery: Brian Tolle
The New York Times: A Memorial Remembers The Hungry
New York Magazine: Irish Hunger Memorial
NYC: Battery Park
Battery Park Conservancy


Don’t Let The Name Fool You

July 19, 2010

When you hear the name of the place, it would be reasonable to assume that it is somewhere along the Hudson or East Rivers. But don’t let the name fool you. Manhattan Beach is not on, or near, the island of Manhattan. In fact, this neighborhood is located on the narrow peninsula that forms the southernmost boundary of Brooklyn.

Physically, Manhattan Beach is about 12 miles from Manhattan Island and less than two miles — straight down the road — from the bright lights, clatter and raucous throng at Coney Island. But culturally, economically and spiritually, Manhattan Beach is a world unto itself.

The area was first developed as a summer resort by the Manhattan Beach Improvement Company. In 1877, the company opened two luxury hotels here along the sparkling sand. By the time World War I erupted, the hotels had both been torn down and the land sold to a residential developer. Soon the quiet stretch of beach, only three blocks wide, was filling with single family homes, many of them lavish enough to be described as mansions.

Today, the neighborhood, where the streets are in alphabetical order, is one of the wealthiest, quietest and safest in New York City. Since 1955 it has included a 40 acre public park that boasts fountains, playgrounds, picnic tables, two baseball diamonds and tennis, volleyball, basketball, and handball courts.

In fact, the most significant change to the stability of this enclave of about 7,000 people has been an influx of newer residents, many of them immigrants from Russia, during the past decade.

Many of the newcomers have purchased older houses, torn them down and replaced them with larger, showier, more elaborate places. Quite a few of these new residents tend to favor architecture reminiscent of The Sopranos or Las Vegas. But they, just like those who have lived here for generations, adhere to the neighborhood’s unspoken creed: they are fiercely protective of their property, their privacy and their community.

An armed private security force, the Beachside Neighborhood Patrol, drives through these wide, quiet, shady streets, keeping an eye out for trouble. A significant number of the homes prominently display burglar alarm signs, security cameras, keypad locks. Houses and yards are hidden behind impenetrable hedges (both natural and artificial), high fences, locked gates.

And yet … this is no exclusive, gated community that is locked away from the world. The residents of Manhattan Beach are sophisticated, dedicated urbanites who have consciously chosen to live in the most populous borough in the largest city in the US.

Here, behind the thick hedges, beyond the manicured lawns, they enjoy the best of both worlds: the richness, diversity, art and culture of the city, along with the space, tranquility, peace and quiet of the country — and all of that, just steps from the ocean and public transportation.

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No Trespassing signs on a dead-end street in Manhattan Beach

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A backyard with an ocean view

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Hedge and wall ensure privacy

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Fence embellished with gold paint

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A home in Manhattan Beach overlooking Sheepshead Bay

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Plenty of custom windows here

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Paved driveway behind gates

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Curved plantings echo curved stairs

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A synagogue in Manhattan Beach

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Cedars in pots hide the back yard

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Beige stone with red tiles

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Off street parking

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Elaborate roof structures

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Little room between these houses

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Red brick and white woodwork

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Victorian-inspired with multiple balconies

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Balcony and roof deck

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Elaborate front gate

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Mediterranean influence

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Front yard with plantings

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No one can see inside when there are no windows

Beachside Neighborhood Patrol saved after surge of support from Manhattan Beach
Manhattan Beach Community Group
If You’re Thinking of Living In Manhattan Beach
Sheepshead Bites


Seasons Greetings from the City of New York

December 25, 2009

This wreath is hanging above the plaza of the Manhattan Municipal Building, a magnificent limestone structure at the intersection of Chambers and Centre Streets, just north of the Brooklyn Bridge. Happy Holidays to you and yours from the City of New York.

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The view from Chambers Street

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A closer look at the wreath

The City of New York: Manhattan Municipal Building


The Dudley Memorial Building

August 10, 2009

At first glance, the building at 110 Amity Street looks as though it might be a grand residence. But upon closer inspection, the brick and limestone structure reveals broken, boarded up windows, a slew of paper notices taped to the front door and a dusty-looking “for sale” sign.

Two names appear above the entrance: The Dudley Memorial, which is carved into the facade, and, painted directly below, The Long Island College Hospital Stanley S. Lamm Institute for Developmental Disabilities. So, what’s the story here?

This empty structure at the corner of Amity and Henry Streets was built in 1902 in memory of Dr. William Dudley, one of the founders of nearby Long Island College Hospital, which is now celebrating its 150th anniversary. Designed by Charles Hough, for five years it served as a private pavilion for the hospitals patients, then became a residence for its nurses.

Later, the building housed the Stanley S. Lamm Institute, a facility for the comprehensive care of the developmentally disabled. Several years ago the Lamm Institute’s programs were moved to other locations and the stately-looking building has been vacant ever since.

Most recently, a developer proposed a plan which included the construction of a rooftop bulkhead and six townhouses in the rear. A combination of community opposition and fallen real estate values has resulted in any plans being delayed indefinitely.

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The view from Amity Street

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At the corner of Amity and Henry Streets

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The names above the door

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For sale sign

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Notices taped to the door

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A broken window

Brooklyn Daily Eagle: LICH Consolidation and Buildings’ Fates
Opposition to 110 Amity Plans Grows
The Long Island College Hospital


A Sign With a Picture of a Doorway

March 29, 2009

Sometimes I must leave the city, and this was one of those days. I headed to Pennsylvania Station to take a train but, due to a delay on the subway, I arrived a few minutes after it departed. With nearly an hour to wait until the next train, I passed the time exploring the enormous maze of floors and passageways.

While walking through one of the lower levels, I noticed a doorway crisscrossed with yards of yellow tape ominously marked “Police Line Do Not Cross.” I stepped closer and saw two paper notices fastened on and near the tape.

The both bore the same message: a notice to Amtrak employees telling them that the entryway was closed (apparently, the yards of tape weren’t enough of an indication) and that they should use another entrance. And, in case any Amtrak employees weren’t sure what an entrance was, both notices were helpfully illustrated with photographs of doorways. A pair of uniformed Amtrak workers strolled by while I was reading the signs, and we joked about management’s assessment of their intelligence (“I guess they figured if they didn’t put up a sign, we’d just walk through the tape.”).

I unpacked my camera and began to photograph the doorway. Suddenly, my lens was dark. I looked up and saw a large, red-faced man in a dark jacket who’d placed himself between the doorway and the camera. He demanded to know why I was taking a picture.

New York, as you probably know, has no shortage of crazies. I deal with them all the time, usually simply by putting as much distance between us as quickly as possible. This fellow, however, was already close enough to touch me. I felt I’d better say something, so I asked whether he had a problem with me taking pictures. He did, he said. I told him to get over it and, wanting to avoid a confrontation even more than I wanted the photo, I quickly walked away.

A few minutes later, I heard an announcement that my train was ready for boarding. I ran down the stairway, jumped on board, settled into a seat and began to read a magazine. Suddenly, I was aware that someone was standing over me.

I looked up and saw two police officers. They told me that they’d received a report and that I fit the description of the person involved. “Were you taking pictures in the station?,” asked one of the men. Yes, I was. “Can you tell me what compelled you take pictures?,” he asked.

Compelled? I didn’t feel compelled, I explained, I just thought it would make a good picture. I thought it was funny. They asked me to describe what happened and I did. They exchanged looks, then asked why I’d left the scene rather than talk to the man who’d approached me.

A horrible thought occurred to me. “Was he a cop?,” I asked. “He didn’t identify himself as a cop.” “No, he was no cop,” said the officer. “He works for Amtrak.” I explained that I’d left because thought he was a nut. Why would I stick around to talk to an angry nut?

The policemen asked more questions: why do I take photographs? What do I do with them? Just then, one of the officers glanced down at the magazine in my hands. It was a thick, glossy issue of Art in America. “Are you an artist?,” asked the policeman. I thought a moment, and decided that even though it is not the occupation I list on my tax returns, my photos are a kind of art. “Yes,” I replied.

“An artist,” he said. He turned to his partner and repeated the words. “An artist.” They both nodded. “Oh, well, you were taking the pictures for your art,” said the policeman. “There’s nothing wrong with that.”

They told me that the man who’d blocked my view should have identified himself, but since he had called the authorities and reported me, they were obligated to follow up and investigate.

We began to discuss art, photography and Brooklyn when we heard a signal — the train was about to depart. The officers hurriedly gave me their names, shook my hand, and, repeating the words, “You didn’t do anything wrong,” stepped onto the platform just before the doors slid shut.

Thanks, NYPD. Thanks, Art in America.

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The doorway

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The sign on the tape

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The sign beside the doorway

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Art in America magazine

Art in America
The Late, Great Pennsylvania Station
New York Architecture: Penn Station
Amtrak: Penn Station


The Empire State in Red and Green

December 24, 2008

The colors of the lights atop the Empire State Building change throughout the year to reflect holidays and special events. Right now they are red and green in honor of Christmas. The next scheduled change will occur on January 6, 2009.

If you’d like to keep up with the lighting changes, and you are using a Mac, you can download the What Color is the Empire State Building widget to your desktop. Just click the link below.

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Empire State Building widget
Empire State Building Lighting Schedule


OHNY: 7 World Trade Center

October 4, 2008

Since it opened in 2006, the lights of 7 World Trade Center have been one of its most remarkable features. Glowing beacons in the night, they bathe the surrounding area in dramatic tones of blue, white and red.

Tonight, as part of Open House New York Weekend, Michael Hennes, the designer who worked on the lighting project, took visitors around the building and into the lobby. He displayed some rejected sketches, explained the rationale behind the design, and showed how and why the lights work as they do (including some malfunctions that have occurred).

It was an (ahem) illuminating experience. I’ve walked by these lights dozens of times, and I’ll never view them the same way again.

Illumination of 7 WTC
250 Greenwich St, Barclay St, New York
Sat:7:30 pm tour with lighting designer.
building date: 2006
architect: Skidmore, Owings and Merrill

Michael Hennes of Cline Bettridge Bernstein Lighting Design will talk about the color-changing lighting within the lobby ceiling, exterior podium screen wall and 80-foot-height parapet changes from the white light of day to a vivid blue at night, while an interactive motion detection system triggers a deeper blue stripe of light that “follows” pedestrians as they walk along the sidewalk.

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Everything around the building is bathed in blue light

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This Jeff Koons sculpture is bright red; the lights make it appear violet

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Side view from Barclay Street

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In the lobby, Hennes has the lights adjusted

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The crowd listens to Hennes

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The building was constructed by Silverstein Properties

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Animated Jenny Holzer art installation in the lobby

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The white lights come up

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Red lights flood the lobby

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Flowers on the desk turn red

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Blue lights start to come back

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Looking at the elevator banks

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Elevators are controlled by the user’s ID cards

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Frosted glass interior of elevator car

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Unmarked doorway in the corridor

Open House New York Weekend
Cline Bettridge Bernstein Lighting Design
Jenny Holzer
Metropolis Magazine: Ground Zero’s Saving Grace


OHNY: Radio City Music Hall

October 4, 2008

Created by oil mogul John D. Rockefeller in 1929, Rockefeller Center is an enormous complex of office buildings, shops, theaters, cafes, restaurants, recreation facilities, attractions and underground passageways. It spans a gigantic space in the heart of midtown, stretching east to west from 5th Avenue to 7th Avenue and north to south from 50th Street down to 47th. Almost 300,000 people work in or visit this Art Deco masterpiece every day, many of them heading straight to Radio City Music Hall, the city’s largest and most notable theater.

In 1999, to mark its 70th birthday, Radio City Music Hall underwent an enormous restoration effort aimed at updating the infrastructure and returning the structure to its past glory. The project was led by architect Hugh Hardy, who, as part of Open House New York Weekend, led visitors through the refurbished space and described how he made it sparkle again.

The scope of work was massive and the budget, originally estimated at $25,000,000, eventually topped $70,000,000. Removing seven decades of smoke and grime and repairing wear and tear was just the beginning. Some of the most demanding aspects of the project involved undoing the damage done by inept restorers and un-doing misguided attempts to “modernize” the theater.

During the project, hundreds of workmen and artisans swarmed over the building and stripped away the varnish and dirt that obscured dozens of murals, reupholstered furniture, re-silvered mirrors, installed state of the art lighting, video and audio systems, replaced damaged plasterwork, installed acres of new, custom designed carpets and hung specially woven silk curtains.

Hardy escorted the OHNY visitors upstairs and down: to a private booth high above the theater (“Please, no photos of the stage!,” he ordered), into the men’s and women’s restrooms, across the mezzanine and through the lobby, past the bar and around the sculptures until Radio City employees chased us from the premises so that they could open the doors for the next performance. The show must go on!

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The view from the street

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Plaque of the Rockettes on the facade

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Lobby

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The carpet features 12 musical instruments

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A bar in the lobby

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Stuart Davis mural in men’s room

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In the men’s room
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A cathedral of urinals

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Where the men go

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Inside the ladies’ room

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The mural is called The History of Cosmetics

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Hugh Hardy and associate lead visitors in ladies’ room

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Sinks in ladies’ room

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Visitors in a rest room

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Crouching Panther by Henry Billings, a men’s room mural

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Untitled ladies’ room mural by Yasuo Kuniyoshi (repainted by Yohnnes Aynalem)

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Gazing down at balcony bar

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Statue in an upstairs corridor

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Dressing tables inside a ladies’ room

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View from balcony

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Another lobby view

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Hugh Hardy in Radio City Music Hall

Open House New York Weekend
Radio City Music Hall
NY Times: Piece by Piece, a Faded Icon Regains Its Art Deco Glow
Hugh Hardy


OHNY: Brooklyn Lyceum

October 4, 2008

Today, this structure, which is almost entirely hidden by scaffolding, contains an enterprise known as the Brooklyn Lyceum. Located at the corner of 4th and President Streets, it offers patrons an unusual mixture of dining and entertainment, including a small cafe with Internet access, live music, dance and theater performances, open-mike nights, film screenings and “an occasional restaurant.”

But once upon a time, this building was New York City Public Bathhouse #7. When the bathhouse opened in 1908, many homes in the city lacked adequate indoor plumbing. Back then, residents of an entire tenement building would share a single backyard outhouse, mothers bathed their babies in washtubs, and children squatted in filthy, flooded gutters to cool off during the sweltering summer months. Vermin and disease, including cholera and typhoid epidemics, ravaged the city’s impoverished neighborhoods.

New York’s municipal bathhouses were part of a public health effort to improve conditions for the poor, and provided the city’s most crowded quarters with much-needed sanitary facilities. The first such structure, the Baruch Bathhouse, opened on Manhattan’s Lower East Side in 1901. As they went up, the bathhouses became larger and more elaborate, some of them modeled on ancient Roman baths.

This building, #7, designed by Raymond F. Almirall, was the largest and the last bathhouse constructed. For three decades, it gave the 150,000 residents of this area, then known as South Brooklyn’s “Little Italy,” access to extensive, sparkling-clean bathing and dressing facilites, two gyms and a swimming pool. The city finally closed the bathhouse in 1937.

After a renovation effort during which the swimming pool was filled in and half the showers eliminated, the bathhouse reopened in 1942 as a city-run gymnasium. Closed once again in the early seventies, it was sold to a local businessman who used it as a warehouse for his nearby transmission repair business.

When he moved his business away, the building went through several more owners, none of whom used it. The former bathhouse stood unused and unmaintained for decades. Leaks were unrepaired, broken window panes unreplaced, holes opened in the roof and stonework chipped off. Eventually, the empty structure was vandalized and stripped of all of the original decorative elements. Even the tiles, pipes, water fountains and plasterwork were carried off or destroyed while the building crumbled.

In the late 1980s, the bathhouse reverted to city ownership and a local community group, which leased it for $1.00 a year, briefly used it as a recreation center before it closed again. By the early 1990s, the bathhouse was considered a neighborhood blight, and there were cries for it to be demolished. Instead, in 1994, the city held an auction where it was purchased by Eric Richmond, who had long wished for a theater space of his own.

Today, as part of Open House New York, Richmond greeted visitors, explained the history of the building and escorted them on a short tour of the space. He explained that not only are the original decorative elements gone, the city lost the original drawings and he has been unable to locate any photographs of the original interior. As visitors gazed at the bare brick walls and looked at the dance troupe rehearsing in the basement, music boomed from above, where the top floor had been rented out for a bar mitzvah party.

A bar mitzvah in a bathhouse? Only in Brooklyn.

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The view from the street

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One of the last original elements: the name

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The doorway

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Inside the cafe

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View from cafe to basement theater

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Basement performance space

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Basement restroom

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A peek at the bar mitzvah

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The owner

Brooklyn Lyceum
All About Jazz: Brooklyn Lyceum
The Brooklyn Paper: Lyceum Site Under Construction
Forgotten NY: A Lost Opportunity
NYC: Asser Levy Recreation Center
The Villager: Don’t Let LaGuardia Bathhouse Go Down the Drain


Are you feeling safe?

August 27, 2008

I was astonished to see this high tech security lock installed on the exterior a small apartment building in Brooklyn Heights. It seemed so incongruous, a flashy, futuristic fixture in the center of an historic district.

Have you seen locks like these on private homes? Would installing a fancy, new security system make you feel safer and more secure?

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Keri Systems, Inc. Entraguard Gold entry panel.

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Note the position of cursor. Touch call to ring tenant.

Keri Systems


Amazing Things Are Happening Here

June 20, 2008

More from the archives.

This enormous translucent banner hangs across three glass and steel pedestrian bridges at New York-Presbyterian Hospital on Fort Washington Avenue. The bridges allow people (and materials) to move from one building to another without going outside.

Click on the photo for a larger view and you’ll see visitors, students and employees using the glassed-in walkways at this massive teaching hospital in Upper Manhattan.

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Amazing Things Are Happening Here

New York-Presbyterian Hospital


Rector Gate

June 17, 2008

More from the archive.

Several large pieces of public art are installed along the Esplanade in Battery Park City, where they stand under the watchful eyes of the doormen at the surrounding luxury apartment buildings. If you go to see the installations, you should expect the uniformed men to scrutinize you carefully, as they consider the art to be “theirs.”

This one, Rector Gate, forms a 50 foot high archway at the intersection of Rector Place and the Esplanade. Built by R.M. Fischer in 1989, Rector Gate is made of stainless steel, bronze, and granite and is illuminated at night. The artist is said to have drawn his inspiration from the past and future and included elements from skyscrapers and science fiction.

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The gate

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The sides look like enormous cheese graters

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From here, you can see across the Hudson River

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The top seems to be a combination radio tower, weather vane & weapon

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Looking through the gate to New Jersey

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Top of the sculpture

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Looking up

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Birds have built nests in the light fixture

Battery Park City
Rector Gate
Sandra Gering Gallery: R.M. Fisher
Culture Now: Battery Park City Map


Project Looking Through

April 18, 2008

I enjoyed being part of Anna Carson’s Project Yellow and have decided to try another blogger project, Mark’s Project Looking Through. The object is to post a photo that gives the viewer the sensation of looking through something.

This photo was taken in Brooklyn Bridge Park, 12 acres located between the Brooklyn Bridge and the Manhattan Bridge. This narrow stretch of land is separated from the East River by a paved promenade and a short iron fence.

Click on the image to see the details. Shot through the rails of the fence, it shows the Manhattan skyline, the Brooklyn Bridge and the 32-story Verizon Building, one of the world’s first art deco skyscrapers. All you way to the left, on the far side of the river, you can glimpse the domed roof of the World Financial Center.

Look closely at the surface of the river, between the iron bars, and you’ll see two boats heading beneath the bridge — a long, dark barge and a small, bright vessel with an American flag flying from the stern.

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Brooklyn Bridge Park
Brooklyn Bridge Park Development Corporation
Wikipedia: Verizon Building
Wikipedia: Brooklyn Bridge


Project Yellow

April 11, 2008

I’ve never participated in this sort of project before, but today I visited Anna Carson’s blog and decided to to join her Project Yellow.

This is the doorway at the end of the World Trade Center subway station in Lower Manhattan. These doors, temporarily covered with yellow tape marked Caution, Do Not Enter, used to open into 5 World Trade Center.

On September 11, 2001, I came out of the subway and was heading through these doors when I heard that there was some kind of a fire in the building. I should have just turned around and gone back home, but I didn’t.

These doors, no matter how many times I pass through them, still lead me back to that morning.

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Doorway on Bleecker Street

January 20, 2008

This doorway is located at 194 Bleecker Street in the heart of old Greenwich Village.

194 Bleecker St (bet. 6th Av and MacDougal)

194 Bleecker St (bet. 6th Av and MacDougal)

NY Songlines: Bleecker Street


Grand Central Kaleidoscope Light Show

December 24, 2007

Today, Grand Central Terminal will be packed with those travelling home for the holidays. Although the train station will be crowded, the travellers’ waiting time will be made less painful by a spectacular, free holiday sound and light show called Kaleidoscope.

Every half hour, from 11:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., tourists and commuters watch as the marble walls and painted ceiling of the main concourse are washed with choreographed audiovisual effects. If you want to see the show in person, you’ll have to hurry; it ends on New Year’s day.

Here are a few images from the show, along with happy holiday wishes from Blather in Brooklyn.

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The main entrance to the station

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Suddenly, the music starts and the walls begin to change color

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A traveller stops in his tracks to watch the show

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Patterns cover the pale marble walls

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The music swells and images of fireworks appear

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The lights cover every surface

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Twinkling stars are projected onto the ceiling

Grand Central Terminal


Brooklyn doorbell

November 7, 2007

This startled-looking doorbell is mounted on a Van Dyke Street house in the Red Hook section of Brooklyn.

Doorbell on Van Dyke Street


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