Friday, July 15, 2016

Urban Encounters: Places, People

It's always good advice never to begin with an excuse. Regardless, this is just what I'm going to do. Here's why.

Several people have impatiently asked for my next post, hoping for another one on Cuba. My response to them (and the rest of my readers) is that more posts will follow on Cuba as well as on other topics from my photographic encounters with the urban environment, its people, and their creations. 

However, Adobe (the owner and licenser of Photoshop) is no longer allowing me to use the quite ancient version of Photoshop that I have, apparently because I bought a new computer. It appears that Adobe--much like Sarum overlooking Middle Earth from Mordor--has spotted a new computer trying to open my legally licensed Photoshop and assumes me to be an alien enemy. 

So, until I negotiate with Adobe, I am unable to work up any new photographs. This leaves me with only a ready a file of photographs from 2014 that I had held in reserve. This post draws on that file. It was waiting for just this moment.

I hope you enjoy these images. I loosely order them from aspects of the built environment to people, some of whom I know and others whose presence adds meaning to the urban environment from which I so often draw.  

Built Environment

Completing the Arch, 3rd Avenue, the Bronx, NYC

St, John's Arcade, South Buttresses, St. John the Divine, Amsterdam Avenue, Manhattan, NYC

Frazee's Dome, Federal Hall, Wall Street, Manhattan, NYC

An elegant bit of Neoclassic design completed in 1842, this building originally served as America's first Customs House. John Frazee was its designer. 

Dome with Pantocrator, St. George Ukranian Church, East 7th Street, Manhattan, NYC

These two domes offer radically different structural solutions to attain stability. Frazee's Dome is supported on a continuous ring wall of masonry and columns. In contrast, the dome directly above is supported on four points through the use of pendentives.

4-Part Cross-Vaults, Federal Reserve Bank, Liberty Street, Manhattan, NYC

This rarely-seen interior, now used as a dining hall, was the main banking hall of York and Sawyer's Federal Reserve Bank of 1924. Its exterior style may be Italian Renaissance Revival, but its interior cross-vaulting (or groin vaults) offer one of New York's most elegant examples inspired by medieval Romanesque structures.

Barrel Vault on Columns, Our Lady of Pompeii Church, Carmine Street, Manhattan, NYC

Although a barrel vault normally requires continuous support to counter its diagonal thrusts to each side. This one gives the appearance of simply being carried by widely-spaced Corinthian columns. More support is needed, whether masonry buttress walls outside and/or the likely use of steel, given that the building is a twentieth-century structure; yet that supplemental support is invisible from the interior. The result is a beautiful, light, airy space.

Cannon and Quoins, Fort Jay, Governors Island, Manhattan, NYC

In response to incidents between the U. S. and Great Britain, the Second American system of fortifications was implemented in 1807. In New York, this led to  Colonel Jonathan Williams being brought in to refurbish the deteriorating defenses of Fort Jay. He  completed the task in 1809.

pentagonal-shaped star fort such as this dates back to designs from the fifteenth-century Italian Renaissance, which had to invent new defenses to counter the development of gunpowder and cannon. The larger corner stones, or quoins, which we see here, both reinforce and visually enhance the wall to create a utilitarian structure of exceptional beauty.

Williams, a Harvard grad, was also chief engineer of the Army Corps of Engineers, the first superintendent of the USMA (West Point) and would later be elected to the Fourteenth United States Congress.

Macombs Dam Bridge, Harlem River, 155th Street, Manhattan side, NYC

Under the Viaduct, Lower 155th Street, Harlem, Manhattan, NYC

155th Street was the northernmost street to be drawn up in the Commissioners' Plan of 1811, and we see here that, where the land dips sharply down to the Harlem River, it consists of an upper and a lower section.

The lower section, seen directly above, is covered by a viaduct which, in turn, supports the upper section; that section feeds into the Macombs Dam Bridge. Both the viaduct and the bridge were designed and built in the early 1890s by the engineer, Alfred P. Boller.

The Polo Grounds, where the New York (baseball) Giants played until they moved to San Francisco in 1957, was located just to the left of where I stood to take the above photograph. Were we to stand directly above this spot, on the upper roadway, we would look across the bridge and see Yankee Stadium. Either team could have easily taken a warm-up jog across the bridge to the other's stadium for an an inter-league game!

Integrity Protecting the Works of Man, Pediment, New York Stock Exchange, Wall Street, Manhattan, NYC

If only America's major Wall Street bankers looked up to this pediment on their daily trek to work and paid homage to its main personification, Integrity, our economy and maybe our lives as well, would be in much better shape today.

The pediment was designed by John Quincy Adams Ward (and Paul Bartlett). The figures were fabricated by Getullio Piccirilli of the Bronx. Although they appear to be carved from stone, the figures are actually sheet copper coated with white lead.

Greek Hinges, Church of the Intercession, Broadway, Washington Heights, Manhattan, NYC

These are among the most beautiful hinges I have ever seen. Maybe someone can translate them for me and also identify the sacred text from which they surely quote.

Africa, U.S. Custom House, Bowling Green, Manhattan, NYC

Bronx & Brooklyn, Old Police headquarters, Centre Street, Manhattan, NYC

Asclepius, German Dispensary, 2nd Avenue, Manhattan, NYC

Asclepius, the Greek god of medicine, is one of several terra cotta portraits of famous medical and scientific personages to decorate the façade of this walk-in clinic which opened in 1884. The sculptor was Aloys Loeher.

Puck, Puck Building, Houston Street, Manhattan, NYC

Famous Writers, National Arts Club, Gramercy Park South, Manhattan, NYC

This is a detail of the façade of the house of Samuel J. Tilden by Calvert Vaux and George Radford, completed in 1884; the National Arts Club took possession of it in 1906. Here, in red sandstone, we see the heads of Shakespeare, Milton, Franklin, Goethe and Dante.

Bowie & Buddies, Alamo Cenotaph, Alamo Plaza, San Antonio, TX

The two long sides of the Alamo Cenotaph contain portraits of some of the most famous men who died in the Battle of the Alamo (1836). The taller figure seen here is Jim Bowie.

Balto, East Drive, Central Park, Manhattan, NYC

Balto was a Siberian Husky and lead dog for the successful 1925 Serum Run which rescued Nome, Alaska and surrounding communities from an epidemic of diphtheria.

Behind Balto is the 1861 Willowdell Arch, designed by Calvert Vaux and Jacob Wrey Mould.

Sacred Mysteries, Main Altar, Our Lady of Pompeii Church, Carmine Street, Manhattan, NYC

The altar as sacred table for the Eucharist, as border where the human and the Divine meet, is emphasized by the Last Supper (below) and the looming image of Christ (above). It's all a bit intimidating, and inaccessible to an atheist like me. But it remains a powerful construct.

Marquee, Paramount Building, Broadway, Manhattan, NYC

Art Deco Pilasters, East 86th Street, Manhattan, NYC

Renaissance Portal, Riverside Drive, Manhattan, NYC

Owl, Dog & Rabbit, Millan House, East 67th Street, Manhattan, NYC

Detail of a doorway for one of two buildings built by John D. Rockefeller in 1930; today they are a co-op.

Animal House, East 140th Street, the Bronx, NYC

Havemeyer & Payne Stables, East 66th Street, Manhattan, NYC

This beautiful Richardsonian Romanesque arch of Roman brick is a little less than half of the original stables, built in 1895 and designed by William J. Wallace and S. E. Gage. Its original owner, Henry O. Havemeyer, was president of the American Sugar Refining Company and an early collector of Impressionist art (along with his wife, Louisine).

Hands Up, East 92nd Street, Manhattan, NYC

Halloween, naturally.

Not My Dentist's Office, West Commerce Street, San Antonio, TX

Trusses, Macombs Dam Bridge, Harlem River, 155th Street, NYC

A Bronx Perspective, Bruckner Boulevard at the Harlem River, Mott Haven, the Bronx, NYC

For at least fifteen years, this enormous neon sign rose over a factory building in the South Bronx at the edge of the Harlem River. It faced Manhattan. And so, Bronx residents took a certain pride of identity from displays of its back-side. A tee shirt, for example, printed just as we see here, became code for "I'm from the Bronx." 

No more. Developers have begun eyeing the Bronx, and the building that accommodated this sign is being renovated. Alas, the sign has disappeared. Some may say "good riddance;" however, this sign may well have been the largest neon sign in New York City and it was one of the last signs made by Artkraft Strauss.

Bridge 27 with Daffodils, Central Park, Manhattan, NYC

Sugar Hill Renaissance, Terracotta Cornice, St. Nicholas Avenue, Manhattan, NYC

The black façade which so dramatically sets off the delicate cornice in the foreground is a new structure for affordable housing designed by the Tanzanian architect, David Adjaye.

Mine Is Bigger, Cornices, St. Nicholas Avenue, Manhattan, NYC

Nelson's Bench, Macombs Dam Park, River Avenue, the Bronx, NYC

Macomb's Dam Park occupies the former site of Yankee Stadium. This bench commemorates Nelson Mandela's words on a visit to New York in June of 1990, soon after he was released from prison in South Africa. It is one of several events that took place in the old stadium, now memorialized in the park which replaced it.

Quatrefoil with Red Rag, Rope & Brush, St. John the Divine, Amsterdam Avenue, Manhattan, NYC

Rope, Steel & Stone, St. John the Divine, Amsterdam Avenue, Manhattan, NYC

Bethesda Bubble, Bethesda Terrace, Central Park, Manhattan, NYC

16 Bubbles, St. Mary's Park, the Bronx, NYC

Flower Cats, Flower Shop, Willis Avenue, the Bronx, NYC

Santa Lost It, Alexander Avenue, the Bronx, NYC

On or Off, Broadway (East Village), Manhattan, NYC

Cleatus, Broadway (Times Square), Manhattan, NYC


Study in Red (Photographer's Wife), Greenwich Village, Manhattan, NYC

My Best Side (the Photographer/Blogger), 92nd Street Y, Manhattan, NYC

Bill (Artists with their Work series), Lancaster, PA

Painter Bill Hutson in front of one of his works.

Christy (Artists with their Work series), Mercer Street, 2014 Volta NY Show, Manhattan, NYC

Activist artist, Christy Rupp, holding a print on the topic of oil spills and the destruction of marine organisms, Ooze Sorry Now.

Robert (Artists at Work series), the Bronx, NYC

Painter Robert Seyffert at work on a portrait (of me) rather than his iconic portraits of classic cars in lower Manhattan.

Amanda, Bronx Documentary Center, the Bronx, NYC

Pippa, Harlem, Manhattan, NYC

Jeff, 96th Street Starbucks, Manhattan, NYC

Halfway There: Woman on Steps, 155th Street Viaduct, Manhattan, NYC

Slalom Skater, The Mall (North End), Central Park, Manhattan, NYC

At the Barre, High Line, Chelsea, Manhattan, NYC

On the High Line, 20th Street, Chelsea, Manhattan, NYC

Red Glove, Lower Broadway, Manhattan, NYC

Front Row Seat, World Cup Viewer, East Houston Street, Manhattan, NYC

Philipp (German Fan), World Cup (Germany vs. USA), Stuyvesant Town, Manhattan, NYC

Plein Air Workspace, 11th Street, Greenwich Village, Manhattan, NYC

Reader En Air Congelé, Ballground, Central Park, Manhattan, NYC

A Springtime Read, Lawn West of the Reservoir, Central Park, Manhattan, NYC

At the Trestle, Chelsea, Manhattan, NYC

Catching the Cup, World Cup Viewers outside Mezetto, Lower East Side, Manhattan, NYC

Bikers, Cooper Square, Manhattan, NYC

Bottle Collector, East 3rd Street, Manhattan, NYC

Peruvian Woman, Union Square, Manhattan, NYC

Python Man, Bleecker Street, West Village, Manhattan, NYC

Man Texting, Union Square, Manhattan, NYC

Watching the Block, Edgecombe Avenue, Manhattan, NYC

Siesta Time, Edgecombe Avenue, Harlem, Manhattan, NYC

In the Bosom of St. John, St, John Nepomucene, First Avenue, Manhattan, NYC

Among the 4000 I, Sara Delano Roosevelt Park, Lower East Side, Manhattan, NYC

My title for some of these photographs of our homeless citizens is based on a police estimate that up to 4,000 people sleep on the streets each night, even as over 58,000 manage to sleep in the city's homeless shelters.

Under the Alamo, Astor Place, East Village, Manhattan, NYC

Among the 4000 II, 59th Street Station, Manhattan, NYC

Winter Sunrise on Carnegie Hill, 93rd Street, Upper East Side, Manhattan, NYC

Melrose Sunset, 149th Street, the Bronx, NYC