Month: November 2014

A Flawed Review of a National Symbol


(One World Trade, 2014. Photo by Todd Heisler from The New York Times)

The Urban Critic: The latest critique of the World Trade Center Tower feels all too much the same; Planning that did not reach full potential, missed opportunities, too much government intervention. Written by Michael Kimmelman in the New York Times, the architecture review instead focuses on the surrounding socio-political context which brought the building into existence, and much less on the building itself. After reading the full article on The World Trade Center Tower, there is something in the tone that seems to ring familiarly hollow.

Perhaps it is the expectation that a national newspaper, none other than The Times, should strive to act responsibly in creating a rallying cry around one of the most symbolic of National Treasures. Perhaps it is in recognizing that the symbolism of this particular place, in whatever form it ultimately takes, will serve to make a permanent impression on the memories of the Greater Public.

The buildings’ vertical punctuation mark in the sky; The reflectance of the glass facade beaming sunlight onto a Frenzied City; The illumination of the Trade Center Spire at night. All of these positive attributes, over time, will serve to outweigh the fleeting opinions on the disaffectations of  symmetry and stuntedness. These attributes, as proclaimed by the author, are detrimental qualities that The Tower possesses.

In the end, The Trade Center Tower occupies The Ultimate Space of a Nation that was attacked. Positioned off to the side of Two immense shimmering voids in the landscape, representative of Loss; The Tower defers to a hallowed ground which strives (and succeeds) in creating a feeling of collective unity. Perhaps the Towers’ only necessity is to stand tall and with a strong silhouette, which it does, and need not say more. A silent gatekeeper on the tip of Manhattan shore.

Links of Relateable Note:

New York Times Critique on The World Trade Center, by Michael Kimmelman.

Scalar Absence, and the World Trade Memorials, from Gordon’s Urban Morphology.

World Trade Rising, from Gordon’s Urban Morphology.


Our Gateway to Manhattan Turns 50


(Verrazano-Narrows Bridge, Early 1960’s. Image from Museum of The City of New York)

Happy Birthday this past week to the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge which turned 50! Always commanding a presence at the mouth of New York Harbor; The bridge has welcomed visitors and travellers alike now for half a century.

Hats off to the Bloggers at The Bowery Boys, keepers of many of New York City’s best historical secrets. They put together A top 10 list of facts and a podcast about the Bridge and its relationship to Our City’s past. Cheers to the Verrazano-Narrows and to many more future years servicing New York.

Links of Relatable Note can be found here:

The Bowery Boys (an amazing compilation of New York City’s curious Historical Facts)

Verrazano Turns 50, facts and podcast from The Bowery Boys Blog

Robert Moses, Wikipedia link to The Master Builder of New York Monuments

Menhir’s of Manhattan

Curbed Skyline

Menhir’s of Manhattan, Soon to stand guard over an ever expanding New York

Definition: A Menhir (French, from Middle Breton: men, “stone” and hir, “long”[1]), standing stone, orthostat, or lith is a large upright standing stone. Menhirs may be found singly as monoliths, or as part of a group of similar stones. Their size can vary considerably, but their shape is generally uneven and squared, often tapering towards the top.

Alas, the latest round of phallic symbols Super Tall Towers is rising. Our friends at Curbed New York have posted a round of renderings, courtesy of City Realty which superimposes the simulated forms of these skyscrapers-to-be (depicted in Brown) which will grace our Urban Skyline in the years to come. Impressive indeed.

Merrivale Menhir of Devon

The Merrivale Menhir of Devon, England

The definition of Menhir, or an upright standing stone, has been used in urban lore throughout history to describe a symbol of place, usually vertical and omnipresent, which stands to endure. Akin to a totem, the Menhir implies a connection to place and acts as a symbol for connection. In the case of Manhattan, it is the vast collection of these monoliths which act in a force of gravitational pull, while simultaneously pushing up into the skyline. 

Urban Menhir’s, the Supertalls of This Century, are acting to redefine this century’s skyline. Look out, and be sure to always look up.

Links of Relatable Note:

The Megalithic Portal. An interesting UK based site for Menhir aficionado’s.

Super Thin, Super Tall. From Gordon’s Urban Morphology.

New York’s Next Tallest, Climbed. From Gordon’s Urban Morphology.

Mapping Our City of Change


(The Citizens Housing Planning Council, Making Neighborhoods Mapping Tool, 2014)

We try to feature a series of maps once in a while which are relevant to New York and its development cycle. This time, the Citizens Housing Planning Council has produced a neighborhood comparison map of demographic change between the years 2000 and 2010. It’s useful if one wants to study the dynamic forces which impact demographic movement across Urban Geography. It’s also a fun tool to see how New York has shifted over time, or at least the span of our early millenium.

For a direct link to the Map and to see where your neighborhood falls, please click HERE.

The Tenement, Revisited


(Rita Ascione, at The New York Tenement Museum. Photo by Damon Winter)

Rita Ascione, the last remaining former resident of 97 Orchard Street, now the New York Tenement Museum, recently made a pilgrimage back to her former home. This journey was chronicled in a New York Times Piece, where she recalled life in The Lower East Side back in the 1930’s as Rita Bonofiglio, member of an Italian Immigrant family amongst many others.

Harkening back to one of our prior posts on The Museum which recalled the old Tenement Windows, one can imagine Ms. Ascione ascending the staircase to her apartment and approaching the window where she looked out at such a young age. A lifetime has elapsed in between, with memories spanning decades.

In a poignant ending to the article, Ms. Ascione comments that the neighborhood “is alright,” a nod, one can say, that even as the forces of change sweep through Our City, some things just don’t change as much. Perhaps it is the familiarity of surroundings, the scale of the buildings, or an echo on The Street. These personal recalls must be preserved over the life span of time, much as they have been for Rita. For as The City churns through its machinations, it will always be a Collector of Memories; Made to be Revisited.

Links of Relatable Note:

For a link to the New York Times piece about Rita Ascione, please click Here.

For a link to Gordon’s Urban Morphology’s Memory Piece on the Tenement Museum, please click Here.

Gansevoort Market and The Urban Eater


(Gansevoort Market in the Heart of Meatpacking, New York, NY. October 2014.)

A new eating venue has opened in the heart of New York’s Meatpacking district, adding yet another open market space to this now boutique neighborhood. Overall, the place is an enjoyable environment to mill about and people watch amongst the tourists and residents of the area. A beautiful interior courtyard under a large open skylight adds a focal center between various market stands and coffee shops.


(Gansevoort Market in the Heart of Meatpacking, New York, NY. October 2014.)

This place, if not discovered, is definitely a destination in its own right. Although a bit pricey on the food side, the variety of offerings and the proximity to the entrance of The High Line make this a refreshing addition to a rapidly changing Meatpacking. Coming up next: The opening of The Whitney right around the corner.

Links of Relatable note can be found Here:

For a link to Gansevoort Market’s Website you can click HERE.

For a map of Gansevoort Market’s location, you can click HERE.

A link to the culinary treats to be found at the market can be found HERE, from New York Eater

A nice Re-Cap article from Forbes Lifestyle can be found HERE.