The Newtown Pentacle

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Posts Tagged ‘Lower Manhattan

must each dwarf

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“They rob, kill and plunder all under the deceiving name of Roman Rule. They make a desert and call it peace” – Tacitus

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Moving through lower Manhattan, the long time New Yorker cannot help but notice the changes to the area beneath the FDR drive. One remembers a day when this area was used for parking, and also served as a camp for homeless folks. My mental picture of this spot – a dank, dark, dripping waterfront mess infested with dangerous, and often addled or demented, primates – was forged in the 1980’s, so admittedly – it’s thirty years out of date. I also remember a day when Carvel Ice Cream shops were ubiquitous.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

What you’ve got down here in modernity is a very well used “sort of” park or public space. There’s “model chicks” jogging around in yoga pants, “stock broker” guys leading tiny dogs around on leads, and lots of people lounging about. Pier 11 has become a sort of commuter hub these days, and there are hot dog carts and other vendors set up under the highway who charge $4 or more for a bottle of Snapple Iced Tea. CitiBike has one of its bike share racks in the area, and South Street has accordingly had bike lanes deducted from it. Al Smith would hardly recognize the street he grew up on.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

In contrast, there’s Queens. This is the 7 elevated subway pictured above, as it leaves Court Square toward Hunters Point in LIC. Now, this is the same block which 5ptz once occupied, and one wonders if – when the luxury condos which will replace the art institution open – some future version of myself will say that they remember an earlier iteration of reality. Of course, many have told me that I watch too many movies, but I’d really love to be able to see the future as well as the past.

“follow” me on Twitter- @newtownpentacle

Upcoming Walking Tours-

Saturday, October 25th, Glittering Realms
Walking Tour with Atlas Obscura, click here for tickets and more info.

Written by Mitch Waxman

October 24, 2014 at 11:00 am

dusk comes

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The Union guys hate it when I start shooting.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Apologies offered to all the hapless workers I’ve photographed over the years, but damn it all, they do cool things. To wit, I spotted this crew over at South Street Seaport attacking the street with esoteric machinery the other day and one could just not resist the temptation. I mean… a giant saw? Yes, please.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The saw operator noticed me, but didn’t really give a crap about being photographed as he went around his business. His colleagues on the other hand, were staring me down as if I was pointing a rifle at him. I guess that they’re hassled by cameras as they move about the city. Fair enough, who likes having a stranger show up at your job and start waving a camera about?

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The sound that this machinery created was tooth shatteringly loud, a screaming and high pitched tone which sounded somewhat demonic. In the war of spinning steel versus masonry, the Belgian blocks which composed the so called “cobble stone” pavement were no match for the spinning blades.

There are three public Newtown Creek walking tours coming up, one in Queens and one in Brooklyn and two that walk the currently undefended border of the two boroughs.

Poison Cauldron, with Atlas Obscura, on April 26th.
Click here for more info and ticketing.

DUPBO, with Newtown Creek Alliance and MAS Janeswalk, on May 3rd.
Click here for more info and ticketing.

Modern Corridor, with Brooklyn Brainery, on May 18th.
Click here for more info and ticketing.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

April 23, 2014 at 11:00 am

luminous aether

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“follow” me on Twitter at @newtownpentacle

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Maritime Sunday is suspended this week in honor of St. Patrick’s day. Last week, I had an opportunity to wave my camera around at St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral in Manhattan, and was allowed to photograph the Irish Language Mass they were conducting. Here’s what I saw…

from oldcathedral.org

Designed by architect Joseph Francois Mangin, St. Patrick’s has great dignity and character in its restrained simplicity. Her sidewalls rise to a height of 75 feet, and the inner vault is 85 feet high. The church is over 120 feet long and 80 feet wide. Near the west wall stands the huge marble altar surrounded by an ornately carved, gold leaf reredos.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

To begin with, these shots are a combination of tripod and handheld. It’s not that bright in the cathedral, but it is lit like a movie set by the interaction of sunlight and stained glass which is augmented by well placed electrical fixtures. Sculptural elements and motifs are plentiful, and it is easy to get lost in photographing small details.

from wikipedia

In 1836, the cathedral was the subject of an attempted sack after tensions between Irish Catholics and anti-Catholic Know-Nothing nativists led to a number of riots and other physical confrontations. The situation worsened when a brain-injured young woman wrote a book telling her “true” story – a Protestant girl who converted to Catholicism, and was then forced by nuns to have sex with priests, with the resulting children being baptized then killed horribly. Despite the book being debunked by a mildly anti-Catholic magazine editor, nativist anger at the story resulted in a decision to attack the cathedral. Loopholes were cut in the church’s outer walls, which had just recently been built, and the building was defended from the rioters with muskets

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Long has one enjoyed the pursuit of photographing ritual spaces of all kinds around the City of New York, but fascination with the era surrounding this cathedral lent a certain nervous excitement to my task. This was the “House of Dagger John“, after all, and its connections with Calvary Cemetery along the Newtown Creek have given it a special status in my eyes.

from wikipedia

John Joseph Hughes (June 24, 1797 – January 3, 1864), was an Irish-born clergyman of the Roman Catholic Church. He was the fourth Bishop and first Archbishop of the Archdiocese of New York, serving between 1842 and his death in 1864.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The plan for the service (and one must remember that a humble narrator was raised in the Hebrew faith as I stumble through this part- I’m not being vague, sarcastic, or anti anything- rather I’m Jewish and have no real idea what the meshuggenah goyem do) was for the Mass to be vocalized in the Irish Language. There was an Organist and a Cantor performing music, and the adherents stood up and sat back down a couple of times while the Priests said things (in Irish).

from wikipedia

Irish was the predominant language of the Irish people for most of their recorded history, and they brought their Gaelic speech with them to other countries, notably Scotland and the Isle of Man, where it gave rise to Scottish Gaelic and Manx. It has the oldest vernacular literature in Western Europe. In the Elizabethan era the Gaelic language was viewed as something barbarian and as a threat to all things English in Ireland. Consequently, it began to decline under English and British rule after the seventeenth century. The nineteenth century saw a dramatic decrease in the number of speakers especially after the Great Famine of 1845–1852 (where Ireland lost 20–25% of its population either to emigration or death). Irish-speaking areas were especially hit hard. By the end of British rule, the language was spoken by less than 15% of the national population. Since then, Irish speakers have been in the minority except in areas collectively known as the Gaeltacht.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

I met the fellow on the left earlier in the day, one Msgr. Donald Sakano, who was a very nice fellow. He and the other Priests performed several actions while saying things which I’m sure would be familiar to adherents of the Roman Catholic Church, or at least Irish speakers, but not to this Jewish kid from Brooklyn.

The gaps in my knowledge just astound sometimes, actually, how can I not know every single detail of this altar ceremony?

from urbanomnibus.net

Monsignor Donald Sakano is one of those urbanists who certainly possesses a singular perspective, forged from his work at the intersection of ministry, social work and affordable housing development and policy.

For the past four years, as Pastor of the Basilica of Saint Patrick’s Old Cathedral, he has presided over the restoration and transformation of Old Saint Patrick’s buildings — which include The Old Cathedral, the school, the Parish House, St. Michael’s Chapel, the Youth Center and the iconic wall — into a series of community facilities available for outreach, assembly and cultural events, such as our benefit event, which will begin at the St. Patrick’s Youth Center at 268 Mulberry Street.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

It’s funny, as I can bore you to death about Arius, Origen, or Loyola. Want to talk about the Renaissance, Reformation, or Second Great Awakening- I’m all in. Recognizing the common tools and long practiced performance of catholic mass?

No.

I can describe the effects of nearly all the known forms of kryptonite, however.

from wikipedia

The Roman Missal contains the prayers, antiphons and rubrics of the Mass. Earlier editions also contained the Scripture readings, which were then fewer in number. The latest edition of the Roman Missal gives the normal (“ordinary”) form of Mass in the Roman Rite. But, in accordance with the conditions laid down in the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum of 7 July 2007, the 1962 edition of the Roman Missal, the latest of the editions that give what is known as the Tridentine Mass, may be used as an extraordinary form of celebrating the Roman Rite Mass.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The ceremony continued, and I decided that maybe it wouldn’t be that terrible to get lost in some of that architectural detail for a frame or two, and opened up the shutter for a long exposure. The big difficulty encountered, of course, were the dichotomous ambient conditions whose luminous contrast stretched into narrow bands of shadow and light.

from wikipedia

The Eucharistic Prayer, “the centre and high point of the entire celebration”, then begins with a dialogue between priest and people. This dialogue opens with the normal liturgical greeting, “The Lord be with you”, but in view of the special solemnity of the rite now beginning, the priest then exhorts the people: “Lift up your hearts.” The people respond with: “We lift them up to the Lord.” The priest then introduces the great theme of the Eucharist, a word originating in the Greek word for giving thanks: “Let us give thanks to the Lord, our God,” he says. The congregation joins in this sentiment, saying: “It is right and just.”

The priest then continues with one of many Eucharistic Prayer prefaces, which lead to the Sanctus acclamation: “Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God of hosts. Heaven and earth are full of your glory. Hosanna in the highest. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest.”

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Following the moment depicted above, the three priests dispersed to the heads of the aisles, whereupon celebrants of the faith formed lines whose reward seemed to be a small cookie or cracker. One presumes that this is “the host” which figures so prominently in the Catholic Mass.

How am I supposed to know, I’m Jewish- by me it’s a cookie.

Happy St. Patrick’s day- and thanks to Jim Garrity and Msgr. Sakano for allowing so poor a specimen as myself to spend the day with them.

from wikipedia

The absence of snakes in Ireland gave rise to the legend that they had all been banished by St. Patrick. chasing them into the sea after they attacked him during a 40-day fast he was undertaking on top of a hill. This hagiographic theme draws on the mythography of the staff of the prophet Moses. In Exodus 7:8–7:13, Moses and Aaron use their staffs in their struggle with Pharaoh’s sorcerers, the staffs of each side morphing into snakes. Aaron’s snake-staff prevails by consuming the other snakes.

particular lepidodendron

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“follow” me on Twitter at @newtownpentacle

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Recent obligations called for me to enter the sense shattering psychic cauldron which is the Financial District of Lower Manhattan, obligations which I was actually quite happy to perform- mind you- but… most of the City is too young to have any ghosts in it. This isn’t the case down on William, once Rose, street. This lane has been known to those of European descent since before the great fire of London.

Buried beneath the despicable and bland veneers of modern day oligarchy lurks an occluded world.

from wikipedia

William Street is a city street in the Financial District of lower Manhattan in New York City in the United States of America. It is one of the oldest streets in Manhattan and can be seen in the 1660 Castello Plan of New Amsterdam. It runs generally southwest to northeast, crossing Wall Street and terminating at Broad Street and Spruce Street, respectively.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

I was in the neighborhood for the plainest of reasons, to practice my craft and photograph a party thrown by colleagues and friends and to capture the ceremonial awarding of a plaque to an honoree. In accordance with my custom, an early arrival was sought, but the MTA had other plans. It was lightly raining, and as always the darkness of Lower Manhattan was a palpable and lurking presence. Physical darkness, that is, not spiritual.

There is plenty of the latter in Manhattan, for my part at least, but it was literally a “dark and stormy night.”

from wikipedia

Broadway is a street in the U.S. state of New York. Perhaps best known for the portion that runs through the borough of Manhattan in New York City, it actually runs 15 mi (24 km) through Manhattan and The Bronx, exiting north from the city to run an additional 18 mi (29 km) through the municipalities of Yonkers, Hastings-On-Hudson, Dobbs Ferry, Irvington, Tarrytown and terminating north of Sleepy Hollow in Westchester County. It is the oldest north–south main thoroughfare in New York City, dating to the first New Amsterdam settlement. The name Broadway is the English literal translation of the Dutch name, Breede weg.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Whilst on William Street, the location of a Delmonico’s restaurant was crossed. Having just a moment or two before I was needed at the event, some fiddling around with the camera settings allowed me to capture the above shot. Normally, this is the sort of thing which you’d clearly use a tripod for, but this shot was handheld.

Always plagued by a timorous constitution and tremulous hands, one has been studying the training techniques espoused by the Great Houdini himself over the winter months, in an attempt to develop a steadier grip on both camera and reality.

from wikipedia

In 1929, Oscar Tucci opened a “Delmonico’s” popularly called “Oscar’s Delmonico’s” at the former Delmonico’s location at 2 South William Street (sometimes listed as 56 Beaver Street) in New York. The Tucci incarnation adopted the original menus and recipes, and became distinguished in its own right, continuing to attract prominent politicians and celebrities. It was open continuously until it closed in 1977.

In 1981, a new Delmonico’s was opened at the location by Ed Huber, which operated until 1992.

The building was vacant until 1998, when the Bice Group acquired the property and again opened a Delmonico’s, with Gian Pietro Branchi as executive chef. In 1999, the restaurant was sold to the Ocinomled partnership, which continues to operate Delmonico’s at the South William Street location. The current website lists the address as 56 Beaver Street.

Written by Mitch Waxman

March 5, 2013 at 12:15 am

Project Firebox 32

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- photo by Mitch Waxman

This poor bastard has been standing out in the weather across the street from the Brooklyn Bridge for a long, long time with no relief. It’s not the outrageous fortune of having been stationed in the land that time forgot, a relict section of centuries old buildings long since relegated to “gentrification”, it’s the ignominy of being adorned with fey missives and ironic graffiti tags by the so called gentry that inhabits the neighborhood which just burns. Protected from nearby construction, it nevertheless fears the worst and is ready to summon the city guard should trouble strike.

Written by Mitch Waxman

February 18, 2012 at 12:15 am

unnumbered crimes

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- photo by Mitch Waxman

note: despite the title, this a “just the facts” brand posting

Cortlandt Alley is a vestigial connection between Franklin and Canal Streets in Manhattan, crossing White and Walker on its path. If it looks familiar, it should, as many commercial photographers utilize the location for its noir aesthetics and patois of urban decay. One may often observe a shoot going on here, a sharp contrast to the sort of lurid business which one might have seen on this street a mere twenty years ago (which discouraged the presence of cameras).

Today, my focus turns to an enigmatic structure on the corner of Walker Street and Cortlandt Alley.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

According to the best sources I could find, Walker Street was scratched onto the maps of New York sometime in 1810. Pavement came along in 1819, and by the 1870’s a street railway connected the area (via West Broadway) to the far distant East River. This was considered a near suburb in those hoary days of the early middle 19th century, and this was fairly close to if not the actual border of the Bloody Sixth Ward (I’ve seen conflicting accounts describing the borders of the 6th ward).

All accounts agree that this area, known as “Tribeca Historic District” in modernity, served the city as a mercantile center which took advantage of the ample docks on the nearby North (Hudson) River for the importation of foreign goods.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The intriguing (and officially Landmarked) Latimer Building was raised sometime between 1860 and 1862 for developers Barret Ames and E.D. Hunter. Municipal sources indicate that it stands on land once occupied by a part of the legendary Florence’s Hotel, whose main address was on the confluence of the North side of Walker with Broadway. Supposition is also offered by these selfsame governmental entities that the “Latimer” indicated by the cornice art would have been a fellow named Edward Latimer, a SOHO merchant- although I haven’t been able to confirm this independently.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The modern occupants of the building follow a historical pattern of tenancy by garment manufacturers, book publishers, and building trade jobbers. A “jobber” is a company or individual who imports and resells manufactured goods, and offers installation and delivery services for the materials they handle.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Occupying 72-76 Walker Street, the Latimer is a relict and vestige of New York’s industrial past. Single floor factory operations and garment assembly shops- sweat shops as they were and are known- once provided occupation and employment for large numbers of immigrant poor. In my own family, certain individuals who enjoyed an exalted peer status and exhibited financial success were “pattern cutters” and “dock foremen” and employed nearby, while others (like my own grandmother) were “sewers”. One of my Aunts actually worked at Triangle Shirtwaist.

Back then, this was an overwhelmingly jewish industry. Modern day economics seems to favor the presence of Asian and Latino work forces, as the earlier ethnic laborers have moved on to explore other synergies.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The Cortlandt Alley side of the Latimer exhibits the “fireproof window doors” once common in the days before sprinkler fire suppression systems became mandatory in such structures. Additionally, iron rails and reinforced concrete still extant point out that there was once a loading dock on the Alley side which has disappeared sometime in the intervening decades since the completion of the building in 1860. The fire escapes are a later addition, of course, which were mandated by the precursor of the FDNY sometime in the late 19th or early 20th centuries.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The grand appearance of the building is somewhat muted at street level, and it blends into the dark melange of relict buildings and ancient tenements which typify the parts of Manhattan just North and West of “Chinatown”. The age of Walker Street is betrayed by not just by its narrow bed, but by belgian blocks bursting through modern asphalt and the occasional stone curbs which still line it.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The charming ambience of the “old days” has rendered many of these former industrial spaces into mixed use buildings- and  many of them are now the exclusive and dearly held apartments of millionaire dilettantes. According to one Forbes magazine report in 2006, this was the most expensive section of New York City in which one might seek domestic housing.

Written by Mitch Waxman

August 16, 2011 at 3:49 pm

maniacal force and fury

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- photo by Mitch Waxman

Special Note: I’m going to fill in for Newtown Creek Alliance’s Michael Heimbinder at the DEP speaker series tomorrow night at the Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant. Mike has a family obligation to fulfill, and Shawn Shaffner of the POOP project asked me to sit in his chair. For more on the (free) event in Greenpoint, Brooklyn on Thursday the 23rd of June, click here. The official press release text follows:

Newtown Creek: Past, Present, and Future

When: Thursday, June 23rd, 6:30-8:30pm

Where: Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant Visitor Center, 329 Greenpoint Ave.

Join us for the NYC Dept of Environmental Protection’s speaker series where we will be hearing from Michael Heimbinder (Founder and Executive Director, HabitatMap), Kate Zidar (Coordinator, SWIM Coalition) and Paul Parkhill (Director, Place in History). The panel discussion will be moderated by Shawn Shaffner of the The People’s Own Organic Power Project.

Now, on with the Pentacle:

As mentioned in yesterday’s post, I had participated in Working Harbor Committee’s “student cruise” (an effort to introduce the concept of maritime career opportunities to kids from the landlocked core of the City who might otherwise never consider such a path) and found myself with several hours to kill before a second Working Harbor trip in the evening which would be leaving from South Street Seaport and Pier 17.

Luncheon at “the Frying Pan” was achieved, and your humble narrator found himself enjoying the Hudson River Park’s amenities and scenic possibilities. When I lived in Manhattan, of course, I seldom left the apartment except for the bacchanal nights spent at certain favorite bars.

For most of the 1990’s my place was Hogs and Heifers, which was opened by a buddy of mine in a desolate and dangerous stretch of the west side known as the “meat packing district”.

from wikipages.com

The bar was started by Michelle Dell’s husband, Allan Dell, in 1992, when the Meat Packing District was known for transvestite hookers and crack, not fancy restaurants and clubs. Dell slowly built the business, and in the process helped to turn around an entire neighborhood, turning Hogs and Heifers into a major tourist destination, and the Meat Packing District into one of the hottest club and restaurant destinations in the world.

Allan Dell died on June 7th, 1997, at age 31. Michelle Dell continues to operate the bar as its sole proprietor, as well as operating the much larger location, opened in 2005, in Las Vegas, NV.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

A friend of mine from art school, who was a confidant and companion of the infamous Lydia Lunch, gave this neighborhood the unforgettable motto “we’ve got the reddest, we’ve got the rawest, just step inside” and the place was no joke “back in the day”. The high line was the worlds longest homeless camp, and the baser elements of New York society stalked the streets untrammeled by the attentions of police or polite society. Things have changed here, as everywhere else, in the Shining City.

Debauchery and drunkenness is much beloved by the uniformed services of our City, and the early bar soon became a magnet for off duty cops, firefighters, and representatives of the various trade unions. After 911, however, I found myself going there less and less. Not to run away from what had happened of course, but simply speaking- my life had changed when Our Lady of the Pentacle arrived on the scene and my nightlife activities had been tapering off anyway as age began to set in.

from wikipedia

The West Side Highway (officially the Joe DiMaggio Highway) is a mostly surface section of New York State Route 9A (NY 9A) that runs from West 72nd Street along the Hudson River to the southern tip of Manhattan. It replaced the West Side Elevated Highway, built between 1929 and 1951, which was shut down in 1973 due to neglect and lack of maintenance, and was dismantled by 1989. The term “West Side Highway” is often mistakenly used, particularly by the news media traffic reporters, to include the roadway north of 72nd Street which is properly known as the Henry Hudson Parkway.

The current highway, which was completed in 2001, but required some reconstruction due to damage sustained in the 9/11 attacks, utilizes the surface streets that existed before the elevated highway was built: West Street, Eleventh Avenue and Twelfth Avenue. A short section of Twelfth Avenue still runs between 129th and 138th Streets, under the Riverside Drive Viaduct.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Of course, the demographics of the neighborhood began to change as well, as the success of Hogs had spawned dozens of other- more upscale- watering holes which catered to an entirely different population of fashionable and moneyed customers. You didn’t see Celebrities slumming anymore, they came here instead “to be seen”.

Basically, it just stopped being fun in the meat packing district, in the same manner that the Lower East Side ceased in the late 80’s. In my mind, Manhattan as a whole is no fun anymore, just expensive.

Recently, I noted that a fruit cart on Park Avenue in the lower 20’s was selling oranges at $1 each. A dollar for an orange?

from wikipedia

In 1900, Gansevoort Market was home to 250 slaughterhouses and packing plants, but by the 1980s, it had become known as a center for drug dealing and prostitution, particularly transsexuals. Concurrent with the rise in illicit sexual activity, the sparsely populated industrial area became the focus of the city’s burgeoning gay BDSM subculture; loosely embracing the business model of disco impresario David Mancuso, over a dozen sex clubs — including such notable ones as The Anvil, The Manhole, and the heterosexual-friendly Hellfire Club — flourished in the area. At the forefront of the scene was the members-only Mineshaft on Little West 12th Street. A preponderance of these establishments were under the direct control of the Mafia or subject to NYPD protection rackets. In 1985, The Mineshaft was forcibly shuttered by the city at the height of AIDS preventionism.

Beginning in the late 1990s, the Meatpacking District went through a transformation. High-end boutiques catering to young professionals and hipsters opened, including Diane von Furstenberg, Christian Louboutin, Alexander McQueen, Stella McCartney, Theory, Ed Hardy, Puma, Moschino, ADAM by Adam Lippes, Jeffrey New York, the Apple Store; restaurants such as Pastis and Buddha Bar; and nightclubs such as Tenjune, One, G-Spa, Cielo, APT, Level V, and Kiss and Fly. In 2004, New York magazine called the Meatpacking District “New York’s most fashionable neighborhood”.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

I’ve been watching the so called Freedom Tower rising from the pit of national despair, an aspirant memorial and architectural experiment. Like the towers that were raised by the Rockefellers in the 70’s or the Newsboy Governor’s Empire State Building, it’s meant to connote that no matter how hard times get, NYC will always grow higher and farther than any other city.

What is odd for me, however, are the throngs of tourist pilgrims who make a point of visiting the construction site. During this Hudson walk, I was diverted from my path by the construction project and I found myself taking a sit down break on the gated wall in front of St. Paul’s on Church and Vesey.

Amazing, the numbers of foreign tourists, who make their way here from across the globe.

from wikipedia

The design of 1 WTC generated controversy due to the limited number of floors in the previous design (82) that were designated for office space and other amenities. The overall office space of the entire rebuilt World Trade Center will be reduced by more than 3,000,000 square feet (280,000 m2) as compared with the original complex. The floor limit was imposed by Silverstein, who expressed concern that higher floors would be a liability in another major accident or terrorist attack. In a subsequent design, the highest space that could be occupied became comparable to the original World Trade Center.

An unofficial movement to rebuild the lost towers instead of building a single tower, called The Twin Towers Alliance, collected more than seven thousand signatures supporting the rebuilding of the Twin Towers. Developer Donald Trump proposed a twin building design called World Trade Center Phoenix (Twin Towers II). The twin design would look similar to the original twin towers, but the buildings would be considerably taller with improved safety measures and would feature much larger windows.

Former New York Governor George Pataki faced accusations of cronyism for supposedly using his influence to get the winning architect’s bid picked as a personal favor for a close friend.

The base of the tower (fortified because of security concerns) has also been a source of controversy. A number of critics (notably Deroy Murdock of the National Review) have suggested that it is alienating and dull, and reflects a sense of fear rather than freedom, leading them to dub the project “the Fear Tower”.

In May 2011, detailed floor plans of the tower were displayed on New York City’s Department of Finance website resulting in an uproar from the media and citizens of the surrounding area who questioned the potential use of the plans for a future terrorist attack. New York Police Department Chief Ray Kelly described One World Trade Center as “the nation’s number one terrorist target”.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

My own travels in Europe have often been illuminating, for when these folks are comfortable in their own environment, they discuss the United States in the same context as they would Nazi Germany and I’ve been told by English, Dutch, and Frenchman alike that “we had it coming”.

I find it paradoxical, as there is some truth to their point of view- the same Rockefeller money that built the first World Trade Center was generated by Standard Oil, whose worldwide operations supported and in many cases created the oppressive North African and Arabian governments which would prove to be so friendly to the petrochemical industry back in the 1950’s.

Conversely, the so called “American hegemony” which allowed the petrol companies to guarantee cheap energy to the “west” also created the longest period of peace in European history. The economics of maintaining a large military, or not, is what allowed the shattered landscape of post war Europe to be rebuilt- and many of the modern European birthrights- free or relatively cheap higher education, great roads, and universal health care- are what you can have if you don’t have to maintain a standing army.

from wikipedia

The “Seven Sisters” was a term coined in the 1950s by Italian businessman Enrico Mattei to describe the seven oil companies which formed the “Consortium for Iran” and dominated the global petroleum industry from the mid-1940s to the 1970s. The group comprised Standard Oil of New Jersey and Standard Oil Company of New York (now ExxonMobil); Standard Oil of California, Gulf Oil and Texaco (now Chevron); Royal Dutch Shell; and Anglo-Persian Oil Company (now BP).

In 1973 the members of the Seven Sisters controlled 85% of the world’s petroleum reserves but in recent decades the dominance of them and their successor companies has been challenged by the increasing influence of the OPEC cartel and of state-owned oil companies in emerging-market economies.

Written by Mitch Waxman

June 22, 2011 at 12:36 pm

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