The Newtown Pentacle

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Posts Tagged ‘Manhattan

diurnal prison

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- photo by Mitch Waxman

During the colonial era, there were small operators who exploited the route in two masted ships called Periaugers, but it wasn’t until 1817- when a farm boy from Staten Island started a motorized service- that the most popular tourist destination in New York City truly got started. The farm boy bought a steamboat called Nautilus with a loan from his mother, which was captained by his brother in law. Not many people would recognize the name of that Captain- John DeForest- but it’s easy to be overlooked in the historical record when your brother in law was named Cornelius Vanderbilt.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The consolidated City of New York took possession of the route from the Vanderbilts in 1905, as the family had moved into decidedly less maritime interests like railroads and real estate speculation. It’s run by the NYC DOT today, and is the most reliable of all the mass transit systems in the entire city with a 96% on time rate. The particular ferry boat in these shots is the Guy V Molinari, named for the long sitting and dynastic Borough President of Staten Island.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

An astounding set of statistics accompanies the huge orange boats which trawl back and forth between Staten and Manhattan Islands. The service crosses the archipelago some 35,000 times annually, carrying 60,000 people per day- which resolves to some 20 million riders per year. All free. The Ferry was the origin of the Vanderbilt empire, and when Cornelius Vanderbilt died in 1877- he was worth some 100 million dollars, which would be worth something like two billion today. He was born a pauper in 1794.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The ferry terminals at both ends of the approximately 30 minute trip have recently been modernized and upgraded. Whitehall terminal in Manhattan allows connection to subway and bus lines, and on the Staten Island “St. George” side- you can catch the bus or Staten Island rail. Hundreds are employed directly by the operation, with a “long tail” of suppliers and contractors supplying various services and employing thousands more. The City recently issued an “RFP” or “Request For Proposal” for new and modernized ferry boats to augment the aging fleet.

sighing uncannily

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- photo by Mitch Waxman

A personal theory of mine is that the garden of Eden was actually in midtown Manhattan, specifically the central section of 42nd street. The location where the proverbial tree of good and evil would have been observed in the dim past is the spot where Grand Central Terminal’s information booth will be found today, which is why the clock of the four cardinal directions was placed there. In this rather ridiculous assertion, my theory of what the primordial mother realized when eating the forbidden fruit was not awareness of her nakedness- but rather an awareness of time passing. The Vanderbilts placed the clock there to signify both location and event, I would wager.

from wikipedia

The main information booth is in the center of the concourse. This is a perennial meeting place, and the four-faced clock on top of the information booth is perhaps the most recognizable icon of Grand Central. Each of the four clock faces is made from opal, and both Sotheby’s and Christie’s have estimated the value to be between $10 million and $20 million. Within the marble and brass pagoda lies a “secret” door that conceals a spiral staircase leading to the lower level information booth.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Time grows short, lords and ladies, an unstoppable river flowing toward oblivion and the embrace of the conqueror worm. Your humble narrator would love to tell you of some epic summer journey this day, a break from the daily grind, but even if I had somewhere to travel to- who would greet me upon arrival? Surely, one such as myself- a shambling and feckless quisling, physical coward, and unreliable lunatic- would be shunned by a sensible and sober local gentry wherever and whenever my shadow is cast.

from wikipedia

The Seth Thomas Clock Company began producing clocks in 1813, and was incorporated as the “Seth Thomas Clock Company” in 1853. The clock at Grand Central Terminal in New York City was manufactured by the company. Seth Thomas Clock Company manufactured longcase clocks as well as mantel, wall, and table-top clocks during this period.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Exertions of the last few months have worn me down, and left me naught but a reactive shell. A brief surcease of the incessant duties and exhibitions recently performed in obeisance to my beloved Newtown Creek is finally at hand, but as mentioned- I have no where to go. The idea of sitting alongside some vernal water body, or simply communing with an uncorrupted form of the natural world, fills one with dread. Vacations, as they are called, are for others to enjoy- I must remain locked in combat with an eternal and undying human hive and remain consigned to the concrete devastations of a post industrial dystopia.

from nytimes.com

Several times a day, riders troop into the stationmaster’s office in Grand Central Terminal to complain. Even the four faces of the signature brass clock above the information booth in the main concourse, irate riders often point out, are different.

The culprit is not the clocks themselves but something that resembles a giant filing cabinet, tucked away in a closet above one of the Beaux-Arts terminal’s platforms. It is a 15-year-old master clock system, with dials in the middle and two digital displays.

It connects each day at 3 a.m. by shortwave radio signal with the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s atomic clock in Boulder, Colo., and then sends electrical impulses to the terminal’s 20-some historic clocks.

The problem is, the electromechanical devices in the terminal’s master clock system that are sending these signals are becoming increasingly unreliable, making the clocks inaccurate. What’s more, the time displayed on video monitors throughout the terminal is controlled by a different system, not tied to the atomic clock at all.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Unlike the Vanderbilts, who literally wrote a check when presented with the bill for Grand Central Terminal, my finances continue to be perilous. A disaster as simple as needing a new pair of shoes or a camera repair would sink this Humble Commodore’s fleet, and the frivolity of spending what little cash there is on some diversionary trip is overshadowed by the term “shelter in place”. Better that I just treat those hallucinations which occur when unconsciousness seizes me as my summer getaway.

from grandcentralterminal.com

The plan was expensive. The railroad needed to invest in electrifying its rails, and carve deep into Manhattan’s bedrock (workers would ultimately excavate 2.8 million cubic yards of earth and rock). The solution to the projected $80 million project budget (roughly $2 billion in today?s terms) came from Wilgus as well. Without steam engines, there was no longer a need for an open rail yard. Wilgus proposed that the area from 45th to 49th Streets be paved over and that real estate developers be allowed to erect buildings over the concealed tracks. In exchange for this privilege, developers would pay a premium to the New York Central Railroad for “air rights.” Construction in the years immediately after the completion of Grand Central Terminal would include apartment buildings like the Marguery, the Park Lane, and the Montana, and hotels including the Barclay, the Chatham, the Ambassador, the Roosevelt, and finally the Waldorf-Astoria, completed in 1931. (For many years, hydraulic tanks in the basement of Grand Central Terminal supplied power to these buildings.)

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The odd condition afflicts me on a daily basis (approximately every sixteen to eighteen hours- muscle fatigue and mental confusion begin to manifest, followed by a sudden loss of consciousness and concurrently some six to seven hours are spent caught up in the throws of wild hallucinations. Upon regaining control of my body, odd smells and trails of dried spittle combine with a lack of coordination and a stunted mental capacity. During these periods of involuntary separation from conscious control over my mind and body, oddly, I’ve noticed that my fingernails grow prodigiously), and has since early childhood. it has long been my habit to lock myself away in a protected chamber here at Newtown Pentacle HQ in Queens when the warning signs of this debilitating malady present- far from the dangers of the greater human infestation in a long ago “paradise lost” which is now vulgarly called Manhattan.

from wikipedia

Extending between Sunnyside, Queens, and Grand Central, the project will route the LIRR from its Main Line through new track connections in Sunnyside Yard and through the lower level of the existing 63rd Street Tunnel under the East River. In Manhattan, a new tunnel will begin at the western end of the 63rd Street Tunnel at Second Avenue, curving south under Park Avenue and entering a new LIRR terminal beneath Grand Central.

Current plans call for 24-trains-per-hour service to Grand Central during peak morning hours, with an estimated 162,000 passenger trips to and from Grand Central on an average weekday. Connections to AirTrain JFK at Jamaica Station in Jamaica, Queens, will facilitate travel to John F. Kennedy International Airport from the East Side of Manhattan.

A new LIRR train station in Sunnyside at Queens Boulevard and Skillman Avenue along the Northeast Corridor (which the LIRR uses to get into Pennsylvania Station) will provide one-stop access for area residents to Midtown Manhattan. The station may spur economic development and growth in Long Island City.

Written by Mitch Waxman

August 8, 2012 at 1:34 am

deserted midnight

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- photo by Mitch Waxman

A friend recently published an excellent book (Eat the City) and your humble narrator was invited to the reception party her publisher was sponsoring on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. On the way to the event, deep in Alphabet City, this church building at 345 East 4th street between Avenues B and C caught my eye.

Built in 1895 as a Russian church, it currently houses the congregation of “San Isidro y San Leandro of the Western Orthodox Catholic Church of the Hispanic Mozarabic Rite”.

from wikipedia

Western Rite Orthodoxy or Western Orthodoxy or Orthodox Western Rite are terms used to describe congregations and groups which are in communion with Eastern Orthodox Churches or Oriental Orthodox Churches using traditional Western liturgies rather than adopting Eastern liturgies such as the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom. While there are some ancient examples of Western Rite churches in areas predominantly using the Byzantine Rite (the Monastery of Saint Mary of the Latins, often referred to as Amalfi, is a common example), the history of the movement is often considered to begin in the nineteenth century with the life and work of Julius Joseph Overbeck. Less commonly, Western Orthodoxy refers to the Western Church before the Great Schism.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The history of this structure is somewhat hazy, but it was purpose built as a church. Originally a catholic church serving the St. Elizabeth of Hungary parish, ownership was transferred to the “Russian-Greek Orthodox Chapel of the Holy Trinity” and then the “Russian Orthodox Church of St. Nicholas”. I’ve been unable to tie down exactly when the current congregants took possession of the structure.

from wikipedia

The Mozarabic Rite is the second-best attested liturgy in the Latin Church in terms of preserved documentation. The Mozarabic Rite was considered authoritative for the clarification of a Sacramentary received by Charlemagne from Pope Adrian I (d. 795). The first is, of course, the Roman Rite, which, to encourage unity of faith and worship, generally replaced the Mozarabic in Iberia from about 1080.

In the year 870, Charles the Bald, wishing to see what the ancient Gallican Rite had been like, had priests sent from Spain to celebrate the Mozarabic Rite before him.

In the latter part of the eighth century, the Rite had fallen under some suspicion owing to quotations cited by Elipandus of Toledo in support of his Adoptianist theories, and the Council of Frankfurt 794 spoke somewhat disparagingly of possible Islamic influence on it. It was due to these suspicions that in 924, John X sent a Papal Legate named Zanello to investigate the Rite. Zanello spoke favourably of the Rite, and the Pope gave a new approbation to it, requiring only to change the words of consecration to that of the Roman one. Spanish clergy gradually started to use the Roman words of institution (though there is no evidence whether or not it was done consistently).

When King Alfonso VI of Castile conquered Toledo in 1085, it was being disputed as to which rite Iberian Christians should follow: the Roman rite or Mozarabic Rite. After other ordeals, it was submitted to the trial by fire: One book for each rite was thrown into a fire. The Toledan book was little damaged whilst the Roman one was consumed. Henry Jenner comments in the Catholic Encyclopedia: “No one who has seen a Mozarabic manuscript with its extraordinarily solid vellum, will adopt any hypothesis of Divine Interposition here.” The king allowed six parishes in the city to continue to use the Mozarabic rite.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Baroque, and literally gothic in its decoration and design elements, the church reminds one that the monolithic Roman Catholic Church of modernity was once rent asunder by schisms. The Church was once caught between two dying and one growing empires (Latin Rome, Greek Rome, and the Arab Rum) which caused isolated pockets of Christian adherents to stray from Vatican orthodoxy. Often, it was the endless sea of politics which created these schisms, but as often as not it was merely regional variation in belief.

from wikipedia

Saint Isidore of Seville (Spanish: San Isidro or San Isidoro de Sevilla, Latin: Isidorus Hispalensis) (c. 560 – 4 April 636) served as Archbishop of Seville for more than three decades and is considered, as the historian Montalembert put it in an oft-quoted phrase, “le dernier savant du monde ancien” (“the last scholar of the ancient world”). Indeed, all the later medieval history-writing of Hispania (modern Spain and Portugal) was based on his histories.

At a time of disintegration of classical culture, and aristocratic violence and illiteracy, he was involved in the conversion of the royal Visigothic Arians to Catholicism, both assisting his brother Leander of Seville, and continuing after his brother’s death. He was influential in the inner circle of Sisebut, Visigothic king of Hispania. Like Leander, he played a prominent role in the Councils of Toledo and Seville. The Visigothic legislation which resulted from these councils is regarded by modern historians as exercising an important influence on the beginnings of representative government.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The world of a thousand years ago, while bearing strange similarity to our own, saw one of the great wheels of history grinding to a halt. The process that began with Alexander the Great and continued through Rome’s unified empire, then the Western and Eastern Roman imperiums, and the fall of the West and subsequent reign of the barbarous men of the North- spawned several Catholic variants which few have ever heard of. The Copts, Mozarabs, and Syriacs come to mind, of course- as do the Arians, Monophysites, and Nestorians.

from wikipedia

Leander and Isidore and their siblings (all sainted) belonged to an elite family of Hispano-Roman stock of Carthago Nova. Their father Severianus is claimed to be according to their hagiographers a dux or governor of Cartagena, though this seems more of a fanciful interpretation since Isidore simply states that he was a citizen. The family moved to Seville around 554. The children’s subsequent public careers reflect their distinguished origin: Leander and Isidore both became bishops of Seville, and their sister Saint Florentina was an abbess who directed forty convents and one thousand nuns. Even the third brother, Fulgentius, appointed Bishop of Écija at the first triumph of Catholicism over Arianism, but of whom little is known, has been canonised as a saint. The family as a matter of course were staunch Catholics, as were the great majority of the Romanized population, from top to bottom; only the Visigothic nobles and the kings were Arians. It should be stated that there was less Visigothic persecution of Catholics than legend and hagiography have painted. From a modern standpoint, the dangers of Catholic Christianity were more political. The Catholic hierarchy were in collusion with the representatives of the Byzantine emperor, who had maintained a considerable territory in the far south of Hispania ever since his predecessor had been invited to the peninsula by the former Visigothic king several decades before. In the north, Liuvigild struggled to maintain his possessions on the far side of the Pyrenees, where his Merovingian cousins and in-laws cast envious eyes on them and had demonstrated that they would stop at nothing with the murder of Liuvigild’s sister.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

An interesting series of clips, detailing the choral aspects of the Mozarabic rite, can be accessed here. Always fascinated by the prismatic flavors of faith, your humble narrator is glad to have stumbled across this enigmatic little church. Should any congregants of the institution have anything to add or correct, please use the comments link to share your knowledge.

from wikipedia

The Mozarabs (Spanish: mozárabes [moˈθaɾaβes]; Portuguese: moçárabes [muˈsaɾɐβɨʃ]; Catalan: mossàrabs [muˈsaɾəps]; Arabic: مستعرب‎ trans. musta’rab, “Arabized”) were Iberian Christians who lived under Arab Islamic rule in Al-Andalus. Their descendants remained unconverted to Islam, but did however adopt elements of Arabic language and culture. They were mostly Roman Catholics of the Visigothic or Mozarabic Rite.
Most of the Mozarabs were descendants of Hispano–Gothic Christians and were primarily speakers of the Mozarabic language under Islamic rule. Many were also what the arabist Mikel de Epalza calls “Neo-Mozarabs”, that is Northern Europeans who had come to the Iberian Peninsula and picked up Arabic, thereby entering the Mozarabic community.

A few were Arab and Berber Christians coupled with Muslim converts to Christianity who, as Arabic speakers, naturally were at home among the original Mozarabs. A prominent example of Muslims who became Mozarabs by embracing Christianity is the Andalusian rebel and Anti-Umayyad military leader, Umar ibn Hafsun. The Mozarabs of Muslim origin were descendants of those Muslims who converted to Christianity, following the conquest of Toledo and perhaps also, following the expeditions of king Alfonso I of Aragon. These Mozarabs of Muslim origin, who converted en masse at the end of the 11th century, many of them Muladi (ethnic Iberians previously converted to Islam), are totally distinct from the Mudéjars and Moriscos who converted gradually to Christianity between the 12th and 17th centuries. Some Mozarabs were even Converso Sephardi Jews who likewise became part of the Mozarabic milieu.

Separate Mozarab enclaves were located in the large Muslim cities, especially Toledo, Córdoba, Zaragoza, and Seville.

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August 5th, 2012- Newtown Creek Alliance Walking Tour- The Insalubrious Valley- This Sunday

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Newtown Creek Alliance historian Mitch Waxman will be leading a walk through the industrial heartlands of New York City, exploring the insalubrious valley of the Newtown Creek.

The currently undefended border of Brooklyn and Queens, and the place where the Industrial Revolution actually happened, provides a dramatic and picturesque setting for this exploration. We’ll be visiting two movable bridges, the still standing remains of an early 19th century highway, and a forgotten tributary of the larger waterway. As we walk along the Newtown Creek and explore the “wrong side of the tracks” – you’ll hear tales of the early chemical industry, “Dead Animal and Night Soil Wharfs”, colonial era heretics and witches and the coming of the railroad. The tour concludes at the famed Clinton Diner in Maspeth- where scenes from the Martin Scorcese movie “Goodfellas” were shot.

Lunch at Clinton Diner is included with the ticket.

Details/special instructions.

Meetup at the corner of Grand Street and Morgan Avenue in Brooklyn at 11 a.m. on August 5, 2012. The L train serves a station at Bushwick Avenue and Grand Street, and the Q54 and Q59 bus lines stop nearby as well. Check MTA.info as ongoing weekend construction often causes delays and interruptions. Drivers, it would be wise to leave your vehicle in the vicinity of the Clinton Diner in Maspeth, Queens or near the start of the walk at Grand St. and Morgan Avenue (you can pick up the bus to Brooklyn nearby the Clinton Diner).

Be prepared: We’ll be encountering broken pavement, sometimes heavy truck traffic as we move through a virtual urban desert. Dress and pack appropriately for hiking, closed-toe shoes are highly recommended.

Clinton Diner Menu:

  • Cheese burger deluxe
  • Grilled chicken over garden salad
  • Turkey BLT triple decker sandwich with fries
  • Spaghetti with tomato sauce or butter
  • Greek salad medium
  • Greek Salad wrap with French fries
  • Can of soda or 16oz bottle of Poland Spring

for August 5th tickets, click here for the Newtown Creek Alliance ticketing page

Written by Mitch Waxman

August 1, 2012 at 12:15 am

devour and dissolve

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- photo by Mitch Waxman

Just a short one today, as your humble narrator is quite the crunchy critter due to the exertions of yesterday’s Newtown Creek Tour committed for the Working Harbor Committee. The shot above is from the 5th of June, in this year, from an interesting vantage on the water near New Jersey.

Back tomorrow with some announcements of new tour dates, and something a bit more expansive to sink your teeth into. Here’s another shot of the same scene- capturing the spectacular, and high altitude, cloud formation in some detail and framed vertically.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

impelling fascination

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- photo by Mitch Waxman

Long time readers will recognize the shot above from a January 2012 posting entitled “Hermes Trismegistus“, which describes the great statue which adorns the Vanderbilt Rail Palace known as “Grand Central Terminal” in Manhattan.

Recent adventure carried me to the place, where I found myself with an uncommon view of the Tiffany Clock which bejewels the carving.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Inside of it.

More on this in a posting next week, but I can’t just sit on these shots without sharing them. The clock face itself is pretty enormous.

A simple image search will show this to hardly be a unique photo, but regardless, this was a thrilling place to visit.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

There is a chamber back here, of masonry and exposed steel, which the clock is mounted into. The number six on the clock’s face is a window outfitted with a hinge. This wasn’t “urban exploration”, incidentally, my presence here was sanctioned.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

This is what Park Avenue looks like from the clock at Grand Central Station, that’s Union Square in the distance. Click the image to check out larger views at flickr.

More next week.

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Click for details on Mitch Waxman’s
Upcoming boat tours of Newtown Creek

July 22nd, 2012 NEXT SATURDAY

Working Harbor Committee Newtown Creek Boat Tour

Written by Mitch Waxman

July 13, 2012 at 2:18 am

unvocal waves

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- photo by Mitch Waxman

Recent business carried me into Manhattan, to a meeting where the alcohol flowed freely and afterwards your humble narrator found himself more than a little tipsy. In prior times of plenty, a taxi might have been hired to carry my besotted husk back to Astoria, but as dire financial circumstances demand- it would be the subway that would ferry me home.

The assignation that night was right in the middle of rich people country, Lexington Avenue in the high 30’s, so the drinks were far better than the usual swill I quaff.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Making my way through Times Square, by this point more than just a little tipsy and edging on drunk, the notion of attempting a few night shots entered my fevered mind. As mentioned in several prior posts, this is something “I’m working on”. A difficult endeavor under normal circumstance, low light photography is especially interesting after several cocktails have been imbibed over a short interval.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Luckily, I’ve never felt inhibited taking “street shots” of strangers, and have often been chided for walking right up to people and just starting to click away. Of course, embarrassment ruled over me the next morning, as I found a series of cliche “Times Square Street Photography” shots had been captured in my stupor.

Back to the sobering realities of the Newtown Creek for me.

____________________________________________________________________________

Click for details on Mitch Waxman’s
Upcoming walking and boat tours of Newtown Creek, and Staten Island’s Kill Van Kull

June 30th, 2012- Working Harbor Committee Kill Van Kull walk

for June 30th tickets, click here for the Working Harbor Committee ticketing page

July 8th, 2012- Atlas Obscura Walking Tour- The Insalubrious Valley

for July 8th tickets, click here for the Atlas Obscura ticketing page

July 22nd, 2012- Working Harbor Committee Newtown Creek Boat Tour

Written by Mitch Waxman

June 28, 2012 at 12:15 am

supposedly solid

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- photo by Mitch Waxman

The DEP Pump House described in yesterday’s posting, which is located in Manhattan’s “Alphabet City” neighborhood, is found across the street from Con Ed’s East River Generating Station. Both facilities are, in turn, surrounded by vast residential complexes which long time New Yorkers might refer to as “The Projects“.

Governmental officials would prefer the term “affordable housing“, of course, or at the very least- “The Jacob Riis Houses”.

from wikipedia

The New York City steam system is a district heating system which takes steam produced by steam generating stations and carries it under the streets of Manhattan to heat, cool, or supply power to high rise buildings and businesses. Some New York businesses and facilities also use the steam for cleaning, climate control and disinfection.

The New York Steam Company began providing service in lower Manhattan in 1882. Today, Consolidated Edison operates the largest commercial steam system in the United States. The organization within Con Edison that is responsible for the system’s operation is known as Steam Operations, providing steam service to nearly 1,800 customers and serving more than 100,000 commercial and residential establishments in Manhattan from Battery Park to 96th Street uptown on the West side and 89th Street on the East side of Manhattan. Roughly 30 billion lbs (just under 13.64 megatons) of steam flow through the system every year.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The subject of the post today has little to do with the aforementioned complex of buildings, they are mentioned strictly for contextual and geographic orientation of the Con Ed facility. My understanding is that this “cogeneration” facility is considered to be a desirable target to those ragged armies of third world sappers commonly referred to as “terrorists“, and several acquaintances and or friends have found themselves being interviewed by Police and Security personnel merely for having photographed the place.

from coned.com

In the grand tradition of the Jumbo dynamos, the six-story boilers installed at Fourteenth Street and East River were so large that a luncheon for nearly 100 people was served inside one of them before the renovated station went into operation in the late 1920s. During the opening day ceremony in 1926, Queen Marie of Rumania flipped the switch to start the 100,000 horsepower turbine generator.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

The view in the first two shots are from the East River, captured while onboard aquatic vessels, and the shot above is actually from the roof of the DEP Pump house.

The housing complex in the shot above is not true “public housing”, rather it is the Stuyvesant Town property. After the second World War, “urban renewal” projects such as the Riis Houses and Stuyvesant Town were seen as the answer to the endemic poverty found around and propagated by tenement slums. Funding and political impetus for large scale developments such as these- inspired by the ideations of a cryptofascist architect, LeCorbusier, and his disastrous “Tower in a park” conception- were made possible by both Federal and entrepreneurial sources.

from newyork.construction.com

Located on the east side of Lower Manhattan, the 43,000-sq.-ft. facility produces electricity and steam for homes and businesses throughout New York City. The project was completed May.

To repower the 360-MW power plant, the project team is performing all civil, structural, electrical and mechanical work, including the installation of major equipment, such as two GE Frame 7FA gas turbines, two Vogt-NEM, Inc. heat recovery steam generators and three Atlas Copco gas compressors. More than 100,000 lin. ft. of process pipe will be installed.
Construction of a new, onsite water treatment plant is also a part of the contract. The new treatment plant will consist of a 9,000 GMP reverse osmosis system that will produce pure water for steam generation. Electrical work includes the installation of 77,000 lin. ft. of conduit, 15,000 lin. ft. of cable tray, 665,000 lin. ft. of power and control cable and 30,000 electrical terminations.

- photo by Mitch Waxman

Historically, this area was known as the Gas House District, so named for an enormous number of multi story “high pressure” tanks and the hundreds of associated industrial buildings which serviced and supplied them. A network of pipes snaked out into Manhattan from the East River, supplying fuel to street lights, commercial customers, and even residences.

The adage “Don’t blow out the light” was displayed prominently in hotels and flop houses all over town during the 19th century, as newcomers to the City would often treat a gas light in the manner they would a candle- which would have disastrous, fatal, and often explosive results. The District followed the East River and extended from 14th to 27th streets.

The neighborhoods surrounding the Gas Light District was notorious for its violent crime.

from gsapp.org

Address: East 14th Street

Architect: Thomas E. Murray/Unknown

Date: 1926/1950s

The Consolidated Edison Company’s East River Generating Station dominates the eastern section of 14th Street, stretching from 13th and 17th Streets and between Avenue C and the East River. It was erected primarily in two phases, the first campaign completed in 1926 and the second in the 1950s. Because of its size and prominence, the East River Generating Station plays an important role in the history of the East River waterfront, as well as in the general evolution of power plant architecture in New York City. The widespread low-scale fabric of the Lower East Side, consisting mostly of tenement buildings, went generally unchanged for most of the nineteenth century and the early part of the twentieth century, while the rest of Manhattan was seeing the erection of skyscrapers and other tall buildings.

Driven by the increasing cost of power plant construction and the need to design “with an eye to the future,” the East River Generating Station of 1926 was designed to be less ostentatious than earlier stations that were typically of the Beaux-Arts Style, yet it was also less monolithic than contemporaries such as Hell Gate or Hudson Avenue Stations. The waterfront façade of this building was divided into three distinct bays in rectilinear form, a design scheme that allowed for easy expansion as need be. The building uses vertical fenestration and horizontal bands of limestone set within a field of dark red brick to give the façade a sense of visual excitement

Written by Mitch Waxman

June 22, 2012 at 12:15 am

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