Friday, September 14, 2012

The High Line

After a month in NYC, I finally took the time to be a tourist. I walked the entire length of the High Line, an interesting, trend-setting, innovative park on the elevated 10th Avenue train line. OMG it's amazing. The trail / park is the width of the rail lines and three stories above the surface streets. It runs from Gansvoort Street at 10th Avenue in the Meat Packing District to 34th Street between 10th and 11th Avenues, right near Penn Station. You can see NJ from the park and of course, lots of NYC skyline. There are building roofs and water towers, smoke stacks, turrets, cupolas, crenelated roofs, and much more. There are tons of apartment buildings and lofts that overlook the park and some so close you can touch their windows.
Here are just a few photos of the fifty or so I shot. 

 There's a water fountain fashioned from a railroad track

Just below the park, there's an unusual warehouse that looks absolutely one dimensional. I just love buildings that look flat.

After walking all afternoon, I wandered around, and I do mean wandered, through the west village and into the east village. I must have walked 10 miles. Oh my aching feet.
It felt great to sit and eat with a friend in the east village.

I'll find more photos of the flora and post them later this week.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Brooklyn Mysteries

Over the past two days, I've wandered about Brooklyn looking at older buildings and wondering about their history. These particular buildings reveal their pasts through painted facades. Here's one near the Brooklyn Bridge. The name of the business is affixed to the upper level. it reads "The Eagle Warehouse & Storage Company. Today the building is probably lofts and condos, but once it was part of the Brooklyn Docks area where goods were stored awaiting shipment to other destinations whether by ship, rail, or truck. The Brooklyn Bridge area teamed with shipping and warehouses, dockworkers and ships. Today it's full of upscale restaurants and housing. 

Near this warehouse is another fine building which housed business offices for the Brooklyn City Railroad Company. I wish I'd taken a closed picture of the historic marker and of the stonework. I'll have to walk down and photograph this building again. The ironwork is stunning and the gates have dragon finials on them.

Today, I walked over to Park Slope. It was a really long walk. I now have a better sense of the neighborhoods between Brooklyn Heights and the Slope. Both are very upscale and trendy although I must say when I returned to Brooklyn Heights, it felt like home.

Along the way, I was more warehouses which have been turned into artists studios. This one was the National Packing Box Factory.

It's just on the east side of the Gowanus Canal.

There's actually a drawbridge over the canal and I could smell the salt water as I crossed over the very stagnant water. Here are some photos of the area as it is today

Once a swamp that the colonists used to their advantage to foil British troops, it's been channeled and dredged. Today there are projects to study the Indian tribes and early settlements in the area. The Ratser map shows the area in 1766 Wikipedia  has a nice historical essay about the canal which has been neglected and is now being cleaned up as part of a superfund project.

Once I found Park Slope, I found a beautiful branch of the Brooklyn Public library. It is in a traditional building. I really wanted to go inside and peruse the collection but my feet were tired and there was a huge hill to climb from whence Park Slope gets its name.

One more interesting building, this one in white with metal or enamel plaques with lions heads. I couldn't resist taking a picture.

I'm discovering that the sights and sounds of Brooklyn are endless. When I left Park Slope, footsore and thirsty, I boarded the B63 and rode up 5th Street to Atlantic Avenue. In front of me was the Williamsburgh Savings Bank Tower, an extremely tall building that marked the street where I lived 30 years ago. I now know that I live about a mile from Fort Green and the Brooklyn Academy of Music. I have no recollection of any of the landmarks however. The area is completely gentrified and absolutely renovated. The streets headed away from the tower on Atlantic Avenue were filled with signs in Arabic, a definite change from the Brooklyn of several decades ago.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Buildings Are Eye-Candy

As I walk in the city, I cannot help but admire the buildings. There are so many amazing examples of architecture intermingled on blocks and slathered onto facades.  Since I'm spending so much time at NYPL, I thought I should take my own pictures. Here is a close up of the lions:

The facade of NYPL is just gorgeous. Here are my own photos

Looking up at the columns (above) and straight ahead at the steps and entrance.

Caddy corner across the street is Mid-Manhattan, the largest circulating branch of NYPL, and once my place of employment. NYPL is in the process of selling off the building along with the former B Altman - now the Science & Technology Library. I don't know where the collections are going, but I do know that Mid-Manhattan looks sad and in drastic need of a cleaning.

On my way back to Brooklyn Heights, I decided to walk down Lexington Avenue and enjoy the sights. There are some stunning buildings. My favorite block contained this row of brownstones, not all brown or of the same period. The one on the left has a greenhouse on the top floor. The white one has ornamental ironwork and a front door flush with the street.

I thought the building on the far left was interesting because it has a roof line that two stories taller than its neighbor. I wonder which was constructed first?

Once I arrived in Brooklyn Heights, I decided to look carefully at the stonework on the buildings. While it's not stone work, it could be a sculpture. What do you think it on the top of this building? 
My day ended at the Brooklyn Historical Society and more time exploring the early history of Long Island. They have an amazing collection of books, periodicals, pamphlets, maps, and objects. Even the outside of their building is decorated with clay and stonework.  I'll have to ask the public historian who the faces represent. 

This building's front door has the largest set of pocket doors I've ever seen. They must be 25 or 30 feet tall, and they work.   These two gentlemen were making certain the doors slid back without a hitch. And they do glide in and out.

Tomorrow, the piers along the water in Brooklyn Heights and DUMBO.