OSE Blog FAQ

by Don Friedman on May 8, 2017


Seeing as how we’re north of 500 blog posts (as of May 2017), it’s probably too late for a Frequently Asked Questions post, but here it is anyway.

  • This is the blog of Old Structures Engineering. Most of the posts are written by me (Don Friedman) but not all.
  • Topics include pretty much anything touching on civil engineering, history, historic preservation, and New York City, with special emphasis on topics that combine two or more of those basic issues.
  • We generally put up one post per day, skipping holidays, but that can change.
  • Posts are usually written a week or two before they are published.
  • Unattributed pictures are either ours or in the public domain.
  • Clicking on pictures usually gets you a larger version of them.
  • We don’t allow comments because we’re busy working on engineering projects and don’t have time to address comments. That said, if you take the time to email us about something in the blog, we’ll respond.
  • This post will stay at the top of the heap for now. New posts will appear below.

Theory Imposed on Reality

December 15, 2017

That’s a fine, very-short-span bridge in the Ramble in Central Park. Honestly, it feel ridiculous to call it a bridge when the space below it resembles, more than anything else, a door, but what else could it be? One pedestrian path crosses over another, and a wall of large ashlar blocks has a hole in […]

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Doing The Wrong Thing Right

December 14, 2017

I’ve talked before about my ambivalence concerning the way in which the Dickey house on Greenwich Street is being preserved as part of the development of a new tower next door. Façadism does not have a good reputation in the preservation world. Since no one has asked my opinion, the work continues regardless of what […]

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A Current Project In Miniature

December 13, 2017

Another picture from the Botanical Gardens train show: Belvedere Castle in Central Park. Our project there, to restore the masonry and the wood pavilions, has recently gone to contractors for bids and should be in construction soon. Belvedere is a unique structure, combining thick ashlar masonry walls, wrought-iron beams, and stone-slab floors. It was built […]

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A Long-Overdue Designation

December 12, 2017

The IRT Powerhouse has been designated as a New York City landmark. First, as the pictures may make clear, this is a huge building that is quite visible: it fills the block between 58th and 59th Streets, and between 11th and 12th Avenues. In other words, it’s 200 feet wide and about 600 feet long. […]

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An Illustration of The Effect of Theory

December 11, 2017

Yesterday was my family’s annual pilgrimage to the New York Botanical Garden for the train show. The picture above shows a group of the model buildings that were highlighted by being placed in a fountain near the end of the show. (Click to enlarge.) That’s the Statue of Liberty and the main building at Ellis […]

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Snow

December 10, 2017

It wasn’t much, but the first snow of the season is still the first snow of the season.

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How Speciation Starts

December 9, 2017

This article on the rat population of New York is fascinating. There are genetic differences in the rats depending on where they live, with the relatively sparse population in midtown serving to separate the uptown rats from the downtown rats. Now that I have learned this fascinating tidbit, it’s unfortunate that there’s absolutely no place […]

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Rivets in U.S. Structures

December 8, 2017

(Picture: Three workers installing rivets in the construction of the Empire State Building in 1931, from the Lewis Hine collection at the NYPL.) Rivets in the metal structures now seems archaic and from other times. However, rivets were extensively used for metal structure in the 19th century and in the first half of the 20th. […]

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Reading New York

December 7, 2017

Curbed has put together a list of books about New York. They limited it to fifth books, but the list could easily be five hundred. There are about 36 non-fiction books on the list (“about” because some of the books are a little fuzzy on fiction versus non) and 14 novels; over the years I’ve read […]

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Changing The Meaning Of A Euphemism

December 6, 2017

Whatever your personal definition of “meadow” is, the New Jersey meadowlands are not it. The area is a vast swamp, barely above sea level. It’s the combined valley of the Passaic and Hackensack Rivers before they empty into Newark Bay, which itself is a branch of New York Bay by way of Kill Van Kull. […]

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