New York

From a Distance

by Don Friedman on October 7, 2017


Lower Manhattan used to be famous for its lack of vistas. The combination of very tall buildings, very little open space, and a seventeenth-century Dutch village street plan meant that you were lucky if you could see five or six blocks.

Changes came gradually, as a result of the 1960 zoning law encouraging plaza construction, and the demolition of small-scale industrial buildings along the rivers in favor of late-twentieth-century office towers.

The picture above is a view of our office from the New York Vietnam Veterans Plaza, formerly Jeanette Park, formerly Coentes Slip. The brick punchcard on the left is one of the awful New York Plaza buildings, the concrete grid on the right is 55 Water Street, and the brown building dead ahead is 85 Broad. The small old buildings are part of the Fraunces Tavern block.

A Cliche For A Reason

September 24, 2017

The combination of the Empire State Building’s height, its setbacks, and the narrow side streets in Manhattan makes for some nice angled photos.

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Halfway There

September 23, 2017

I have finally found the perfect apartment. Now I just need $110,000,000.

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Architectural Nostalgia

September 22, 2017

  Michael alerted me to the existence of 80s.NYC, a website that gives street views of buildings as photographed by the city government some 35 years ago. It’s fantastic if you want a sense of what the city was like then and how different it is from today. I am a bit disappointed that the […]

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The Two Extremes of Subway Planning

September 13, 2017

An accidental but informative juxtaposition: planning to make the entire city a one-fare zone in 1920 by building a lot of new subway lines and the decay of subway development after World War II. The Second Avenue subway is, of course, a symbol of the change in fortune: it was first planned in 1920 but the […]

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A Joke Until It’s Not

September 1, 2017

Plenty of building sites in 1903: It’s not often you see a parody as well executed as the website for One Liberty, the redevelopment of the Statue of Liberty as condos. From the “One [Something]” name to the tagline “Goodbye Huddled Masses, Hello Muddled Cocktails” it manages to encapsulate everything mockable in the current real […]

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Rail For The Future

August 25, 2017

The Regional Plan Association has a really good suggestion – a plan, one might even say – for running a new mass transit rail line from southern Brooklyn through central Queens to the south and east Bronx. It is potentially much cheaper per mile than other projects, like the Second Avenue Subway, because it uses […]

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Mapping The Center of the World

August 20, 2017

Two oddball maps that work great together… First, the Antipodes map, which shows you where in the world is exactly oppose your location. When I enter our office address, it tells me that 90 Broad Street is at 40° 42′ 13.7″ N, 74° 0′ 43.2″ W; the opposite point is of course 40° 42′ 13.7″ S, 105° […]

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Adaptive Reuse of a Specialized Structure

August 18, 2017

A lot of New York’s adaptive reuse comes directly from deindustrialization. The loft buildings of SoHo and TriBeCa, the big concrete buildings in Long Island City and the far west side, the railroad now known as the High Line, and a lot of our waterfront were all industrial. The other force driving reuse is changes […]

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Possibly Futile Clarification

August 17, 2017

These maps of subway stations have been getting a fair amount of exposure lately. I suspect that in part it’s because they are beautiful drawings. Considering them just as abstract art, they’re great to look at; the fact that they are reasonable accurate and detailed maps of subway stations makes them incredible. Subway stations are […]

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