Two Postcards

by Don Friedman on March 11, 2018

Two views of Belvedere Castle from the Souvenir Postcard Company in 1905. The first commercial color-photograph plates weren’t available for another couple of years and ordinary color film for another 25, which tells us that the color version was hand-tinted. If you look closely, you can see that the artist did more than tint – the flag has been changed, and for some reason ornamental rocks added to the edge of the path along with what appear to be mutant vines on the tower.

The Transition From Craft To Industry

March 1, 2018

That’s a late 1800s industrial building, looking up at the underside of an upper floor. The first thing that needs to be said has nothing to do with the point of this post: the joists are about twice as deep as they look like here. If you look closely, you can see the ledger strips […]

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Another Branch of Engineering

February 18, 2018

An absolutely fantastic piece in the New Yorker: Why Paper Jams Persist. I’m no more familiar with the mechanical engineering analysis and design of printers than any other person who’s had to clear a paper jam, but I still hung on every word. Design is all about balancing different constraints. Those we deal with are […]

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What It Looks Like

February 5, 2018

Like a lot of other technologies, recycling looks less impressive than it actually is. Given the reduction in non-recycled garbage in the course of my life, the fact that New York is recycling all of its plastic, glass, and metal through a new purpose-built facility is a big deal. It just doesn’t really look like […]

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Useful Tools

December 29, 2017

The New York City Department of City Planning has updated the ZoLa map making it easier to get zoning, service, and neighborhood information about any lot. Here’s our office: The Landmarks Preservation Commission has a new online map that shows information from the designation reports about all of the city’s landmarks. Our office isn’t a […]

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Seeing New Technology

December 26, 2017

That’s a picture from the new west concourse at Penn Station, phase 0.01 of the plan to convert the Farley Post Office into a new headhouse for the station. I had a picture up a while back showing a newly-exposed column at an office building on Rector Street; the exposed columns above, which support the […]

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Off In The Distance

December 19, 2017

That’s another incredibly exciting photo from my walk to work on an overcast early-winter day. Pier A is on the left and the land straight ahead is Governors Island. But if we zoom way, way in, there’s something interesting going on: What is that thing sticking up over the island? The color is the tip-off: […]

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A Certain Amount of Cloudy Irony

December 16, 2017

We’ve recently completed moving nearly all of our electronic operations to the cloud. Of course, that means it’s time for an Internet outage, and we had one yesterday. The heat map shows service failures for our ISP: My ideas about back-up partially worked. The bad news is that we lost a lot of productive time […]

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Fire and Information

October 28, 2017

I have nothing to add to this interview other than I found it to be a fascinating read. Fire fighting isn’t just about putting out fires, it’s about learning how to prevent them and how to reduce the risks they cause. 

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Obsolete But So Very Beautiful

October 9, 2017

  My family went to the Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome recently and spent an afternoon surrounded by planes from the 1910s and 20s. Here are four of them flying stunts in formation (click to enlarge): Everything there was great – has there ever been a better name for an airplane than “Tiger Moth”? – but there […]

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