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Lost New York City
September 20, 2007 9:05 AM   Subscribe

Randall's Lost New York City Collection "documents the destruction of many of New York City's 19th century tenement and other buildings, so that we can mourn the lost [and] appreciate the endangered." Gallery 1, 2.

He also sells gargoyles, if you like that sort of thing.
posted by dersins (31 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
Very cool. My girlfriend is really into the history of New York City and its old buildings, and she'll probably love this.
posted by Godbert at 10:27 AM on September 20, 2007


Your post is just my kind of visual and architectural cup of tea. Thanks for yet another great post dersins.

It saddens me when old buildings are torn down. Always seems like a loss. Buildings were crafted before, the moldings, all kinds of details. I miss the human element in a lot of modern architecture.

I've always enjoyed old buildings and ruins too, wherever they are, savoring their histories, stories of their residents, how they weathered the years. I live in a tenement part of town in Hell's Kitchen, NYC. Most of the 5 storey walk-up buildings here were built 130 and 140 years ago of brick for working class immigrants (Irish construction workers, theater workers, French and Greek cooks, shipyard workers of all kinds for the ships that docked on the West Side piers, people who ran the stables that housed NYC's tens of thousands of horse driven carriages before the advent of the automobile etc.)

In India, wonderful land of old buildings of all kinds, birds add to the decay when they poop out tree seeds on rooftops and building ledges. Tree saplings grow out of buildings there quite commonly, especially the ficus with its beautiful heart-shaped leaves. Love that combination of human creations and plants combined.
posted by nickyskye at 10:31 AM on September 20, 2007


Cool. Is this related to the Lost New York City blog (tagline: "A running Jeremiad on the vestiges of Old New York as they are steamrolled under or threatened by the currently ruthless real estate market and the City Fathers' disregard for Gotham's historical and cultural fabric"), or do they just share the same name?
posted by salvia at 10:37 AM on September 20, 2007


It doesn't appear to be related, salvia, but I don't know for certain.
posted by dersins at 11:09 AM on September 20, 2007


See also Forgotten NY. Previously mentioned here, here and here.
posted by GrammarMoses at 11:16 AM on September 20, 2007


Um, I don't want to sound like I'm trying to poo-poo on your little parade but I was under the impression from history lessons that 19th century NY tenament buildings were notorious shit-holes? Has anyone around here heard of "How the Other Half Lives"?
posted by Pollomacho at 11:31 AM on September 20, 2007


I suspect that anyone with more than a passing interest in NYC history is familiar with Jacob Riis. What, precisely, is your point?
posted by dersins at 11:34 AM on September 20, 2007


Why are we supposed to be in mourning at the loss of shit-holes?
posted by Pollomacho at 11:47 AM on September 20, 2007


Because they're a lot more attractive than the shitholes being built today?
posted by dersins at 11:52 AM on September 20, 2007


I've always loved how 1870 counts as "real old" in America.
posted by nasreddin at 12:22 PM on September 20, 2007


Pollo, it's like all those people (gweilos, mostly) who mourn the Beijing hutong being bulldozed to make way for high-rise apartment buildings. Not that any of the mourners (or most of the former residents) would want to live in such a place.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 12:31 PM on September 20, 2007


Without plumbing = they're shitholes. With plumbing and lightwells = they're historic.
posted by salvia at 12:31 PM on September 20, 2007


To an American, 100 years is a long time. To a Briton, 100 miles is a long way.
posted by 1f2frfbf at 1:07 PM on September 20, 2007 [1 favorite]


Actually, dersins, I think the new Hearst building is stellar -- one of the few new NYC buildings that I actually admire. (I concede that the two parts don't mesh well together, but the Foster tower is stunning.) Instead, I'd point anyone seeking an example of recent heinosity to this.
posted by GrammarMoses at 1:40 PM on September 20, 2007


Why instead of lamenting lost shit-holes or building new shit-holes don't we just not build shit-holes in the first place?
posted by Pollomacho at 1:41 PM on September 20, 2007


Now that's just crazy talk.
posted by GrammarMoses at 1:46 PM on September 20, 2007


Instead, I'd point anyone seeking an example of recent heinosity to this.

I'm a block away from it right now. Ugly, and filled with overpriced clothes and terrible people. I'd rather have the tenements.
posted by nasreddin at 1:49 PM on September 20, 2007


Here's another gallery so we can mourn the lost and appreciate the endangered shit-holes of America.

I kid. I do appreciate old buildings, I really do, I promise.
posted by Pollomacho at 2:02 PM on September 20, 2007


Why instead of lamenting lost shit-holes or building new shit-holes don't we just not build shit-holes in the first place?

Well, to be fair, a lot of the replacement shitholes were applauded as being wonderful places to live. By people who weren't going to live in them.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:47 PM on September 20, 2007


Studios and small one bedroom apartments in Hell's Kitchen tenements now go for between $1800 to $2800 a month.
posted by nickyskye at 5:53 PM on September 20, 2007


Why instead of lamenting lost shit-holes or building new shit-holes don't we just not build shit-holes in the first place?

Basically, retrofit the old shit holes with toilets and showers, and don't stick 12 people in one room and they're pretty nice. Build a new building, and the level of care and quality of materials and construction will be much less. The biggest problem with these old buildings is that the floors are supported by wood beams between the brick walls, and the beams sag over time. As far as I know it's not generally a structural hazard but it is annoying when your floor tends toward concavity. It's a gut renovation to fix though, and NYC landlords prefer living in Florida and cashing checks over doing any work.

After the apocalypse, I tend to think the Empire State Building and the Brooklyn Bridge will stand for way longer than any of the new crap.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 8:23 PM on September 20, 2007


Pollo, it's like all those people (gweilos, mostly) who mourn the Beijing hutong being bulldozed to make way for high-rise apartment buildings. Not that any of the mourners (or most of the former residents) would want to live in such a place.
posted by Kirth Gerson

Come on, Kirth!

I can shudder at the destruction of Beijing's history, surely, without wishing to force the residents to keep living like picturesque peasants!

Smash up what remains of the unique hutong district and you destroy a magnet for tourist dollars.

How does that improve the lot of The People?
posted by Jody Tresidder at 5:39 AM on September 21, 2007


Jody, I didn't say it was wrong to save some examples, I was talking about the people who moan about the passing of the hutong as the standard housing unit. My wife lived in one as a child. She doesn't miss it, nor would her mom trade the new apartment for a hutong. If you were to suggest it, she'd think you were crazy.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 6:13 AM on September 21, 2007


"If you were to suggest it, she'd think you were crazy."

Kirth,
And I wouldn't dream of voicing such revolting tourist imperialism. And I get your excellent point entirely. I didn't mean to come across like a boor.

(I suppose, though, probably like loads of others, I sort of fluttered and gasped at the great ugly bits munched out of the disappearing hutong - after we'd wandered through and later, looking over from some incredible Bell Tower or other! - and wished - doubtless somewhat idealistically - that some balance could be found urgently).
posted by Jody Tresidder at 6:37 AM on September 21, 2007


Oh for god's sake, this post is not about hutongs or mourning life in a tenement 100 years ago. It's about demolished buildings, many of which were beautiful, elegantly urban, sturdy, stylish, interesting, classic NYC, lovingly constructed with now long gone architectural details.

And I like his antiques collection images too with some neat urban archeology information.
posted by nickyskye at 10:04 AM on September 21, 2007


Oh, so it's about demolished buildings. I thought it was about "so we can mourn the lost and appreciate the endangered."
Pardon me for letting the fact that it reminded me of something similar intrude on your whatever. I'm sure you've never done anything like that.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 10:31 AM on September 21, 2007


"Pardon me for letting the fact..."

Must be an exclusively NewYorkfilter post, Kirth.

Mea culpa too, apparently.
posted by Jody Tresidder at 10:52 AM on September 21, 2007


Interesting editing Keith.

According to the site linked it says, "This site documents the destruction of many of New York City's 19th century tenement and other buildings, so that we can mourn the lost, appreciate the endangered, and take steps to ensure that other significant architecture doesn't follow the same fate as Stanford White's Pennsylvania Station."

I don't remotely mind the post reminding anybody of anything, so long as it's not shitholes, LOL!
posted by nickyskye at 11:09 AM on September 21, 2007


"Pardon me for letting the fact..."

Must be a NewYorkfilter day, Kirth.

Mea culpa too, apparently.
posted by Jody Tresidder at 11:41 AM on September 21, 2007


Bloody hell - double - sorry.
posted by Jody Tresidder at 11:42 AM on September 21, 2007


*Kirth
posted by nickyskye at 12:00 PM on September 21, 2007


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