If New York City were Middle Earth, Sauron would doubtless be portrayed by Robert Moses, destroying neighborhood after neighborhood in his own endless quest for greater power and a lifeless personal vision of the city that had no thoughts of its inhabitants. But when he set his eyes on leveling SoHo and Little Italy for a ten-lane expressway across Lower Manhattan, he ran up against an unlikely Frodo. Jane Jacobs would have been 100 years old today.
"[S]tock jobbers[,]... confidence men,... an impecunious transportation entity", politicos, judges, scoundrels and Jackie O.: the near-death of Grand Central Terminal, and how it foretold the 2008 financial crisis. [sl Harper's]
The New York Public Library has released more than 20,000 high resolution cartographic works (maps!) for free, to view and download. "We believe these maps have no known US copyright restrictions." All can be viewed through the New York Public Library’s Digital Collections page and downloaded through their Map Warper. (Via) [more inside]
Visiting the Big Apple? "Don't ask a pedestrian where a certain street is. He is usually too busy to stop, and if polite enough to stop, won't know. No New Yorker knows anything about New York." And another kind reminder: "Don't gape at women smoking cigarettes in restaurants. They are harmless and respectable, notwithstanding and nevertheless. They are also smart." Advice from Valentine’s City of New York: A Guide Book, published in 1920. [more inside]
British market-research firm Ipsos Mori has released the results of "The largest ever global study of the best city to do business in, live in, and visit." Interactive data here, more info here.
"On a good day, the street maintenance team tasked by the New York City Department of Transportation with roadway repair might fill 4,000 potholes in eight hours. In an average week, they could resurface 100,000 square yards of road. After Hurricane Sandy, their crews removed 2,500 tons of debris. And every day, on a Tumblr called The Daily Pothole, New Yorkers can take a peek inside the workings of a city system few have likely thought about." Storyboard: A Day with New York City’s Pothole Repair Crew. [more inside]
Ephemeral New York 'chronicles an ever-changing, constantly reinvented city through photos, newspaper archives, and other scraps and artifacts that have been edged into New York’s collective remainder bin.' [more inside]
"Thanks largely to smartphones, this is probably the best time ever to live in a packed city... Steve Jobs was a lifelong suburbanite, but it turns out he perfected the city." [google cache for those getting a log-in page.]
8bit Cities: Amsterdam - Austin - Berlin - Detroit - London - New York - Paris - San Francisco - Seattle - Washington, D.C.
Uneven Terrain is a series of short documentaries about urban exploration, about 10-15 minutes long each. There are six so far, about monumental ruins in New York, Centralia, the Pennsylvania town where an underground coalseam has been on fire since the 1960s, abandoned missile silos in the US and how they're being turned into homes, oil drilling in Los Angeles, the Teufelberg listening station and the abandoned bunkers under Tempelhof Airport in Berlin and pirate radio in London and on the old Redsand sea forts. Each short doc has a different presenter. All have accompanying photo galleries. [These are produced for the bootmaker Palladium, but it's pretty low-key]
I work as a film location scout in New York City. My day is basically spent combing the streets for interesting and unique locations for feature films. In my travels, I often stumble across some pretty incredible sights, most of which are ignored every day by thousands of New Yorkers in too much of a rush to pay attention. As it happens, it's my job to pay attention, and I've started this blog to keep a record of what I see.
The [US] National Trust for Historic Preservation has released its 21st annual list of the nation's Most Endangered Historic Places. Among them: Sumner Elementary School in Topeka, Kansas, (where Linda Brown tried to register for school, resulting in Brown vs. Board of Education); New York City's Lower East Side; California's State Parks; Philadelphia's Boyd Theatre, and several others. The previous 20 years of Most Endangered Historic Places can be found in the Archive. [more inside]
Hugh Ferriss: Delineator of Gotham. Through his charcoal renderings of dramatic, imaginary skyscrapers in early 1900s New York City, Ferriss influenced the aesthetics of numerous architects with his bold compositions.
No bicycling in NYC without a license? That's right, a new law -- apparently the first of its kind in the nation -- proposed this week by bike-bashing Bronx Councilwoman Madeline Provenzano, will carry serious fines and even jail sentences for violators who ride unregistered bicycles on city streets. And yes, there will be a $25 per bike registration fee. Way to encourage alternative transport in this crowded, congested, polluted town. What next? Licenses for rollerblades, skateboards, wheelchairs? How about my running shoes -- during peak traffic they're faster and more hazardous to fellow city dwellers than my beat up old Trek, any day.