A Whirlwind of Change: the Essex Street Market and the Lower East Side

Rapid change seems to be factor in any highly populated area.  New York City’s tiny barrios, sections, and areas seem to especially prone to it.  For every stalwart surviving building or business, there are dozens of shiny new additions.  I don’t travel to the Lower East Side (located south of Houston Street, north of Canal Street and East of Broadway) often, but when I do, I am struck by its rate of change.

Every building is a potential canvas, every storefront a quick-change artist.  Old, grey housing blocks await demolition and already-planned replacements warm up in the wings.

Here are a few photos that I took on Open House New York Weekend (October 14-15) of the Essex Street Market and nearby streets.  There has been a market at 120 Essex Street for more than 100 years, but this too will change next year.  The market will move from its basic but cheery building to a new “mixed use” development around the corner.  I can only hope that it doesn’t lose its charm in the process.

The Essex Market

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Finding Lightness at the World Trade Center

On a recent, sunny, crisp afternoon, I took a walk through Lower Manhattan.  I decided to head below ground to see the place where I had walked exactly 16 years and 6 days ago.  It was the old World Trade Center Plaza where I had stood in a soft rain on Sept. 10th, 2001, only to learn that the free dance performance I’d come to see had been rained out.

I then walked through the dark, claustrophobic rabbit warren of a mall that occupied the few floors just below ground, picked up a few things and went home.  I had no idea what would happen to this place only 12 hours later.

After the tragedy of September 11, 2001, there were seemingly endless quarrels and delays in the rebuilding process.  As a result, it happened in a piece-meal fashion.  There were some highlights- the opening of 7 World Trade Center, shiny and futuristic just a few years later.  Then there was the demolition of the Deutsche Bank building and the slow rise of 1 World Trade Center (the Freedom Tower) which finally opened in 2013.

Alongside the Freedom Tour, the bony wings of Calatrava’s “phoenix” also slowly transformed a new transit station.  Again, it was beleaguered by delays.

My walk this weekend confirmed, at least for me, that the wait was worth it.  Although the new space is largely a mall- the Westfield World Trade Center- it is also a lovely, soaring public space.  It is light-filled and white, with clean bathrooms, a myriad of food, market and retail options.  It’s soaring wings seem to protect us from the canyons of skyscrapers on all sides, and the Oculus seems to be a fitting reminder of what once stood there.

On a recent, sunny, crisp afternoon, I took a walk through Lower Manhattan.  I decided to head below ground to see the place where I had walked exactly 16 years and 6 days ago.  It was the old World Trade Center Plaza where I had stood in a soft rain on Sept. 10th, 2001, only to learn that the free dance performance I’d come to see had been rained out.

I then walked through the dark, claustrophobic rabbit warren of a mall that occupied the few floors just below ground, picked up a few things and went home.  I had no idea what would happen to this place only 12 hours later.

After the tragedy of September 11, 2001, there were seemingly endless quarrels and delays in the rebuilding process.  As a result, it happened in a piece-meal fashion.  There were some highlights- the opening of 7 World Trade Center, shiny and futuristic just a few years later.  Then there was the demolition of the Deutsche Bank building and the slow rise of 1 World Trade Center (the Freedom Tower) which finally opened in 2013.

Alongside the Freedom Tour, the bony wings of Calatrava’s “phoenix” also slowly transformed a new transit station.  Again, it was beleaguered by delays.

My walk this weekend confirmed, at least for me, that the wait was worth it.  Although the new space is largely a mall- the Westfield World Trade Center- it is also a lovely, soaring public space.  It is light-filled and white, with clean bathrooms, a myriad of food, market and retail options.  It’s soaring wings seem to protect us from the canyons of skyscrapers on all sides, and the Oculus seems to be a fitting reminder of what once stood there.

 

Escape the Jangle of the City

via Daily Prompt: Jangle

Within of my favorite places, the Brooklyn Botanical Garden, I recently discovered the reinvigorated Native Flora Garden.  I found it to be an incredible escape from the jangle of life in New York City.  Brookyn’s three million human inhabitants so often get the upper hand and it is easy to forget that we are not alone in the city.  This garden is cool and quiet and ripe with life, the perfect respite on a busy summer day.

 

Beyond the Cityscape

Over the past 15 years, I have been primarily interested in documenting city life both at home in New York and abroad.  Parks and green spaces within urban areas have also been a frequent theme in my photography.  However, last fall I began taking some photography classes that have encouraged me to expand my repertoire.  These experiences have encouraged me to look up, down, and sideways for the unexpected within the city’s confines, for happy accidents that create interesting visual imagery.

Here are a few of my recent photographic experiments.  I hope you enjoy them!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Welcome, spring!

spring campus-COLLAGESpring has finally arrived in New York City.  In our northern climate, she often sneaks in slowly and flies away quickly, squeezed on either side by the more muscular New York winters and summers.

The warmer weather means a return to blogging for me, as I much prefer taking photos in the light of spring in summer.  Today I offer a haiku in celebration, and of course, a few photos.

The Bashful Tree

The pink and white tree

knows not whom she wants to be.

Spread your wings, dear tree!

pink-white tree

Waiting for the Bus at Sundown

  1. 20170307_17253320170307_173813I  tend to wax poetic in my posts about New York City. Today I will not cover art, music, dance or culture. I will simply share some photos taken with my Samsung Galaxy 7 camera while enduring an extra long wait for the bus in Brooklyn. Waiting, after all, is part of contemporary life, especially for urbanites.

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New Second Avenue Subway Stations Offer a Top Notch Art Experience for $2.75 or Less

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A few of Vik Muniz’s “characters,” or people seen riding the subway, from actual photos

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The dawn of a new year has brought considerable excitement to residents of Manhattan’s storied Upper East Side, to Q line subway  riders (myself included), to transit enthusiasts, and to admirers of public and contemporary art (me again!).

The multi-billion Second Avenue Subway project, decades in the making, opened with a bang on New Years Day 2017, debuting a reconfigured 63rd and Lexington Avenue Station, and three bright and spacious new stations at 72nd Street, 86th Street and 96th Street and Second Avenue, all serviced by the Q train.

It’s not often that we New Yorkers feel good about our subway stations, but what I saw blew me away.  I won’t go into great detail*, as much has already been written, but will share some images of the permanent art on display.

Over the last 20+ years, commissioned public art has become much more commonplace in the City’s transit hubs.  The art is usually added to rehabilitated stations.  This time, the art and the stations where designed with each other in mind and the result is stunning!

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Sarah Sze’s monumental “Blueprint for a Landscape” at the 96th Street station

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Some of the murals and mosaics can be viewed by simply entering the stations before one reaches the turnstiles, like this one, by Chuck Close.

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To see all of the art work, one can pay only $2.75, ride up to 96th Street, and then visit each stop: 86th, 72nd and 63rd  on the way back downtown. There’s no need to pay $25 to visit a local art museum!

The slideshow below features images by Chuck Close at the 86th Street Station

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Kudos to all who worked to complete these stations.  They are worth a visit!

*For more on the history of the Second Avenue Subway: http://nyti.ms/2iGcmey

Scenes from Brooklyn’s Beach Avenues

A few unusual and colorful roads run parallel through Brooklyn’s diverse beach communities. Brooklyn’s beaches occupy a small jetty of land that runs three or four miles east to west, with the Atlantic Ocean to the south and Sheepshead Bay, Jamaica Bay and Coney Island Creek to the north east.

The pictures that follow were taken along Oriental Boulevard, Brighton Beach Avenue and Shore Parkway.  I hope that they capture some of the great diversity of life in these communities.

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Swans in Motion, Sheepshead Bay

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Rocks at the Seawall

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Sheepshead Bay

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Ropes by the Bay

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Track Practice, Oriental Boulevard

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Residential Manhattan Beach/Oriental Blvd

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Brighton Beach, LIttle Russia By the Sea

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Brighton Beach Avenue under the Elevated Tracks

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Brighton Beach Elevated at Sundown

 

Quest: For Old New York

A walk around New York’s Lower East Side and East Village never disappoints.  Surprises abound.  Perhaps the most surprising for me during a recent walk there is that in the midst of constant change, gentrification and “progress”, there are some locals clearly on a quest to remain the same.  Old New York lives on through their businesses–this is no easy task in our city.

In addition the places shown below, my quest took me to a Polish butcher shop, two antiques stores and past an old Dairy Restaurant, so named for it’s adherence to Kosher provisions regarding serving dairy and meat products in the same area.

The weekly theme is ‘quest’.

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Yonah Schimmel’s Knishery, Established 1911

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Old New York Favorites the Knish and the Egg Cream are Joined Here by Borscht

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Block’s Drug Store- a True Time Warp

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Memorabilia at Yonah’s