Monday, May 21, 2018

In the Sun

27th Avenue, no. 805, Astoria, Long Island City, Queens
Berenice Abbott - May, 1937 (NYPL)

Saturday, May 19, 2018


Russo demo crew at 217 9th


Bella Donna, 2011

Brooklyn home collapse rattles neighbors, sparks evacuations (Daily News)

Former CB6 Manager Forged Papers To Give Himself Raises, DA Says (Patch)
The former district manager for Community Board 6, who resigned last year after being accused of stalking his ex-girlfriend, is now facing charges that he forged signatures of board members to give himself unauthorized pay raises.
Craig Hammerman, 53, was hit with a 17-count indictment on Monday for giving himself more than $38,000 in raises over a two year period by forging his manager's approval on documents, Brooklyn's District Attorney Eric Gonzalez announced.

NYC’s ‘participatory budgeting’ procedure doles out millions, though few actually vote (Eagle)
Voting was conducted over nine days during the spring at sites overseen by trained poll workers. Voters could also make their selections online or through LinkNYC sidewalk kiosks after verifying their identity.
Nonetheless, the program suffers from low voter turnout.
In Lander’s District 39, which includes the relatively well-educated and empowered citizens of Cobble Hill, Gowanus and Park Slope, just 6,000 residents voted out of roughly 127,650 eligible voters over the age of 10. That’s a turnout rate of just 4.7 percent — compatred to a low 8 percent in the 2016 federal primary election, 35 percent in the presidential primary, and 62 percent in the November General Election, according to Gotham Gazette.

In Staten Island, a remote wilderness is threatened by encroaching development: Touring the urban wilds of the Sharrotts Shoreline on Staten Island’s southern end (Nathan Kensinger at Curbed)
On the South Shore of Staten Island, where Tappen’s Creek flows into the Arthur Kill, a remote wilderness has taken root on forgotten land. Deer and woodchucks wander through forests filled with abandoned cars; geese and ducks paddle around marshlands littered with engine blocks; and ospreys nest in a boat graveyard.
This is the Sharrotts Shoreline, a unique maritime habitat that has somehow managed to thrive, even after decades of neglect. Isolated and almost inaccessible, the secluded coastline here is part of the rural neighborhood of Charleston, where the narrow roads are lined with Victorian homes, ancient cemeteries, and active horse stables. There are no signs or public paths connecting this community to its shoreline, which is perhaps one reason why the wildlife here has flourished.

Foamland Security: Ferry Riders Say de Blasio’s Subsidies Spare Them Subway Trauma (Voice)
Each of the existing SBS routes carries more passengers alone than the ferry system in total. Some individual SBS routes, such as the Bx12 (15,576,377 annual riders) or the M15 (14,128,504) carry orders of magnitude more New Yorkers per year than the entire ferry system.

The Gentrification of Canal Street (NY Times) Re-edited after publication, with a fresh title, but still a read & wince Times piece ...
“Personally, I love the grittiness of it,” said Ms. Standefer, who likened Canal Street to the area around NoMad, where she and Mr. Alesch designed the Ace Hotel. “Both have this thriving, high-low energy.”

Beloved Street-Fashion Photographer Bill Cunningham Is Getting a Career-Spanning Museum Retrospective (artnet)
The show will be on view (at The New York Historical Society) from June through September, drawing to a close just in time for New York Fashion Week and the highly anticipated publication of Cunningham’s secret memoir, Fashion Climbing, discovered by his loved ones after his death.

Modernists & Mavericks: Bacon, Freud, Hockney and the London Painters by Martin Gayford – review (Guardian)
Gayford deploys Bacon’s voice to brilliant effect, and you hang on to every word, from his conviction that he wanted his pictures to look as if a human being had passed between them, leaving a trace of human presence “as a snail leaves its slime”, to his sudden, hungry observation, made one sunny day in Soho, that a horizontal shadow “eats into the figure, like a disease”.

Hamlet, thy name is woman: Why Michelle Terry's Globe is staging post-gender Shakespeare (Guardian)
“We have at our disposal a canon and a body of work that is essentially about the human being,” explains Terry, summing up her approach to the plays and to the casting of them. “There are no character descriptions in Shakespeare. There is nothing prescriptive about who can and should play what. Our job as actors is to offer up the impression of a person’s character in all its complexities and ambiguities.”
This then offers up the possibility of alternative ways of looking at the world. “For me,” Terry says, “that is what Shakespeare was doing within the limiting constraints that he was writing in. We don’t have those constraints anymore.

The Last Derelict House In Spitalfields (Spitalfields Life)
Of all the old houses in Spitalfields I know, this is the one that has most retained its soul. The house holds its own silence and the din of the contemporary world is drowned out by it.

Friday, May 18, 2018

On 9th Street

Here are some shots of 217 9th Street.  Amongst the crowd of burly men assessing the scene, or simply schmoozing on the sidewalk, we think we spotted a lone woman, familiar figure on the demolition scene Marie Grasso.  If not her 'twas her doppelganger.  Bystanders, including myself, were transfixed by the scene, & all of us hoping the demo would get done good & quick, to let the people on either side to get back in their buildings.  A DOB honcho was keeping the timeline for this on a strictly "no comment" level.

Building Collapse at 217 9th

Updated 5/18:

Demolition plans were filed for 217 9th Street a week ago. On Thursday night, the building partially collapsed.  Fortunately the building was vacant and there were no injuries, but a number of nearby neighbors have been evacuated from their homes. More to follow.

By coincidence, I wrote a post on the house yesterday, which was posted today. It references an earlier post from 2015, which included the following:

The building last changed hands almost twenty years ago, and is being developed by its longtime owner. According to a story in The Daily News, in 2010 Mr. Singh and his wife, Thackoordai, were indicted on fraud charges. 

 A couple who own $12 million worth of real estate conned Medicaid into accepting their application and received $9,000 in free medical care, the Brooklyn district attorney charged Wednesday. 
Praim (Roger) Singh, 55, and his wife, Thackoordai Singh, 55, who own 16 properties in Brooklyn, face a minimum of seven years in prison. 
They are charged with falsifying their Medicaid applications - claiming they did not own any property, businesses or bank accounts and subsisted solely on Praim Singh's $225weekly salary.                                                                                                                                          (Daily News)

In recent years, Mr. Singh appears to have sold at least some of his many properties.

The post I wrote yesterday:

Back in 2015 plans were filed for a new building at 217 9th, one of the last grand wooden houses on 9th Street between Third & Fifth Avenues. The plans were disapproved and the old house remained.  Now a demolition application has been processed, so it looks like new building plans are may be on the way again.

Since 2015, the north side of the block has seen some changes.  Houses at 227-233 9th (two brick, two frame) were demolished, and a seven-story apartment building is currently under construction.  Closer to Third, a rental building has risen.  There's that de rigueur Kentile sign again.

Another Supermarket Gone

At the end of last year I noticed that the Bravo supermarket space was up for lease.  Bravo has remained open since then, but will be closing at the end of the month. The owner of the store is retiring, and there's no word on what business will be coming in next.  I doubt it will be a supermarket.

Bravo is a New York-based company. Most of its stores are in the New York area (especially Brooklyn & Queens) and in Florida. It caters especially to Latino shoppers. There are a couple of other Bravos not too far away in Sunset Park.  But with the area ever more wealthy and white, with rents increasing and land turned over for development, this kind of mid-sized market is vanishing.  Emporium, at Fifth & 7th, is still around, and has shifted a little to cater to newer shoppers; the hot lunch table has gone and some of the items are slightly more upmarket.  But it's still a regular, unpretentious kind of store, still skewed towards an older, less affluent, residential base.

The shelves are starting to empty at Bravo.  All the packaged items are selling at a 50% discount - an excellent deal for thrifty shoppers and those on a budget.  But you'll carry your bargains home with a heavy heart.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Plans filed on 23rd

Update on 303-305 23rd Street.

Plans have been filed for a four-story, eleven unit building, with a 303 23rd Street address.  The architect on record is Manhattan based Marin Architects.  The 50 ft. tall, 20,000 sq. ft. building, standing on a 78 ft. lot, will, according to NY YIMBY, include car & bicycle parking, & a recreation room.

Bliss Street

I like taking pictures through windows too.  It's always a gamble, so the pleasure's all the sweeter when the smear of the glass is just fine for that one bright moment passing Bliss Street on a summer afternoon.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Road Trip

I don't know much about Walter Silver (1923 - 1998) other than that he taught at The School of Visual Arts, and also worked as a commercial photographer.  The New York Public Library has over a thousand of his photographs in its digital collection.

The bulk of the photographs date from the 1950s - mostly pictures taken in New York, but also shots of London, Barcelona & Paris.  The New York pictures reveal a life lived at the center of the New York art world: casual, familiar pictures of studios, apartments & galleries, & the artists & writers who lived & worked in them. De Koonings, Rauschenberg, Frankenthaler, Rivers, Hartigan, Schuyler, O'Hara, Koch, et al.  The Downtown streets are represented too - clusters of street kids, dozing cats, men in hats at restaurant counters, laborers on building sites, elderly women - carefully dressed - sitting alone on sidewalk benches, waiting. 

70s pictures show billboards & graffiti, and a group from the 80s - maybe my favorites - suddenly leap into color. These color pictures are taken during bus trips.

Some of them are urban shots & others quit the city for the highway, passing tattoo parlors, parking lots, railroad cars & hitchhikers, fields & sunsets.  There's a transient beauty in this kind of photograph, taken at a light, in a jam, or on a pit stop.  You could be right there on the bus yourself, looking out the window, watching the miles go by.  The country comes right through.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018



The grey house at 197 23rd Street disappeared a couple of years ago.  There's a three-story plus penthouse there today.  Now it's the turn of 199 (at right).  On the filed demolitions at the DOB, the same owner is listed for both buildings.  199 looks pretty much the same today, minus its larger awning.  Both the buildings above were/are wooden, with stone & brick veneers, though 199 only got its front done.   In 1913 a resident of 199, Michael Parella, claimed to have been robbed in a nearby saloon.

Monday, May 14, 2018


I'd stood upon the elevated platform at Astoria Boulevard heaps of times but never saw the narrow slice of landscape where the bridge appears until the other day. And I wouldn't have seen it then unless it was pointed out to me.  There it was, in faint blue, wedged in with traffic lanes, three rowhousess, a strip of modern windows & a brick red fire escape.  It's easy to miss with all the visual mayhem going on - the limbs & skywards arrow, & the APE APE APE. And loudest of all the Realty 2000 T .  You're a kid on a sugar rush as your eyes zoom around the canvas, but if you can slow things down you can look more peacefully at ducts and vents and chimney tops and the soothing side of the apartment building -soft and brown and restful.  And then you're on the move again.    

Friday, May 11, 2018



How Riders Won the Fight for Better Buses in New York City (CitiLab)
After years of ringing the alarms, it looks as if engaged riders have convinced this massive transit agency to dedicate serious resources to a failing system. Now they’ll be waiting, and fighting, to see the results.

Mayor's BQX streetcar left out of city budget - omission of Brooklyn-Queens project pushes it back a year amid questions about feasibility (Crain's)
A 16-mile streetcar service proposed for the Brooklyn-Queens waterfront is unfunded in the Economic Development Corp.'s proposed budget, suggesting that preliminary planning might not begin for at least a year—should the city ever move forward with the project.

Anthology Film Archives – 2018 Village Awardee (Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation)
There is simply nothing like Anthology Film Archives (AFA) in NYC or anywhere else in the world in terms of its sole focus on the art and culture of avant-garde film. It was founded in 1970 when Lithuanian √©migr√© and artist Jonas Mekas and four other film devotees envisioned a permanent home for independent films. The organization’s original home was at The Public Theater. Three moves later, in 1988, it arrived at its present Second Avenue location. This building was a municipal courthouse and jail designed by architect Alfred Hopkins, built 1917-19 in the Renaissance Revival style. As Manhattan’s 3rd District courthouse, it was known as the Essex Market Courthouse.

Author Talk:"When Brooklyn Was Queer" with Hugh Ryan (BPL)
In this illuminating talk, journalist and curator Hugh Ryan will discuss the ways in which, for more than a century, the waterfront spaces in Brooklyn supported Brooklyn's queer community - providing work, entertainment, and anonymity.  From Coney Island to Red Hook - the Navy Yard to Brooklyn Heights, these areas offered a sense of freedom and belonging not found anywhere else in the borough.

Paul Gardner’s Collection (Spitalfields Life)
You will recall that I have written about Paul Gardner, the fourth generation paper bag seller, quite a few times in these pages. Gardners’ Market Sundriesmen is the longest established family business in Spitalfields, trading in the same building for one hundred and forty years, and acquiring a unique assembly of heirlooms.
... Paul told me that if he were a paper bag, he would be a brown paper bag because they are his bestsellers – multi-purpose bags, and the ones he has made most money out of over the years. So it is entirely appropriate that when Spitalfields Life Contributing Artist Lucinda Rogers drew her portrait of Paul in his shop a few years back, she drew it on brown paper. Now it hangs in pride of place high up on the wall behind the counter.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Replacement Hardware

It's always a comfort to slip into Julius Knipl territory.  Even on busy West 17th a business can defy the decades. Barry Supply Company: Replacement Hardware Specialists - music to my ears.  Look at that blue & candy colored lettering, with types of parts supplied inside lined up in jaunty slant formation.  Hardware poetry: kitchen drawer guides, shower door rollers, window balances, obsolete parts.  The parts themselves, serviceably illustrated, are a little obscure to those outside the trade, and this is as it should be.  There's nothing I like better than the arcane languages of specialized businesses & amateur (or scholarly) obsessions.  You have to be in the know.