by Laura Matiz
A new year represents an opportunity for new adventures. Armed with an umbrella for the rainy Monday after New Year's Day, my husband and I walked to the newly opened 72nd Street stop of the Second Avenue subway. The new line had started running the day before with Governor Cuomo leading the ceremonial first trip.
A first impression one gets is how much deeper underground this line is than the Lexington Avenue trains. It is a long escalator ride down. After a quick turn off the escalators, the upper level of the station is on the other side of the turnstiles. That upper level is a well-lit space with high ceilings. There are stairs and escalators to track level along the center. The upper levels have been the talk of the opening because of the public art installations.
The mosaics on the 72nd Street station are a treat. In fact, many of the people at the station were looping around viewing the mosaics as if at a museum. Vik Muniz, the artist behind the mosaics at 72nd, features New Yorkers in whimsical poses as if waiting or running for the train, including a self-portrait with the artist running after papers spilling from his briefcase.
After stopping at two other stations, 96th Street and 86th Street, we exited with a sense of joy and pride. Like many curious New Yorkers, we took many pictures, some shared here. We congratulated a number of MTA employees that were on hand with information and pamphlets. We felt a need to give someone credit for the undertaking and the accomplishment, for the opening of a new subway line is a once-in-a-lifetime event notwithstanding that it had been in the works for more than a lifetime.
— 12/28/2014: NYC Underground: New Transit Projects
by Laura Matiz
The Real Deal recently ran an article on this map of New York. The map, from around the turn of the 20th Century, is exquisitely detailed by the illustrator, Josef Klemm. His map is a bird's-eye view of the city before the rise of the skyscrapers. The map is meticulous enough that one can spend hours focusing on the details. Below is a screen grab of Central Park and surroundings.
Maps like these are enjoyable to explore and many such maps are accessible from the expansive David Rumsey Map Collection. Map enthusiasts are likely to be aware of this source, but if you are not, it is worth checking out. The online collection houses over 150,000 maps.
For example, doing a quick search for New York City maps, I found this map from 1926 by Charles Farrow titled, "A Map of the Wondrous Isle of Manhattan."
Below, I share some highlights. First, the map's medallion has such nice touches, including the warning, "The scale is all askew," which is true. An elevated train circles the medallion's top border and a subway is below ground on the bottom border. The couples from the Roaring Twenties add to a feeling of the Jazz Age. This is the kind of map that could be used as the background for an opening sequence for a movie adaptation of The Great Gatsby. Another detail is the northwest corner showing the Cathedral of St. John the Divine and Columbia University. It also shows the infamous S (for Suicide) Curve of the Ninth Avenue El (see photo).
The map's border also caught my attention. The strip of antique cars and pedestrians is energized and active. You can see why the pedestrians need to move out of the way—fast. The whimsical drawing reminds me of the illustrations in old Monopoly sets.
I hope you take some time to look around these two maps and the full Rumsey collection, just make sure you have a few hours.
by Laura Matiz
I enjoy looking at films or photos that depict well-known New York buildings or structures in an earlier time. Not long ago, I ran into the Guggenheim Museum's posting by Francine Snyder on their opening day film, "Building and Crowds," shot on October 21, 1959. I posted on Twitter a link to the film noting some of the obvious changes.
Soon after that tweet, I happened to be in the park near the Guggenheim Museum and I took the opportunity to take some photos matching scenes from the film. I selected these two sets of pics to share: one from Fifth Avenue looking down 89th Street and one from 88th Street.
The 1959 film was shot on a beautiful fall day. There's even a stylish 1950s convertible driving north in the 88th Street frame. There are some notable differences from 1959: two-way traffic on Fifth Avenue, green and white New York City buses, and few lampposts and street signs. In 1959, the museum tower on the 89th Street side did not exist. (A tower was added in 1968 over the garage entrance, constructed by William Wesley Peters, Frank Lloyd Wright’s son-in-law. That was replaced by the current tower in 1992.) Another difference is that the trees were mostly bare on October 21, 1959. Today, with photos taken a week later in October, the trees are still full and mostly green.
by Laura Matiz
As a contributor to the Central Park Conservancy, I receive their literature quite often. The Conservancy often communicates the state of Central Park using numbers, something they do quite well. For example, Central Park now welcomes over 42 million visitors a year, although on some weekends, it feels like all 42 million are in the park at the same time. That's a mighty task to keep the park looking as good as it does day in day out.
The Central Park Conservancy's latest restoration project is the Grand Army Plaza entrance on the southeast corner of the park (Fifth Avenue & 59th Street). The iconic monument of Civil War General William Tecumseh Sherman is the focal point. From his high perch in new and protected gold-leaf covering, he looks down on a beautifully reconstructed plaza with new benches shaded by a double row of London plane trees, replacing the ones lost in the snowstorm of October 2011. While the southeast corner of the park is often quite crowded and bustling, it will be worth sitting on one of the new benches and contemplating this latest restoration.
Learn all about the Grand Army Plaza in this audio clip from the Central Park Conservancy.
by Laura Matiz
Last week I ran across PlaceILive.com and their Life Quality Index. I was intrigued by their safety/crime map (see screenshot), especially having read recent media coverage about New York City continuing to be one of the safest cities in the country. As a lifelong New Yorker, seeing the crime rate drop the way it has is something I proudly recite to out-of-town visitors, while gently warning them that NYC is still a big city and to stay aware.
In terms of real estate value, few things matter more than crime rate and safety. The lower crime rate in New York has been a major factor in the tremendous growth in real estate value over the last decade. The Life Quality Index as shown on the PlaceILive.com map includes many other factors as shown in the image. Manhattan's Life Quality Index is currently at 62, although many neighborhoods reach into the 90s.
Give NewYork.PlaceILive.com maps a try. The many data mappings are fun to explore at a macro level and at a micro level focusing on distinct areas and neighborhoods.
Categories: Open Data
by Laura Matiz
The Water Tank Project aims to raise awareness about that most critical of resources that we sometimes take for granted: water. H2O. There are 17,000 tanks in the city, hinting at the abundance we enjoy, but that is not the case in many parts of the world. Founded by Mary Jordan, an artist and filmmaker, The Water Tank Project wraps artwork created by acclaimed artists around the iconic water tanks of the New York City skyline. This project caught my attention a couple of years ago when I was introduced to it by Brook Christopher, the official photographer for The Water Tank Project, and I have been following the project since.
My photo safari began when Brook Christopher – who has been documenting the process since inception – asked me to accompany her on a mission to capture a couple of the covered tanks in lower Manhattan. Her task was to photograph "Gush" by Marilyn Minter and "Psychogeographies" by Dustin Yellen, shown below.
by Laura Matiz
From its humble beginnings in 1970 when only 127 runners showed up to the starting line with only 55 men finishing the race, the New York City marathon has grown to become one of those quintessential gatherings that make New York City the crossroads to the world. It is also one of those Sundays that becomes a real estate holiday. Few brave brokers take out clients on marathon day in a city that is mostly gridlocked and impassible. Instead, we walk to First Avenue or to the Drive in Central Park to cheer on the laboring runners, commenting on how uncomfortable some of them appear. Their reward still miles away.