All of the images in this post are included in “The Central Park: Original Designs for New York’s Greatest Treasure,” and are courtesy of the NYC Municipal Archives.
There are few things as beautiful as a sunset in Central Park, standing beside the reservoir at 90th Street, looking west, and watching the sun sink behind the San Remo then glitter through the trees on the park’s horizon, and finally melt into the water, its colors unspooling there like ink. That view, one of so many available in the park, can be credited to the meticulous planning by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, whose extraordinary vision made Central Park one of the finest urban oases on earth.
“The Central Park: Original Designs for New York’s Greatest Treasure,” a new book by Cynthia S. Brenwall, out now from the NYC Department of Records, offers a closer look at that lanning process than ever before. Using more than 250 color photos, maps, plans, elevations, and designs — many published here for the very first time — the book chronicles the park’s creation, from conception to completion, and reveals the striking “completeness” of Olmsted and Vaux’s vision. “There was literally no detail too small to be considered,” Brenwall says. You’ll see the earliest sketches of familiar structures, and check out plans for unbuilt amenities (including a Paleozoic Museum!) 6sqft caught up with Brenwall to find out how the book came together, hear what it was like to cull through those incredible documents and snag a few secrets of Central Park.
“Bird’s-eye View of the Southern End of New York and Brooklyn, Showing the Projected Suspension–bridge over the East River from the Western Terminus in Printing-House Square,” drawn by Theodore Russell Davis (1870)
If you want to go on a visual journey that begins with Manhattan’s first European settlement, way back in the seventeenth century, up through the skyscrapers and urban planning of the late twentieth century, look no further than New York Rising: An Illustrated History from the Durst Collection. The book, set to come out on November 13th, originates from the sprawling Durst Collection at Columbia University’s Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library. Incredible photography captures the most definitive parts of New York history, accompanied by the thoughts of ten scholars who were asked to reflect on the images. Their writing ranges from the emergence of public transit to the “race for height” to affordable housing.
6sqft spoke with Thomas Mellins, who edited the book with Kate Ascher, on their efforts delving into the Durst Collection — which has its own unique history — to come up with this comprehensive visual history. See a selection of photos from the book, along with thoughts from Mellins, after the jump.
Residents of today’s cities and neighborhoods are acutely aware of the cultural histories and social nuances that shape them almost as much as their streets and bridges, architecture and businesses. A few years ago Trent Gillaspie’s “judgmental maps,” from his site by the same name, hit a nerve and went viral; the totally unserious (but not necessarily inaccurate) maps pair geography with a snapshot of real life in modern cities, towns and neighborhoods. Gillaspie’s “Judgmental New York City” was spot on in many ways with its Manhattan of “amply rich people,” “super rich people,” “aging punks” and the “worst train station ever” and a Brooklyn that went from Jay-Z to Zombies. Now, Gillaspie is releasing a book (h/t Untapped) of his signature reality-check maps, including an updated New York City map and the city’s neighborhoods, decoded.
Your city, judged
Did you check your email while you were on the train or before you left home? If you’re reading this on a smartphone or laptop, does your reading history get stored in “the Cloud,” an all-knowing nebula of information that floats above us? What does the internet look like? Those are some of the questions artist and author Ingrid Burrington asked herself, and the answers spawned “Networks of New York: An illustrated field guide to urban internet infrastructure,” a book from the presses of Melville House Books due out August 30th.
“In 2013, after a lot of the [Edward] Snowden stories started dropping, all of these [news] stories had the worst clip art and stock photos on them,” Burrington said. “Like a black screen with some green letters and a lot of arbitrary looking things like this one photo of the NSA that was taken in the 1970s, and I just kind of thought to myself, ‘I don’t know what the internet looks like, but I don’t think it looks like this.’”
READ MORE AT METRO NEW YORK…
With the holiday season right around the corner we’ve got three things on our minds, booze, gifts and of course design. This new book, “The Architecture of the Shot,” from author Paul Knorr and architectural planner Melissa Wood, speaks to all three. In keeping with the authors’ expertise, this clever piece of literature includes 75 blueprints detailing the creation of “the perfect shot from the bottom up,” as if they were each a mini building.
Loving art is about admiration, and who’s more equipped to fully understand and appreciate the value of a piece of art than an artist. The beautiful new coffee table book entitled “Artists Living with Art,” published by Abrams and written by Stacey Goergen and Amanda Benchley, gives readers an inside peek into the homes and personal art collections from some of the world’s most renowned contemporary artists including Cindy Sherman, Helen and Brice Marden, Chuck Close, Rachel Feinstein and John Currin, Glenn Ligon, and Pat Steir. From a modern Soho loft to a restored Hudson River Valley farmhouse, these homes are a showcase for the artists’ personal collections of artwork set amongst cherished objects, textiles and ceramics.
, Tue, September 29, 2015
“Cities can’t win. When they do well, people resent them as citadels of inequality; when they do badly, they are cesspools of hopelessness.” This is the opening line to Adam Gopnik‘s New Yorker review of three forthcoming urban history books: Gerard Koeppel’s “City on a Grid: How New York Became New York,” which tells the history of the city’s famous 1811 street grid plan and explores how that forever shaped life in the city; Evan Friss’ “The Cycling City: Bicycles and Urban America in the 1890s,” which recounts the rise and fall of bicycle culture in the late 19th century; and David Maraniss’ “Once in a Great City: A Detroit Story.” These very specific topics lend themselves to larger themes about the current state of our city, and in exploring these, Gopnik came out with an incredible one liner:
The things that give cities a bad conscience are self-evident: seeing the rise of 432 Park Avenue, the tallest, ugliest, and among the most expensive private residences in the city’s history—the Oligarch’s Erection, as it should be known—as a catchment for the rich from which to look down on everyone else, it is hard not to feel that the civic virtues of commonality have been betrayed.
More thought-provoking themes from the review
Photo of Julia Pierpont via Shiva Rouhani
One of the many books published this summer is Julia Pierpont’s “Among the Ten Thousand Things.” Her debut novel tells the story of an Upper West Side family–parents Jack and Deb and kids Simon and Kay–following the discovery of infidelity. Published earlier this month by Random House, it’s received plenty of praise, including a rave review in the New York Times.
Julia, who is in her late 20s, grew up on the Upper West Side and currently resides in Brooklyn. She went a few blocks north to attend Barnard College and then went downtown to to NYU’s M.F.A. program, where she began writing the book. The story is peppered with lines New Yorkers will relate to, especially anyone who spent their childhood in Manhattan. “There were things you learned early, growing up in the city, and there things you learned late, or not at all,” she writes, exploring the idea of what city kids gain, but also what they lack in comparison to their suburban counterparts. Then there are her descriptions. One line that seems particularly fitting given the temperature reads, “Central air seemed the greatest of suburban luxuries. It was like living inside a Duane Reade.”
Before she did a reading in Oxford, Mississippi, we spoke with Julia to find out about her life in New York and what role it played in “Among the Ten Thousand Things.”
Get the scoop from Julia here
There’s been a lot of novels set in New York City (guilty myself, two times). When done right, such work can serve as a portal to the past, when New York was a distinctly different place, one often defined by its era and often in direct contrast to the current conditions.
In Eamon Loingsigh’s powerful new novel, Light of the Diddicoy, reference is made in the very first line to the area “Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass.” Of course, any New Yorker worth his/her salted caramel custard from Shake Shack knows DUMBO, the Brooklyn nabe known for its pricey lofts and tony boutiques, its art galleries and swank eateries and a grassy park that sprawls along the water’s edge below the span of East River bridges. Lovely. The characters in Loingsigh’s novel aren’t so privileged, for they lived in DUMBO 100 years ago, long before any clunky acronyms, when the waterfront was a war zone, and the novel’s narrator, Liam Garrity, a displaced and desperate Irish immigrant, all of 14 years, fell in with a brutal gang as a matter of survival.
More about ‘Light of the Diddicoy’ here