TODAY FROM THAILAND AMERICA:
POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THAILAND NEW YORK, NEW YORK:
TRAVELOGUE THREE: NEW YORK, NEW YORK, PART TWO.
High Line Park 10/10/12
There are few examples of urban architecture that can be considered masterpieces of urban design. In my opinion, High Line Park is one of them. Built upon abandoned elevated RR tracks it embodies everything several of us urged on urban planners many years ago and more; more clever and more imaginative than any of us could have foreseen.
Pookie at High Line Park
One thing that I loved is a small arena like sitting area where the tracks crossed over 10th avenue. It is like sitting above a brook or a stream except in this case the stream is the ever-varied patterns of traffic as it scurries away from you eventually to disperse and disappear from view somewhere in upper Manhattan.
The “window” overlooking 10th Avenue.
Alongside the park, developers taking advantage of the immense value their properties were gifted with by this public-private public benefit venture, have begun construction of high-rises or conversion of the district’s warehouses into incredibly expensive residential units. Many of them proudly and greedily proclaiming their proximity to High Line Park (they did it all by themselves).
Some of the new buildings built to take advantage of their location to High Line Park. The High rise on the left was designed by Frank Gehry
After Mary left to go to a meeting, I walked over to the Hudson River and ambled down the new Riverside Park, constructed as part of reconstruction of West-side highway after they took down the elevated roadway. The removal of the roadway has allowed conversion of the derelict port-side warehouses to residential. It appears these two neighborhoods (The Chelsea waterfront and High Line Park areas) are becoming part of the “New” New York.
The shoreline park is nowhere as well planed as High Line Park. Its layout, an unimaginative unitary government type design, would be considered bleak but for its location. It will not enjoy the popularity of High Line Park, in my opinion, until the upgrade of the nearby warehouses are fully completed, filled with people and the push-cart vendors move into the park.
Battery Park City walkway
As I got closer to Battery Park City, my vision of what an urban waterfront should be, the sameness of the waterfront park began to change into a more varied and interesting landscape.
Within Battery Park City, I came upon one of the most interesting sights of the city. Built upon an inclined plane was a memorial to the victims of famine in general and the Irish famine in particular. A cottage from Ireland abandoned during the famine was imbedded into what was made to look like an irish hillside. I thought it honored those it sought to remember much more that the WTC memorial.
The memorial to the victims of the Irish famine.
My day with the Gogster 10/11/12
This morning I met with Terry Goggin (the Gogster) at his apartment high above 57th Street and Seventh Avenue in Manhattan. We then climbed into a car with a driver that he explained serves as his office. (If it sounds a bit like Connelly’s the Lincoln Lawyer, it is in many ways). We set off to the site of his new restaurant in the lower east side of Manhattan on the corner of Allen and Houston. If I remember correctly this was the site of Katz’s, for many years a NY institution.
The Restaurant is under construction and is designed from bottom up as a work of art by the Gogster’s son Brian, a fairly well-known sculptor in the Bay Area. Most of its visible area is to be constructed from recycled materials. For example, the walls are paneled from old doors and hung on the walls of the piano bar are actual grand pianos. The two signature, if you will, art works in the place are a stairway made to look like a bridge and stairway to the old El and a Requilary containing a large block of ancient ice rescued from Greenland before it all melts away.
The Gogster amidst the construction. The wood burning pizza oven made to look like an old boiler is behind him.
While Terry attended a meeting, I went around the corner to eat lunch at a place that served only meatballs. Apparently single food item restaurants or shops are the current rage in NY. Yesterday I saw a restaurant in Chelsea Market in which everything was made out of or covered with chocolate.
The Lower East Side and the Bowery that separated it from Little Italy had changed beyond recognition. No longer the haunt of the iconic Bowery Bum, it was now lined with boutiques and trendy restaurants. Gone are the flop houses where the “guests” slept on the floor cages or between chalk marks on the floor (I know, I have spent several somewhat sleepless nights in several of them). These places are now all boutique hotels charging a minimum of $250 a room per night.
During the time I attended law school over forty years ago, I lived on Mott Street a few blocks away from where I was eating lunch. So, after lunch I decided to take a stroll around the area and see if the old apartment building was still there. At the time I lived there, Mott Street was still considered part of Little Italy. Mott and the neighboring streets were dotted with “social clubs;” store fronts with blacked out windows into which women were not allowed and presided over by one or another Mafia Don. These “social clubs” still remain and retain their names but now have all been converted to cute little restaurants (Where have all the Don’s gone. Gone to Vegas every one).
My old apartment building was a rent controlled seven floor walk up. I lived on the top floor. The other residents were all Italian families. As an apartment was vacated, a family would move its children or other relatives into it, until on most floors every unit was occupied by a family member. Every evening the family on my floor sent me dinner of whatever it was that the rest of the family on the floor was eating. I rarely ever ate better than I did then.
The apartment building on Mott Street. One of the old “social clubs” all tarted up appears under the red awning.
After my little walk we drove over to a metal shop in Brooklyn specializing in fabricating art works where Brian was supervising construction of the “Art Staircase” that would adorn the restaurant. Apparently there was some conflict going on with the owner of the shop over cost and payment. I wandered about looking at the other works under construction while discussions in hushed tones were held.
Gogster and son by the staircase sculpture.
Travel to airport 10/12/12
I arrived in NY on the A train and I left it on the A train to Far Rockaway. Far Rockaway, it sounds exotic doesn’t it. One could almost imagine emerging from the subway on to a sandy beach by clear blue waters; a boatload of buccaneers waiting offshore to attack. Actually, NY is one of those few major cities with large beaches within its city limits, like Rio. True Rockaway Beach and Coney Island do not quite elicit the same images in one’s mind as Copacabana or Ipanema, but they do have their own quirky and gritty charm.
When we emerged from the tunnel and into the sunlight over this section of outer Brooklyn or Queens (I never could remember which it was out here near JFK) we rode above the rows of brick attached homes and lots of trees and passed Aqueduct Raceway. I left the A train at Howard Beach and boarded the Airtrain and took it the last mile or so to my terminal at JFK.
Boarding the Airtrain car with me were two New Yorkers dressed in SF Forty-niners shirts on their way to SF to see the Niners play the Giants. One of them was from Rockaway Beach, a large pear shaped man with a pencil thin mustache and wearing a Joe Montana shirt. He explained he had been a Montana fan for all his life and was Niner fan no matter what his friends and coworkers thought about it. In an accent that could only be from Brooklyn, he told several of the other passengers that he was a scraper, someone who scraps the paint off off bridges in preparation for repainting. He also told all of us that this was only the second airplane flight he had ever taken.
So, listening to the two of them in their excitement plan what they wanted to see when they get to SF (Fisherman’s Wharf and the Crookedest Street), I pleasantly passed the time until we arrived at the terminal where I boarded the plane and left NYC behind.
What “Occupy” is all about and what it really wants:
“Never forget It was just 35 years more or less from Shakespeare to Louis XIV ; From the French and Indian War to the Louisiana Purchase ; From ‘Et Tu., Brute’ to the kid in the manger; From Fred Allen to Laugh-In.”
Peter Grenell, 2012.
Peter Grenell proves that whatever you believe the world is like when you begin your adult life, it will not be so when you end it.
“Further, it is superfluous to suppose that what can be accounted for by a few principles has been produced by many. But it seems that everything we see in the world can be accounted for by other principles, supposing God did not exist. For all natural things can be reduced to one principle which is nature; and all voluntary things can be reduced to one principle which is human reason, or will. Therefore there is no need to suppose God’s existence.
St Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica.”
Saint Thomas Aquinas proves that God is not needed to prove anything about existence.
Note: it is not simply serendipity that caused me to place Peter Grenell and St. Thomas Aquinas in the same item.
- Photo Essay: The High Line NYC (hillarydavistravels.typepad.com)
- New York City: High Line Park (alainsojourner.com)
- London Unveils High Line-Inspired Linear Park for Southbank’s New Nine Elms Development (inhabitat.com)
- New York City: Sunset View from High Park Line (alainsojourner.com)
- The Week in Design: From High Lines To Low, From Tiny Boxes To Flatpacks (treehugger.com)
- Alice Carey On The Highline (advancedstyle.blogspot.com)
- What’s New at the High Line (tripilator.com)
- Walking in New York City: 10 great walks (markinthecity.com)
- The High Line (highlifeinthelowcountry.com)
- Sydney to repurpose defunct industrial space for park (eco-business.com)