Saturday, December 22, 2007

am New York: 'Endangered New York: 10 (more) to save'

Yesterday, am New York ran a two-page article titled 'Endangered New York: 10 (more) to save'. The sites mentioned were interesting (not quite what I expected), and professionally, one of the sites is one that my employer will have played a large part in demolishing. (I understand and am sympathetic to my employer's organizational decision, but it was good to hear the counterpoint, as little organizational context as it included.) There are several links and image slideshows related to the article; here is the link.

Of course, the images of Admiral's Row in the Brooklyn Navy Yard are immediately viewed as beautiful and worthy of saving (aesthetically and historically), but three other mentioned locations resulted in a more personal introspection --

Modernist architecture

In the article, Peg Breen, president of the The New York Landmarks Conservancy, is quoted as saying "I think modern buildings aren't as easy to love sometimes...some...require a more intellectual understanding." Breen's statement hits the nail on the head.

Cited as examples in the article are The New York Public Library's Donnell Library Center, the Morris B. Sanders House in Turtle Bay, and the George Washington Bridge Bus Station. I find it difficult to aesthetically appreciate Donnell and the Bus Station, but intellectually I appreciate both structures. Is modernist architecture the first movement of architecture that this time period's population views as disposable? Is modernist architecture harder to take care of, therefore it looks more worn? Or is it simply underappreciated, and why? Many people immediately react positively to Art Deco buildings (which I don't personally like). Why is that? Is it the age, or do specific architectural elements identify with individuals interacting with the buildings?

St. Vincent's Hospital

I used to live near St. Vincent's Hospital, and I will never forget watching the Twin Towers burn from my vantage point across the street. I have been operated on at St. Vincent's, and I still routinely travel there for various tests. (Nothing serious; I love up-to-the-minute healthcare!) Nonetheless, St. Vincent's filed for bankruptcy a couple of years ago, so there are now financial/economic and architectural concerns. At a lunch I attended last month with Greenwich Village activisits/preservationists/concerned citizens, St. Vincent's was mentioned several times as being the biggest preservation issue that might affect living conditions in Greenwich Village.

The humble diner

Yes, the New York City diner is disappearing, and it's a shame. (New York magazine wrote about this in 2004, but it bears repeating.) One of the things I noticed when I moved to New York City in early 1996 was the prevalence of NYC diners. It made me happy. After I read this article yesterday, I went to lunch at a diner on Madison and 33rd and ordered sausage and eggs (over easy) with home fries and rye toast. Support your local diner!

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