INTERVIEWER: You’ve often said New York is your favorite city: Was it love at first sight?
SIMIC: It was. It was an astonishing sight in 1954. Europe was so gray and New York was so bright; there were so many colors, the advertisements, the yellow taxicabs. America was only five days away by ship, but it felt as distant as China does today. European cities are like operatic stage sets. New York looked like painted sets in a sideshow at a carnival where the bearded lady, sword- swallowers, snake charmers, and magicians make their appearances.
[Photo Credit: Andre Robe]
My father’s best friend Marty died yesterday. I found out this morning from his daughter who sent me a message on Facebook.
I thought of Marty on my way to work, and the unabiding loyalty he shard with Dad for more than 50 years.
A melancholy song by Guy Clark played on my iPhone:
At a 145th Street, a young man walked onto the train holding a cardboard box. I removed one earbud after he started to talk. His voice was bright and clear. I thought he was selling candy. Instead, he said that he was Pete Seeger’s grandson. He moved through the car and handed out pamphlets for something called Seegerfest. I took a pamphlet and told him that I admired his grandfather. He said that both of his grandparents died in the past year and that he missed them very much.
At the next stop he left the car and went to the next one. His grandparents would be proud.
Many consider the destruction of New York’s original Pennsylvania Station in 1963 to have been the architectural crime of the twentieth century. But few know how close we came to also losing its counterpart, Grand Central Terminal, a hub every bit as irreplaceable. Grand Central’s salvation has generally been told as a tale of aroused civic virtue, which it was. Yet it was, as well, an affirming episode for those of us convinced that our political culture has become an endless clown-car act with the same fools always leaping out.
“In New York then, I learn to appreciate the Italian Renaissance,” said Le Corbusier of Grand Central. “It is so well done that you could believe it to be genuine. It even has a strange, new firmness which is not Italian, but American.” It was not seen as such by its owner, New York Central Railroad, which viewed it mostly as a cash cow. As early as 1954, the Central proposed replacing the terminal with something called The Hyberboloid — an I. M. Pei monstrosity that, at 108 stories and 1,600 feet, would have become the world’s tallest building at the time. There was enough public outcry that a scaled-down Hyberboloid was built instead just north of Grand Central, where it was retitled the Pan Am (later the Met Life) Building. Even at a lesser height, it proved every bit as grotesque as promised.
Still unsatisfied, New York Central proposed in 1961 to build a three-level bowling alley over Grand Central’s Main Concourse, which would have required lowering the ceiling from sixty feet to fifteen and cutting off from view its glorious blue mural of the zodiac. This, too, was stopped. Foiled again, New York Central resorted to plastering the terminal with ads and bombarding travelers with canned Muzak, complete with commercials, over the public address system.
[Photo Credit: Boris Yale Klapwald/Brain-Ink]
Well I guess it’s about time for another Where & When. The last couple of games have been pretty interesting if I do say so myself, here’s hoping I can keep that ball rolling (as opposed to what the Yanks defense did last night) with his, as it turns out, rather dour entry to the canon. I dedicate this one to our rather illustrious Gloomy Guses of the Banter:
I’m going to spare you a whole lot of drama on this one, because unless you’ve got a real eye for details you’re likely not going to get a clue within this picture of where this can be. It’s in New York, in a place that would become very well known and lit up with activity starting a few years after this picture was taken (in fact, it was sort of already lit up at this point, but not nearly as much as it would be in the ensuing years). In the direct center of this picture, a person who would become world renown and whose works would become synonymous with the neighborhood was born in a room in the building to the left of the lamp post. The picture was taken about nine years after his birth. Also, relative to what yesterday’s game ultimately was, the region would change it’s name in a few years and in time begin a tradition that endures to this day.
I’m tasking you with naming this region and the year this picture was taken. I know it’s a long shot, but if you consider the clues I’ve given you, you won’t suffer as much. Bonuses to whomever determines (my logic for one) the name of the person I refer to being born in the building I pointed out, the name of that building in particular and how this is relative to the people I dedicated the game to today (in jest, naturally). It’s a long season as we fairly predicted it would be, so we gotta keep each other up until reinforcements arrive (and hopefully not by postponing the future yet again). Root beers, cream sodas, floats and brownies, all that. You know the routine, let’s do this like Leeroy Jenkins.
[photo credit: MCNY Blog]
Here we are again with another Where & When! (That dumb rhyme was unintentional; it happens.) Speaking of happens, it just so happens you might get this without looking too hard, but I was inspired by the old and almost equally lost neighborhood play:
An interesting, if far from glorious picture, but I will link to some of the glory from this location after you figure out where this location actually is. I don’t have an actually reference date for this photo, so for the when let’s go with what you know about the location. For the bonus question, tell us two prominent features near the location that still exist today (you’re either gonna laugh or tsk me this one).
So you know the rules; show your work and complete answers, first one to he finish line gets the frosty mug of root beer and the bonus gets you a scoop of ice cream; all others get a cold mug of cream soda for the effort. Stick around for a little history lesson (feel free to enlighten us and you might get a brownie) and we’ll see each other on the game thre… wait, are the Yanks playing tonight? No? Oh… well, stick around and chat!
[photo credit: Dyre Avenue Line Memories]
Greetings, welcome back to another exciting episode of Where & When. It’s a slow day today, so I took a moment to fill in the doldrums with a “challenging” excerpt from the five boroughs:
This picture was taken a year after the subject of this picture was opened for service. So, I task you to find out where and when this picture was taken, not to mention what it is. You know the rules; show your work, share your ideas and stories, utilize whatever you prefer to find the answers and the first one with the complete answer will get the icy cold root beer award, while the rest of us who participate get to drink to that person’s health with a frosty cream soda.
Oh, and the bonus ice cream scoop goes to the person who can describe the style of the object or objects in question.
So have at it and we’ll see each other on the game thread.
[photo credit: NYC Bridges]
Welcome back to what has become perhaps a needed distraction, Where & When. Hopefully the team won’t fall underneath .500 tonight, and if they do let’s hope they can float long enough until reinforcements arrive. In the meantime, let’s ponder the past yet again and find out what this is all about:
There is an important distinction about this building, so tell us what building this is, where it’s located, when it was built and as a bonus, how long it lasted and what the distinction actually is. Show your math as well. A frosty mug of your favorite root beer if you have the where and when practical answers with notes, and I’ll upgrade it to a root beer float if you get the bonus question. The rest of us will get cold cream sodas in a can. So you know the drill; have fun and I’ll see you in the game thread (maybe)!
[photo credit: Detroit Photographic Company (Wikipedia)]
Lo and Behold, we are back with another Where & When. I’ve missed doing these for a while, so let me take advantage of a little time I have to present to you another little challenge with a little history attached to it:
This one has a bit of irony attached to it, considering what it is. If you can tell us what this building is and when this building existed, you will win a box of Thin Mints (because the Girl Scout cookies we ordered months ago have arrived and I feel inordinately generous in my imagination). You will get a quart of milk to wash them down if you can tell us the ironic stories with this structure as well. A bonus box will be thrown in if you can tell us the name of the building beside it in the background.
Most of you know the rules of this game, but for those who don’t or need a refresher: to win, you should be the first person to answer all of the questions above in one post, plus you must show your process of finding the answer. You can utilize any methods you find feasible to find the answer, but you must not peek at the photo credit link because that’s cheating. If, however, you happen to find the link on your own in the course of research, then you will be excused. Everyone else who answers after the winner will receive a cold cream soda of choice. Usually we award a cold root beer for the winner unless there’s a special or seasonal occasion for something more apropos to the occasion.
You are encouraged also to share your research or memories about the site in the picture, in the spirit of cooperation and fostering education. Above all, have a good time and I hope you learn something new.
Have fun and we’ll discuss later!
[Photo credit: Wiki Commons]