Deborah Wye’s lecture on Orchard Beach yesterday at the City Island Historical Society Nautical Museum was months in the making. The curator emerita of MoMA's prints department was immersed in research about a year ago for the Nautical Museum's exhibit celebrating 75 years of Orchard Beach in Pelham Bay Park and in particular its bathhouse pavilion. The show, called Orchard Beach Pavilion: Past, Present and Future, runs through October 16. The show and lecture got a huge bump when Christopher Gray made the pavilion the focus of his "Streetscapes" column in Sunday's New York Times. Wye's efforts couldn’t have come at a better time. Orchard Beach is on an upswing. After nearly forty years of drifting off into the Long Island Sound, the beach’s snow-white sand was replaced last winter. Now the crumbling bathhouse, designed by Aymar Embury II, is ready for its close-up. The building is crumbling due to a condition called calia silica reaction (a.k.a. "cement cancer"). The Office of Management and Budget have sent out an RFP for pavilion proposals. During her presentation Wye said the proposals range from tearing it down and building anew, to incorporating elements of the old structure into a new building, to an all-out restoration, which would cost more than $50 million. Orchard Beach has seen many proposals over the years that didn’t make it past the planning stage because the surrounding community beach didn’t want the increased crowds associated with theme parks, as was the case with the Seabreeze Land Development scheme of the 1980s. That plan included a 10,000-seat amphitheater and a winterized recreation facility. By the 1990s New York Water Park LLC had planned a "High Thrills Complex" that envisioned a giant water slide towering over the site. That project also got squelched. Wye said that community meetings to discuss the new proposals will take place in six to eight months. In the meantime, she plans to take her lecture on the road, presenting throughout the borough and the city in an effort to familiarize New Yorkers with this remarkable Moses-era project. As several constituencies that use the beach are not represented by the community board or the state/congressional districts, one can only hope that Wye’s succinct presentation will find its way to neighborhoods where residents who use the beach the most will get to see it. That includes parts of the South Bronx, as well as Washington Heights and Inwood sections of Manhattan. Having a Spanish translator on hand wouldn’t hurt either.
Posts tagged with "Robert Moses":
Who knew the Power Broker himself was a beer man? The Robert Moses of my imagination could be spotted, martini in hand, at a swanky Manhattan lounge. But in reality, the workaholic was such a control freak that he would never permit himself to loosen up in public, instead spending much of his free time stolen away from the city sailing on the Great South Bay in his boat the Sea-Ef. (Even then, his mind was still on work: he once grounded the boat on a quite visible sand bar thinking of his plans for New York!) Ceaselessly maneuvering and tightening his grip on Gotham politics, Moses may have been the one man in New York most in need of a cold beer. Grub Street spotted a new beer, appropriately made by the Great South Bay Brewery on Long Island, that pays homage to the Robert Moses Causeway and its promise of breezy summer beaches. According to the brewery, the Robert Moses Pale Ale is a beer made for relaxing--hardly the image of Moses at work. Famously, his nemesis Jane Jacobs was an unabashed beer drinker, frequenting the White Horse Tavern on Hudson Street where she fraternized with her Village neighbors. Could the act of clinking a cold one (or in Moses' case, not) explain much of the difference between these icons of New York urbanism?
This Saturday, January 15, the Knickerbocker Chamber Orchestra will lift their bows and the ghost of Robert Moses will flood the World Financial Center Winter Garden. Gary S. Fagin composed Robert Moses Astride New York from which the music will be drawn. A vocal performance by Rinde Eckert will accompany the score, but best of all, it's free. The New York Times recently sat in on a rehearsal for the Moses musical with author Robert A. Caro who penned the authoritative tome on New York's Power Broker. The performance includes events from Moses' life and career including a fight over a parking lot at Central Park's Tavern on the Green and Moses' resignation. From the Times:
Mr. Caro said he was particularly pleased by the musical’s last section, which recalls Moses’ dedication of a bench in Flushing Meadows, one of the parks he’d built. It is the poignant scene that concludes “The Power Broker,” in which Moses wonders why he wasn’t sufficiently appreciated.While Robert Moses Astride New York is a work in progress, when complete, Fagin plans to include other pivotal characters from twentieth century New York including activist Jane Jacobs and Mayor Fiorello H. La Guardia. The free performance by the Knickerbocker Chamber Orchestra with Rinde Eckert takes place Saturday, January 15 at 7:00PM at the World Financial Center Winter Garden.
As editors ourselves, we know writers don't usually write the headlines. Still, we were struck by one atop a recent review by our friend and sometimes contributor James Gardner in The Real Deal, which declared, "Central Park's Le Pain Quotidien ranks as one of the best things about New York City." You don't say. And yet, for all the hyperbole, the guy's got a point:
Properly understood, the opening of Le Pain Quotidien, deep in the heart of Central Park, represents one of the most momentous changes to the park in half a century. This highly respected Belgian purveyor of fine breads, salads and soups now has 21 stores in the city, but none of them is as delightful as its newest, on the northern edge of Sheep Meadow. [...] Once it had been far otherwise. For the structure you see today is really a replacement for a lovely Moorish pavilion designed by Jacob Wrey Mould in the 1860s. Known as the Mineral Springs Pavilion, it offered up a variety of salubrious waters to the thirsty citizenry. But with his habitual philistinism, Robert Moses, the once all-powerful parks commissioner, demolished Mould's vision and in its place he erected the unprepossessing structure you see today. For more than half a century it presented itself to the world as nothing more than a narrow concession area looking east, its vague interior filled with storage space for the park department's sundry fences and gardening paraphernalia. The revelation of the new Pain Quotidien starts with the fact that it fully occupies and opens to the public the interior spaces of the pavilion, which turn out to be far vaster than one ever imagined. Like most of this brand's interiors throughout the city, and indeed the world, the present space is adorned with pale woods in the French provincial style, a fully stocked bakery and a long, communal table, as well as individual tables.For it's true, nothing improves the taste of a fresh tartine, or most things in life, like being at the park.
Almost exactly a month ago, the Bloomberg administration released a study called the "New York City Community Air Survey." Years in the making, it was heralded as the first comprehensive study of the city's air quality ever undertaken, with results that are shocking if not obvious. As the map of particulate matter above shows—and as many of us already knew—the city can be a pretty gross place to live and breathe. There are plenty more maps like this, but they all basically come to two conclusions: Where there are cars and oil boilers, there is pollution. However, the wonk in us saw something particularly interesting: Outside of Manhattan—where congestion is a whole other animal (hence hope for congestion pricing)—the pollution tracks pretty heavily along the expressways built by none other than the Power Broker himself. We even built a handy GIF (after the jump!) to illustrate this. There is one notable exception, that big brown spot in the middle of Brooklyn, which is why we're bringing this up now. Earlier this week, the Atlantic Yards Report reported that street closures are imminent around the Atlantic Yards site, which would presumably exacerbate traffic in the area. This has long been a concern surrounding the project, back when the EIS was just an EIS and not the basis for a Supreme Court lawsuit. But as the map and GIF above illustrate, congestion—both vehicular and nasal—were a problem at the intersection of Flatbush and Atlantic avenues long before Bruce Ratner, and probably even Robert Moses, showed up. Now, as more streets are closed and the traffic only gets worse, the pollution is likely to follow. Just imagine how bad it will be on game nights?
If you've seen Watchmen already, then you know Richard Nixon is still president and there are a few extra skyscrapers along the Manhattan skyline. In that case, things are probably a little different down at street level, too. Perhaps, like Tricky Dick, Robert Moses stuck around and realized all of his grand schemes. If so, Google Maps would still be there to document it all. Or so we'd like to think that's the story behind Vanshnookenraggen brilliant mock-ups of the Lower Manhattan Expressway (above) and Mid-Manhattan Expressway in Google Maps. There's a certain evil genius to the maps, as their creator explains. Because they look so real, we believe they're actually there, which is part of the problem:
A map, after all, is a representation of reality with certain things omitted (or in this case, added). As mapping software becomes even more ubiquitous now that they are in the palm of our hands (Blackberrys, iPhones, etc), I think it will become all too easy for people to just accept what they see as reality. This is a dangerous prospect but one I think can be taken advantage of when trying to communicate certain information, such as what a neighborhood you know pretty well would look like with an elevated highway slammed through it. This was true for me, at least, while I was making these; Hand erasing buildings through SoHo, TriBeCa, and the LES was an eery experience as I tried to imagine what these places would really look like if my brush was a bulldozer. And thus I began to understand the failing of Robert Moses (well, this one anyway). He didn’t drive and lord knows he didn’t think much of these areas which he tossed off as “slums."Kind of explains why so many projects look better in renderings than in built form, too. (via Curbed)