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Showing posts from September, 2010

The Spanish Civil War in the Lost & Found: The Mexican Suitcase at the ICP

The Mexican Suitcase has come to describe the contents of three boxes, once considered lost, containing 4,500 negatives of photographs of the Spanish Civil War. After resurfacing and then delivered, in somewhat mysterious fashion, to the International Center of Photography in 2007, these images by Robert Capa, Chim (David Seymour) and Gerda Taro are now seeing the light of day in an exhibition at the center's galleries. Displayed as contact sheets along with enlargements of selected images, and with some images blown up to wall size for visual effect, the photographs once again open the wounds of a war that tore Spain apart. If anyone is in need of a reminder about the lengths people will go in the service of their ideology, then look no further than the events in Spain from July 1936 to April 1939.

The conflicts between the members of the democratically-elected Republican government and the Nationalist forces seeking to overthrow them engaged the full spectrum of heated political …

When the Bowery was Skid Row: Lionel Rogosin’s On the Bowery (1957)

(Review) The stunningly beautiful new 35 mm restoration of Lionel Rogosin’s On the Bowery (1957), playing now at Film Forum, harkens back to an infamous time along the downtown thoroughfare. A skid row for alcoholics, mostly men of the laboring trades, the Bowery was also in a slump, in eclipse from its better days as an important farm lane in New Amsterdam and later as a downtown Broadway. The Bowery had even slipped from its raunchy vaudeville existence under the darkness of the Third Avenue El.

By the 1950s, even as much of the city shined in the boom of the postwar years, the Bowery attracted few people, except for artists seeking lower rents. The street's cheap bars and flop houses lured the down-and-out hopeless cases, men whose weathered faces erased any signs of a happier former life or a hopeful future. The Bowery Mission offered one way off the street, but for the man addicted to the heady combination of freedom and Muscatel, the promise of room and board in exchange for…

From the East Village to Chelsea Market: A Zigzag Walk by Intersections

Pretend it's a nice day in New York City, and you're sitting on a park bench in First Park at the corner of E. 1st St. and 1st Avenue and drinking a good cup of coffee from Little Veselka, and then someone calls you on the phone and says they want to meet you in an hour at the Chelsea Market. Well, that's not exactly close. The market is on the west side near 9th Avenue and W. 15th Street, and it's going to take some thought about how to get there. You could take the subway - the F to W. 4th and then transfer to a C to 14th Street, but it's a nice day for a walk. You'll tell the person that you will be there.

So, if you're near E. 1st and 1st Ave., then why not proceed uptown and westward, block by block? From 1st and 1st, go to 2nd Avenue and 2nd Street, then up to 3rd Street and over to the Bowery, and then up to E 4th and Lafayette, and so forth? This will work. A meandering walk in Manhattan from the intersection of 1st Ave. and 1st St. to the intersect…

A Walk Among the Brownstones of Brooklyn

As many readers know well, Brooklyn hosts the largest concentration of nineteenth century buildings made with the building material known as brownstone. Members of the aspiring upper middle classes of the day, especially from the 1860s through the 1880s, sought out the dark-hued sandstone to lend their houses a distinguished appearance, and the rush to join the fashion of decorating one's home in the versatile material often created a shortage. Rich with red iron oxide, creating deep brownish to red colors, the stone came from nearby quarries in New Jersey, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania and then shipped into Brooklyn by barges.

A brownstone mason working on site would affix a thick veneer of the stone to the exterior brick wall of the constructed house. Individual houses were often designed in Greek Revival, Neo Greco, Romanesque, or Italianate styles, or as row houses with one consistent style. Many of these houses featured stoops, wrought iron gratings, and detailed carved decor…

14 Useful Mobile Apps for Walking New York City

Texting and walking at the same time is wrong. Talking on the phone while strolling down the street is wrong. Leaving the sidewalk to stop and consult the information on a cellphone, preferably while alone, is OK.

What's on Walking Off the Big Apple's iPhone: A List

Walkmeter GPS Walking Stopwatch for Fitness and Weight Loss. While out walking, Walkmeter tracks routes, time, speed, and elevation. This is an excellent app for recording improvised or impromptu strolls, especially with many unplanned detours. The GPS function maps out the actual route. The app keeps a running tally of calories burned while walking, useful for weight loss goals. Another welcome feature is the ability to switch over to other modes of activity, including cycling. An indispensable app for city walkers. $4.99 

New York City Compass, designed by Francesco Bertelli, is an elegant compass calibrated for Manhattan, with indications for Uptown, East Side, Downtown, and West Side. While facing a certain dire…

Scenes from a Walk on a Windswept Afternoon

The passing of Hurricane Earl, thankfully far away in the Atlantic Ocean, kicked up powerful breezes in New York City earlier in the weekend but left a brilliant sky in its wake. The previous stretch of humid days had come to an end, just in time for the first day of a long Labor Day weekend.

The sky was crystalline, giving the the skyline's favorite star, the Empire State Building, the look of a cinematic matte shot. Approaching the building from the block of Broadway south of Madison Square Park, the scene seemed at times like a surreal photo-collage, as if the buildings were cutouts and pasted on another photograph of the sky.

On Saturday, I set upon a walk uptown to complete a couple of errands, but the brilliance of the day encouraged a longer excursion with additional stops.

Hundreds of people lined the corner of 23rd St. and Fifth Avenue in order to visit Eataly, the new market featuring the foods of Italy, and like a fool New Yorker, I stood in line with them. The wait w…