Meeting Montauk: The Summer Trade [MTK 1]

(by kdcosta) Aug 03 2010

Let's leave the city today and head east--to the point where the sun rises. We're going to stand on what feels like the edge of the world, away from the skyscrapers and the horns of impatient cab drivers. We're going to Montauk, a small fishing hamlet and tourist destination set well away from the hustle and bustle of the everyday.

Summer visitors stroll by shops on a sunny day.

It's a  Saturday morning in July and the hamlet is just beginning to stir. The sun comes up early here--after all, we're at the eastern most point in New York State. Still, it's Saturday morning during the summer months and the folks who are up are mostly armed with fishing gear. Fishing has long been a part of life here at the very edge of East Hampton, but we'll follow the fishermen to the marina and out to sea another day. We'll leave them to chase the monsters who populate the waters nearby. Let's cast our eyes back on the slowly waking village. We're interested in those who are passing through--those who will come: the day-trippers, the weekenders, these sorts of  transients. At the moment, the staff at MTK Cafe and The Gigshack are prepping: There are no clouds in the sky, the day promises to be bright and welcoming, and soon Route 27 will be filled with cars bringing the summer trade.

Continue Reading »

2 responses so far

NYC History Uncovered: The Discovery and Demolition of the Hudson Wall

(by kdcosta) Jul 15 2010

There is no question that we build upon that which precedes us—quite literally, in some cases. Downtown Manhattan is littered with traces of our Dutch heritage. When opportunity arises to witness New York's past, it is a chance to reflect on how we have arrived at our present and the expansions that have been required to do so.

In 2008, construction at the World Trade Center site ran aground of a section of the Hudson River Wall dating to 1899. The sea wall, which took six decades to complete, is a historical resource. Though the uncovered section would have to be removed for construction of an underground walkway, the site was carefully studied by the Louis Berger Group, allowing researchers to understand more about New York's early waterfront—including earlier walls and piers as well as assorted symbols of life (e.g., ceramics, pipe, bone, etc.)

This week, a 40 foot section of the wall was visible to the public! Though portions of the wall currently exist along the shoreline, it was a real treat to see this bit of dry-docked maritime architecture. And so it is with immense pleasure that I share this bit of urban archaeology with you, Readers.

Continue Reading »

2 responses so far

Statuesque in City Hall Park

(by kdcosta) Jun 09 2010

A new art exhibit has gone on display in City Hall Park. Statuesque features art from six international artists. The show is meant to encourage a re-imagining of the classic form of statues by melding sculpture with beauty and elegance of this now historic style. The show will run through December and is a perfect accompaniment to lunch in the park. Images of the pieces can be viewed after the jump.

Continue Reading »

No responses yet

Urban Archaeology in Action

(by kdcosta) Jun 08 2010

I recently learned about a wall that was uncovered near City Hall. It may date to the 18th-century, and in fact may be connected to the First Almshouse—a poorhouse that stood on this site from 1735 to 1797. It's also a great opportunity for the public to see archaeology in action!

Continue Reading »

2 responses so far

Subway History on Display

(by kdcosta) Jun 03 2010

As the MTA prepares to roll out a new, user-friendly subway map this month, I thought it might be the right time to take a look at some artifacts from the subway's history.

Continue Reading »

No responses yet

Subway Scenes: A Rarely Seen Train Number and More

(by kdcosta) Apr 27 2010

While walking across the LIRR bridge to Citi Field last week, I noticed something in the train yard that made me pause. Amongst the sleeping 7 trains and an errant redbird or two, a green sign glimmered in the light of the setting sun. Sure enough, it was a subway car with a green numbered rollover—a number 12 train of all things!

Continue Reading »

No responses yet

The Five Points Then and Now: Ghosts of Tenements Past [FP4]

(by kdcosta) Apr 23 2010

65 Mott Street, the first building in New York City constructed specifically for tenement purposes. April 2010.

For such a small area, the Five Points really has a great deal of history connected to it. Walking through present day Chinatown, I was really struck by how various elements of the Five Points have persisted through time, and have managed to impart some of the old character into the neighborhood. The streets bustle with throngs of Asian residents, reminiscent of the earlier immigrant settlers who called the Five Points home. The streets themselves, crowded with buildings, narrow and winding, hearken back to a time when you might have gone out of your way to avoid Mulberry Bend, Mosco, or Pell Streets for fear of harassment, robbery, or worse. Many of the buildings that line these streets are tenements that date back 100 years or more, and are still very much in use by immigrants seeking affordable housing, as is the case with the building at 65 Mott Street. Residents of these buildings often shared commodes and other facilities—and while some of these buildings may have been updated, the structure and layout remain. So has life really changed in the former Sixth Ward? Let's take a look at living conditions in the Five Points through the ages and find out.

Continue Reading »

No responses yet

The Five Points and the Collect Pond: Ripples Through Time [FP3]

(by kdcosta) Apr 22 2010

The story of the Collect Pond is integral to the story of the Five Points itself, and it is a prime example of the how the relationship we have with our landscapes can impact our social order.

Continue Reading »

No responses yet

The Five Points Then and Now: Landmarks [FP2]

(by kdcosta) Apr 21 2010

The landmarks of the Five Points were not artistic and architectural triumphs, but rather tenements, prisons, and churches. Using maps found here, I plotted the locations of sites that loomed largest in the history of the Five Points. Stick close—the streets are dark and possibly a little dangerous.

Map showing points of interest.

Continue Reading »

One response so far

A Return to the Five Points [FP1]

(by kdcosta) Apr 20 2010

Recent mob outbreaks in Times Square have people concerned about rising levels of violence in the city. For some it evokes the city's reputation from the 1970s. But New York City has always held a bit of a reputation:

In small clusters, the world began coming to North America via this island nestled in its inviting harbor. And while the West India Company had a firm Calvinist stamp to it, which it tried to impress on its colony, the makeup of the settlement—itself a result of the mix of peoples welcomed to its parent city of Amsterdam—helped to ensure a raggedness, a social looseness ... Days got livelier; with nightfall, the soft slap of waves along the shore was drowned out by drinking songs and angry curses (Shorto 2005: 61).

My suspicion is that the concerns about New York City today echo sentiments about New York City in the 1970s, which echo the sentiments expressed about New York City in the 1830s—when New York City was home to one of the most notorious slums in the world, the Five Points.

In other words, the time of present memory is almost always the most dire circumstance. I invite you to journey back in time with me to walk the streets of the Five Points, and draw your own conclusions about the intersection of the city's past and present. But before you secure your valuables and venture into the alleys and tenements of the area, let's look a bit at the history.

Continue Reading »

No responses yet

« Newer posts Older posts »