Hidden Oddity

by Don Friedman on March 16, 2019

That’s the demolition of a small commercial building on the Upper West Side. Nothing remarkable – I stopped and looked only because I used to live in the neighborhood and must have walked by this budding a few thousand times in the late 80s and early 90s.

I was surprised to see that the roof is made of open-web steel joists. That structural system, basically miniature pre-fab steel trusses, is uncommon in Manhattan for reasons having to do with the building types and occupancies we have here. Here’s a close-up where you can just make out the truss closest to me:

You never know until you see it.


February 22, 2019

I’ve put up so many photos of badly-weathered steel that is seems only fair to put up this one. You’ll need to click on it to expand it to see it properly. This is a roof spandrel beam on an office building downtown, uncovered for parapet reconstruction. There’s a column connection on the right and […]

Read the full article →

Some Recent History

February 14, 2019

I try not to shy away from unpleasant topics here, so I have to admit that’s me on my first facade project in 1988. What was going through my head at that moment was something along the lines of “What am I supposed to do about that?” but I did eventually figure out how to […]

Read the full article →

A Symphony In Brown

February 6, 2019

That image is appealing to me for its own sake, as a piece of found art, but it shows some of the difficulties in looking at old steel-frame buildings. First, the various shades of brown and tan from the steel are nearly the same as those from the terra cotta and brick. The fact that […]

Read the full article →

A Hidden Name

January 31, 2019

That’s a steel beam from the roof framing of a 1903 building, made visible by the construction of a new stair. The writing on it is the identifying information for this beam, for use by the steel erector 116 years ago. The painted designation was hidden by the terra cotta tile arch of the roof […]

Read the full article →

The Imprint Of Past Economics On Steel

January 28, 2019

That’s a probe at a 1928 office building and it shows pretty much what you’d expect: a couple of large steel beams with a heavy riveted connection to a column. (The column is small because this is at the 20th floor of a 22-story building.) Some of those rivets were driven in the shop and […]

Read the full article →

One Hidden Detail

December 5, 2018

That is some fancy shoring. I assume that’s there because some or all of the interior floor structure adjacent to the street facade has been (or will be) demolished as part of whatever renovation is taking place. The floors brace the walls, so without the floors the street facade would be unbraced, hence all that […]

Read the full article →

A Close Imitation

December 4, 2018

That’s, obviously, the newly reopened Cortlandt Street Station on the 1 train. The station was badly damaged on 9-11 and the story as generally told is that it was rebuilt. That’s true as far as it goes, but leaves out some interesting details. The station is on the south end of the line, two stations […]

Read the full article →

About Time

November 12, 2018

The Chambers Street Bridge was supposed to be painted this summer for the first time since it was completed in 1992. I guess not quite yet.

Read the full article →

Almost Isn’t Good Enough

October 24, 2018

That’s a picture of a handrail where the riverfront walkway meets a wood pseudo-pier. (“Pseudo” because I’ve never seen any kind of boat docked there but I have seen a fair number of sunbathers there.) The upper portions of the handrail are in good condition and have been repainted not so long ago; the embedded […]

Read the full article →