Something I’ve Never Done And Will Never Do

by Don Friedman on February 16, 2019

Gothamist is running a series of articles called “The Beginner’s Guide To New York.” Within the constraints of blog essays, they seem pretty good. It’s hard for me to judge, because I sort of already know what they’re talking about and I’m not about to move here.

Seeing Is Believing

February 15, 2019

More ancient history, from the same project as the cast-iron column base I showed recently. This is the new steel frame (with its concrete floors on metal deck) that was erected inside the shell of the old building. All of the structure you see here (except for the old brick wall in the background) was my […]

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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 […]

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Unintended Consequences

February 13, 2019

There’s some great reading up at the SCOSS web site, but I don’t recommend it for bedtime. The SCOSS Alert “Effects of Scale” published late last year, discusses what happens when reality doesn’t match simplified structural models, and the answers range from not pretty to potentially catastrophic. In short, engineers don’t analyze buildings, we analyze […]

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The Inevitable Conclusion

February 12, 2019

That’s the Commodore Hotel in 1919, with Grand Central Terminal on the left. The bridge in front connects the southern portion of Park Avenue to the elevated bypass around the terminal and then to the northern potion of the avenue. (The space under the bridge is called Pershing Square; the space on top of the […]

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A Building Ghost Explains His Haunting

February 11, 2019

In a way, that’s the best ghost picture I’ve taken. It’s another old one, but it shows clearly how this phenomenon occurs. Here are the demonstrable facts: The building on the left is an architecturally-forgettable hotel constructed in 2001. The building on the right is a generic NY loft building constructed in 1918. Here are […]

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A Desire To Awe

February 10, 2019

Assuming that you believe in historical chronology – the idea that time moves in one direction, so that people in the past didn’t know what we’re doing now – there is no link from railroad stations to Roman architecture. This architectural style was developed roughly 2000 years before the first passenger station was built. But […]

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Getting The Scale Right

February 9, 2019

That lovely picture show the midtown skyline as seen from the Reservoir in Central Park. Click on it for the full size version, as it is worth it. If you look at it quickly, the tall and slender shapes in the background could be the chimneys of some houses nearby. In reality, they are Billionaires’ […]

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Three Eras Overlaid

February 8, 2019

That’s a picture of the cellar of a small commercial building in midtown, taken during a fairly extensive renovation in the 1990s. The metal framing is original, and consists of a round cast-iron column with a cast-iron base plate with vertical stiffeners (the spider-looking thing directly above the spray-painted X), a steel beam just inboard […]

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Local Majesty

February 7, 2019

Suzanne Spellen  has an update of an old piece of hers up at Brownstoner, “Courting History in East New York.” In it, she discusses several of the small magistrate’s courthouses constructed in Brooklyn in the early 1900s. These buildings were, as I understand it, part of a reaction against the rapidly increasing size of the […]