The Future Coming Soon

I recently took a trip on the Metro-North Railroad and I had a few minutes to kill at Grand Central Terminal. I wandered into the new extension from the terminal to the west, created when One Vanderbilt Avenue was constructed, and found this sign. One Vanderbilt is now the tallest commercial building in midtown, so …

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Not The First Time Nor The Last

Photos of the original IRT subway construction between 1900 and 1904 show the extent of the street disruption. Cut-and-cover construction is easier than tunneling, but it means excavating all or most of the street, which is a logistics nightmare in the middle of a city. The thing is, the IRT wasn’t the first time Manhattan’s …

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Scar Tissue

The work at Castle Clinton moves along, with the occasional surprise. The picture above shows a short piece of a large steel beam embedded on the fort’s wall. Given that the fort was constructed shortly after 1800 and steel beams this size weren’t rolled until after 1900, we either have evidence of a time machine …

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A Bad Point Of Comparison

Any time discussion of tall structures takes place, someone will bring up very old buildings and say that they’re the first skyscrapers. Various cathedrals are often named, as well as the Great Pyramid of Giza. (The picture of the Great Pyramid above, taken by Félix Bonfils circa 1870, manages to remove any sense of scale. …

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Splitting The Difference

The main building of the New York Public Library is one of the city’s gems of Beaux Arts architecture. There’s a good argument to be made that it’s the best we’ve ever had, surpassing Penn Station, Grand Central, and the Metropolitan Museum. But is was also built using, in part, some fairly advanced structural techniques: …

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