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Mon, May. 23rd, 2011, 10:07 am
The Brooklyn Bridge's Arch and Cables by Vivienne Gucwa

Published on 500px

Just testing out this site's linking functionality.

One of my photos of the Brooklyn Bridge :).

Also, hi.

My site: New York City Photography

Fri, Sep. 10th, 2010, 11:54 pm
Every night she comes to take me out to Dreamland....

Coney Island Beach, Brooklyn 22

The Cyclone, Coney Island, Brooklyn 5

Coney Island Brooklyn 699

Coney Island has an intoxicating effect on me. As soon as I get off of the train there, I am instantly transformed into a wide-eyed five year old. I smile wide with glee, I have a skip in my walk, I get so excited that I don't know what I want to see first. The smell of the ocean, the sounds of the rides, the colors that jump out at me and the energy that seems to run through the place pumps me full of wonder with every step.

At the same time, there is an almost unbearable sadness that exists right under the initial layer of wonder and excitement. Coney Island is a space that evokes a time that has passed which contains an almost tangible tension as it teeters on the brink of extreme changes, it's existence in flux. The residents who work there have a weariness that brings me to the brink of tears at times. The history is palpable and the changes have tempered the residents and the whole area with the sobering hues of crumbling hope and restless nostalgia.

Coney Island became a resort after the Civil War as excursion railroads and the Coney Island & Brooklyn Railroad streetcar line reached the area in the 1860s, and the Iron steamboat company in 1881. With the rail lines, steamboat lines and access to the beach came major hotels and public and private beaches, followed by horse racing, amusement parks, and less reputable entertainments such as Three-card Monte, other gambling entrepreneurs, and prostitution.

Between about 1880 and World War II, Coney Island was the largest amusement area in the United States, attracting several million visitors per year. At its height it contained three competing major amusement parks, Luna Park, Dreamland, and Steeplechase Park, as well as many independent amusements.

Astroland served as a major amusement park from 1962 to 2008. It was replaced by a new incarnation of Dreamland in 2009 and of Luna Park in 2010. The other parks and attractions are: Deno's Wonder Wheel Amusement Park (a successful family owned park with over 20 rides located directly on the Boardwalk), 12th Street Amusements, and Kiddie Park. Also, the Eldorado arcade has its own indoor bumper car ride. The Zipper and Spider on 12th Street were closed permanently on September 4, 2007 and dismantling begun, after its owner lost his lease. They are to be reassembled at an amusement park in Honduras.

Coney Island still maintains a broad sandy beach from West 37th Street at Seagate through the Coney Island and Brighton Beach to the beginning of the community of Manhattan Beach, a distance of approximately 2½ miles (~4.0 km). The beach is continuous and is served for its entire length by the broad Riegelmann boardwalk. A number of amusements are directly accessible from the land side of the boardwalk, as is the New York Aquarium and a variety of food shops and arcades.

The beach is groomed and replenished on a regular basis by the city. The position of the beach and lack of significant obstructions means virtually the entire beach is in sunlight all day. The beach is open to all without restriction and there is no charge for use. The beach area is divided into "bays", areas of beach delineated by rock jetties, which moderate erosion and the force of ocean waves.

The majority of Coney Island's population resides in approximately thirty 18- to 24-story towers, mostly various forms of public housing. In between the towers are many blocks that were filled with burned out and vacant buildings. Since the 1990s there has been steady revitalization of the area. Many townhouses were built on empty lots, popular franchises have set up shop, and Keyspan Park was built to serve as the home for the Cyclones, a minor league baseball team in the New York Mets' farm system. Once home to many Jewish residents, most of those living on Coney Island today are African American, Italian American, Hispanic and recent Russian and Ukrainian immigrants.
- Source

Coney Island Beach, Brooklyn 8

The skyline was beautiful on fire...Collapse )

Wed, Sep. 8th, 2010, 03:40 pm
I'll ride this dream to the end of the line...

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When you walk over the Williamsburg Bridge, you find yourself deposited deep in South Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Williamsburg is an area that conjures up a variety of images in one's head mostly due to the complex issue of its 'hipster' presence over the past decade (I am avoiding this topic entirely as I have recently deconstructed the biases against this amorphous term and plan on writing an entire post about it since where I currently stand on the issue is in a different place than many).

Williamsburg has a rich history reflected in its architecture though which can't be denied. It's a neighborhood full of clashing imagery and clashing cultures (<---this article is eye opening and an utterly fascinating read).

"Many ethnic groups have enclaves within Williamsburg, including Germans, Hasidic Jews, Italians, Puerto Ricans, and Dominicans. The neighborhood is also a magnet for young people moving to the city. It is also an influential hub for indie rock, hipster culture, and the local art community, all of which are associated with one of its main thoroughfares, Bedford Avenue. The neighborhood is being redefined by a growing population and the rapid development of housing and retail space.

"South Williamsburg" refers to the area which today is occupied mainly by the Yiddish-speaking Hasidim (predominantly those of the Satmar sect) and a considerable Puerto Rican population. North of this area (with Broadway serving as a dividing line) is an area known as "the South Side," occupied by Puerto Ricans and Dominicans. To the north of that is an area known as "the North Side," traditionally Polish and Italian. East Williamsburg is home to many industrial spaces and forms the largely Italian American, African American, and Hispanic area between Williamsburg and Bushwick. South Williamsburg, the South Side, the North Side, Greenpoint and East Williamsburg all form Brooklyn Community Board 1. Its proximity to Manhattan has made it popular with recently arrived residents who are often referred to under the blanket term "hipster". Bedford Avenue and its subway station, as the first stop in the neighborhood on the BMT Canarsie Line (L train), have become synonymous with this new wave of residents.

Williamsburg has become a notable home for live music and an incubator for new bands. Beginning in the late 1980s and through the late 1990s a number of unlicensed performance, theater and music venues operated in abandoned industrial buildings and other spaces in the streets surrounding the Bedford Avenue subway stop.[citation needed] The Bog, Keep Refrigerated, The Lizard's Tail, Quiet Life, Rubulad, Flux Factory, Mighty Robot and others attracted a mix of artists, musicians and urban underground for late night music, dance, and performance events, which were occasionally interrupted and the venues temporarily closed by the fire department. These events eventually diminished in number as the rents rose in the area and regulations were enforced. There are still a number of smaller, fleeting spaces today, including Todd P., Dot Dash, Twisted Ones, and Rubulad. Many legitimate commercial music venues opened in the neighborhood including Pete's Candy Store, Union Pool, Northsix (now Music Hall of Williamsburg), and Galapagos (now Public Assembly). Several Manhattan-based venues also opened locations, including Bowery Presents (who bought Northsix and transformed it to Music Hall of Williamsburg), Luna Lounge, Knitting Factory, and Cake Shop. In the summers of 2006, 2007, and 2008, events including concerts, movies, and dance performances were staged at the previously abandoned pool at McCarren Park in Greenpoint.

The neighborhood has also attracted a respectable funk, soul and worldbeat music scene spearheaded by labels such as Daptone and Truth & Soul Records - and fronted by acts such as the Antibalas Afrobeat Orchestra and Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings. Jazz and World Music has found a foothold, with classic jazz full time at restaurant venues like Zebulon and Moto, and - on the more avant / noise side - at spots like the Lucky Cat, B.P.M., Monkeytown, and Eat Records. A Latin Jazz community continues amongst the Caribbean community in Southside and East Williamsburg, centered around the many social clubs in the neighborhood. The neighborhood was also the birthplace of electroclash. Friday and Saturday parties at Club Luxx (now Trash) introduced electronic musicians like W.I.T., A.R.E. Weapons, Fischerspooner, and Scissor Sisters."
- Source.

A walk around Williamsburg...Collapse )

Sat, Sep. 4th, 2010, 03:44 pm
Transcending space

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I live literally a block and a half away from the walkway entrance to this particular bridge and it just begs daily to be walked over. On the other side of the bridge is Williamsburg, Brooklyn. The first week after the initial move, I took a walk over the bridge to explore Williamsburg a bit. There are actually three bridges in lower Manhattan that can be walked over; Brooklyn Bridge, Manhattan Bridge and the Williamsburg Bridge. The Brooklyn Bridge is the most iconic of the three and that's a walk I am looking forward to taking a part in sometimes this fall, for sure. The Williamsburg Bridge has a lot of charm though. It's not as well traversed as the Brooklyn Bridge and so as a pedestrian it can sometimes feel as if you are the lone traveler crossing the bridge. The bridge turned 100 years old in 2003.

"Construction on the bridge, the second to cross this river, began in 1896, with Leffert L. Buck as chief engineer, Henry Hornbostel as architect and Holton D. Robinson as assistant engineer, and the bridge opened on December 19, 1903 at a cost of $24,200,000. At the time it was constructed, the Williamsburg Bridge set the record for the longest suspension bridge span on Earth. The record fell in 1924, when the Bear Mountain Bridge was completed.

It is an unconventional structure, as suspension bridges go; though the main span hangs from cables in the usual manner, the side spans leading to the approaches are cantilevered, drawing no support from the cables above. The main span of the bridge is 1,600 feet (490 m) long. The entire bridge is 7,308 feet (2,227 m) long between cable anchor terminals, and the deck is 118 feet (36 m) wide. The height at the center of the bridge is 135 feet (41 m) and each tower is 335 feet (102 m); these measurements taken from the river's surface at high water mark.

This bridge and the Manhattan Bridge are the only suspension bridges in New York City that still carry both automobile and rail traffic. In addition to this two-track rail line, connecting the New York City Subway's BMT Nassau Street Line and BMT Jamaica Line, there were once two sets of trolley tracks." - Source.

Form and structure...Collapse )

Sat, Aug. 28th, 2010, 03:51 pm

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Yesterday, I walked back home from a Union Square school book purchasing excursion through Alphabet City. I wound around Avenues B and C for quite a while. Alphabet City comprises of Avenues A, B, C and D and runs from 14th Street to Houston Street. It was an absolute war zone in the 1980s and its landscape was littered with burned-out buildings, vacant lots filled with garbage, drug dealers and squatters. It wasn't a friendly place by any means. It was home to some of the first graffiti writers, rappers and DJs. It was also one of New York City's most brutally violent neighborhoods.

In 1978, New York City started something called Operation GreenThumb and throughout much of the 1980s and 1990s, this organization cleared out many of the vacant lots throughout Alphabet City and turned them into fully functional Community Gardens. There are now well over 50 Community Gardens on the Lower East Side, most of them in Alphabet City and they are some of the most beautiful, unsung wonders of New York City.

It's hard not to fall in love...Collapse )

Thu, Aug. 26th, 2010, 12:39 am
Time is made from honey slow and sweet...

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Moving to this neighborhood has been such an intense experience. I am inspired every time I walk out of my apartment building. Sometimes my eyes well up with tears because I get the purest feeling of unadulterated giddiness that comes attached to a soul brimming over with creativity.

I spent this past month taking my (woefully inadequate) camera with me everywhere I went. It's become another of my appendages so much so that if I leave my apartment without it I get the same feeling of horror akin to forgetting ones keys or wallet. Sometimes I lament the quality of the camera but it makes me so incredibly happy to capture the magic I feel(see) no matter the quality.

Living on the Lower East Side I have the luxury of being in short walking distance to Chinatown and the East Village. Brooklyn is but a 20 minute walk over the Williamsburg Bridge. I spend hours just wandering soaking in the smells, the sounds and the beauty found in my surroundings. Life is full of wonder, more than it usually is.

I have posted the bulk of my exploration photos to my Facebook and my Flickr but I do love proper documentation in post form and so I have made it my mission to share those images here as well.


These images are my ode to the Lower East Side, my neighborhood. They were taken over a three week period of time.

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The lens is a song...Collapse )

Fri, Jul. 16th, 2010, 01:54 pm
Moscow Art Theater - 1908 - The Blue Bird Production

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Moscow Art Theater - 1908 Collection.

I look at all of these and wonder about so much. The people in these shots, their costumes, the production, their hopes and aspirations, how their lives played out.

I found all of these photos ages ago and saved them immediately (a good thing considering I haven't been able to find all of these together in one place anywhere else since) but have never been able to find any other information about the troupe aside from this excellent Coilhouse article from a while back and some other tidbits here and there that could be gleaned from ye olde Google.

To drown in...Collapse )

Thu, Jul. 15th, 2010, 10:57 pm
So long to these kite strings....

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Maybe there will be a few things I will miss about this neighborhood.

Bambú roof exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and some of the surrounding neighborhood...Collapse )

Sun, Jul. 11th, 2010, 09:29 pm
It's dreamy weather we're on...

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These feet caress these city streets more than most people probably can imagine.

Going back in time while standing perfectly still...Collapse )

Wed, May. 19th, 2010, 08:20 pm
Montreal 2010 Trip Journal

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Finally had the energy to go through the photos from our trip to Montreal this past weekend. It was nice having a real camera in tow as opposed to last year when I relied heavily on the ol' iPhone for photos.

We did so much walking and running around in addition to attending Kinetik that I lost 6 1/2 pounds over the course of the vacation (the secret is to apparently eat really tasty meals, walk 5-6 miles a day all over town and dance and stand all night ;) ).

For reference: Last year's Montreal trip journal.

A whole lot of photos...which is probably an understatementCollapse )

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