As a child growing up in struggling inner city Newark, the gritty urban environment always inspires me. Newark’s abandoned factories and rust belt industries are fuel for my imagination and inspiration to remember the passage of time.
Situated in front of New York City’s Flatiron Building is a triangular spit of land bordered by three major streets, Fifth Avenue, Broadway, and 23rd. The currently underutilized space could become a vibrant public square. Such a park should reflect the vitality and dynamism of its neighborhood. Thousands of pedestrians pass through this highly visible intersection daily.
Popup Park creates a mixed use public space that adapts to its many users. Narrow metal panels measuring three by five meters roll out of a wedge-shaped storage container. Each panel serves a different function: bleachers, benches, bookshelf, public mural, basketball hoop, etc. When in use, the panels are alternated to adapt to multiple uses. When not in use, the panels slide back into their container, leaving an open communal space. Each panel is arranged according to the Fibonacci series or the golden rectangle. This permits a functional and aesthetically pleasing composition to be incorporated into each panel. The square’s periphery is arrayed with trees to shade the communal area and to offer a respite from the hectic concrete jungle.
Strolling in the Bronx, one aspect arrests me every time: Homogeneity. Block after block, street after street, a never ending treadmill of bodegas, tenements, hair salons, C-TOWN supermarkets, strip malls, and laundries. I ask myself, “Wasn’t I just here before?” I become an explorer lost wandering the Sahara; I retrace my footsteps.
And then . . . There is the ceaseless cacophony of Spanish speakers, buses, and autos. The chaotic maze of streets leads me to fantasize walking thru a painting by de Chirico. The copious signage for SHOES, SHIRTS, PIZZA, etc. hints at shabby decadence. The never too distant fast food joint hints at obesity in a quality food desert. The din of distant cars on the Cross Bronx or Major Deegan hint at childhood asthma. I momentarily immerse myself in the urban grid.
After many hours, I spy an elevated subway stop in the far distance. I take the next southbound train back to Manhattan. I must return to the Bronx soon. The outer boroughs beckon.
To read more about my walks in New York, click here.
Marble Hill Home (2662 Kingsbridge Terr)
This home is still occupied (2662 Kingsbridge Terr).
Subway Trestle (228th & Broadway)
Parking Attendants (232nd & Broadway)
Pedestrians wait for bus (228 & Broadway).
Latino family strolls to Target (Marble Hill Projects).
Latino couple in South Bronx
Riverdale Home (246th & Cayuga)
Children’s Dentist (Kingsbridge & Heath)
Lady wearing shirt reading “Heart Breakers” passes Amiga Fasion.
Copious Signage (233rd &Broadway)
Tenement Row on Kingsbridge Road
King’s Pizza (Sedgwick & Kingsbridge)
Kingsbridge Corner Bodega
Metro Sunday Sidewalk School teaches Biblical stories.
Broadway & 242: Last Stop
Elderly lady crosses Kingsbridge Road.
Haircut on Kingsbridge
The meadowlands, nestled between New York City and Newark, is a strange sort of interstitial zone. It belongs to neither nature nor to man. The grasslands and birds of nature are abundant. Yet, so are the derelict factories and warehouses of yesteryear. The unwanted detritus of civilization is cast off into the meadowlands, ranging from garbage to industry.
Through this region of indeterminate identity pass millions of commuters on their way to and from work. Many look out the windows of passing trains, planes, and cars. Yet few care to observe the lapping tides and bizarre beauty of this unwanted strip of land. The views below are drawn from memory. They show various scenes from my daily train ride on NJ Transit between Newark Broad Street and Hoboken Terminal.
Overhead Power Lines
Jersey City Factories
Sunset on the Passaic
Premonition of a City
Shell Oil Monopoly
City in Autumn
I admire the beauty and bustle of Grand Central Terminal, a truly grand public space.
Main Waiting Room
In the New York of my imagination, dinosaurs emerge from the Museum of Natural History to haunt the city “that never sleeps.” They roam the streets engaging in dinosaur activities: scaring people, stealing from butcher shops, and terrorizing the skyline. For one night, the fabled city is theirs.
Museum of Natural History
New York Public Library
Empire and Chrysler