NYC Grid is a photo blog dedicated to exploring New York block-by-block and corner-by-corner. Each post covers a new street or feature with a focus on the mundane and ephemeral.

  

Wednesday
Sep182013

Before & After - Broad Street & The New York Stock Exchange

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The above photo is interactive. Drag the yellow handle in the middle to reveal more or less of the before or after image. Alternatively, you can simply click anywhere on the image to move the slider automatically.

One of my favorite geographical fallacies is that of the New York Stock Exchange being on Wall Street. Sure, the building itself is right on the corner of Wall Street, but the main face and colonnade so often associated with the NYSE actually sits on Broad Street – a more impressive-looking street in my opinion, and one that often is misidentified as Wall. A more historic building, Federal Hall, sits on Wall Street proper and is visible from Broad. The steps of this building were the site of George Washington's first inauguration.


Photo source:  Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

Monday
Sep162013

Before & After - Roosevelt Island, The Chapel of the Good Shepherd

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The above photo is interactive. Drag the yellow handle in the middle to reveal more or less of the before or after image. Alternatively, you can simply click anywhere on the image to move the slider automatically.

Roosevelt Island is in a constant state of reinvention. It has hardly lasted more than 75 years with the same name – over the past 200 years it's been known as Minnehanonck, Varkens Eylandt, Blackwell's Island, Welfare Island, and Roosevelt Island. The mid-1970's saw the State of New York embark upon a planned community that represents the current incarnation of this 2-mile East River oddity. The Chapel of the Good Shepherd is one of only a handful of buildings that was erected prior to the 1970's (1888 to be exact). As the original four main apartment complexes sprung up around it, the Chapel became a de facto community center. The original 1970 photo shows an overgrowth of plants and trees that was representative of the deteriorating island and was probably shot for documentation purposes just before development of new community began.


Photo source:   Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, HABS.

Friday
Sep132013

Before & After - St. George's Episcopal Church

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Known for many years as "Morgan's Church" thanks to parishioner J.P. Morgan, St. George's Episcopal Church has sat on the edge of Stuyvesant Square since the mid 1800's. Originally built with twin spires, they were removed in 1889, leaving the rather stunted appearance we have today. On the far right side of this picture you can catch a glimpse of Stuyvesant Square's original 1847 cast iron fence, which is the second oldest surviving fence in the city – after Bowling Green's


Photo source:   Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, HABS.

Wednesday
Sep112013

Before & After - Brooklyn Heights & DUMBO

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On the northern-most edge of the neighborhood of Brooklyn Heights you can get your first glimpses of the Brooklyn Bridge. Framed by the Watchtower buildings, the bridge continues to be one of New York City's most popular tourist destinations. The neighborhood below the Brooklyn tower, part Brooklyn Heights / part DUMBO, has seen a resurgence in recent years with the creation of Brooklyn Bridge Park and the continued popularity of tourist attractions like Grimaldi's Pizza.


Photo source:   Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, HABS.

Monday
Sep092013

Before & After - SoHo, The Haughwout Building

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The above photo is interactive. Drag the yellow handle in the middle to reveal more or less of the before or after image. Alternatively, you can simply click anywhere on the image to move the slider automatically.

The Haughwout Building is a unique landmark in many respects. Built in 1857, the corner building required two cast iron facades - which would normally be too heavy for structures of the time. The designer and builder convinced the owner of the building to allow them to use the cast iron decoration to support the building itself. This was a new engineering idea at the time. It would be another 50 or so years before steel-framed buildings expanded on the concept and spawned the skyscraper boom of the 20th century. Another skyscraper-friendly idea that was well ahead of its time was the inclusion of an elevator, installed by Elisha Graves Otis himself. It was powered by steam and was mostly a tourist attraction.


Photo source:   Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division.

Friday
Sep062013

Before & After - Brooklyn Bridge

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The above photo is interactive. Drag the yellow handle in the middle to reveal more or less of the before or after image.

The Brooklyn Bridge is so unique and beautiful thanks partly to its over-engineering. The diagonal cables that run from the towers down to the road deck actually don't serve the make the bridge any stronger, but over the years they've become one of the many iconic features of the crossing. Recently, old bridges like this one have come under scrutiny as the deteriorating infrastructure in the United States becomes a larger issue. Fortunately, much of the aforementioned over-engineering has helped keep the the main span of Brooklyn Bridge is relatively good shape. What hasn't fared as well are the approach ramps, which are currently undergoing a multi-year rehabilitation. In today's photo you can see that this parking lot on the Brooklyn side has been commandeered by this construction project as a staging place for some of their materials.

Also of interest is how much that sliver of Manhattan skyline has changed since 1982. 8 Spruce Street (AKA New York by Gehry, formerly Beekman Tower)has taken a domineering spot on the north end and of course One World Trade Center (AKA 1 WTC, formerly Freedom Tower) has replaced the Twin Towers.


Photo source:   Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, HABS.