InstaBlog: "The Apartments"

Author's note: Warning—this is a blog-style post based on a social media post. Beware typos and poorly elucidated thoughts. For more polish, perhaps try an article!

These buildings, metonymically known as "The Apartments," are locally infamous to New York drivers. Located above the Trans Manhattan Expressway (I-95) on the approach to the George Washington Bridge, they are a perfect visual marker to mark the pace of the interminable traffic to and from New Jersey.

The expressway itself was carved out of Washington Heights in the very early 1960s, gouging a trench between 178th & 179ths Streets. In an early attempt to appease the growing anti-expressway crowd, however—not to mention in an act of “urban renewal” hubris to show they could build the city of the future—the planners of the era decked the highway as much as they believed they could. This included building the George Washington Bridge Bus Station and these four buildings, which represented the first time air rights above an expressway had been sold.

The final result is, to be clear better than most urban expressways—although that is a textbook example of damning with faint praise. Traffic and traffic noise is constant, as is pollution from the trenches, which give a bird’s eye view of 12 of the busiest highway lanes on the planet. Architecturally, the buildings themselves create a fascinating, almost dystopian vision. Their harsh exteriors, stained by decades of exhaust fumes, mixed with the plethora of antennas, windows, fans, and air conditioners shooting high into the sky makes for a very cyberpunk-esque view.

The life of the city goes on, but the sight of people having to live and walk so close to this mess of traffic is always a sad one.

Based on an Instagram post.
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InstaBlog Photos: Ridiculously Photogenic City Is Ridiculously Photogenic

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#1: Looking south along Church Street into the Noe Valley, while waiting for the inbound J Church

Earlier this year I was in San Francisco, and while I normally like to focus on something a bit more intellectual, sometimes a place is just so gorgeous that all I can do is sit back and enjoy the aesthetics. Hope this series melts your urbanist heart like it melts mine!

Many more below!

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InstaBlog: San Francisco's Twin Peaks Tunnel Shutdown, Transit History, & an Urban Adventure

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On Sunday, June 24, 2018, I found myself on my way to San Francisco, for a week of urban exploration, research, and—yes—vacation. A few weeks before my trip however, I had gotten some frustrating news: the day after I arrived, the Twin Peaks tunnel—a major part of the city's light rail/subway infrastructure—was closing for a two month long reconstruction and refurbishment. This was a minor inconvenience, to be sure—even though I wasn't staying somewhere I needed to use the tunnel, no one wants to experience a city's major transit disruption. But more than that, I am a self-avowed transit nerd, and for all of my love of San Francisco, I had never found the opportunity to ride this part of its transit system in all my adult trips to the city.

InstaBlog: San Francisco's Bus System

Author's note: Warning—this is a blog-style post based on a social media post. Beware typos and poorly elucidated thoughts. For more polish, perhaps try an article!

So, after spending a week in San Francisco, I have to say that—and I'm sure locals will disagree—I found its bus system to be both exemplary and a joy to use.

InstaBlog: Sometimes, you just have to admit you were wrong.

Author's note: Warning—this is a blog-style post based on a social media post. Beware typos and poorly elucidated thoughts. For more polish, perhaps try an article!

Sometimes, you just have to admit you were wrong.

For the past few years, I've watched this hotel—a Holiday Inn—being built in the Garment District, at 39th & 8th Ave. The developers clearly received a height bonus for including a public plaza, one of New York City's many so-called privately-owned public places (or POPS). POPS have a sad history: not only have they more often than not been dead, lifeless afterthoughts, but developers had an incentive to make them that way—after all, they had no desire for non-tenants to hang out on their property.

InstaBlog Collection: Jersey City

Author's Notes: This post combines many more images & stories! Make sure to click read more!
Also: Warning—these are blog-style posts originally from social media. Beware typos and poorly elucidated thoughts. For more polish, perhaps try an article!

Exchange Place

Over the past few decades, Jersey City has exploded, sprouting towers far into the air which, especially from a distance, rival those of lower Manhattan. Once you are on the ground, though, it becomes clear that things are quite a bit uglier.

InstaBlog: Snowy Binghamton, NY

Author's note: Warning—this is a blog-style post based on a social media post. Beware typos and poorly elucidated thoughts. For more polish, perhaps try an article!

Something different: this past Friday, I was returning from a family member's funeral in upstate New York when I got stuck in the midst of the major storm hitting the East Coast. In the Catskills, that meant snow, and when I say stuck, I mean it literally. I was trapped on I-81 miles behind an accident that shut the entire road for over 2 1/2 hours before having to back off the highway. Fun times (see the last image for that)! After a white-knuckle drive on snow-covered back roads, I got back to the city of Binghamton, New York to spend the night.

InstaBlog Collection: Avenue U Walk

Author's Notes: This post combines many more images & stories! Make sure to click read more!
Also: Warning—these are blog-style posts originally from social media. Beware typos and poorly elucidated thoughts. For more polish, perhaps try an article!

Avenue U, Gravesend

Last October, I decided to walk along Avenue U in Brooklyn, starting from the F station in Gravesend*. Walking down from the elevated platform with the crowd, I couldn't help but notice the makeup of the commuters: a surprising amount were the traditional Brooklyn & Long Island stereotype—middle aged, middle class whites, speaking in the (remains) of their famous accent. Once a huge percentage of the population, I had thought almost all had either moved to the suburbs, retired, or been priced out of the city. Nice to see that even in modern Brooklyn, there’s still some space for what has to be a shrinking but historically important community.

Upcoming Excerpt: Nervi's George Washington Bridge Bus Station

It's been a long while since I've done this! A quick peek at the writing I've been doing on the urbanism of the refurbished George Washington Bridge Bus Station:

If the construction of the [Trans-Manhattan Expressway] below had not already done enough to divide the neighborhood, Nervi's [George Washington Bridge Bus Station] would go a long way towards finishing the job. Amongst urbanists and architecture critics, it has become a bit of a trope to liken 20th Century urban structures to walls, but few such structures earn that description quite as literally as the ground-level of Nervi's station.
-Excerpt from an upcoming article.

See other Upcoming Excerpts & Thoughts

InstaBlog Collection: Cortleyou Rd, Coney Island Avenue, & Midwood

Author's Notes: This post combines many more images & stories! Make sure to click read more!
Also: Warning—these are blog-style posts originally from social media. Beware typos and poorly elucidated thoughts. For more polish, perhaps try an article!

Cortleyou Rd. & Ditmas Park

A look at the bustling urbanism, attractive architecture, and all-around beautiful streetscape of Cortleyou Road, one of the main streets of Ditmas Park, Brooklyn.

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