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InstaBlog: Coney Island Avenue

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!

Coney Island Avenue is one of the major north-south streets of Brooklyn, and looking at a map, you would expect it to be a bustling hub of urbanism, like nearby Flatbush or Nostrand Aves. But while it is busy in parts, and is certainly a vital part of the neighborhoods it runs through, it could also use a lot of love.

InstaBlog: Cortleyou Road, Ditmas Park

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!

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.

InstaBlog: Cortleyou Road Station

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!

The Cortleyou Road stop on the BMT Brighton Line—today's Q train. A strange name for a road, to be sure but a lovely station all the same.

InstaBlog: Turnstyle Market at Columbus Circle

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!

Turnstyle is a new shopping center, food hall, and—dare I say it—public space built into New York's Columbus Circle-59th Street Subway station.

InstaBlog: The Miller Elevated Highway

Author's note: Trying something new! Welcome to my InstaBlog, a chance for me to feature some of my more in-depth Instagram posts on the site. Be warned: this is a blog-style post based on a social media post, so beware typos and poorly elucidated thoughts. For more polish, perhaps try an article!

At the north edge of Riverside Park South, you find the last remaining section of the old West Side Highway, aka the Miller Elevated Highway.

Instagram Musings: Riverside Park South

Some shots of the beautiful Riverside Park South. For decades, Manhattan's Riverside park ended at 72nd Street, leaving room for what had been the New York Central's 60th Street freight yard & car float facility. Here, freight was transferred to or from barges across the Hudson, and was either sent north or (far more likely) south, along the Highline. Indeed, the "West Side Improvement," one of Robert Moses's early, not-actually-evil projects, built Riverside Park and the Henry Hudson Parkway as we know them today in large part to bury the northbound New York Central tracks. At 72nd street, the parkway soared up onto a viaduct, and continued down along the west side of Manhattan as the Miller Elevated Highway, known as the West Side Highway, until most of it was demolished in mid-1970s. Beginning in 1998, and continuing through the present, the park has been extended southwards, partly as part of the Riverside South real estate development (partly by he-who-shall-not-be-named). This also worked to connect the park to the Hudson River Greenway, giving bike and pedestrian access along Manhattan's entire waterfront. For one reason or another, I never had the opportunity to explore this part of the park… so I decided to change that! It is a *wonderful* place. I admit, park design is not one of my fields of expertise—in some ways it feels like black magic. Here, there are varying landscapes of very different plants, a historically-preserved railroad heritage, and lots of both programmed areas, be they natural-looking or for activities, and open areas for recreation. The sheer transformation of the landscape every 100 feet is an amazing accomplishment. But it's the small touches you see, down to what I call the seating "podules," which have three types of seating: a bench, a lounge-chair for sunning, and swiveling high-chairs with a bar for eating. Wonderful touches! First part of my (short) #RiversideParkSouthWalk. A little more below:

A post shared by Blair Lorenzo (@foxandcity) on

Some shots of the beautiful Riverside Park South. For decades, Manhattan's Riverside park ended at 72nd Street, leaving room for what had been the New York Central's 60th Street freight yard & car float facility. Here, freight was transferred to or from barges across the Hudson, and was either sent north or (far more likely) south, along the Highline. Indeed, the "West Side Improvement," one of Robert Moses's early, not-actually-evil projects, built Riverside Park and the Henry Hudson Parkway as we know them today in large part to bury the northbound New York Central tracks. At 72nd street, the parkway soared up onto a viaduct, and continued down along the west side of Manhattan as the Miller Elevated Highway, known as the West Side Highway, until most of it was demolished in mid-1970s. Beginning in 1998, and continuing through the present, the park has been extended southwards, partly as part of the Riverside South real estate development (partly by he-who-shall-not-be-named). This also worked to connect the park to the Hudson River Greenway, giving bike and pedestrian access along Manhattan's entire waterfront. For one reason or another, I never had the opportunity to explore this part of the park… so I decided to change that! It is a *wonderful* place. I admit, park design is not one of my fields of expertise—in some ways it feels like black magic. Here, there are varying landscapes of very different plants, a historically-preserved railroad heritage, and lots of both programmed areas, be they natural-looking or for activities, and open areas for recreation. The sheer transformation of the landscape every 100 feet is an amazing accomplishment. But it's the small touches you see, down to what I call the seating "podules," which have three types of seating: a bench, a lounge-chair for sunning, and swiveling high-chairs with a bar for eating. Wonderful touches! First part of my (short) #RiversideParkSouthWalk. A little more below:

A post shared by Blair Lorenzo (@foxandcity) on

Instagram: Myrtle Avenue El

The End of the Line: the remains of the Myrtle Avenue el. Up through 1969, wooden trains rumbled along above Myrtle Avenue and into Downtown Brooklyn, along one of the borough's oldest elevated transit lines. In earlier eras, it carried people into the heart of Brooklyn, to the various industries and firms along the waterfront, to shopping districts, schools, and friends' houses, and even—through 1944—over the Brooklyn Bridge and into Manhattan. Regular riders included both my father and grandfather, who, in their youth, rode it every day to Brooklyn Tech. The line originally connected with the (Brooklyn) Broadway line, today's J train, and carried out past Broadway (nee Manhattan) Junction to Brooklyn's (then) city line. In 1915, the line was extended northward—the route of today's M train. However, while this northern section was built strong enough to handle heavy, all-steel subway cars, the original southern portion could only carry wooden cars, generally banned from subways for safety reasons. Unlike some other elevated lines, the southern part of the Myrtle Avenue el was never rebuilt for heavier cars, so until the end, only saw wooden cars shuttling back and forth between Metropolitan Avenue and Bridge Street in Downtown Brooklyn. At the height of the American suburban era—and near the nadir of American urbanism—the line was closed and demolished due to a lack of ridership. Today, this is all that remains of this original line: a two block section flying over the J train's Myrtle Avenue station, running one block north and one block south of the station, without tracks, signals, or trains. It is a strange experience to walk underneath an abandoned el, and for the life of me, I'm not sure why these stub ends were not demolished—especially the one heading south. However, I'm glad they weren't: they are a connection to the past, a symbol of both Brooklyn's height, driven by elevated railroads, and its nadir of abandonment, grime, and darkness. Of course, that's easy for me to say: I don't have to live next to it More below...

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Newark & Newark Penn Station

A walk through Newark's Penn Station

A trip to examine the #urbanism of #Newark, #NJ! Just a brief overview; hopefully I will post more in the upcoming days, but here are some brief descriptions: 1) Great overview of Newark, w/ the #DockBridge & #NewarkPenn 2) Gorgeous #ArtDeco #Architecture of #NewarkPennStation's waiting room! 3) Near Penn, Newark has some of the least friendly streets I've been on in a Northeastern city: little #walkability, and very Houston-like. 4) Military Park #Trolley Station & #DowntownNewark's more traditional struture! 5) A view from Military Park, looking over the #skyline 6) A street of #RowHouses converted for local retail 7) Beaver Street, looking North from Market forms a beautifully #urban alley 8) In contrast to Downtown, the streets of the #Ironbound-especially #FerrySt-have a gorgeous, human texture filled with mainly local stores. 9) Goregous view of Downtown from the #PassaicRiver 10) And I can't help but close with some #transit & #railroad history: a classic sign seen at #PATH's #HarrisonStation Enjoy! #UrbanPlanning #WalkingTours #Exploration #NewJersey

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Instagram: Hoboken & Lincoln Harbor

"Corporate Campus #Urbanism"... Seen in #LincolnHarbor, #Weehawken, #NJ. Though adjacent to light rail, and just across the Hudson River from one of the most transit-friendly cities in the world, this new development will almost certainly never become a truly urban environment. Wide streets and, empty setbacks; two stories of (at least somewhat hidden) parking; not a retail space in sight. The courtyard only gets worse: what do you want to look out on, the river? How about *more parking*! It's very sad that even a modern #TransitOrientedDevelopment near the heart of one of the most #urban #cities in the world could get so much so wrong. Truly disappointing, and it only gets worse when one considers that nearby #Hoboken exploding into one of the most expensive neighborhoods in the #NYC metro area. Quality, urban housing and more quality urban space is desperately needed. Nice view of the water, though... #UrbanPlanning #UrbanDesign

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