Empirical Reality || Zero Visibility

wiki: → ”On Saturday, July 28, 1945, William Franklin Smith, Jr., was piloting a B-25 Mitchell bomber on a routine personnel transport mission from Bedford Army Air Field to Newark Airport. Smith asked for clearance to land, but was advised of zero visibility. Proceeding anyway, he became disoriented by the fog, and started turning right instead of left after passing the Chrysler Building.

At 9:40 a.m., the aircraft crashed into the north side of the Empire State Building, between the 78th and 80th floors, carving an 18-by-20-foot (5.5 m × 6.1 m) hole in the building where the offices of the National Catholic Welfare Council were located. One engine shot through the South side opposite the impact and flew as far as the next block, dropping 900 feet (270 m) and landing on the roof of a nearby building and starting a fire that destroyed a penthouse art studio. The other engine and part of the landing gear plummeted down an elevator shaft. The resulting fire was extinguished in 40 minutes. It is still the only fire at such a height to be brought under control.

Fourteen people were killed: Smith, the two others aboard the bomber (Staff Sergeant Christopher Domitrovich and Albert Perna, a Navy aviation machinist’s friend hitching a ride), and eleven others in the building. Smith was not found until two days later, when search crews discovered that his body had gone through an elevator shaft and fallen to the bottom. Elevator operator Betty Lou Oliver was injured. Rescuers decided to transport her on an elevator that they did not know had weakened cables. The cables snapped and the elevator fell 75 stories, ending up in the basements. Oliver managed to survive the fall and rescuers later found her amongst the rubble. It still stands as the Guinness World Record for the longest survived elevator fall.”

I came upon this story only recently – incredible, don’t you think?

November 19th, 2016

Empire Mooring Station

wiki: ”the building’s Art Deco spire was designed to be a mooring mast and depot for dirigibles. An elevator between the 86th and 102nd floors would carry passengers after they checked in on the 86th floor. The idea proved impractical and dangerous, due to the powerful updrafts caused by the building itself, as well as the lack of mooring lines tying the other end of the craft to the ground.”

Absolutely true and downright crazy, something right out of Les Cités obscures by François Schuiten. Imagine for a moment living in a universe where, instead of the subway, dirigibles were a regular means of public transport; and, instead of holes in the ground, masts of skyscrapers played the role of mooring stations 100 floors above ground. Going to work with the head in the clouds  – how much more fun that would be!

November 19th, 2016

Infinity of Nations

Going back to the roots and learning a bit more about Native Americans; peoples, traditions and art that were thriving here before America’s discovery by the Old World.

A sad necessity perhaps but such dedicated museums are the most effective means in rendering these cultures and their history more widely accessible to visitors.

In New York, the  museum is housed in the Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House, one of the most splendid Beaux Arts buildings in the City with a magnificent rotunda dome.

The rotunda skylight
Inuit Woman’s Inner Parka (amauti) also known as a tuilli. It was made from caribu skin for a mother to carry her infant. It incorporates almost 140.000 beads. It was made between 1890 and 1925 when whaling flourished on the west coast of Hudson Bay and the Inuit obtained glass beads from whalers through trade.

Mississippian effigy jar. 1350-1550 AD, Clay
Mississippian long-nosed god maskettes. 1100-1500 AD, marine shell
Sisitonwan Dakota (Sisseton Sioux) gauntlet gloves. South Dakota, ca. 1880. Deer hide, cotton cloth, glass beads, ribbon. Moccasins associated with Peo Peo T’olikt (Bird Alighting, Nimi’ipuu, 1857-1935). Idaho, ca. 1880. Deer hide, glass beads, cotton thread.

”Shortly after the outbreak of the 1877 war with the United States, Chief Looking Glass declared that he wanted peace and moved his camp to Clear Creek on the 1863 reservation. Peo Peo T’olikt, who was in his twenties, was instructed by the chief to parley with militiamen and soldiers who came to the camp on July 1. The Indian camp raised a white flag, but was attacked and destroyed.

Peo Peo T’olikt was wounded in the leg, but escaped and was involved in all the subsequent battles of 1877. He lost a wife and young son in the war, but his exploits were many. Capturing the cannon at Big Hole, stealing General Howard’s mules and horses at Camas Meadows, and protecting the camp at Bear Paw are just a few.”

Allen Pinkham, Sr. (Ni Mii Puu)
Tribal historian and former National Museum of the American Indian trustee

Chilkat Tlingit canoe prow effigy, Alaska ca. 1825-1875. Cedar wood, human hair, paint, abalone shell, opercula. The Haida decorated their boats with clan designs and insignia. A Tlingit might add a canoe prow figure carved in the form of a shaman who would guide the way and warn of the approach of enemies.
Wedding dress worn by Inshata-Theumba (Susette La Flesche or Bright Eyes, Omaha, 1854-1903). Nebraska, ca. 1881. Wool

”Susette La Flesche descended from Omaha tribal leaders on both sides of her family. As a child she lived in an earth lodge, though she also attended a mission school. La Flesche witnessed the expulsion of the Ponca tribe from their homeland to Indian Territory in 1877, and the subsequent imprisonment of Standing Bear and other Poncas who had attempted to return to Nebraska. These events launched La Flesche’s career as a nationally known activist who argued against the involuntary removal of indigenous people from their homelands and for Indian citizenship rights.

La Flesche found a soulmate in Thomas Tibbles, a newspaper reporter for the Omaha Herald who followed the Ponca case. Schooled in Western and Omaha culture and bilingual, La Flesche chose an elegant cream-colored wool skirt and jacket when she married Tibbles in 1881.”

Brenda J. Child (Red Lake Ojibwe)
Historian, University of Minnesota

Mebêngôkre krokrokti (feather headdress or cape). Brazil, ca. 1990. Macaw feathers, heron feathers, cotton cordage.

Mebêngôkre men and women wear feather headdresses or capes during children’s naming ceremonies and boy’s initiation ceremonies.

National Museum of the American Indian

November 7th, 2016

 

Haunted

The New York Cancer Hospital founded in 1884, was designed by architect Charles Coolidge Haight to resemble a French chateau. When I first saw it, unaware of its function or background, I thought of an academic institution or a public administration building – certainly not a hospital!

But a hospital it was and the very first one to treat cancer in the United States, at that. Although treatment is rather a euphemism since there was no cure for cancer at the time. In reality, patients came here to ease the pain, seeking comfort in morphine and champagne. Reportedly the hospital spent more on alcoholic beverages than medical supplies.

Because of the high mortality rate among patients, its reputation was gradually tarnished to the point that it became known as ”the Bastille”, a place to be feared and avoided. Along came financial troubles, followed by a change of name (under which it thrived) and a relocation to the East Side in 1995.

With the cancer hospital relocated, the ”Bastille” became a nursing home, mistreated and abused its elderly patients, got involved in fraud cases, and was finally closed down in a state of neglect and disrepair, in 1974. That’s probably when the ghosts took over; for it goes without saying that the ”Bastille” a.k.a the ”Castle” is reputedly haunted. With so much suffering and darkness, how could it not be?

Unbelievably, it survived demolition. After decades of neglect it was redeveloped in the noughties and, by 2005, turned into – take a guess – luxury condominiums. In case you’re curious, take a look inside one of the apartments here.

I wonder what the ghosts have to say about this.

455 Central Park West

Octobrrrrr 16th, 2016

Squeezed

~ tightly. Riding the New York City subway during rush hour feels like…

Back on the surface, this bulbous structure attracted much criticism when it was erected in 1902. Built by Philip Braender, a German-born developer-cum-automobile tyre manufacturer, and designed by architect Frederick C. Browne in a mix style with French Renaissance, Spanish and Baroque influences, the Braender should have really stood out. Instead, it was criticised for being one of the same, similar to a dozen other buildings in the area.

”One of these things makes you yawn. A mile of them gets on your nerves”, wrote the critic Montgomery Shuyler in The Architectural Record, in January 1902.

The difference a century and a major renovation makes! Who’s yawning now Mr. Shuyler?

There is an interesting article from 2006, by Christopher Gray in The New York Times about the Braender and one of its famous residents, Mrs. Winifred Sackville Stoner, which you can read here.

418, Central Park West

October 16th, 2016