The Benefits of Gentrification

These are views from the Empire Stores, the red brick warehouse on Water St., owned by coffee magnates Arbuckle Bros, before it was sold and left abandoned for most of the second half of the 20th century. As Brooklyn gradually dropped its industrial features for a gentrified, trendier look, the building too received a total facelift, and was restored to an urban food and market place.

PS: the last two images are from the ferry back to Manhattan.

Dumbo, Brooklyn, NYC

September 15th, 2019

The prison with the best view ever

In Castle Williams, which was built in the early 19th century to protect New York Harbour, then used as a prison during the Civil War, following which the US Army improved the facilities by adding insulation, heating, running water, and, eventually, electricity, and used it as a US Army Prison. In 1915, it was made a branch of the Fort Leavenworth Disciplinary Barracks, of which the prison facility at Alcatraz in San Francisco was also a branch.

When they weren’t admiring the view to Manhattan and New York Harbour, inmates were listening to music from a Victrola (record player) they had purchased with money they had made taking in laundry, or took typing and steno lessons, offered through the Y.M.C.A., likely taught by female volunteers. And, while in Alcatraz, the prisoners had the backbreaking task of building their own cells out of heavy stones, ”hard labour” at Governors Island meant mowing the lawns. There were those that tried to escape, of course, but it was not an uncommon to see soldiers who had gone AWOL surrender themselves outside of the Battery Maritime Building, hoping to be imprisoned at Castle Williams.

Anyway, “Castle Bill”, as it was lovingly called by its residents, remained a branch of the US Army Disciplinary Barracks until Governors Island’s closure as an Army base in 1966. The Coast Guard did not maintain a prison in Castle Williams but readapted it for their own needs by using it as a community center featuring arts and crafts classrooms, a ballet studio, meeting rooms for the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, a daycare room, and a teen club.

And when, in 1996 all Military and Coast Guard operations seized, the enlisted men, women and their families that lived on the island year-round departed, living behind them a small town. Since then, the facilities – the island itself, are slowly being converted into a public park.

It still has the best views to Manhattan and New York Harbour.

Info source: &

Governors Island

July 7th, 2019

Hoist your Sail when the Wind is Fair

All aboard for a two-hour sunset sail on New York Harbor – on 1885 Schooner Pioneer!

About Schooner Pioneer

In the days before paved roads, small coastal schooners such as Pioneer were the delivery trucks of their era, carrying various cargoes between coastal communities: lumber and stone from the islands of Maine, brick on the Hudson River, and oyster shell on the Chesapeake Bay. Almost all American cargo sloops and schooners were wood, but because she was built in what was then this country’s center of iron shipbuilding, Pioneer had wrought-iron hull. She was the first of only two cargo sloops built of iron in this country, and is the only iron-hulled American merchant sailing vessel still in existence.

By 1930, when new owners moved her from the Delaware River to Massachusetts, she had been fitted with an engine, and was no longer using sails. In 1966 she was substantially rebuilt and turned into a sailing vessel once again. Today she plies the waters of NY Harbor carrying adults and children instead of cargo in her current role as a piece of “living history.”

Today Pioneer is an award winning sail training vessel teaching volunteers of all kinds, traditional maritime skills, and the art of tall ship sailing. [source: South Street Sea Seaport Museum]

Watching Lady Liberty light up, the sky catching fire as the golden hour gave way to the blue and the blue turned to midnight; those two hours on the deck of an 1885 schooner were the most tranquil and peaceful we’d experienced in the City thus far.

New York City Harbor

September 16th, 2018

Do not go gentle into that good night

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Dylan Thomas

June 25th, 2017

50 UN Plaza

An elegant addition to the City’s skyline by Foster + Partners; an architecture and design practice responsible for a number of innovative and groundbreaking structures around the world, such as the Gherkin and the Millennium Bridge in London or the marvelous Reichstag Dome in Berlin – not to mention Spaceport America in New Mexico or the Lunar Habitation on The Moon (albeit in a 3D printed version only; for now)!

January 6th, 2017