I seem to be on a street furniture bender this week, but in case you hadn’t noticed, there is still one genuine (not cutesy-poo pastiche) early Fifth Avenue lamp post standing alone, albeit overshadowed by an aggressive cobrahead, facing the Flatiron Building at 23rd Street and Broadway. This particular design dates from the early Twentieth Century, and had replaced an even earlier and more ornate gas fitting featuring massive hanging globes. Sadly, there are cables taped up it and a discarded Heineken bottle jammed in the access panel at the base. I believe that this is the last remaining example and yet it seems to be treated with casual disregard rather than being recognized as a real piece of design history. Shame on us.
Being located in Times Square, it seems entirely appropriate that the newspaper convention of continuing the story on the next page should have been appropriated by the Department of Transportation in the context of regulatory signage.
Having seen the elephant photo all over the place for some time, Saki and I hurried over to Pier 54 to have a look at Ashes and Snow for ourselves before it closed and were amazed. What most impressed was Shigeru Ban’s structure. I was expecting a pile of shipping containers with some photos on the wall. Instead I found one of the most exciting and awe inspiring spaces that New York has ever had to offer, and like the Central Park Gates project, it wasn’t around for long (it is now all being shipped to California). First of all, this thing is huge! On entering you found yourself in a fabulous, dark, ethereal, and seemingly endless cathedral space stretching a full City block out into the Hudson. While constructed of shipping containers, sonotubes, canvas, and steel cable, with a floor of wooden planks and river stones, it has all the authority and majesty of any cathedral nave you have ever visited. Truly wonderful and a must-visit if you encounter it on your travels.
The photos I was less enthusiastic about. While there is no denying that many of these images are stunning, the more I saw the more I felt uneasy about the apparently contrived posing and what to me seemed an intrusively “arty” presentation. If these had been paintings (which they nearly are) I think they would seem the epitome of Shmaltz and the fact that they are photos does not ultimately redeem them in this respect. One would love to think that the child had innocently happened upon the elephant and stopped to consider it, and that the photographer had innocently (or purposely) happened upon both. But that not being the case what we end up with seems somewhat unsubstantial.
But that’s just my opinion. Do not miss out on the chance to see for yourself.