Saturday, 19 April 2014

New York Architecture - Introduction

BFTF recently had the opportunity to spend a weekend walking around Manhattan Island,New York and was fascinated by the architecture there.

This is the first in a series of posts about Manhatten and its buildings. The other posts in the series are :

2)Oddments and Wall Street Pictures
3)Old Buildings Pictures
4)Skyscrapers Pictures

It was great to get a handle on the actual locations of places I had seen on US made TV series and films (including (but not limited to) Top Cat, Kojak, Taxi, The Equalizer, CSI:NY, Law & Order, Deep Impact, American Gangster and Ghostbusters

New York, which is something of a natural harbour, is located on the Eastern Seaboard of the US, and comprises 5 "boroughs" as shown below (not my picture, this one)

The Five Boroughs of New York City:
 1: Manhattan (d blue) 2: Brooklyn (yellow) 3: Queens (orange) 4: The Bronx (red) 5: Staten Island (purple)

BFTF only had time to walk around the part of Manhatten south of Central Park, but this is perhaps the most "famous" part of the city and contains two areas of skyscrapers, one just south of Central Park, and one at the southernmost end of the island. Both can be recognised in the image below (again, not mine) as areas that are casting long shadows.

Southern Part of Manhatten Island, showing Central Park
with skyscrapers just to the south of the park and at the bottom end of island

The solid bedrock of Manhatten is the main reason that such tall skyscrapers can be built there, and this bedrock is closest to the surface where the skyscrapers are congregated. One might think this is a case of case of cause and effect, but some academics have argued otherwise. For example Jason Barr, Troy Tassier and Rosen Trandafilov have argued instead that:
"bedrock depths had very little influence on the skyline; rather its polycentric development [i.e.two areas of skyscrapers] was due to residential and manufacturing patterns, and public transportation hubs"

The ORIGINAL inhabitants of Manhatten, so far as researchers can determine, were the Lenape Native Americans. A short, sad, history of the Lenape after arrival of the Europeans can also be found here at Lenape Life.

A startling insight into the appoach taken by the US government towards the Native Americans can be seen in a letter by President Thomas Jefferson to William Henry Harrison, Governor of the Indiana Territory in 1803, in which Jefferson comments that :

"Our system is to live in perpetual peace with the Indians, to cultivate an affectionate attachment from them, by everything just and liberal which we can do for them within the bounds of reason, and by giving them effectual protection against wrongs from our own people...To promote [the exchange of] lands, which they have to spare and we want, for necessaries, which we have to spare and they want, we shall push our trading uses, and be glad to see the good and influential individuals among them run in debt, because we observe that when these debts get beyond what the individuals can pay, they become willing to lop them off by a cession of lands."

Image Sources
5 Boroughs, Manhatten

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