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Archive for April, 2013

NYC1885-1
I thought this Britannica map of the New York Harbor area in 1885 was pretty interesting. It shows how the West Bronx had been incorporated into the city long before Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, or the East Bronx would be — and why the remaining detached Victorian houses in that area are significant to New York City‘s urban history, as opposed to the separate histories of Brooklyn or Flushing or other towns that were unfolding during the same time period. Mainly because of its shape, the map also gives a good look at where the larger cities in North Jersey were at the same time.

I like the inebriate and lunatic asylums on Ward’s Island. And also the way that the cartographer jumped the gun on the first Hudson Tube (showing a “Tunnel” between Greenwich Village and Jersey City). That’s not entirely wrong — it actually was been being attempted in 1885, and the mapmaker probably didn’t want to leave off an important project. But due to legal, financial, and engineering challenges, it wouldn’t be finished until 22 years later, in 1907.

Update: I found a companion plate that shows the details of Manhattan below Central Park. It includes the names of the ship lines on the Hudson River and East River piers, and Thirteenth Avenue.

LowerManhattan1885

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Spring: Olmsted & Vaux


Just some pictures of the light in Central Park, last night, about 7-7:30 PM.

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I recently read J.B. Ward-Perkins’ 1974 Cities of Ancient Greece and Italy. The author starts with the premise that because the classical world was an essentially urban civilization, planning was a fundamental part of its identity. He surveys the towns of the archaic Aegean shores, then delves into the record of Hippodamus of Miletus — the fifth century (BC) planner of Piræus and the Magna Græcia colonies. (A contemporary of Plato, he is also the oldest planner to be remembered by name.) After a brief look at urbanism in the east during the Hellenistic period, Ward-Perkins devotes the rest of the text to describing the development of cities in the Roman west. It’s a great quick read: The entire book is just 128 pages, and more than half of these are maps, photos, or endnotes. The maps cover all of the greatest hits of Greco-Roman urbanism, including Athens and Ostia, and a couple of my personal favorites: Lepcis Magna and Pergamon (seen below). I suspect that this book was one inspiration for Diana Kleiner’s amazing Roman Architecture class at Yale; she uses another of Ward-Perkins’ books for a lot of her assigned readings.

PergamonAkropolis

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