Meat Packing in NYC...

On a very, very wet Saturday afternoon last weekend, we were traipsing through the Meat Packing District in Manhattan to see just how gentrified the area had become since my last visit to the nabe. Sadly, the high end boutiques have taken away from the area, the very thing that drew them here in the first place... Grit. I mean... Wasn't it only a few years ago that Samantha on Sex in the City was chasing away gender-bending "tranny ho's" from the street in front of her loft in this hood?

There are still a few active businesses doing the meat packing, but they are one by one, closing up and moving to the Bronx. Here you can see the track used to off-load carcasses from the trucks, for processing smaller chunks of meat for restaurants.

Note the sign in the distance for Scoop NYC.

On the left is another closed business, and on the right...

The new flagship for Diane von Furstenberg... This is just wrong.... What, wasn't SOHO good enough?

Around the corner from von Furstenburg another closed up business, note the carcass tracks here as well. It seems that in renovating the spaces into high-end retail, the meat tracks (or whatever they are actually called) are removed, which again takes away from the very reason they came to the neighborhood to begin with.

West 14th Street, the most gentrified of the blocks. Here you will find a Bodum store, Alexander McQueen, LaPerla, and more. Western Beef (orange awning) at the end of the block will be closing later this year.

I think the "M&W Packing Inc." sign was left there to tease us, when the loft spaces above would go for millions.


Reflecting on 333...

My fascination with architecture goes way, way back, and I can remember reading about 333 W Wacker Drive, way, way back in the mid 80s. I remember it being one of the prime examples of post modernism, and was one of those pivotal buildings in the city. The building is one of the most popular all glass buildings in the world, and marked its architecture firm, Kohn Pederson and Fox, as a player in the big leagues.
So, when I first visited Chicago in 1998, I remember how excited I was to actually experience 333 as it sat snugly at the bend of the river. What I didn't expect was how beautifully it's curving wall would capture the sky around it. It is a constantly changing facade as the light of day shifts east to west, and every time I am there, the building looks different. These shots from last week reflect (pun intended) how the sky impacts the facade.

The glass is tinted two shades of green, alternating in horizontal bands.

The curve of 333 juxtaposed with the rectilinear facade of 191 N Wacker which was also designed by Kohn Pederson Fox, only 20 years later. (right).

Reflection of 333 (along with my head) from the window at American International Tile on the front of Merchandise Mart.


I have returned from Mecca...

I got back into town yesterday, too tired to post (sorry)... So, I took today to think about what to post first. (Not to worry, my blog is first and foremost about the Loop in Chicago, but I will do several posts on my other favorite city, NYC.) My goal was to shoot 500 images, and I managed to get over 600 in the end. Here are a few I shot on my final evening.

Washington Square Park is anchored by this incredible arch on the north side. A monument to George Washington. Originally erected in 1889, in memory of the centennial of George's inauguration, the plaster and wood arch was replaced by the current marble version in 1892.

One of the two sculptures of George on the north face of the arch.

Standing under the center of the arch looking straight up.

Stefan pointed out this image... My eye for seeing things others don't is rubbing off on my friends...

From the fountain side of the arch. This was almost the last photo taken on my trip.

Jane Jacobs 1916-2006

(from Curbed)

Jane Jacobs (age 89) died this morning at Western Hospital in Toronto Canada. Through her 1961 book "The Death and Life of Great American Cities" as well as many other writings, she has, in my opinion, been the most insightful and influential authority on urbanism and city planning as we know it today. While I don't have an official education in urban planning, I always been fascinated by her work, and know how important she has been in impacting the way we live in cities today. Many a critic thought her to be completely wrong in the sixties and seventies, and now look back and wish they had listened instead.

Further reading:
Jane Jacobs Dies (The Globe and Mail)
Jane Jacobs Bio (Wikipedia)

>D< (Unrelated; I have returned from Mecca, and will post about it tonight.) Image from Wikipedia


Still in NYC...

Still in NYC, but I thought I would at least get one image up while I am here... If I can get to more before I leave, I will... Otherwise, you'll have to wait.

>D< Posted by Picasa


Gone to Mecca...

...For a spiritual renewal of sorts.

Going to NYC for a few days, returning next week. My goal is to take 500 pictures (which really isn't that hard to do), but I promise I won't make you sit through a slide show of them all.

If I get a change to post images while I am away, I will.... In the meantime, please check out my Flickr Galleries for recent images.

This image taken last July in DUMBO.



Behind the Gehry...

Many a critic has noted that the back (side facing Randolph St to the north) of the Gehry Bandshell was left incomplete, unfinished, and does not present well.
I for one actually like the "unfinished" look. How is this any different the front of most homes and many businesses in the city. They present to the street a nice pretty facade and only inches around the corner, the brick goes from attractive red or tan to the more utilitarian "Chicago Pink" brick. This wouldn't be so bad if our homes were actually built up side by side, in real row house fashion like NYC or Boston... But no, in Chicago, we separate hour houses by about four feet revealing the less attractive un-fancy sides of each one as you look down the gangway.
So, to the critics that don't like the backside of the bandshell... Get over it... How else can one see the incredibly intricate detail of how this monstrous thing was put together.

Lighting with dichroic lenses shine luminous color onto the steel plates.

Stairs leading to the restrooms from the east.

Close up of the complicated fittings.

Doors leading back stage with corrugated steel wall.


Random Mondays... 04.17.06...

Today's randomness is from shots taken this past week which don't relate to previous posts.

First up, the sun setting down S. Water Street at Michigan Ave.

Crowds watching the news without the 3 second delay at WLS-ABC7's new State Street Studios.

Found in the Gold Coast... Would you steal this?

Trains awaiting passengers at Union Station, while pedestrians unwittingly walk above.

Vertical marquee close up at the Chicago Theater.

Broken... The glass at the bus stop (center section) on Madison and State was broken out only minutes before I shot this image last Wednesday evening at about 8:15PM, and sure enough, by morning it was all cleaned up and replaced with shiny new glass.


Meanwhile... Outside of the Loop...

Today was such an incredibly beautiful day, that Michael and I decided to spend as much time outside as we could stand. And, in the end, we spent six hours on one very long walk (about four miles), and wandered around nabes in Lake View and Lincoln Park, and then ventured in to the park itself for a bit of nature.
To those that may wonder, this is proof that I don't confine all of my photo taking to urbanity. (Well, yes I do since this is still in the city.) Here is a small selection of the more than one hundred images I shot while on my walk.

First up, this tree was near the parking lot for the zoo.

Found in front of one of the many ubiquitous condo towers across from the park. Instead of taking a pic of the condo tower, I thought this was more relevant for the day.

Walking along the north pond, near the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum (which I still have never gone to), a couple of young kids were playing with their bikes, and when one of them saw me with my camera, he told me about the turtles (just in case I would want to take a picture). He dragged Michael and I about 250 feet where we found this lovely creature sunning himself on a fallen limb in the water. He was right, I did want to take pictures...

Walking along the waters edge, we discovered dozens of turtles sunning themselves in the water, and in the end, I shot about fifty turtle pictures. This one was one of my faves, I didn't see the fifth one until I got home and downloaded the images.

An elderly couple was feeding squirrels, and this one was all too happy to sit still for me to take a shot while he was eating a nut or something.

From the bridge crossing over the south pond at the south entrance to the zoo. There was competition to take a pic between tourists, and a wedding party all trying to capture one of the best vistas in the city.


Cloudgate Finally Finished... Still Shiny...

The Bean (aka Cloudgate) has finally been completed with the finishing touches, bringing out its shiny goodness. I like it that the seams are no longer visible, but in some ways, it feels less shiny because there is a slight distortion where there were once seams. This super shiny glob of mercury came in at about 17 million dollars, and even with that kind of money, they still could not get the distortion out of a few areas of the surface.

But, in the end, it is still a unique and amazing object to behold... Especially when there aren't hundreds of tourists huddling underneath it.

I haven't posted a lot of images of the Bean, mainly because I feel it has become a bit over exposed.

Yours truly...

Unrelated to the Bean, but close by... The Pritzker Pavilion. I really like how this shot came out, even without a tripod.


Lake Street Shadows...

The "L" tracks over Lake Street stretch on for more than six and a half miles west of where the train turns onto Lake from Wabash Avenue.

I was over in the West Loop Gate area (or whatever it is being called this week) and standing in the middle of W Lake Street near N. Sangamon, looking west as the tracks cast their shadow onto the street below, I felt this interesting block of light effect...

I have always been a bit fascinated by the incredibly long path that the tracks take over the street, here are a few more shots from this past weekend.

Where in the Loop is This?... The Day After...

OK...I have to say that I am really impressed by the knowledge level of my readers... Yesterday's "Where in the Loop is This?" was again apparently too easy. Anonymous is very smart, and guessed it only hours after I posted it, including the architect. I don't know who you are, but way to go!

The answer... 200 S Wacker, by Harry Weese. So to keep it interesting, I am posting another image... With the same question.

Where in the Loop is This?


Where in the Loop is This?... 04.12.06...

It is Wednesday again, and that means it is time for this weeks "Where in the Loop is This?"

Let me know if you can identify where you would find this image and/or what the image is. No prizes, but I will reveal the answer and first correct guesser on next Wednesday.

This week I am showing just the corner of a building. But, again, I will hold back on any clues for now. Bonus points if you know the architect.

1) Will give clue only if necessary.

Last Weeks Image:

Well, again this one was easily guessed in less than an hour. Iwanski had the correct guess with the building at 185 N Franklin, between Randolph and Lake. I thought it would be a real challenge, since there are several buildings which look similar. I hope this weeks is more of a challenge.