A Downtown Photographer, Forced to Pause and Reflect, Sees New York in a New Light
The disquieting muse: “The giant-ness of the building and its architecture, juxtaposed with this small lonely, organic figure in the stream of light, seemed to capture a lot.”
A Battery Park City resident has created a haunting evocation of Manhattan in the time of COVID. His new book, a compendium of photographs entitled “Quiet in NYC: Images from a Time of Quarantine,” eloquently documents the stark beauty and forlorn grace of an erstwhile-bustling streetscape, suddenly rendered desolate.
“The project was born from the inability to do just about anything else but walk around the City in the early days of the quarantine,” says Brad Fountain, who is a graphic designer in his professional life. “No sports, shopping, concerts, or museums. The stark emptiness of the streets seemed to be asking to be photographed. I could walk for hours and see only a half a dozen people, even if I visited some of the most famous sites in New York.”
“This was not a book project to begin with,” he acknowledges, “but more like a series of walks that I began photographing. The push for the book came from an art school friend and the positive feedback I received on social media.”
“What I saw was all of these little places,” he notes: “the barber, the handbag store, the small restaurant. Places you ordinarily don’t see, because you’re headed somewhere else. But I noticed them for the first time, turning down side streets I had never explored.”
“There were no time limits,” he says in another observation about the unique nature of this moment in a City ordinarily synonymous with frenetic tumult. “I could spend a half hour getting just the right shot, because there was no traffic or tourists or locals.”
The mystery and melancholy of a bridge: New York’s most iconic span is deserted on a recent morning.
“The picture on the cover, of the Brooklyn Bridge,” he says, “defines the whole project—a once-overridden tourist spectacle that now stood essentially empty. It was a complete contrast to the bridge I was unable to bike across not more than a month before, because it was so filled with people. I had the sense that many of these shots could probably never be taken again.”
Another image that resonates for Mr. Fountain is one of a woman sitting alone by the Oculus, in the World Trade Center. “That was pretty moving for me,” he says. “The emotion offers a strong contrast to the images I usually take, which are much more positive. The giant-ness of the building and its architecture, juxtaposed with this small lonely, organic figure in the stream of light, seemed to capture a lot.”
These themes are a study in contrast to other shots, “with signs conveying upbeat messages, like ‘we’ll be back, friends,’ or ‘be grateful,’” he muses. “These summoned a friendlier, we-are-in-this-together side of New York that many people overlook. It’s not all high-finance and crime. People also live here. They play softball, go to the park, raise kids, and know the guy at the corner deli. These people seem to be saying, “yes, there’s a pandemic going on, but I have things to do and I’m gonna get them done.”
As anyone who have or work with children know, our public schools re-opening on Monday September 21st has created equal parts hope and anxiety. For us at Manhattan Youth, we have that same sense as we plan to open our After-School programs in weeks to come.
However, so many of our children are really ready to see their friends, and we want to do all we can to ensure that their return to the school year is as fun, and safe, as possible.
One thing I have noticed as I walk around our neighborhood– at restaurants, school playgrounds and parks are many children and adults without their masks. Let’s beat this “thing” and remember to put on our masks. We want our schools to be safe, but this can only work if we do all we can to protect ourselves and others.
Before school starts, Manhattan Youth is organizing a community mask give away. Let’s call it school supplies for 2020!
On Friday September 18th from 12:00pm to 2:00pm we will be giving out masks in front of our community center at 120 Warren Street, along with my good wishes for the Jewish New Year. (Friday is Rosh Hashanah, for those who celebrate!)
For those who can, please donate to Manhattan Youth to help our infrastructure and staffing needs for the new school year. Although we have not been able to have earned income since March, We’re looking forward to re-opening all of our programs as soon as possible. With your help, we’ll hit the ground running!
As a non-profit organization, we are committed to making the world a better place. We can’t help but turn our attention to the western section of our country, and our brothers and sisters who remain under the plague of forest fires. Manhattan Youth is planning to send assistance.
Our first donation will be sent to Chief Christiana Rainbow Plews who is the Fire Chief of the Upper McKenzie Rural Fire Protection District near Blue River Oregon. This are is where the Holiday Farm Fire has done incredible damage. Rainbow, and half a dozen of her district volunteers had their own homes burn to the ground while they were saving lives and mitigating damage from the fire.
You can read more about Chief Christiana Rainbow here.
We hope to see you today. Come say hello, pick up some fresh masks for the school year, and let us know how you’re doing.
Founder and Executive Director
Pull Down the Shades!
City Council Backs Study of Drones to Inspect Buildings
Lower Manhattan skies may soon be slightly more crowded. The City Council on Wednesday enacted legislation authorizing the Department of Buildings to study the feasibility of conducting facade inspections using the small, robotic aircraft known as drones.
City law requires such facade inspections every five years for all buildings taller than six stories. These reviews are usually performed by contractors suspended from the roof of each structure, but the danger of such overhead work requires the installation of the unsightly scaffolds commonly known as sidewalk sheds.
The impact of such a program would likely be especially significant in Lower Manhattan.
Urban Squatters Stake a Short-Lived Claim to Empty Lot in FiDi
A Financial District lot with a turbulent history that has sat empty for nearly two decades briefly become the venue for an insurgent (although anonymous) effort to open the space for public use, while also making quixotic political point. The parcel in question is 111 Washington Street, at the corner of Carlisle Street.
Once home to a parking garage that was demolished (in anticipation of a more lucrative use) during the era of fevered real estate speculation that followed the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the 11,000-square-foot site has remained desolate and forlorn since the mid-2000s, surrounded by an unsightly green plywood fence.
Over the weekend of September 5, one or more public-spirited citizens (or perhaps wily anarchists, depending on your point of view) covered the wall with tarps and then used power saws to cut more than a dozen elegant arches into the wooden rampart. It took the three days of Labor Day weekend to complete this work, which transformed a drab barricade into an inviting portal, with a view of the wild urban forest that had sprouted up within during the lot’s years of disuse. “Then they had an opening party on Monday night,” recalls Esther Regelson, who has lived next door on Washington Street since the 1980s. “It was very strange. A bunch of guys went on the site and ‘opened’ it up to the public. I ran into a lawyer from the owners who said that these guys did it illegally, It’s a very weird situation to say the least.”
1960 – Fidel Castro arrives in New York City as the head of the Cuban delegation
to the United Nations.
AD 96 – Nerva is proclaimed Roman emperor after Domitian is assassinated.
1679 – The Province of New Hampshire is separated from the Massachusetts Bay Colony.
1793 – The first cornerstone of the United States Capitol is laid by George Washington.
1812 – The 1812 Fire of Moscow dies down after destroying more than three-quarters of the city. Napoleon returns from the Petrovsky Palace to the Moscow Kremlin, spared from the fire.
1837 – Tiffany & Co. (first named Tiffany & Young) is founded by Charles Lewis Tiffany and Teddy Young in New York City. The store is called a “stationery and fancy goods emporium”.
1851 – First publication of The New-York Daily Times, which later becomes The New York Times.
1927 – The Columbia Broadcasting System goes on the air.
1931 – The Mukden Incident gives Japan a pretext to invade and occupy Manchuria.
1945 – General Douglas MacArthur moves his command headquarters to Tokyo.
1947 – The National Security Council and the Central Intelligence Agency are established in the United States by the National Security Act. It also establishes the Air Force as an equal partner of the Army and Navy.
1960 – Fidel Castro arrives in New York City as the head of the Cuban delegation to the United Nations.
1961 – U.N. Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjцld dies in a airplane crash while attempting to negotiate peace in the Katanga region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
1977 – Voyager I takes the first distant photograph of the Earth and the Moon together.
1982 – The Sabra and Shatila massacre in Lebanon comes to an end.
1997 – Media magnate Ted Turner donates US$1 billion to the United Nations.
2001 – The 2001 anthrax attacks begin.
AD 53 – Trajan, Roman emperor (d. 117)
1709 – Samuel Johnson, English lexicographer and poet (d. 1784)
1905 – Greta Garbo, Swedish-American actress (d. 1990)
1933 – Mark di Suvero, Italian-American sculptor
1971 – Lance Armstrong, founded the Lance Armstrong Foundation
1180 – Louis VII, king of France (b. 1120)
1970 – Jimi Hendrix, American singer-songwriter, guitarist, and producer (b. 1942)
2018 – Robert Venturi, American architect, designer (b. 1925)
A Century Ago, September 16, 1920
Terror in a
Horse-Drawn Cart on Wall Street
On September 11, family members and others gathered at Ground Zero to honor those killed nineteen years earlier when commercial airliners were repurposed into deadly missiles, striking a blow at the very symbol of capitalism by targeting prominent buildings in New York’s Financial District.
Today, many walk down Wall Street unaware that one hundred years ago New York City’s deadliest terror attack until 2001 took place right there. Though no plaque marks the spot, the scars are still visible if you know where to look.
As the noon hour approached on a fall Thursday morning in 1920 a horse-drawn wagon slowly made its way west down Wall Street toward “the Corner,” the high-powered intersection of Wall and Broad. Its driver came to a gentle stop in front of the Assay Office, where stockpiles of gold and silver were stored and tested for purity. But theft was not his motive.
As Century 21 Shutdown Looms, Opportunity Arises to Ponder New Uses for a Storied Temple of Commerce
With local shoppers still mourning the impending demise of Century 21, the renowned fashion discounter, the family that owns the soon-to-be-defunct retailer may be crying all the way to the bank.
Century 21 was founded in 1961, by Al Gindi and his cousin, Samuel (“Sonny”) Gindi, who set up shop in the palatial former home of the East River Savings Bank at the corner and Church and Cortlandt Streets, and took their new venture’s name from the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair, which styled itself the “Century 21 Exposition.” That event focused on the theme of how Americans would live come the millennium, but its predictions did not include an epochal pandemic, or the death of retail driven by online shopping.
Trump Supporters, Critics Make Their Cases in Battery Park City
In a gesture that was apparently intended to provoke and offend residents of Lower Manhattan, an armada of yachts and powerboats festooned with signs proclaiming support for the reelection of Donald Trump converged on North Cove Marina in Battery Park City on Friday, coinciding with the 19th anniversary of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. One vessel carried the name “Team Deplorable,” while another, called “Frivolous,” hosted a professional Donald Trump imitator, who began lip synching as recorded speeches by the President were played over an amplifier. When the passengers disembarked, they unfurled a banner that read, “Trump 2020: Fuck Your Feelings.”
When Justine Cuccia, a co-founder of Democracy for Battery Park City, walked along the Esplanade and displayed a sign emblazoned with the words, “Trump Is Not America,” to the occupants of one of these boats, she was answered with raised middle fingers and calls of, “fuck you, entitled liberal bitch!” The irony of hurling accusations of “entitlement” from the deck of a yacht was apparently unintentional.
Join us to learn and practice Mandarin, while engaging with Chinese literature, poetry, history and more with fellow enthusiasts. Participants will enjoy live, interactive learning sessions with our language and cultural experts from home. Each session will start with a read-aloud in Mandarin of a carefully selected poem which represents both a touchstone to Chinese culture as well as text for practicing Mandarin language and pronunciation.
Organizations are continually evolving to build a strong, talented team that will propel their businesses forward while creating a desirable workplace that fosters creativity and innovation. In this webinar you’ll have the chance to hear from PepsiCo on how you can leverage your STEM skills. PepsiCo will share perspectives from R&D data scientists and R&D senior leaders about their career paths. Additionally, the discussion will focus on the skills they are looking for in future talent in the areas of data science and research and development.
Photo: Robert Simko
Recently Reopened Businesses Downtown
Get Out on the Water
from North Cove
Need a safe and breezy break from your apartment? Several cruise operators have reopened in North Cove and are offering opportunities to get out on the water, including Tribeca Sailing, Ventura, and Classic Harbor Line. All cruise operators are adhering to social distancing guidelines; check individual websites for details.