Friday, September 16, 2011

radio row, memory lane

When I wrote about the history of the World Trade Center, I'd never heard of Radio Row. But Rob Buccino, pitch consultant and author of PitchSmarter, makes it come alive with his memory of it:
Thanks for the blogpost on Radio Row—it brought back a lot of memories. My father used to work there when I was growing up, and every so often on a Saturday he'd take my brother and me on the subway from where we lived way, way uptown (in Inwood) all the way to his little office at 34 Cortlandt Street. We were fascinated by the military surplus stores, the little glass circles in the sidewalk (that let light into the warehouse spaces below), the boxes of vacuum tubes (remember them?), and the shadows of the elevated West Side Highway as we'd get closer to the river. All long gone, just like the Towers that replaced them... but still alive in memories.
Thanks, Rob. 

Sunday, September 11, 2011

we know how they fell. but how did they rise?

Hard to believe what with Tribeca real estate prices, but the World Trade Center began as an urban renewal project. It was spearheaded in 1960 by David Rockefeller who hoped to stimulate the languid economy in lower Manhattan just as his father had revived midtown’s economy in the 1930s with Rockefeller Center.

Architect's model for proposed World Trade Center on East River, 1960
The original plan was for the Trade Center to be built on the East River, near where the South Street Seaport sits today. But the Governor of New Jersey objected, resenting that New York would get the $335 million project. (Kids.)

How to get New Jersey’s necessary vote? Ridership on New Jersey’s H&M (Hudson & Manhattan) Railroad had declined over 80% after commuters started driving over new tunnels and bridges. Port Authority promised to take over the bankrupt H&M and re-site the Center on Manhattan’s West Side, more convenient for New Jersey commuters. New Jersey threw in, and PATH was born.

Radio Row, looking east along Cortlandt towards Greenwich Street, photo by Berenice Abbott, 1936
New Jersey wasn’t the only force of resistance. The neighborhood where the Trade Center was re- sited, called Radio Row, was up in arms. It was home to hundreds of small businesses and residents who filed an injunction in 1962 against Port Authority’s power to evict them. A year later, the NY Court of Appeals overturned the injunction, on grounds that the project had a “public purpose.”

Also opposed was the Museum of Natural History, citing hazards the buildings would impose on migrating birds.

After years of controversy, work on World Trade Center foundations began in 1966. Construction started in 1968. More than 1.2 million cubic yards of earth and rock were excavated to make way for the  Center. The excavated was dumped in the Hudson to create 23.5 acres of land(fill) deeded to the City of New York--now Battery Park City.

The Twin Towers were completed in 1970. There were 43,600 windows. You may recall how narrow they were. They measured only 18 inches wide. Lead architect Minoru Yamasaki had a fear of heights. He thought narrow windows would make building occupants always feel secure.

Friday, September 9, 2011

the wisdom of age

Usually the world's best charts can be found in the inventory of Jessica Hagy. But an awesome graph turned up in my email this morning that remarkably distills complexities I've been wrestling with lately.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

10 most controversial ads in fashion history

In honor of fashion week which starts in New York tomorrow, Toponlinecolleges did a lookback at ads that have fueled the industry.

In 1980, 15-year old Brooke Shields launched Calvin Klein's career by announcing to the world she was going commando. "Nothing comes between me and my Calvins." In those gentler times, this ignited public outcry against child pornography and the ensuing controversy (and sales) fueled a voracity in the industry for younger models.

Now, of course, the ads seem benign. Last year Brooke told the New York Post: "I look at these pictures now and I still am sort of shocked that they became so legendary. For me, it was just a huge job I went to after school at 3 o'clock. The one with my leg up, I just remember my arm hurting."

In 1997, creative director for Brooke's Calvin Klein campaign Sam Shahid teamed up with photographer Bruce Weber to produce another piece of fashion marketing that would inflame moral outrage: a 100 pg catalog targeted to middle schoolers with photos suggesting nudity, group sex (with dogs) and articles by "experts" advising sexual experimentation in college. It wasn't a catalog, exactly. A+F dubbed it a "magalog" and sold it in stores, ostensibly only to those over 18. (No ID required, of course.) Numerous lawsuits and boycotts ensued and they discontinued production in 2003, issuing limited editions to more tolerant European markets. The cover pictured at left was for the last issue which can be yours on ebay for $34.95.

The other 8 ads (including Sisley ad featuring models snorting white spaghetti straps) can be found in the post which inspired this one.