Galloping into the East River

Promised from last week, I am going to end off my series and school year with another historic carousel.

the logo of jane's carousel

As finals roll in like an impending storm, the ways to enjoy free and unstressed time also quickly approaches our minds. I believe I started my “Post semester treat list” last week; the list growing exponentially. I know that I won’t possibly be able to complete everything on that list, but knowing that I have options is rather comforting. This post can easily be an idea for a post finals break. Away from those classrooms and walls that you have been looking at for the past several months. Close to the CityTech campus lies (or spins shall I say) historic amusement gold. Down by Brooklyn Bridge Park is Jane’s Carousel which seems to spin straight into the East River from some perspectives.

the crafted horses seemingly running into the east riverthe horses galloping towards dumbo

The carousel is not a product of NYC like the Central Park Carousel, it was actually made in Pennsylvania. According to The New York Times, it was made by the PTC aka Philadelphia Toboggan Company. As stated by Jane’s Carousel, Artists/sculptors, John Zalar and Frank Carretta, are known to be the hand carvers for the horses that canter round and round. The carousel was built in 1922 and placed in Idora Park which is in Youngstown, Ohio. The carousel would live and grow old in that town and even be listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The original carousel had thirty moving horses,eighteen stationary horses, and two chariots all under a wide umbrella-akin overhead shelter designed in revival styles of Colonial and Italianate. Which explains the motifs and paintings that adorn the ceiling and pediment on top of the carousel.

the top of jane's carouselthe interior of the above head shelter, adorned with a butterfly, sky, and flowersa hand carved light brown horse

By the time of 1984 Idora Park closed and the parcel was sold; the amusement rides being auctioned or demolished. The beaten, weathered, and, quite frankly, old carousel was bought by Jane and David Walentas who then moved the faded Ohio glory to Brooklyn in the dire attempt to revitalize the, at one time, crowd-pleaser.

a stagnant chariot on jane's carousel

David was the Developer for the “Empire Fulton Ferry State Park” project, which is a part of Brooklyn Bridge Park (adjacent to Water St.). He thought it would be a good element to the park; and in time, it was. Jane’s responsibility was the restoration of the beloved carousel. Each hand carved horse was also rehabilitated by hand. She had to carve off each layer of 60+ years of paint with an X-acto knife according to Jane’s Carousel (as aforementioned). If you are in the architecture major or any other major that prompts you to use one of these knives, then you are familiar with how tedious and slow moving the process can be. Over twenty years later the restoration was complete and the Walentas’ revealed the carousel in 2006. This was when the carousel was reborn as “Jane’s Carousel.” They then donated the carousel to the park and had a pavilion be placed over it for a permanent home.

a hand carved full body image of a black horsea hand carved face of a black horse

The pavilion was built by world renowned French architect, Jean Nouvel. He decided to put a simplistic acrylic box around the carousel. The box has two facades with floor to ceiling multi-folding glass panels which opens the structure from two ends when the carousel is in service to the public. The other two facades are just floor to ceiling acrylic panels. The entire carousel, including Nouvel’s pavilion, opened on September 16, 2011.

the ceiling of the overall structure over jane's carousela perspective view of jane's carousel facing the brooklyn harbor

When I visited Jane’s Carousel, I noticed something, as the beautiful light brown horse I rode galloped to the calliope music. In the center of the carousel was a speaker radiating the music, instead of the original organ that normally operates with the carousel. Turns out, The Wurlitzer Style Organ is a surviving antique and currently lives at DeBence Antique Music World in Franklin, Pennsylvania.

a perspective view of jane's carousela pair of tickets for jane's carousel

So after you make it rain with your Spring 2018 class notes, maybe you can also treat yourself to some much needed and well deserved downtime with a ride on Jane’s Carousel and some ice cream from The Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory. A ride is the low (low) price of $2.

a girl throwing papers in the air

Image Credit: Giphy

Happy Summer, Everyone!

The Everlasting Race of Horses

A sunny weekend was all it took to persuade many New Yorkers and tourists to Central Park. Families filled the park as the warm sun shined. High-pitched squeals and bursts of laughter filled the air as children played in the playground while others enjoyed a game of hide-and-seek throughout the mounds of rocks and beveled grassy areas. The wind moved swiftly around the trees, whipping through everyone’s hair towards the directional current. Soft music resonated in the air; all different, and coming from opposing directions. I decided to follow the music that sounded like it came straight from a music box. It echoed from the other side of a dark tunnel. Was this the beginning to one of those circus-themed horror films, or was it actually something pleasant? The saccharin happiness made me skeptical as to what the calliope music was actually for. As I broke through the tunnel’s sight-line, I saw what droves of people were being called to… The Central Park Carousel.

the central park carousel from the playmates tunnelthe central park carousel from a distance

The inanimate horses spun around in a circular motion while hinging up and down, just as they did well over one hundred years ago. This carousel is actually not called “The Central Park Carousel”, legally it is called “The Friedsam Memorial Carousel.” According to NYC Parks the carousel is the fourth to be set in Central Park since 1871. The first was placed at least thirty feet away from the carousel that stands today. This was before the rise of electricity, so it was powered by REAL horsepower. The horse (or blinded mule) would crank the Merry-go-round by walking in a circle while tethered to the central pole. The crank would be below the passenger level and would be commanded by the operator stomping on the floor boards to signal start and stop.

It only cost 10 cents to ride back then, but that much money amounted to a hour wage of the average working class male in those days. In comparison, imagine paying Six Flags admission for a ride on the carousel that lasted less than three minutes. Would it be worth it? By the time of 1877 the Central Park officials decided to lessen the price to 5 cents. In 1907 the carousel was replaced to an electrical system and by 1924 it was destroyed by an unfortunate fire. A new carousel was put in its place but was scorched in another fire in 1950. The park had to replace the beloved carousel since the public highly valued it.

the admission booth for central park carousel the central park carousel horses

The fourth, and current, carousel was donated by The City of New York since the Board of Transportation found it, abandoned, in an old BMT transit line, that they acquired, near Coney Island (based on one of my Coney Island posts, it was probably left as an experimental amusement park ride). The Friedsam Memorial Foundation also donated 75,000 dollars to restore the found carousel and place it in Central Park; which is why it’s named after the foundation.

the wrought iron fence, decorated with horses

This carousel was built in 1908 by, artists, Sol Stein and Harry Goldstein with tremendous help from The Artistic Carousel Manufacturing Company of Williamsburg, Brooklyn. It features 58 hand-carved horses (there aren’t any horses that are the same!), and two horse-drawn chariots, on a turntable 50 feet in diameter. After all these years the carousel still chipperly goes round in a circle, amusing over 250,000 riders a year.

a horse on the iron banister the carousel banister by the entrance

Today, the cost to ride is only $3; honestly, I’ve had Starbucks orders larger than that. So if you are looking for something cheap and amusing, try the Central Park Carousel; it won’t disappoint. Even though the part of the park is called “The Children’s District”, it’s not only for the children, but for the child in all of us.

the central park carousel in motion

Tune in next week as I continue the theme of different carousels in this beautiful city!

Schutte for the stars

On a beautiful day like today the place to be is outside, enjoying the sun and soaking up all of vitamin D that we greatly missed throughout the harsh snow and, seemingly, nonstop rain of the spring. We all know of the parks relatively near City Tech but there are many others that aren’t too far away. Only 25 minutes off campus is an amazing interactive park called the Pratt Institute Sculpture Park. Because what’s better than walking through the park on a sunny day while looking at art?

auburn leaves from bushes that line the campus

Pratt Institute was founded by Charles Pratt in 1887; it was meant to be an affordable college for industrial studies. Pratt based the school around everything he wished he could have obtained, having had gone to college. Being a prosperous business man, gave him the resources to provide this type of educational tool to the working class Americans of the time. He decided to purchase land in his neighborhood, Clinton Hill, Brooklyn, which would later be home to the sculpture park. Pratt wanted to keep the college in his hometown and it gives us, many generations later, the essence of his passion for the school.

an artistic bench

“Whispering Bench – Texting” by Cathey Billian

a different angle of the artistic bench

By the time of the late 1970’s into the 1980’s, the school took a financial downfall. Since Brooklyn became a shoddy neighborhood and the enrollment rate faced an all-time low. The crisis ensued into the early ‘90’s until the new president of the school, Thomas F. Schutte, decided to do something really radical. In 1993, he decided to close the School of Engineering since the vast majoral popularity was in the architectural school. Students were transferred and faculty was redistributed, but the college remained open and used the financial turn to enrich the college and hopefully regain its popularity to potential students.

a sculpture of skeletal lions, fighting

“Lions at the gate” by Wendy Klemperer

a sculpture of a cluster of stones placed tightly juxtaposed one another

“Particle/Wave/Time/Space Continuum” by Karl Saliter

To beautify and update the campus, they decided to improve their historical buildings/halls and turn the court-field into a sculpture park. The park opened in 1999, all thanks to David Weinrib for conceiving such a beautiful plan. It began with just about fifty sculptures sprawled across the yards and gardens. According to Pratt Institute, they now have seventy sculptures, all donated from students, faculty, and graduates. The art is always evolving, and they even featured  a “LOVE” sculpture around six years ago.

a sculpture in the midst of fallen leaves on the campus lawn

“The end justifies the means, justifies the end” by Martha Walker

So if you are ever in the mood to shake up your usual routine and lounge in the sun, try Pratt Institute’s Sculpture Park. Visiting hours are 7 a.m. – 7 p.m.


Spreading HOPE around the world

Last week I discussed part of the origin of the LOVE pop art icon, and now I will continue to discuss the birth of this beloved print.

the hope sculpture from behind

As referenced last week by Mental Floss, Robert Clark was working a few part time jobs while trying to find his calling in the art world. He vied to discover himself in an abyss of popular artistry. He wanted to make something interesting and, most importantly, avant-garde (something new and unusual). Clark soon made his first print called “Stavrosis,” this was a painting depicting his own version of the Crucifixion of Christ. After finishing this abstraction he finally felt a spiritual calling to his artistry; something akin to a divine epiphany. Clark then changed his name to symbolize his spiritual rebirth; he decided to rename himself Robert Indiana, after the place in which he was raised..


In 1961 Indiana caught his first break, doing a piece called “The American Dream.” This piece is what got him noticed as one of the contributors to a new art style called “Pop art.” When most people hear Pop art they automatically think Campbell’s soup, weird blond wig, and some wonky ‘80’s glasses, but Indiana actually played a large part in the art cultural movement and even worked closely with Andy Warhol. But he decided to refrain from the public eye since he didn’t want to lose his faith in a sea of drugs, sex, and intense limelight.

Andy Warhol glaring into the distance while holding a dog

We see ya, Andy…
Image Credit: Giphy

Indiana went on to get commissioned to do a piece for the World’s Fair of 1964 in New York City, which was one of the precursors to the LOVE art piece as he slowly introduced typography into the art world. This one was called “EAT” and was a print of that word. Everyone got confused by the piece, mistaking it for a cafe (or maybe one of those automat things that went out of style) but the simplicity of the word was secretly really poetic.

the hope sculpture from the fronta close view of the hope sculpture from behind

1958 was the year of early conception of the beloved typography piece called “LOVE” and almost instantly the icon was born. He toyed with the poeticism of the word “LOVE”, separating the LO and VE, and tilting the O the side. Some viewed this inquisitive “O” as sensual and others saw nothing of the sort. By 1965, MoMA had commissioned him to make a version for their year end Christmas card and in that day and age his LOVE piece went, what we know today as, viral. Everyone wanted a LOVE print since it symbolize so many different things in that time. The Hippies used it to “…spread love, not war.” and the popularity only increased from there. MoMA gave Indiana his own show in 1966 since people loved LOVE so much. By 1971, sculptures of LOVE made of COR-TEN steel debuted in New York and Boston.

But there was a MAJOR issue in this rise to stardom…

Since Indiana didn’t want interrupt the print with a copyright, insignia, or watermark, he didn’t exactly have legal jurisdiction over his own piece. Therefore anyone could buy, sell, or trade his work without any chance of plagiarism. Soon, paperweights and other tchotchkes began to surface in retail, without permission of resale to Indiana. The more it was used, the more Indiana was forgotten. His typographic poeticism and wit was sold to the highest bidder, unbeknownst to him. And his LOVE piece soon fell prey to cheesy gimmicks in advertising.

After this devastating loss, Indiana disappeared from the art scene for the next thirty years. But, in 2008 he felt compelled to make another shock in the art world. Indiana came back to aid in former President Barack Obama’s presidential campaign; he made HOPE. It was modeled after LOVE but had a different word in mind, curated to mean a million things in one print.

the hope sculpture from the bottom left corner

According to New York Daily News, In 2014, Indiana released more public sculptures of HOPE in New York City, Venice, Caracas, Munich, Miami, Vinalhaven, and Maine, vying to fill the world with hope. It was engineered to take selfies with and post them for International Hope Day which also is Indiana’s birthday, September 13th.

a black and white view of the front of the hope sculpture

Both sculptures still stand in their original places today; a five minute walk between each other. They are free to visit! So feel free to take your own selfies with them.

… and I, will always love you

the love sculpture from the right corner

On 55th Street lies an artistic icon. Some take photos or selfies with it, others climb it, and dogs curiously sniff it, discovering all types of residual scents from the sculpture’s surrounding. Its massive body has graced New York City for over four decades and the phenomenon seemed to take over the world. If you have ever walked Sixth Avenue or are very familiar with the area, you probably already know what art piece I’m describing… the LOVE Sculpture.

a front view of the love sculpture

I grew up with this signage of the word “love”; it was like an anonymous signature. I had no idea who created it or that it was even an expression of art. My young mind conveyed it as a simple font like the ones I saw on my computer screen, the one for the infamous TIME magazine, or the types that I saw off of billboards and labels. Little did I know just how poetic each letter is. How loved it was by popular reception. Or how misunderstood, despised, bastardized, plagiarized, and ultimately ambiguous it soon became. Natural selections took its course, to the point where its origin became unknown to the following generations. But the LOVE sculpture/painting/print was curated by a famously unfamous “pop” artist, Robert Indiana.

the love sculpture from the left corner

According to Mental Floss, Robert Indiana was born Robert Clark on September 13, 1928 in New Castle, Indiana. He was a child of the silent generation and witnessed the struggles of the Great Depression. His father lost his job and the family was much akin to gypsies, going from living in Indiana to a variety of other locations. The family moved over twenty times partly due to the recession and his mother’s inability to stay in the same place for too long. Clark once described his childhood as the family car being  “… more stable than home itself”. The factors put a strain on the family and Clark’s parents divorced in the 1940’s. Clark lived with his father and was able attend high school. Clark then joined the U.S. Army Air Corp in cooperation with the GI Bill in order to pay for his education. He attended the School of the Art Institute of Chicago from 1949-1953 and then studied at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland from 1953-1954.

a view of the love sculpture from behind

After college he moved to New York and took a job as a typist at a cathedral and also worked in an art supply store, vying to be discovered and to find his place in the artistic world. He was facing something that still haunts college graduates today… the post-grad slump….


To hear the rest of this amazing story, tune in next week to see the second part of the LOVE sculpture and Indiana’s second public installation, the HOPE sculpture.



I grew up in matriarchal home, so female independence was a strong influence in my childhood. Terms like “… a man should take care of the house maintenance.” or “… heavy lifting is a masculine task.” were never apparent in my adolescence. We did things for ourselves, so the need for a man’s aid didn’t seem as much of a necessity to me from a very young age. After I realized the social gender differences, I began to have fun with pushing beyond the means of my feminine role in society. I was a tomboy as a kid; cornrows in my hair and a hoodie slung over my broad shoulders was my daily wardrobe, it was simple and sporty. I had also made a promise to myself never to use my femininity as an excuse not to do something out of my predetermined societal role. But the odd stares from older women and men always intrigued me and it only got more enjoyable as I got older.

Nowadays it’s the small things that make me feel empowered to be a woman. Regardless of the grandeur in my life, the little things tend to add up; giving me a certain kind of confidence I didn’t realize was missing.

Concurrently, the thing that makes me the most empowered is going to the wholesale club (laugh all you want, but wholesale shopping can a very emotionally cleansing experience lol). There’s nothing like walking through those red framed sliding doors, with a platform truck trailing behind my extended arm. I walk into the space differently than any other day, as if my intentions are seeping through my pores. I’m walking, briskly, through the forest of aisles; because I only have one thing in mind and I won’t stop until I get it. As I approach the water pantry, I’m already mentally rolling up my sleeves; thinking of game plans, how many cases I need, and how I plan to maneuver the platform truck out of the tight space without colliding with other shopping carts. Once I roll the truck near the seemingly endless stacks of six-gallon water cases, I begin heaving each 50 pound box one by one. Chuckling at every man that offers his manly services and every other guy trying to take two boxes at time, vying to match my intensity and significantly failing at the attempt. Eight boxes later, I roll the 400 pound load towards the registers; feeling confident with every stride and every glance.

So what inspires you? What makes you feel empowered to be the phenomenal woman that you are in your everyday life? Or guys, what makes you feel motivated by that special woman in your life? Feel free to share in the comments below!

Happy National Women’s History Month, everyone! Enjoy the upcoming holidays!

A woman’s place is in the home

From the 1st first to the 31st of March we, as a nation, celebrate women’s history. As stated by National Women’s History Project, March was proclaimed Women’s History Month since there was an absence of female history in the grade school system. By time of the mid-1970’s, Sonoma County, California was the first in the nation to proclaim that the week of March 8th was to be acknowledged as “Women’s History Week” in 1978. President Carter professed the week of the 8th to be “National Women’s History Week” soon following the California trend in 1980. Seven years later, in 1987, Congress announced March to be “National Women’s Month,” celebrating the successes of American women. So in light of the 1987 affirmation, I would like to commence in my own acknowledgment of the immense “bad-assery” of women in architecture and engineering. Although there are numerous infamous females in these fields, I would like to bring attention to three women that, I feel, pioneered a change for both architecture and engineering in the past two centuries.

an image of kate gleason wearing one of her infamous hats

Image Credit: ASME

Kate Gleason

According to ASME, Catherine Anselm Gleason was the first woman to enroll into the Mechanical Arts major at Cornell University at the age of nineteen. Gleason was born on November 25,1865 in Rochester, New York. She got interested into mechanics due to her father who was a machine shop owner. Although her interest was always present, they were never really conditioned until her older brother, unfortunately, died due to typhoid disease. She then took on his role, helping her father in the shop and learning the trade. Once she became of age, she attended Cornell University and was later the first woman to become a member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineering (aka ASME) after graduating in 1888. She went on to globalize her father’s business, making  it the successful Gleason Corporation that is still used today.


an image of nora stanton blatch

Image Credit: Cornell University

Nora Stanton Blatch Barney

Based on an article by Cornell University, Nora Stanton Blatch Barney was the first woman to graduate in the Civil Engineering program in 1905. She was born in Basingstoke, Hampshire, England on September 30, 1883. As the age of fourteen, she began to study mathematics and Latin at the Horace Mann School in New York and spent her summers at home in England. The Blatch family moved to the United States in 1902 and Nora soon began the Civil Engineering program at Cornell University. She graduated in 1905 and went on to build bridges, subway tunnels, and water supply systems in New York. Apart from being a Civil Engineer, she was also an architect, real-estate developer, suffragist, social activist for female equality rights, and even an author.


an image of louise blanchard bethune

Image Credit: Austin M. Fox

Louise Blanchard Bethune

As reported by Buffalo Architecture and History, Louise Blanchard Bethune was the first female architect in New York and to be inducted into the American Institute of Architects (aka AIA). Bethune was born on July 21, 1856 in Waterloo, New York. She was tutored at home until the age of eleven by her father who was a principal and teacher of mathematics at Waterloo Union School. After that age she was placed into school and later graduated in 1874. For the next few years, she spent time grooming herself to be prepared for the architectural program a Cornell University. Instead of attending the program, she radically turned down the opportunity and took an apprenticeship as a draftsman (or draftswoman per se) with a highly acclaimed architectural firm in Buffalo owned by Richard A. Waite and F.W. Caulkins. From 1876 to 1881, she honed the trade of architectural drafting and design. In October of 1881, She opened an an architectural office, in which, she co-owned with soon-to-be husband, Robert Armour Bethune.

Krapp or Treasure?… Maybe it’s both

Have you ever gotten lost in the Theatre District (near Times Square)? *sadly raises hand* I’ve been there a plethora of times but each time I ascend from the Subway stairs, I’m always left spinning in circles wondering “if I’m on 43rd, which way is 42nd?” *walks to 44th* *then shamefully walks the same block towards the other way*. There’s nothing like Times Square that makes me want to revoke my own New Yorker card. Over the years, I think I have mastered navigating through the busy streets… somewhat. But that moment of knowing where you are, where you are going, and how to get there is ultimately undeniable.

mary tyler moore doing the signature spin and hat toss from the theme to the mary tyler moore show

I got you, Mary…

Have you ever went down the wrong street around the Theatre District and ended up somewhere on a back street of a bunch of Off-Broadway theatres? They have an abandoned or desolate tinge to them. Like they’ve been around for long enough to have seen the district back when you had to choke your purse in order to keep the items inside safe. Or back in a time that the streets used to be lined with peep shows and sketchy characters. Or when Ford cars danced up and down the cobble stoned streets, carting the wealthy to extravagant shows and parties. Turns out some of these theatres were around for all of those traditional New York experiences that happened around the Theatre District. So before it was climatically warmer than the rest of Manhattan due to all the lights and energy used in that area. And before One Times Square hosted the New Year’s Ball Drop and pumped a zillion kilowatts (this number is 1,000% correct!) of light on its facade.

the majestic theatre within the busy street of movement

As reported on the Shubert Organization webpage, it all started with the Shubert brothers in the late 1800’s. Syracuse natives Sam, Lee, and Jacob Shubert founded “The Shubert Organization” in 1900. They began their small business with a few theatres in upstate New York before venturing to New York City and opening some of the most infamous Broadway and Off-Broadway theatres that we know today. In 1905, Sam died in a fatal railroad incident which left Lee and Jacob to tend the business. They grew exponentially, pollinating the country. The Shuberts opened theatres in Boston, Dayton, Detroit, Cleveland, and Chicago. By the mid-1920’s, the Shuberts had over 1,000 theatres nationwide. Some of their theatres are still here today, but most were demolished. One that still graces the concurrent Broadway playbills is the Majestic Theatre.

a historical photo of the majestic theatre

Image Credit: Shubert Organization

a covered barrier promoting the shubert organization

According to IBDB(Internet Broadway Database), The Majestic Theatre was designed in the mid-1920’s by architect, Herbert J. Krapp. New York native, Krapp, was a well-known theatre designer at the time. He even designed the theatre that adorned our television screens at 11:30 pm for decades; the Ed Sullivan Theatre which hosted the Late Show with David Letterman from 1993-2015. From 1912-1916, Krapp began to design theatres for the Shubert Brothers directly; many are still in use. Regardless of the imminent economy failure, he continued working with the Shubert brothers until 1963. The Chanin Brothers, who were architects themselves, built the theatre Krapp designed, thinking that they could edge their way into the entertainment business. It opened in 1927 and the Chanin Brothers held ownership of the theatre for three years before trading it to the Shuberts due to the turn of the economy (Stock Market Crash).

historical drawing of the majestic theatre

Image Credit: Shubert Organization

the majestic maquee

As stated by Playbill, Krapp was so esteemed in his immense expertise since he knew how to get the true value of the space. He was known for his stadium seating arrangements, optimizing the overall floor space for both customers and stage management. The interior was designed in the Louis XV style with a classic a color palette of white and gold. The theatre had a grand capacity of 1,645. The base of the building’s facade is adorned with large panels of terra cotta. The floors above seem to be clad in a classic Spanish brick pattern. Two balconies break the continuous brick street wall, making the suggestion of two more floors above the first.

ornamentation on the facadethe terra cotta panels on the base of the majestic theatrethe front facade of the majestic theatre

The theatre is almost one hundred years old and people still actively enjoy it. The next time you are in the Theatre District, look around at the theatres since most of them have been around from the beginning of the 20th century. They saw the liveliness of the roaring 20’s, the struggles of the depression, the regrowth of the economy after WWII, platform shoes of the discotheque scene, big hair of the 80’s, and even welcomed the 21st century.

the majestic theatre awning in comparison to a historical image

a historical photo of the marquee of majestic theatre

Image Credit: Telecharge

Green really does grow on trees

Next week we will be finally welcoming spring into our lives. I don’t think that it will magically make it feel any warmer outside but one can still hope. I spent the last few days not feeling very well; I’ve been experiencing lethargy, fatigue, and nose-tickly (if that’s even a word). In my vying attempts to cure myself, I’ve been drinking plenty of tea (as per Genny’s suggestions) and trying to get as much rest as possible. After schlepping myself home, one of these past few days, my grandmother asked me if I normally get allergies from pollen. It was like a light bulb that went off in my head. I thought it was too early to worry about pollen and wind but my slightly hoarse voice is proof enough. Spring is practically here, y’all!

a vibrant pink flower in the sunlight

Even though this stupid pollen stuff – only stupid because we aren’t at a good point in our relationship as of now – has been wreaking havoc on my nasal system, it will soon result in beautiful green trees and vibrantly colored flowers. The time of green lined streets and sidewalks are almost here; it’s so close I can smell it… literally. But have you ever wondered about those trees along the sidewalk? Perhaps, why they are there or how long they have been there.

a courtyard of trees surrounding a patch of landscaped grass

Turns out, according to the New York Times, there was always a need for trees in New York City. There was a constant struggle and demand for green space ever since the early 1900’s. The different species of trees were like a revolving door; switching places in the desperate attempt to evade illness to the tree or environmental failure. New York City began to really take a hold of the tree crisis with Robert Moses’ plan to better NYC in 1973. A lot of his methods were not always liked by the public but his tree idea really raised a necessity for a greener city. Although his plan didn’t really work that well, ever since then we’ve only made progress on the issue.

a tree on the sidewalkpink flowers on bed of grass, beside a tree

In 1980, a new program brought back the planting of trees with a program called “Request a Street Tree” which gave residents the option to request a tree from the city. From then to now, the city has been populated with over 600,000 trees; giving us something to look forward to every March 20th. orange flowers nestled into grass

Whiteout while its white out

Today, a wet and icy mix falls from the pale sky. The sun is casted by thick clouds of vapor accumulation and their secretions cascade down on everything below. Ultimately baptizing New York City in the side effects of a cold front colliding with warm. Everything gets washed away at one point then it freezes over; preserving the dirt and grime that lies beneath it. It will never see the true beauty of pure daylight that could potentially grace the city since the clouds stay well passed the sun’s departure and the moon comes out to play. As dusk rolls in like oceanic waves, the sky deepens; getting darker and darker by each minute. Our eyesight acclimates to the new surrounding as we acknowledge the absence of pure sunlight. Artificial light pours from street lamps, in different shades of orange, yellow, and fluorescent white. We’ve missed the daylight for so long; our skin craving to be kissed by those beautiful rays of light and warmth. What it is the power of light? What is it about light that makes everything so special and important? It has the potential to make the most beautiful things undesirable and the most ugliest of sorts seem so lively and stunning. As we live through the last few weeks of short days and long nights, we have to find a way to survive without the sunlight that we adore so greatly.

a bed of lit orbs hovering over the lawn at Madison square park

To aid us in our imminent imagination, we have 19,800 square feet of light that illuminates the cold grass on Madison Square Park. 900 golf ball sized spheres seem to hover over the icy compacted ground in the wake of the sun. They angulate in a certain premeditated rhythm. The light appears to move through the spheres in the form of an optical massage. The pattern fades in and fades out, goes fast then slow, makes twists and turns, and switches from one space to the next. It’s beautiful and the most relaxing thing to watch in that part of the city. Surrounded by taxi horns, rude New Yorkers, the everlasting darkness, and harsh lighting from the city, Whiteout creates its own definition of nighttime in the city and ultimately celebrates it.

lit white LED orb

Whiteout was made by Austrian born artist, Erwin Redl. He now lives in New York City, making artistic light installments for building facades. He went to an performing arts school in Austria named University of Music and Performing Arts, Vienna studying electronic music. Redl then came to America and studied computer art at the School of Visual Art, here, in New York City. After graduating in 1995, he was a featured artist in the Whitney Biennial 2002.

the motion of the light traveling through the system of light orbs

Redl explains that this piece was inspired by the darker and colder months of winter and how the grand scale was odd for such an urban setting like NYC. He reports in a press release which can be found in this Architectural Lighting article, “I am intrigued by the Park’s option of a large-scale installation that blurs the border between the virtual and the real. The physicality of the swaying orbs in conjunction with the abstract animations of their embedded white lights allows the public to explore a new, hybrid reality in this urban setting.”

a bed of the light orbs juxtaposed a tree

The two beds of lights are built with a steel frame which hangs each light a foot over the ground. The cage is 12 feet tall.

the base of the structural cagethe suspension cables that make the structural cage of the art piecea structural element at the top of the cage

Whiteout has been on display since November 2017 and will remain until March 25, 2018; which is five days after Spring would have begun. Enjoy it while the last weeks of winter graces us with its brutal beauty.