A Valentine’s For Everyone

miniature eye-view of the lost man creek exhibit

Have you ever taken a hike before? You feel like you’re the only one on the planet. As if you, somehow, left behind all civilization to find something that wasn’t really that hidden; you find yourself. What if, instead of being alone with mother nature, you were accompanied by someone? Perhaps, a significant other, a friend, or family member. Would you still feel alone? Or would you relish in the overtaking feeling of secluded bliss? In which, the world is endlessly you’re personal playground and you’re not only self-aware, but you are also conscious of the other person (or people) you are with. Our innate sense of busyness tends to divide our entire thought process. Thus, making it difficult to connect with one topic at a time. But given ample time and conducive environment, everyone has the ability to shake loose of all our daily demands and focus on the things that normally get forgotten.

a view over-looking the lost man creek exhibit

There is something to help you drift away from the busy New York City culture and indulge in something more natural. Sometimes, it’s the little (pun intended) things that can relax us. Inside Metrotech lies an art piece called “Lost Man Creek” created by, Connecticut born artist, Spencer Finch. It is a miniature version of the Redwood National Park located in California. According to The Public Art Fund, Finch scaled down the 790 acre patch of land into a tiny topographical version. The scale of the mini-forest is about 1:100, making 100-400 foot Redwood trees to only be comparable in mere inches; ranging from 12” to 48”.

a sign for the lost man creek exhibita side view of the lost man creek exhibit
It’s reign of display is reaching its imminent conclusion soon. By next month the future of this public art piece is undetermined. So if you haven’t seen it yet or have seen it and thoroughly enjoy it, get your last visits in now; before it’s too late. The next time you visit the Metrotech Center to satisfy your desperate cravings for Chipotle or that Five Guys burger you’ve been thinking about all day, try taking a little time for yourself to be alone with your thoughts. On a day like today – regardless if you are single, in a relationship, or in something quite complicated – self admiration is key. a tiny house inside the lost man creek exhibit

Welcome to 2018 at City Tech!

Welcome back to City Tech, everyone! I hope your winter break was relaxing and pleasurable as  we now muster the strength to return and finish the school year. I normally share historical and/or current stories about pieces of architecture and art in New York City. But, before I delve into my more informational posts, I would like to share a few things that I did and places I explored over the winter break.

happy new year written on condensated window

For Christmas, my family and I ventured to Lancaster, Pennsylvania to see a Nativity play at the Sight & Sound Theatre. The facility was built like a Disney Castle; I found it hard to believe that this experience was real or some type of fantasy dreaming. The arches by the entrance were exaggerated and hollow; giving the patrons a clue as to what lied forth the fantastical facade. Past the threshold was a sweet aroma of caramelized almonds; it was the type of smell that made you want to bite the air to see if you could taste it. The auditorium, itself, was a well-thought design; as if the theatre was built around the audience instead of the ordinary spectator viewing. The show was great and I enjoyed it thoroughly; it’s not typical to see horses, goats, pyrotechnics, or choreographed acrobatics inside a closed auditorium. The entire experience was very different from other plays I have seen and I found every aspect intriguing.

a statue at Sight and Sound Theatre

the Sight and Sound Theatre seating arrangement

Sight & Sound Theatre auditorium

Ceiling at Sight and sound theatre

Ceiling motif at the Sight & Sound Theatre

For New Year’s Day, we went out to Coney Island beach like thousands of others to celebrate 2018 with the annual Polar Plunge. This would be my third year attending the winter festivity and it was one of the coldest. Reportedly, the temperature of the brackish Atlantic Ocean was 37 degrees Fahrenheit and the outside temperature was in the lower teens; this would be the coldest New Year’s Day in about 50 years. Bravely, we marched past the ice breaking at the shore and stepped into the slushy waters, dunking ourselves into winter’s freezing abyss. My body was thoroughly shocked by the water; I lost my breath and almost all the feeling in my limbs before gathering all the will I had to run out of the frigid water.

the sun at coney island beach

Coney Island Beach on New Year’s Day

These are just a few of the things I did over my winter break; I still spent plenty of days resting from the long and grueling fall semester. As I chart through the spring semester I will bring you more stories of my adventures and information that I learn along the way.

 

 

O Holy Night

It was dusk on a clear Saturday night when my grandmother and I decided to venture to Midtown Manhattan in the hopes of taking some nice photographs and having a fun time in the city. We had ridden the C train for over twenty stops and we were more than ready to be dazzled by some beautiful architecture, amazing music, and wonderful art. As we walked the few avenues necessary to get to the renowned St. Patrick’s Cathedral, we started to see more and more people than expected. Droves of tourists and fellow New Yorkers crowded the sidewalks until the bustling walkway spread in to the street. The streets were closed off and a plethora of families, friends, and tourists alike, roamed the city’s streets. We persisted and kept walking until reaching what seemed to be an amoeba of people. It swayed from side to side, people attaching themselves to the moving cell and exiting through dendrites of people attempting to cross a busy street. We tried our best to steer clear of the human amoeba before getting sucked into the abyss of people. I latched onto my grandmother’s hood,scared to lose her in the crowd (since it has happened on many occasions). The last thing I saw before my vision was almost completely shut off from my surroundings was the glowing awning of Radio City Music Hall. Instantly, I found a reason for the large crowd; they were all there to see the Christmas Tree at Rockefeller! Soon we were spat out of the organism and began trying to figure out a plan to reach our destination. We walked a severely crowded block before my grandmother left me to find an officer halfway into the street. She tenderly tapped on his shoulder and asked him for the fastest route to our destination, which was to walk back a few avenues and down a few streets over, in the hopes that we’d reach a clearer avenue.

outside view of saint patrick's cathedral

A ten minute walk turned into a forty-five minute fiasco. I asked my grandmother if she was still willing to walk as far as we had to, in order to actually get to the cathedral and to my dismay she was more persistent than I was. I, on the other hand, was ready to go home and label the visit as a failed attempt. Instead of my desires to ultimately give up, we continued walking down streets until we reached a clearing on the sidewalks. After practically a hour of walking around in circles we finally reached the cathedral. It was breathtaking and created such a cultural contrast. Christmas lights, high energy of commerce, and other tourist attractions invaded the sidewalks and streets. But deep in the midst of all that confusion was something so stark and beautiful.

The nave of saint patrick's cathedralThe ceiling structure of the saint patrick's cathedral

The crowds gathered around the decorated storefronts, leaving St. Patrick’s Cathedral as a more reserved area. Although it was relatively crowded inside, the crowd felt different. Believers filled the space, saying prayers and cleansing their souls. They treated the cathedral like the closest thing to the pope that they could possibly achieve; their need for the sanctuary screaming from the organ pipes that played beautiful music throughout the entire structure. It was loud enough to “move” you but low enough for one to actually enjoy it. My grandmother and I broke apart and explored the cathedral separately for some time; taking in the surrounding by ourselves before conversing the beauty amongst each other. Our differing photographic styles really shined in this aspect as we found different things interesting and took photographs in contrasting manners.

Statue of Mother Teresa

“I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.”- Mother Teresa                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Image Credit: Dolores Greene

carved statues in a wall of the saint patrick's cathedral

According to NPS.gov (National Park Service), Robert C. Broderick, author of “Historic Churches of the United States(1958)”, informed his readers of the history of the beloved cathedral. Apparently, the first Catholic priest of New York City, Jesuit martyr St. Isaac Jogues, came to Manhattan in the hopes of saving the souls of those who were here before the new settlement; his goal was to convert the Mohawk Indians. He carried out his work, eventually launching the first Catholic church in New York City, it was called St. Peter’s Cathedral and opened in 1785.

carved depiction of Jesus in a wall of the saint patrick's cathedralA nativity scene at saint patrick's cathedral

The growth of the congregation demanded a bigger cathedral to be built, so in 1810 the site of the St. Patrick’s Cathedral was purchased. By the time of 1850 the plan to build was placed. Archbishop, John Hughes, and architect, James Renwick, began to create plans and proposals for the project. Construction began in 1858 and was completed in 1906. The process took so long since construction had to halt production when the Civil War took place; as resources ran low, the Cathedral had to wait to be completed.

view of the nave in saint patrick's cathedralpew and nave of the saint patrick's cathedral

As the years went on, the Neo-Gothic Cathedral has seen multiple restorations and additions. A major addition being the various organs that breathed life into the Cathedral. As stated by Saint Patrick’s Cathedral’s website, the first organ system was by George Jardine and Sons in 1879. Only one year later the system was upgraded by J.H. & C.S. Odell. The organ pipes were then renovated over three times, thereafter.

Organ pipes at saint patrick's cathedral

Although the site visit had its respective road blocks and other difficulties, I’m glad we endured the long travel since it was well worth a visit regardless of my failure to piece together simple New York tourist spots. I feel like I didn’t only learn about the architecture of a 19th century cathedral, but I also was immersed in a culture; a culture with deep roots and beliefs.

votive candles in a row

A Ride to Remember

Since September 11th attacks, there has been so many iterations of memorabilia to grasp the honor and respect for the people lost on that tragic day. The scales of grandeur range drastically; we can see or the objects of honor everyday to the point that we forget why they exist. From simple keychains, to water bottles engraved with the devastating date, or that mural you pass by everyday on your way to work, Calatrava’s Oculus, or that large shiny beautiful mass that we all look toward not replacing the towers but emitting the strength and determination of New York City, Freedom Tower. Small enough to fit in one’s pocket or large enough to be the tallest building in the infamous New York City skyline, all objects of honor convey the same thing; remembrance, desire to rebuild, a method to carry such a heavy burden together, and many other beautiful concepts. This post is dedicated to those objects by mentioning a striking piece of art that was made in memorium of 9/11 and the acts of rebuilding thereafter.

a front view of the 9/11 memorial motorcycle

Paul Teutul Jr. (yes, that guy from American Chopper) stylized a motorcycle for the cause and it was named the “9/11 Memorial Motorcycle”. According to 9/11 Memorial organization It made its debut on September 5, 2011 right on the 9/11 Memorial Preview Site. This was a few days before the National September 11 Memorial & Museum officially opened; the motorcycle was built for this congratulatory event. It was commissioned by Daniel Tishman, who is a board member of the 9/11 memorial and chose to reveal it publicly on Vesey Street with, at the time, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and 9/11 Memorial President Joe Daniels. Another vehicular masterpiece inspired by the 9/11 Memorial Motorcycle was then donated for raffle to raise as much money as possible for the organization.

I read on Manufacturing.net that Teutul felt this project was the most important to ever be completed by the company. He worked vigilantly with Tishman Construction who were responsible for the building of Freedom Tower and the Oculus. Daniel Tishman is the CEO of the construction team and was how so much attention to detail was implemented to the finished product. Teutul expressed his utter honor and dedication to the project, he explained “We built the bike to be a sculpture and pay tribute to 9/11. It speaks of the resiliency of America and the new beginning that the new towers represent.”

a back view of the 9/11 memorial motorcycle

The motorcycle was housed in the 9/11 Memorial and Museum for an entire year before it was moved for preservation against Hurricane Sandy; it was temporarily held in Teutul’s warehouse. Nearly a month after the storm, the bike was replaced to its innate home. The motorcycle, once again, was a small sign to rebuilding the city after a devastating occurrence; giving us hope that we can reconstruct ourselves as we once did before.

a side view of the 9/11 memorial motorcycle

The Things We Love to Hate

North of Houston Street lies one of my hideout spots, my “rain or shine” type of place to scurry off to and disappear from civilization for a few hours. The photos alone, surfaces so many memories. Back in my freshman year of college, fellow blogger, Brianna, and I were pining for months to see a small independent film by the name of “Room”. Before it became so famous and won various amounts of awards, it was just a small film that was anticipated by a small group of folks. We ran there after class on a brisk Friday night with no expectations of the theatre itself. We only had one focal point in mind that day; MAKE THE SHOWTIME! Upon arrival we were greeted with the smells of a great cafe as the warm lights shined upon our glistening foreheads. The area was moderately crowded and there was a particularly buzzy nature to the environment. Voices clashed over each other as people congregated in the cafe sipping caffeinated drinks and discussing the previously watched film. It all amazed me; in the total ten seconds I had to soak in the new territory, it reminded me of a social club for film enthusiasts, a communal spot for real film lovers to geek out and feel unapologetic about it. Our tickets got clipped and we headed downstairs to the auditoriums. Stumbling into the theatre, we quietly found seats and enjoyed the film.

The marquee of the Angelika Film Center

I found on Angelika’s website that the entire chain began in 1989; the NoHo (North of Houston) location being the theatre’s birthplace before its roots spread, overtaking the country like a viral infection. It supplied a major demand for independent movie houses in the US. I always thought of these theatres as the rebels of American commerce; they didn’t conform to big sales and branding, instead they played what they thought would be a regional hit. They didn’t care about what society would think, they only desired to please the audience and what would possibly enrich their lives and overall perspective of life, itself. Admirably, Angelika now has five locations around America.

the Cafe at the Angelika Film Center

The Cafe Selection at the Angelika Film Center

The New York Times published an article pertaining the previous use for the building before Angelika Film Center and a plethora of other stores invaded the space. Its original name was “The Cable Building” and its primary use was as such. McKim, Mead & White was the architectural firm that was responsible for the creation of this Beaux-Arts style building. It was built in the years 1892-1894. The eight stories was used as office space while the gears grinded, twisted, and turned in the basement. The never-ending, winding cables weighed over four tons but was able to move sixty cable cars at the rate of thirty miles per hour on average. This system was in place for about a decade before it proved to create more harm than efficiency. Eventually, the cables were discarded from societal use and electric cars came into place. By natural selection the basement of “The Cable Building” was no longer necessary and reached its unfortunate demise. Untouched for years the room would patiently wait. Until 1930, in which the space was cleared out, making way for various companies,A chandelier at the Angelika Film Center

The Ceiling of the Angelika Film Center

Ceiling of the Angelika Film Center

who used the area for manufacturing space. It wasn’t until 1985 that Harry Feldman, Jules Demchick, and a group called Cable Building Associates bought the building including the tenants and renovated the building. Four short years after their purchase, Angelika Film Center would take home to the old building.

Perspective view of the auditorium at Angelika Film Center

Art instillation of an animal in flight

I didn’t like the theatre at first, the auditoriums were sub-par, if that. They are also underground and too close to the nearby train station; so at the climax of a movie, there’s a slight chance of  feeling and hearing the rumble of a passing train. As if the current transportation system is constantly jeering the failure of its predecessor, the cable car. The auditoriums are not stadium seating and the rooms are rather intimate. The size of the auditorium can be a real deal-breaker for some, but I don’t mind at all; in fact, I have grown to love the cinematic intimacy. I can name so many more initial complaints I had about Angelika proving the very reason for my utter dislike. But ever since that first movie experience, I impatiently wait for the next opportunity to catch a flick at Angelika. As a society, we love to hate something regardless of how we actually feel about the subject. Angelika Film Center and I have that type of relationship; I think it’s beautiful and, at times, a beautiful disaster. But there is no other place like it! Where else can you buy macaroons, gelato, and a delightful cup of coffee as a movie snack?

 

 

Angelika film center auditorium

Image Credit: Sabrina Vasquez

The Future of Landmark Theatre

Last week, I discussed Sunshine Cinema which is a part of the Landmark Theatre independent movie chain. This week, I would like to venture deeper into the history of the chain, itself, and its current New York City chapter.

 

Parallax Theatres (previous name for Landmark Theatres) was conjured by a man named Kim Jorgensen in 1974. Jorgensen is an American film director from Copenhagen, Denmark and started his own theatre chain for independent films and everything alike. The first theatre opened in 1974 under the management of Jorgensen. With the use of an old movie theatre he housed the first of many Landmark Theatres.

According to Cinema Treasures, Nuart Theatre was built in 1930 and had an occupant capacity of 600; it opened its doors for the first time in 1931. Fox West Coast Theatres owned the space from 1941 until their departure from the lot in 1954. In the early 1970’s Jorgensen set prey on the space, purchasing it and making it his own cinematic paradise. It was more than just a theatre, it was a concept; a concept that was lacking in the American movie industry. He introduced to the country an art house theatre that was so versatile that it was bound to be loved by many. It wasn’t exclusive to the movies that were financially pumped with propaganda and almost destined to succeed with gross profits. It showed the films that were under-funded and under-advertised giving them a chance to be seen. The outcome was grand, which ultimately led to the concept growing into something bigger than the old theatre on Santa Monica Boulevard.

In 1989 Jorgensen sold his company to Todd Wagner (movie producer) and Mark Cuban (yes, the Shark Tank guy) and together they manage the chain under 2929 Entertainment.  Now, Landmark Theatres has fifty-six theatres dotting the country in 30 different cities.

The move into VIA 57 West seemed only innate since the main concept of the space was to create this type of self-dependent community that satisfies all types of everyday necessities and common pleasures.

The building, itself, was completed in 2016 and has already began to house people.

I’m not sure if this is just incidentally ironic, but the entire esthetic of the building was based upon the classic Copenhagen dwelling complex which is strangely reminiscent to Jorgensen’s cultural background. BIG (Bjarke Ingels Group) made the building to surround a courtyard in which all the services and trades would reside. One of the corners reaches for the sky like every other skyscraper in its surrounding. It towers over four hundred fifty feet in the air; this enables the inhabitants with clear views of the Hudson river.

At the foot of the structure lies the new cinematic neighbor, Landmark Theatre. It just opened its doors to the public on September 15, 2017. In its short life, it has already seen Q&A conferences with well known authors, directors, producers, and actors/actresses. Growing in potential and gaining popularity, the small theatre with 8 auditoriums, continues to flourish. It still holds that main concept of giving much needed light on the quickly over-looked and underappreciated films while capturing the most avant-garde approach to the movie theatre experience.

Although this new move means the close of one chapter, it also opens vast possibilities on an uncharted territory. May the young Landmark Theatre see as many good times as Sunshine Cinema did in retrospect. Only time will tell the true potential of the new location and new face of Landmark Theatres.

Roll Film!

On the Lower East Side resides the beloved Sunshine Cinema. It lives nestled in the East Village, serving the lovers of indie films. It has seen years of popcorn, sodas, stolen kisses between the aisles, laughter, suspenseful gasps, quiet sobs, and so much more. Drenched in history and love from the regulars, this theatre deserves to be known. There is more that meets the eye with Sunshine Theatre; it might look contemporary with a tongue-in-cheek type of reassurance to the more classic style of older movie houses, simply because it is. But below the entire building lies the richest soil of cinematic antiquity.

According to Cinema Treasures, way back in 1898, on the exact location of Sunshine Cinema, stood its first cinematic predecessor; it was called the Houston Hippodrome. This theatre showed Yiddish vaudeville (song and dance shows; burlesque) films and performances. By 1916, the building was closed and demolished, ultimately making space for a new theatre to take its place. It opened in 1917 and could seat six hundred people at maximum occupant capacity; it was called Chopin Theatre. It stayed in business until its unfortunate closure in 1945. Due to the decline of the economy, common businesses of pleasure were weeded out of society. The lot was then turned into a hardware warehouse. For about fifty years the old theatre was an over-sized container for supposedly more necessary things; its true potential, hidden underneath loads of a variation of metals, plastics, and paper.

In the late 1990’s, it was proposed to be revitalized as a theatre once again; releasing the lot back to its innate state. Landmark Theatres took the proposal, making a New York City chapter of the well known independent movie theatre chain; they would call this theatre, Sunshine Cinema. After three years and twelve million dollars of renovation, Tony Pleskow, Tom Rael, Lorenz F.J. Weiher under the Pleskow + Rael architectural firm, designed the interior, and TK architects, provided the structural design; together they finished the theatre. Sunshine Cinema opened its bronze clad doors to the public on December 21, 2001.

The cinema house has more to offer than classic theatre munchies, decent stadium style auditoriums, and a basic circulation. Everything was well-planned; creating a multi-dimensional movie experience. The ground floor houses the cafe/concession area; suited with bistro-style chairs and tables. Japanese rock gardens are dispersed throughout the space creating a calming effect to the customers as if walking through those doors were supposed to take you on a journey through time and space, placing you in a realm beyond the average New York City “hustle and bustle”. Like a quiet haven, Sunshine Cinema provides New Yorkers a place to reestablish their sanity with necessary time away from their normal busy lives.

Unfortunately, it has been announced that Sunshine Cinema will be closing when the lease expires in January 2018. The building has already been sold to the K Property Group for thirty-one million five hundred thousand dollars. The Group plans to renovate the space, making it suitable for a mixed use of office and retail. Landmark Theatre, itself, has officially and successfully moved to a new location on West 57th street inside of BIG’s (Bjarke Ingels Group) VIA.

Eventually, January will arrive and Sunshine Cinema will have to close its doors indefinitely. For those who are saddened to depart with the cherished theatre, all hope is not lost. We have not a clue what the future holds and this lot has always had a way of rediscovering its inherent nature of being a theatre regardless of time and social adversary. In a few months we will have to say our final goodbyes to Sunshine Cinema or at least goodbye for now…

A Scoop of… History

The Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory, known for its delectable frozen treats all year round. It resides juxtaposed the Fulton Ferry Landing, serving customers along the piers of Brooklyn Bridge Park. It’s a short walk from CityTech’s campus, in fact it only took me around ten minutes to walk to the beloved ice cream shop. Due to its close proximity, I find that it’s a go-to place for down time or time away from the busy college campus.

The building that holds all the tasty treats was once a fireboat house for the New York City Fire Department’s Marine Company 7. According to Cory Seamer, It was built in 1926 with clapboard, the tower on top of the house was used as a lookout. As time went on the station was used less and less before just amounting to a place to hang-dry hoses; like that piece of equipment in your house that has been reduced to only being used as a coatrack. The station then was revitalized into a museum called the Fulton Ferry Museum, National Maritime Historical Society and stayed in this state from 1976 up until 1982. After facing near demolishment to make way for new construction, the small boat house was named a landmark due to it’s grand significance.

In 2001, nearly two months after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Mark Thompson took his chance as an owner in the restaurateur profession and opened the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory to the public. Sixteen years later and another location available to Brooklynites in Greenpoint, the ice cream shop is still going strong.

After buying the ice cream (because I had to do my complete research for the enrichment of the post), My travel buddy for this post, Brianna, and I ventured outside to find some natural seating. We walked along the piers in the 70 degree breeze while spooning globs of rich frozen goodness that I can swear was made from the gods. We finally settled down on a large lawn and overlooked the New York City skyline. After our clothes soaked in all the fresh-cut grass smell and Brianna swatted the fifth mosquito off her face, we decided it was time to retreat back to the city’s civilization.

It wasn’t too expensive; a double scoop dish was only $7. The price is reasonable to me since the ice cream is just that good; there’s no other way to put it.

Tune in tomorrow to hear Brianna’s side of the story and get a complete breakdown of the most delicious ice cream I have ever tasted.

The Fulton Ferry Landing

How many films were shot at this iconic spot overlooking the East River?  Movies like “The Adjustment Bureau” was filmed here, or my personal favorite “The Perfect Man”. It was there that Heather Locklear stood awaiting a man she had met and fell in love with over the internet,  only to be unfortunately surprised when her sixteen year old daughter showed up in his place; ultimately revealing herself as a catfish. Would that crucial scene be the same if it were set in another location? Would the last run for their lives by Matt Damon and Emily Blunt in “The Adjustment Bureau” be the same if hadn’t made a stop at the landing? Apart from movies, the Fulton Ferry Landing remains a very important piece of Brooklyn.

Although I’m not the biggest fan of DUMBO I always found the small pier very interesting. It was unlike the rest of the area; soaked in a rich history that was as visible as fog lights. All of the other piers seemed to have changed with the time with time; becoming more modernized with each renovation. But the ferry landing seemed to always keep its character regardless of the amendments or refurbishment; it added more memories without departing from its history which is very admirable. Despite how many site analyses, inventories, pictures, or any other form of studies I have taken on the landing, I have never written about it until now.

The landing dates all the way back to the 1600’s when the Dutch settlement blew into town, ultimately taking the land from the Native Americans. They ported their large boats right by the piers that line Furman Street now. Stealing the land the Native Americans called Ihpetonga meaning “the high sandy bank”.

On August 29th, 1776, US soldiers was led to this ground by General George Washington for the the Battle of Long Island (aka Battle of Brooklyn Heights).

Robert Fulton (Whom I have mentioned in a previous post) is immortalized in plenty different areas in New York City. In Brooklyn, alone, we have  two different Fulton Streets; Fulton Street which houses Fulton Mall (also mentioned in a previous post) and Old Fulton which is the cross street to the location of the Fulton Ferry Landing also named after Robert Fulton. His name is so regular around this part of Brooklyn since he invented the steamboat in 1814, bridging the gap between Brooklyn and Manhattan before there was a bridge.

Some of the safety rails that line the landing are inscribed with words. These words are excerpts from a Brooklyn poet by the name of Walt Whitman, his name is also throughout this part of Brooklyn. His poem ”Crossing Brooklyn Ferry” was written as he overlooked the East River, analyzing the circulation of people in daily motion and fantasizing of what the future would bring to the area. As the steamboat ferries came in and out of the port, he proposed a series of questions and thought analysis of his prediction. He wrote it unbeknownst of the true outcome and he would never know but all that mattered in the poem was his undying curiosity and optimism of what potentially could become of the area in the next fitty or one hundred years. The Poem was published in 1856 then again in 1860 as a part of his “Leaves of Grass” collection; it made its debut as “Sun Down Poem”.

The Fulton Ferry Landing also happens to be a go-to destination for romance as it has seen countless proposals and weddings. Although it has been outlawed, there are locks on the guardrails, signifying the love of numerous couples

I like to think that Whitman was right in a way; that certain things stayed the same and others progressed. Boats still port in and out of the dock; leaving people to circulate over the landing. The wooden floorboards sees countless footsteps everyday from all walks of life. I wonder if the landing is as busy as Whitman’s depiction. Whenever i am on the landing, I think of the inhabitants of Brooklyn from the early 1600’s to now and how separated we are by such an ambiguous medium like time; I question myself “… How are we different?” but more importantly “… How are we the same?”

The Parachute Jump

This will be the last installment of my adventures in Coney Island. The Parachute Jump might not be the oldest thing in Luna Park but it still holds some type of deep connotation of Brooklyn in our minds. As if seeing that wiry frame from afar, blazoned with lights, illuminating the night sky, was the Eiffel Tower of Brooklyn; symbolically telling visitors “You’ve arrived, welcome.” and to the Brooklynites “You’re Home.” Nothing beats the first time seeing the Parachute Jump light up the Coney Island skyline. It makes you think of how much you’d rather be there, right in front of it; curiosity over-taking every thought you could possibly concept. “…. I need to be there” I would sometimes whisper to myself as if its presence would make be feel better, happier, more like myself. It’s the nostalgia that calms me every time I see it. Like the waves of the Atlantic Ocean, it lulls every stress away, ultimately bringing me to a simpler time in my life. Such simplicity and innocence that is now coveted but also forgotten for the most part.

The Parachute Jump all began with the World Fair of 1939 in Flushing Meadows, Queens. The fair had seven zones of how to make the normal American’s life improved. In the amusement section, there stood The Parachute Jump created by a man by the name of James Strong of the U.S. Navy. He had already made several variations of the jump; first as a naval training device then in Chicago’s World Fair in 1936 which debuted the “Pair-O-Chutes”. This model was two hundred feet tall and was a remodel of an old observatory tower that was there prior to the Fair. It had six arms that could carry two passengers for each drop. It was major success and that led to it being asked to also feature in the World Fair in New York. So in 1939, Strong built the Parachute Jump at a height of two hundred fifty feet with twelve arms instead of six, the arms carried two people at a time. It costed forty cents for adults and twenty-five cents for children to ride. The passengers were loaded at the bottom of the ride, then ascended into the air before being released at the top, floating to the ground.

June 1947, aerial photo of a daring couple on the ride. Image Credit: Beumann/CORBIS

Just as years before in Chicago, the Parachute Jump was a success. It was so loved that The Tilyou Family (who owned Luna Park at the time) bought the ride for one hundred fifteen thousand dollars and brought to Coney Island and reassembled under the management of, architect, Michael Mario and, engineer, Edwin Kleinert.

Even though the nation went through some very tough times in relation to World War II, The Parachute Jump stood atop the beach literally as a symbol of safety. According to “The Parachute Jump Designation Report” on nyc.gov, the Parachute jump served as a beacon of light for American planes and ships.

 

It stopped production in the late 1960’s but it’s structural skeleton still stands. In 1980 it was admitted into to the collection of National Register of Historic Places. Nine years later it was finally recognized as a New York City Landmark. By 1993, the Parachute Jump was painted in its original colors and stabilized for viewing purposes. The addition of LED lights wasn’t introduced until 2004; this production took two years to complete and made its first public appearance on July 7, 2006.

Now The Parachute Jump is like the Times Square of Brooklyn for New Year’s Eve. It will count down the seconds and illuminate the space at midnight. It has recently become a popular destination for New Yorkers on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.

The parachute Jump has become the capital of Coney Island for me. It reminds me of my younger days on the Island and most of the reasons why I’m so proud of my borough.

What does The Parachute Jump mean to you?