Tag Archives: city

The Cinch Review

Photos of New York City past

Flatiron Building, winter
Via here, and via here.

Whether you live here or not, if you are at all enamored of New York City, you are likely to enjoy scrolling through a Tumblr photo blog called “NYC Past” (via Mick Hartley), which evidently collects photos of New York City down through the decades from sources such as the Library of Congress.

In substantial ways, there are few places which change as much and as quickly as New York City, with a competitive and churning commercial atmosphere that leads to the quick rise and fall of many businesses, and of-course a constant influx of new immigrants from far flung and exotic places like Haiti, India, and Oklahoma. Waves of immigrants had their particular eras as we well know: the Italians, the Irish, the Germans, and so on, but it never ends. Neighborhoods that are at one time slum-like (or actually slums) then become fancied by the artists and wannabee-layabouts, then become hip, then fashionable, then unaffordable by the common man. One way or another all of these cycles continue and yet in some deep-down ways New York never changes; it is still a crazy mix of absolutely everything and it has remained the best shot at a true melting pot that we’ve discovered. Or so I think.

In photographs over the past 100-plus years, for all of the changes, there are the constants. The Flatiron building, pictured above, and built in 1902, is one of the greatest of those, and—although I’m no architecture egghead but merely an average citizen—it seems to me that it is one of the most nearly-perfect buildings ever constructed, occupying its particular location at Fifth and Broadway so aptly as to make one wonder if that corner could have ever existed without it, and maintaining its grace and physical poetry through each and every year since, irregardless of the chaos all around. You can’t take a bad picture of the Flatiron (or at least it’s pretty darned difficult), and it sheds a sense of timelessness over the entire Madison Square neighborhood.

An even-older anchor of New York which you’ll encounter repeatedly if you scroll through NYC Past is the Brooklyn Bridge, which is to bridges what the Flatiron is to buildings. It is just as it should be, and reminds one of how few edifices actually exist in our world of which you could make the same observation.

A little later in NYC history, the Empire State makes the statement only it can make, and the Chrysler building forever seems like an impish and more clever response to it (even though it was actually finished about a year earlier).

Strolling through the streets of New York City past through these photos is a fascinating delight, and the strongest impression for yours truly is how little things have changed in a fundamental sense, and yet how interesting are the changes which have taken place.


Interesting, and sometimes sad. The photograph below, taken sometime in the early 1900s, shows the waiting room at Grand Central Station. Grand Central Station still exists, thank God, and is as impressive as ever. I maintain that if you approach it from Park Avenue South, it takes on the appearance of the grandest-of-all paperweights, holding down Forty-Second Street and indeed midtown-in-general. On the day it is removed, New York will surely explode, just as everyone has been expecting it to do all of these years. The sad change evidenced in the photograph has taken place in the people. Back then, as you will notice, people knew how to wear hats. Both the men and the women. Even just sitting, waiting for their train, they would not be without the appropriate cranial decoration. It is not so today. The decline in the wearing of hats (baseball caps do not count) has been accompanied by too many other declines to list here. Well, thanks to NYC Past, we can dream of a better age.

Grand Central Station Waiting Room
Via here, and via here.

The Cinch Review

Sandy: aftermath of the tempest

Clearly this storm has been a disaster for many who badly need assistance and prayers. Here at Cinch HQ in NYC we can only be grateful not to have lost power or suffered any other significant damage. Were it not for seeing it on the news, we wouldn’t even know it had been such a damaging storm. Would that everyone could say the same thing.

In terms of New York City at large, it seems the damage to the subway system is the biggest single issue hanging over the recovery effort. Shutting down the system was meant to avoid serious flooding by salt water, but it occurred anyway, and that’s a very big deal which will impact service for quite some time and cost plenty to fix. Continue reading Sandy: aftermath of the tempest

The Cinch Review

Sandy: an update from within the tempest

‘Tis well I remember Hurricane Irene from 14 months ago. I remember going out just about when it was predicted to have been at its worst. The rain had stopped and light was breaking through the clouds; it seemed for all the world like a nice day. I thought: “Wow, this must be the eye of the storm.” But no: that was the storm — at least in our neighborhood.

I’m so tempted to say “Deja-vu all over again.” Yet, it’s clear enough from news reports that low-lying areas by the sea are getting inundated, and no one can say this storm isn’t going to be very serious for many people. But as far as dramatic effects in the heart of New York City … well, there have been passing summer thunderstorms that created more of a stir. We’ve had breezes, the occasional howling gust, and some moderate but intermittent rain. The focus in the media right now on a single crane slightly dislodged in midtown seems to sum things up; there’s a distinct lack of news, at least in Manhattan. Continue reading Sandy: an update from within the tempest

The Cinch Review

Empire State Building shooting

Update 10:45 a.m.: So, although reports continue to be somewhat contradictory, it does appear at this point to have been an isolated shooting, based on a personal motive, unconnected to terrorism. The picture will be clearer after a few hours, but I think it would be pointless for the likes of yours truly to continue updating at this point.

So, signing off, with a prayer for the recovery of those who are being treated for their injuries as a result of this morning’s events.

Update 10:28 a.m.: Local TV now interviewing people outside kvetching about not being able to get where they’re going.

Two are reported dead, counting the gunman. Eight others reported injured.

Suspect was reportedly fired from his job yesterday, according to local CBS News television. They also report that it was the manager of the business who was shot and killed by the gunman, at about 9 a.m. today.

Update 10:15 a.m.: NY Post says it was a “dispute between coworkers” which spilled out onto the street.

Update 10:09 a.m.: Shooter was “disgruntled employee” of a business located at the building, according to a report on NBC New York.

At least 10 people shot at the Empire State Building in New York City this morning, including reportedly the gunman. In addition to the total lock-down by the NYPD around 34th St. and 5th avenue, the FBI is on the scene. At this stage all the injured are said to have been taken to hospitals.

Based on watching the police activity on TV and laying down of markers, it appears that at least some of the shooting took place right in front of the building on 5th avenue between 33rd and 34th. Some victims reportedly found in the lobby.

The obvious remark is that no one would start shooting at that location unless they were fully prepared to lose their own life in the process. It is one of the iconic sites in Manhattan were there is always a police presence and an expectation of possible terrorism. If anything, at this point, it is surprising the gunman managed to shoot so many people. But at this point what we really know is nothing. Will update this post if it seems justified.