Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Halloween Brouhaha in Park Slope

Happy Halloween Velvet Sea worldwide readership.

Woah crazy shit going down this evening around 8:30 on 5th Ave near President. A gaggle of teens got into a heated argument over something or other; apparently one pulled a knife. A lady uniformed cop and an undercover arrested one guy, they had him handcuffed against a vehicle in the middle of the street but they were quickly surrounded by a large group yelling and screaming. About a minute later the NYPD cruisers and van show up; as their sirens approach half the group takes off down the street and about 15 uniformed officers come running down the middle of street after a perp I guess.

Then the NYPD scooter finally showed up followed by one of those pokey little 3 wheeled square vehicles. One guy was arrested, apparently per a bystander he "handed the knife off to the little kid" whatever that means. I don't think anyone was hurt as the ambulances that showed up appeared empty and the cops left the scene shortly thereafter. Within minutes the street was back to normal with little kids and their parents trick or treating as if nothing had happened.

And earlier in the day I saw this cop who appeared to be on a routine patrol:

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Chelsea Restaurant

Some restaurant in Chelsea. I like the sign.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Topless in Brooklyn

The black shroud of construction is finally off the Williamsburgh Savings Bank Tower, revealing the dome and clock at the top at long last. Unfortunately the clocks are not telling the correct time, but at least it looks good. Here it's seen in a puddle in Gowanus. Sorry about the overexposed sky, I was having enough trouble getting the angle on this through the fence and focusing on the puddle!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Winsor Terrace Arches

Arched doorways in Windsor Terrace. I like the rounded brickwork in the contrasting color.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Slope Colors

As a counter to yesterday's post of muted colors, here's some bright ones from Park Slope as seen from the Gowanus side of the 4th Avenue dividing line. I'd give this building another 2 years tops before it sells out to another developer for more 12 story luxury condos. It sits between 1st and 2nd Streets, taking up the entire block, just a stone's throw away from the Crest, the Novo, the Heritage, and several other new buildings under construction.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Valiant Effort in Windsor Terrace

I'm not sure what happened to my camera on this shot in Windsor Terrace but it somehow looks like it was taken 35 years ago or just shortly after this fine looking Plymouth Valiant was produced. I like it:

Friday, October 12, 2007

Tom Otterness Studio Tour!!!!

We wrap up OHNY 2007 week here at Velvet Sea with quite possibly the best OHNY tour of all time- the Tom Otterness studio tour. Tom's studio is in an old warehouse or factory in Gowanus on the Carroll Gardens side of the canal. A large crowd gathered outside- maybe 40-50 people.
All hail! The man himself- Tom Otterness:
I'm a huge fan of Tom's bubbly cartoon-like whimsical sculptures and was excited to see where the magic happens. We were able to walk around the studio for about 15-20 minutes, looking at all the different works in various states of progress. Here's a scorpion being translated from a small scale to (presumably) full scale:
Tom Otterness's chair and boombox- this was in the back room; the studio had three rooms, a large room with sculptures, a room with mostly shelves and supplies and this smaller room (perhaps for more detailed work? not sure):Finally Tom gathered everyone around and started to explain how he creates his sculptures- starting from a small clay model and eventually going to a full scale piece ready to go to the foundry:
The artist continued to explain the process and he showed a bunch of different pieces in his studio while telling some great stories and anecdotes relating to the work. Note the giant round head in the picture above- that is going to be part of the world's greatest kids playground:
Tom Otterness's studio tour was fascinating and I'd highly recommend going if it's on the schedule for OHNY 2008.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

The Montauk Club

Continuing on with OHNY week, here is the Montauk Club in Park Slope. It's a members only social club, although membership is open to anyone who can pay the fees. The outside of the building is a terracotta masterpiece:
For Open House New York there was a self guided tour pamphlet given out with information on the history of the building. Access was granted to the first two floors which included some very nice balconies:

The parts we were able to see were the ballroom, library, and lounge/dining area/bar. They were nice but nothing was exceptionally noteworthy- this building shines more for it's exterior. Here's the Montauk Club's ballroom.
Although the packet of information was full of details, I would have preferred a quick tour by a guide. Overall it was great to go inside a building I had previously only admired from the outside.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Inside the Williamsburgh Savings Bank

The beautiful Williamsburgh Savings Bank Tower has been under renovation for over a year to remake it from office space to residential (and being renamed as One Hanson Place under the scheme). The cavernous ground floor commercial space was formerly a bank:
Currently it is unoccupied and available for lease. Open House NY this past weekend allowed visitors a glimpse into the grandeur of the space (did I mention it's cavernous?!):The landmarked interior feels very much like a cathedral- marble's the view from the balcony:
There was so much to look at, every surface seemingly had it's own set of interesting details:
Even the ceiling was covered... I really liked all the lighting fixtures (although with the huge windows and sunlight streaming in, they seem unnecessary).
Even the exit door were nice. Hopefully this place will be rented to a tenant who respects the interior and allows public access. It was definitely one of the highlights of OHNY '07.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Litchfield Villa OHNY 2007

The Litchfield Villa was opened as part of Open House New York 2007 and to be honest it was a bit of a disappointment. Perhaps if I had stayed for the architects tours, they would have shown more of the house, but just wandering in did not allow much access at all. The house was built in the mid 1850's and stands at the edge of Prospect Park.
The house was originally home to Edwin Litchfield, who was responsible for the hidden Atlantic Avenue Tunnel (in a roundabout way) and who developed much of Park Slope and the Gowanus Canal. The park was built after the house and after a period of time the house was deeded to the Parks Dept. and has been used as their offices for over 100 years.
Because much of the house is divided into offices, there was not a whole lot to see- just the entrance rotunda with it's gorgeous floor:
You could climb the stairs to the top of the rotunda:
On the second floor there were some offices with glass doors to peek into but overall not very interesting. The detailing around the rotunda opening was pretty nice though.
So it was interesting to see but overall a huge tease to be let into a massive mansion but only be allowed to see the foyer. Maybe more was shown on the tours. Check back for more OHNY 2007 coverage to follow all this week!

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Atop the Arch at Grand Army Plaza

Day 2 of Open House New York was just as good as day one. I walked over to the Grand Army Plaza traffic circle of death to wait on line to head up to the top of the great arch (formally known as the Soldiers' and Sailors' Memorial Arch). After an extensive 45 minute wait, I climbed the winding metal stairs up the eastern side.We then crossed over inside the top of the arch to the opposite (western) side before continuing up another small flight of stairs to roof. So what's actually inside the top of the monument? Some nice ironwork and a bunch of peeling white paint but that's about it:
The view from the top was great- you can see most of the Manhattan skyline. The park ranger gave a brief history of Brooklyn's 100+ year old arch, including the story of how one of the statues broke off and was dangling by one leg from the top in the '70's.
Lower Manhattan seen below.. the building in the foreground with the tiled roof is the Montauk Club which I'll cover in a future post. The arch is about 75 feet tall.
Of course the top allowed for a great closeup of the statues on the top:

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Open House New York OHNY 2007

Well it's that time of year again. This weekend is the 5th annual Open House New York aka OHNY. Unlike the previous 4 years of Manhattan-centric touring for me, this year I'm sticking to Brooklyn. Here's a few selected shots from today, with more to follow in the next few days.

Here's the interior of one of the Pratt mansions in Clinton Hill. The level of detailing in the oak is incredible. Those are original Tiffany stained glass windows in the back. The house is so ornate inside, it is difficult to know where to focus. The college's President lives on the 2nd floor and selected students live on the 3rd, so the tour was only able to focus mostly on the 1st floor and exterior but there was still plenty to see in this mansion.This next shot is from the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM). This is wall/ceiling of the Opera House with some of the luxury boxes and 2nd balcony visible.
And finally the banking hall from the Williamsburgh Savings Bank Tower (aka One Hanson Place). Formerly a bank, the landmarked space was going to be a Borders Books, but that deal fell through and it's up for lease. The space is extremely grand to say the least and I'll have many more shots to present here in the coming days, so take this one as just a teaser.
Here's a link to my page from last year's Open House New York.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Rooftop Gem

Another shot of Manhattan from high above. There's so much going on way above street level, so many architectural gems that we so rarely get to see. A building like this was probably once visible for many blocks and even from street level, but today it's hemmed in by skyscrapers on all sides and can only be seen by the lucky few on high floors in the immediate area. Note one of the famous New York City water towers in the foreground.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Looking Up

Cool up arrows graphic on the side of this Midtown East building. I'm not sure you can even see this from the ground, as there might be another building adjoining this one for it's lower half. Anyone know what building this is- it's around 3rd Avenue and maybe 45th Street? This is 747 3rd Avenue- designed by Emery Roth & Sons and built in 1972. Cool aerial shot here.