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local history

From huck magazine:

The photographer who defined old-school cool

Street symphony

Posted
Text by Alex King
Photography © Jamal Shabazz

Jamel Shabazz has spent his life documenting the city that never sleeps. But while his shots of urban street style have become iconic, the bigger picture – a world of police and prostitutes, drifters and dancers – reveals something much deeper: a commitment to community.

It’s early morning in Rikers Island jail and a young corrections officer named Jamel Shabazz has just begun his first inspection. The residential wing is so hot that the stench of stale cigarettes and dead rodents hangs heavily.

There is a line of 30 units on both sides of the corridor, each one of them holding a juvenile inmate who may have trashed his cell, retreated to a corner or hung himself with a bed sheet.

“To make a physical count, you have to make sure a body is in each cell,” Jamel explains. And there is an abundance of bodies.

83_150dpi
It’s the mid-1980s and a crack epidemic is sweeping through New York City, generating a wave of violence that’s carrying thousands of young black men into the city’s prisons and morgues.

“It felt like being in a lifeboat watching a sinking ship and you can only help so many people,” says Jamel, thinking back to that time.

“But it didn’t stop me from going to work every single day looking for someone to connect with and provide direction to.”

Working in prison made Jamel’s mission clear to him: he became determined to steer young men away from ruining their lives, feeding a vicious cycle of regret. And it didn’t take long for him to realise how he’d do that.

Jamel_Shabazz_Little_Big_Man
Think of old-school hip hop and, chances are, you will conjure up one of Jamel Shabazz’s unforgettable portraits. Jamel came of age during the birth of rap in mid-70s New York. He remembers block parties in Coffey Park, Brooklyn, where a group of DJs and MCs would “hot-wire” the electricity supply of a lamppost to keep the party going long into the night.

His photobook Back in the Days immortalises the b-boys, boomboxes and big hair of 1980s New York City in one cornerstone document. But the purpose behind these images has often gone overlooked.

“I don’t get caught up on the fashion,” he says. “My photographs have always been about the personal connections I make in my attempt to communicate what’s going on in the streets.”

Rush-Hour-2
Jamel’s new book, Sights in the City, aims to redress that balance by showcasing his street photography in one place for the first time. It spans the duration of his career and illuminates the complex city that has defined his life.

Growing up in the Red Hook area of Brooklyn, Jamel discovered photography through his father, a naval combat photographer who taught him to carry a loaded camera at all times.

Initially borrowing his mother’s cheap Kodak, the 15-year-old began directing groups of his friends into poses and developing a signature style.

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Tue 10 2017 , by

Meet Me Downtown

Local Photographer’s work on exhibit at Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts

80 Hanson Place The work will be on view weekdays during regular building hours. (At least till Friday, 20th of October 2017)

Joel Barhamand is a Downtown Brooklyn based photographer whose work has highlighted the ongoing changes in the neighborhood. His photographs were featured in the New York Times article “Fulton Mall, Amid Change”, and his work will now be presented at the 80 Arts Building. Join for light refreshments and the opportunity to meet the photographer himself as part of the Culture Forward Festival.

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From Thought Gallery NYC:
New Yorkers can get out to Queens this fall for walks exploring Steinway Village (November 18) or Richmond Hill North (November 11), a Victorian village that was one of the first suburban communities. The Municipal Art Society will also offer a tour of the South Bronx and its history and recent revival on November 19.…

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Thu 10 2017 , by

Bygone Buttered Rolls?

On the face of it, it doesn’t seem like the common coffee-accompanying buttered roll has become bygone from NYC and the surrounding areas of NJ and Connecticut in any measurable way. However, in many cases they aren’t what they used to be, and finding them made properly (with a fresh, handmade Kaiser roll and real salted butter) is becoming a lot more iffy. While buttered rolls can still be bought as such in many small shops, diners, and sidewalk coffee carts throughout the city, the general consensus is that since bygone days (mid-20th century) in the majority of cases the quality of the rolls has gone down due to modern developments such as the disappearance of smaller, regional/local bakeries, leading to the mass production and the lack of freshness and quality of the hard rolls, and lack of knowledge of how they are “supposed” to be has led to rolls without the requisite crispy crust or poppy seeds on top. Then there is the butter, or lack thereof: the more frequent use of margarine of varying taste and mouthfeel by those who sell them, topped off by vendors wrapping them in plastic wrap in deference to modern sanitary sensibilities but giving the rolls the savor of the plastic. The comments section from this NY Times article about the phenomena of buttered Kaiser rolls or “butter rolls” as they are called in popular parlance is revealing: besides having arrived in NYC via “The Vienna Model Bakery” in 1870, which also brought commercial yeasted bread to the city, they derived from German/Austrian Jewish cuisine: one commentator reveals that her father called them “jew rolls” when at home, but not to appear anti-Semitic, ordered “hard rolls” from the local bakery. (In many cases, a local bakery was involved in the production of good old fashioned rolls with butter as they ought to have been-it is the scarcity of general purpose local bakeries that has been partly responsible for the taste and quality of buttered rolls becoming more frequently bygone.) How are the bastardized versions that have become widely available in our time still selling? For the same reason the original and better-tasting ones did: they might be the only thing some people can afford to eat all day. They are cheap and filling, though of dubious nutritional value. —

Ode to the Buttered Roll, That New York Lifeline

It can be hard to explain the appeal of a buttered roll.

Unlike the breakfast sandwich or the cruller, the humble buttered roll makes no claims to lusciousness. It’s not really greater than the sum of its parts: a round roll, sliced and slathered with butter. There is no alchemy involved.

And yet, like many New Yorkers, I’ve breakfasted all my life on buttered rolls, wrapped in plastic, foil or wax paper and sold for about a dollar at any corner deli, bodega or coffee cart.

Do I love them? No. That is not really the point. I love that they exist, an unsung, charmingly ordinary hero of the city’s mornings.…

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Wednesday, July 8, 2015

MANHATTAN – 35 Cooper Square

Gone. 35 Cooper Square.  Was one of the oldest Federal-style houses on the Bowery.

In its day, the house, now known as 35 Cooper Square, was nestled among three similar dormer-roof structures. Today it resembles a pink mushroom, propped up against the towering glass and steel sequoia that is the Cooper Square Hotel.

The New York Times

Link – #35 Cooper Square

I didn’t get lazy.  I just discovered that someone had a better blog entry than the one I was working on.  🙂  In Mr. Moss’ blog, a man is said to have hanged himself in the attic, however I can find only anecdotal information about this “man.”  Could he be the unknown man who died at this address in 1903 with $0.42 to his name?

#35 (AKA #391 Bowery) is no longer standing, but the energy may well be there.

35 Cooper Square is now a 13-story dormitory building.

Known Residents
1815 — Samuel WIGTON
Longworth’s American Almanack, New-York Register, and City Directory, 1815.

1825-1827 — Built by Nicholas William STUYVESANT, great-grandson of Peter Stuyvesant. 

c. 1825 — John and Mary WOOD. 
www.nytimes.com/2011/02/19/nyregion/19metjournal.html?ref=nyregion&_r=0 

1837 — William D. DISBROW, sexton of St. Mark’s Church in the Bowery, 1825-1848.  Undertaker.  Offered horses and coaches to let.  Lived at #386, worked at #391 Bowery.
Longworth’s American Almanac, New-York Register, and City Directory, 1837, p. 206.
Documents of the Board of Aldermen of the City of New York, Volume IV, 1838, p. 478.
Memorial of St. Mark’s Church in the Bowery, Vestry, 1899. 

1839-1847 — James M. SWEENY, prominent teacher in the New York Public School system, professor of Latin and Greek languages; born 1796 in Ireland, died June 23, 1879 at his residence #264 Jay Street, Brooklyn.  At the time of his death, he was the principal of Primary School No. 24 on Elm Street.
Longworth’s American Almanac, New-York Register, and City Directory, 1839, p. 632 
Doggett’s New-York City Directory For 1846 and 1847, p. 379. 
The Evening Post, July 21, 1848, p. 2.
The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, June 26, 1879, p. 4. 

1846-1847 — George S. DREW, plumber.
Doggett’s New-York City Directory For 1846 and 1847, p. 121. 

1850-1867 — Henry MARSHALL, liquors.  “Porterhouse.”  Clerk of Tompkins’ Market.
The New York Mercantile Union Business Directory, 1850-1851, p. 327.  
Manual of the Corporation of the City of New York, 1861, p. 111. 
The New York State Business Directory and Gazetteer, 1867, p. 206. 

1877 — Charles BURGHART, beer. 
Goulding’s New York City Directory, 1877 to 1878, p. 182. 

1889 — Henry KOHLMEYER. 
Phillips’ Business Directory of New York City, Volume 19, p. 936. 

1898 — (Herman) Georg(e) SIEGEL, liquor.
New York State Department of Excise Directory of liquor tax certificate holders, p. 328. 

c. 1940-1957 J. Forest VEY (art student at Cooper Union) and wife Marguerite.  Actor Joel GREY rented from them, and Claude BROWN, author of “Manchild in the Promised Land,” lived there during that time as well.

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By LUCAS MAUTNER
The Joyce B. Cowin Women’s History Gallery
opened recently with an event to honor Cowin’s
contribution to the New York Historical Society.
Louise Mirrer, President, opened with a few
remarks. “I’m really delighted to see so many
of you at this wonderful celebration…and I am
also delighted to welcome you to the Saving
Washington exhibition,” she said.
The Saving Washington exhibition allows
visitors to look at the early days of the United
States through the eyes of the women of
the period. Books, letters, clothing, and other
important artifacts will be on display to the
public, part of a collection of over 150 objects.
“Saving Washington upends the familiar
narrative of our American founding as a power
struggle among men, offering the story of Dolly
Madison, and women of the early republic
more generally, as an example of how women’s
critical but often behind-the-scenes work gave
rise to the nation’s capital as a beacon for the
world,” Mirrer said.
Cowin, addressing the crowd with audible
emotion and pride, said, “In the end, after seeing
all these exceptional persons of our country—
who propelled us ahead—I strongly believe it is
we the people who try to help each other if we
can. We go forward—we build buildings—cre-
ate schools—support hospitals—we the people
go forward. Each of us will have a major trag-
edy in our lives. We mourn, we remember, and
we go forward. We follow the rules, and some
of us make the rules in the end. But it is we the
people that are the driving force of this great
country; we the people go forward.”
Saving Washington is housed in the new
Joyce B. Cowin Women’s History Gallery, in
the newly renovated fourth floor. Its doors will
open fully to the public in late April, where it
will host several programs, from conferences to
writing workshops to panel discussions. Some
of the upcoming events include an unveiling
of the personal archives of Billie Jean King
and a discussion about “Women and the White
House” moderated by 60 Minutes correspon-
dent Lesley Stahl. #
Joyce B. Cowin, an alumna of Teachers
College, Columbia University, is a philan-
thropist and founder of the Cowin Financial
Literacy Project, which aims to improve finan-
cial literacy among students.…

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Date

Sep 6, 2017 • 7:00 PM – 9:00 PM

Cost

FREE and OPEN TO THE PUBLIC!

Location

Gallery at BRIC House

647 Fulton Street
(Enter on Rockwell Place)
Brooklyn, NY 11217

United States
Get Directions

Sergio Purtell, courtesy of the artist and Art 3 Gallery, Brooklyn

JOIN US FOR THE OPENING RECEPTION!

EXHIBITION ON VIEW: September 7 – October 29, 2017

CURATED BY: Elizabeth Ferrer

 

Brooklyn Photographs brings together the work of 11 photographers who have turned their lens on the Brooklyn experience from the late 1960s to the present.  Each of these photographers will present a body of work on a specific theme – childhood in Williamsburg in the 1960s, Halloween in the 1970s, or Bushwick street life in the 1980s, to name a few.  More recent work from the last decade will explore such subjects as the rapidly gentrifying post-industrial landscape, Brooklyn artists, and the microcosm of street life visible near BRIC’s facility at the intersection of Fulton and Flatbush.  In sum, the exhibition will illuminate the important role that photography has had in preserving aspects of Brooklyn’s neighborhoods and traditions, and in documenting the extraordinary cultural and social diversity that is a hallmark of the borough.  It will also reflect the borough as a site of continual change. Neighborhoods transform and new populations emerge, while the essence of Brooklyn’s humanity remains. The exhibition will be accompanied by a catalogue and by public programs.

Photographers include: Yolanda Andrade, Stefanie Apple, Nelson Bakerman, Leigh Davis, Max Kozloff, George Malave, Meryl Meisler, Patrick D. Pagnano, Sergio Purtell, Larry Racioppo, and Russell Frederick .

READ ABOUT THE EXHIBITION IN THE NEW YORK TIMES LENS BLOG >>

Special thanks to Duggal Visual Solutions, Griffin Editions, and Pranayama Art for their services in relation to this exhibition.

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From Jeremiah’s Vanishing New York blog:

Monday, July 31, 2017

Before We Got Starfucked

Jen Fisher runs a well-loved book table on the sidewalk at St. Mark’s and Avenue A. Tomorrow, the table will become a memorial exhibit called “Before we got Starfucked: A Memorial for the Lower East Side before it became the East Village.”

Jen and the resident artist Ana Marton describe it as:

“A personal archive of a LES resident from the late 80s to early 90s of photographs, newspaper cuts, flyers and B&W Xerox books will be displayed on Tuesday, August 1st, 2017 from 530-8PM outside, on the corner of Ave A and St. Mark’s Place, where the bookstall usually is.

The archive is based on 80s and 90s events such as The Tent City in Tompkins Square Park, the annual Stations of the Cross, Father George Kuhn, and the fight against gentrification as it was recorded and put together by a resident of the Lower East Side. Seen in the light of today’s ongoing destruction of our neighborhood, we believe that this archive has acquired historical relevance as a record of the Lower East Side and the life it once contained.”

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From Hyperallergic:


Aerial view up the East River (May 27, 1960, photo by Theodore V. Donaldson)
Aerial view up the East River (May 27, 1960, photo by Theodore V. Donaldson) (all images courtesy NYC Municipal Archives)

The Brooklyn waterfront is radically changing. The Domino Sugar Factory in Williamsburg is transforming into residential and commercial space, both inside its hollowed-out brick building and outside with new glassy high-rises. Towers are pending for long-quiet Greenpoint. And Brooklyn Bridge Park is altering the former industrial area of Dumbo and Brooklyn Heights with green space and, naturally, condos. It’s from the perspective of that park that the NYC Municipal Archives examined the East River shore’s long history of change.

A Century on the Brooklyn Waterfront was one of the shipping container exhibitions at Photoville, held earlier this month in the Pier 5 Uplands in Brooklyn Bridge Park. Curated by Public Records Officer Quinn Berkman and Paper and Archival Conservator Cynthia Brenwall, the exhibition drew on the NYC Municipal Archives’ 221,000 cubic feet of material, particularly its collections on the WPA Federal Writers’ and Art projects (1935–43) and the Department of Bridges (1901–39).

“The ability to appreciate what parks were before they were public recreational areas is important, and the Brooklyn Bridge Park is so relevant because the transformation is so recent,” Berkman told Hyperallergic. Many of the photographs were printed from glass plate negatives, and date from between 1870 and 1974, revealing the rise of the Brooklyn Bridge, and the concentration of maritime commercial activity on the Brooklyn piers long before they were replaced with parks.

View of Lower Manhattan from the Brooklyn Tower of the Brooklyn Bridge (1890)
View of Lower Manhattan from the Brooklyn Tower of the Brooklyn Bridge (1890) (click to enlarge)

“I think it is important to remember that Brooklyn was the heart of the city’s import business,” Berkman explained. “What is now seen as real estate opportunity was once used purely for the ports and trade industry.” It was only in the 1970s that the area was designated as a landmarked neighborhood and the repurposing of warehouses began. “It’s pretty incredible because once the Brooklyn Bridge opened, this part of Brooklyn was considered Manhattan’s first suburb, however by the 60s it cycled back into an industrial zone and now it is back to being a residential neighborhood,” she added.

The NYC Municipal Archives has recently been making more of its photographs accessible online, from the documentation of the NYPD’s “Alien Squad,” which monitored potentially subversive political groups in the 1930s and ’40s, to the around 30,000 crime photographs from 1914 to 1975 released earlier this year. As the photographs were taken for municipal government use — during the construction of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway or the renovation of the Brooklyn Piers, for instance — some of the creators’ names are now lost. In addition to their original purposes, they now form an essential record of the city’s changing character.

“These photographs are not just ‘iconic’ images of old NYC, they are used to understand and preserve the history of the city,” Berkman said. “Photography is one of the best mediums to use to tell a story and send a message, which is also why it has just as complex of a history as New York does.”

View of the Manhattan Bridge from Jay and York Streets (January 4, 1912, photo by Eugene de Salignac)
View of the Manhattan Bridge from Jay and York Streets (January 4, 1912, photo by Eugene de Salignac)
Aerial view of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway and Atlantic Avenue (September 19, 1956)
Aerial view of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway and Atlantic Avenue (September 19, 1956)
Aerial view taken above Atlantic Avenue and the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway. 1 Brooklyn Bridge Park was once home to the New York Dock Company. (September 19, 1956) (photo by Theodore V. Donaldson)
Aerial view taken above Atlantic Avenue and the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway.

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