Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Gehry eclipses Gilbert on the Brooklyn Bridge

June 7, 2008. On a hazy summer morning, Cass Gilbert's magnificent Woolworth Building, near the 95th anniversary of its completion, can be seen at the left of this photo taken near the center of the Brooklyn Bridge.

January 6, 2009. On a chilly, overcast winter morning, the view from near the same spot has changed, as Forest City Ratner's luxury Frank Gehry designed Beekman Tower is rising, has begun to block the view of the Woolworth Building, and a construction crane slashes across the upper part of the tower. Not long after this picture was made, Forest City announced that, because of the financial crisis, it intended to truncate the Beekman Tower at about the level it had then reached, rather than building it to its planned seventy six stories. This would have preserved at least part of the view of the Woolworth Building from the Bridge.

June 24, 2009. According to a recent New York Magazine article by Justin Davidson on Gehry,
For a while, it seemed as though [Beekman Tower], too, would add to the architect’s miseries. Ratner halted construction halfway up and toyed with the idea of saving money by leaving it stunted. Eventually, he extracted concessions from the construction unions, and the tower resumed its upward march. The result will be an ordinary structure in a shiny dress.
Nevertheless, the website Lower, reporting on "daily activities" and updated to June 16, 2009, says "Superstructure erection is on hold; the building is now 41 stories tall". The photo above, taken this morning, shows it at forty one stories; the top of the Woolworth Building's tower still peeks over its top.

Update: The eclipse is now complete (see photo below taken on September 1, 2009):

Monday, June 22, 2009

Straight talk on Iran.

Steve Kornacki has an excellent column in PolitickerNY about why President Obama is right not to utter red-meat rhetoric concerning events in Iran, and why John McCain and some of his Republican colleagues are wrong

The question isn't whether having the CIA, back in 1953 and largely at the behest of the British, put into action a coup d'état against the premiership of Mohammed Mossadegh was a good thing (I believe it wasn't), or whether Mossadegh, had he not been deposed, would have brought Iran into alliance with the Soviet Union (I think he would have gladly taken aid, military and otherwise, from the U.S.S.R., and would have proclaimed Iran "non-aligned", which, in practice, would have meant voting with the Sovs in the U.N. most of the time; in other words, much like India in the 1950s and '60s). It isn't even whether he would, bribed sufficiently, have allowed the Russkies their wet dream of a warm water naval port, right on the Straits of Hormuz.

No matter what geopolitical horror scenes you can imagine, retrospectively, from not overthrowing Mossadegh, the present reality is that even those Iranians who are protesting against the election results remember this episode of Western interference in their politics ruefully. So, right or wrong, the U.S. is constrained in the appeals it can now make. Appeals to basic human rights concerns; yes. Appeals to "democracy" (whether or not you dispute Mossadegh's status, at the time he was deposed, as "democratically elected") may ring hollow, and will, no doubt, be used by those in power to discredit the source by recalling the anti-Mossadegh coup.

Image courtesy of Tehran24.