Circa 1910. “Riverside Park, New York.” And the ledge that launched a thousand boys. 8x10 inch glass negative, Detroit Publishing Company.
Ah yes, I’m very familiar with the weird cliffs of Riverside Park. Beautiful looking, but socially troubling on a few levels!
May 24th 1883: Brooklyn Bridge opens
On this day in 1883 the iconic Brooklyn Bridge in New York City opened. The bridge connects Manhattan and Brooklyn and when opened was the longest suspension bridge in the world. Thousands attended the opening ceremony, including President Chester A. Arthur and New York Mayor Franklin Edson who crossed the bridge to celebratory cannon fire. A few days after opening, a rumour spread that the bridge was unstable and would collapse. However, the rumours were ended on May 17th 1884 when famous circus master P.T Barnum showed its stability by having his famous attraction Jumbo the elephant lead a parade of elephants over the Brooklyn Bridge.
Once Upon a Time in New York — The Birth of Hip-Hop, Disco & Punk
This is the first 15 minute chunk of a pretty good BBC documentary about the music that came out of 1970s New York. A few of my thoughts and the rest of the hour here.
New York seemed very strange indeed. It might, almost, for strange barbarity and manner and custom, for the sense of danger and horror barely sleeping beneath the rough, gregarious surface, have been some impenetrably exotic city of the East. So superbly was it in the present that it seemed to have nothing to do with the passage of time: time might have dismissed it as thoroughly as it had dismissed Carthage and Pompeii. It seemed to have no sense whatever of the exigencies of human life; it was so familiar and so public that it became, at last, the most despairingly private of cities. One was continually being jostled, yet longed, at the same time, for the sense of others, for a human touch; and if one was never—it was the general complaint—left alone in New York, one had, still, to fight very hard in order not to perish of loneliness. This fight, carried on in so many different ways, created the strange climate of the city. The girls along Fifth Avenue wore their bright clothes like semaphores, trying helplessly to bring to the male attention the news of their mysterious trouble. The men could not read this message. They strode purposefully along, wearing little anonymous hats, or bareheaded, with youthfully parted hair, or crew cuts, accoutered with attache cases, rushing, on the evidence, to the smoking cars of trains. In this haven, they opened up their newspapers and caught up on the day’s bad news. Or they were to be found, as five o’clock fell, in discreetly dim, anonymously appointed bars, uneasy, in brittle, uneasy female company, pouring down joyless martinis.
- James Baldwin, Another Country p. 230. Other than the fact that barely anyone in New York gets out at 5pm anymore, and those leaving work are also women, this is pretty much entirely accurate 50 years later.