cityscape

Posted by Ellen

The 199-year-old dome of the Arch Street Presbyterian Church is reflected at the base of the four-year-old Comcast Center office tower, tallest building in Philadelphia and fifteenth-tallest in the United States.

The black cube-like structure at the top of the blue-glass tower is said to be a water tank containing 300,000 gallons of water. The weight of the water–thirteen hundred tons–helps keep the building from swaying in high winds. The Comcast Center's Tuned Liquid Column Damper is touted as the largest watery building-stabilization system in the world.

The 58-story tower is 974 feet high. The cable company uses about 90 percent of the building's one million square feet of office space and leases out the rest.

Comcast touts numerous energy-saving features of the tower, notably including waterless urinals, which were opposed by the plumbers' union. The dispute was resolved by an agreement that included installation of plumbing to all the waterless urinals in case they didn't work out and had to be replaced by conventional urinals.

Posted by Ellen

Above the ships at sea and Lisbon's red tile roofs and satellite dishes.

Posted by Ellen

Detail from a painting in the offices of the Pennsylvania Horticulture Society; artist and title unknown (to me).

Posted by Ellen

London at night.

Posted by Ellen

More than fifty walls, rooftops, and billboards high above Market Street, visible mostly from the elevated train line in West Philly, bear pictures and snatches of poetry by former graffiti artist Steve Powers; together they make up his "Love Letter" mural project, one of the city's most popular new tourist attractions.

"We share sheets," says the writing on the third-floor sidewall of a trackside rowhouse. "We share defeats," says the writing at the end of the block.

The message on the back wall of a warehouse is spelled out in what appear to be refrigerator-magnet letters: "If you were here, I'd be home."

Power says his style grew out of a trip to Northern Ireland, where the political murals on the walls of Belfast struck him as "powerful for all the wrong reasons." In his Love Letter murals, he says he's trying to retain the power but "use it in a really good way."

 

 

Posted by Ellen

It was a way to spend a summer afternoon in South Philly in 2001, doing flips off a pile of discarded old mattresses. The photographer who happened by, Zoe Strauss, originally stopped to caution the boys: Don't do that. You're gonna kill yourselves. They told her not to worry and offered to do even more daredevilish stunts for her camera. She snapped a few pictures and then took off, anxious, perhaps, that her picture-taking might be upping the danger level.

The boy in the back in this photo, Lawrence Edward Rose, Jr., has his hand in front of his face, as if in astonishment at what the other boy, his cousin Botie, was up to. Actually, his fist was at his mouth because he was sucking his thumb; he was thirteen years old that summer, but he was a shy, quiet boy who continued to suck his thumb till he was seventeen.

The summer he turned nineteen, six years almost to the day after the mattress flipping, he died from complications of gunshot wounds suffered in a gang fight at a corner store a few blocks from where those mattresses had been piled. His mother had feared for her timid boy who smiled at everybody and still sucked his thumb as a teenager; to keep him off the streets, she had enrolled him in every program she could find, even sending him to two different boarding schools. But it seemed he was a homebody who wasn't comfortable away from his family and his neighborhood, and in July 2007, the street claimed him.

The photo had a life of its own. Zoe Strauss made several prints, which she exhibited at a show she mounted every year underneath an I-95 interchange in South Philly. Under the highway, the prints sold for $5. Later, she printed larger versions on fancy paper for a New York gallery that sold them for $3,000. More recently, a billboard-sized print of the mattress flip has hung over the main entrance to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, announcing a mid-career retrospective show of Strauss's work.

It's also part of the cover design of an ABC picture book published by the Philadelphia Museum of Art, which is how librarian Sa'ddiya Suku came across it last year at a branch library in West Philly. She didn't know the children in the scene, but she had grown up at the corner where the picture was shot, and she recognized the red-painted brick wall behind the mattresses. And then she recognized the thumb-sucking child standing near the wall, from pictures she'd seen and stories she'd heard after his death.

Suku showed the picture to Rose's family; they were thrilled, she said, to learn that the boy was part of history. He's gone, but he lives on; the photo is about nothing so much as the joy of being young and alive.

Posted by Ellen

That's a pretty nice t-shirt that the guy in white shorts is wearing on this Havana street.

Posted by Ellen

Turkish filmmaker Nuri Bilge Ceylan (Three Monkeys, Once Upon a Time in Anatolia) is also a noted still photographer. His recent works, such as this one, are panoramas of everyday scenes in cities and villages across Turkey. This street is in Istanbul.

Posted by Ellen

Somebody busted down the gate to the basketball court at Marian Anderson Park in our neighborhood. Behind the court, the meticulously maintained baseball field is protected by a much more secure fence.

Posted by Ellen

At the world's tallest office building, they had fireworks for New Year's.