cityscape

Posted by Ellen

As the sun sets over New Jersey, the Milano's Italian Sausage trucks begin their nightly rounds in Manhattan.

New York City's new High Line Park repurposes an old elevated railroad track along the west side of lower Manhattan for strolling and people-watching high above the bustle of downtown streets. Trees and flowers grow out of the old track bed, blooming between the ties, while in the distance is the river, the skyscrapers, the restaurants and nightclubs, and, along this stretch of the route, the warehouses of the old meatpacking district.

 

Posted by Ellen

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, from 30,000 feet.

Posted by Ellen

The Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto.

The original building, designed by Toronto architects Frank Darling and John A. Pearson, opened in 1933. The new wing, by American architect Daniel Libeskind, who also designed buildings for the Denver Art Museum and the Jewish Museum in Berlin, opened in 2007 and is referred to as the Crystal.

Posted by Ellen

In recent years, gentrification in many Philadelphia neighborhoods has been characterized by construction of new rooftop decks on top of old rowhouses. This view is from a rooftop elevated above the elevated train in the Kensington neighborhood; the rooftop has not yet been completely deckified, but the view is as good as it's going to get.

Posted by Ellen

In 1910, most of the excavation work for the new Michigan Central railroad station in Detroit was still being done with the loathesome short-handled shovels. In the background of this photo, however, we can glimpse the excavators of the future: smoke-belching job-killers, aka steam shovels.

The men are wearing hats, but not hard hats.

The Michigan Central Station survives today, I'm told, "if just barely." Short-handled shovels, too, are still around, in real life but more spectacularly in the blues.

Posted by Ellen

Where in the world?

This is Barnaul, a city of 800,000 in Siberia, located deep in the heart of central Asia, near the mountain range where Russia, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, and China come together.

Barnaul grew large and relatively wealthy because of its double-edged location: close to the Altai Mountains, with their riches of silver, copper, and other minerals, but far from the rest of the world. During World War II, the Soviet Union relocated many of its munitions industries to Barnaul, safely distant from the front but close to major railroads that had been built for ore transport. Russia's largest ammunition plant, one of the largest in the world, still operates today in Barnaul.

The downtown area of the city doesn't look like this; it was modeled after Saint Petersburg and is known for handsome classical architecture, a sampling of which I will try to post here soon. But around the edges of town, in amongst the old silver-smelting factories and the ore-loading facilities, what we see here is what we get in twenty-first-century Barnaul.

Posted by Ellen

Soccer is popular in Nepal, even if the fields are more dirt than grass, and this year the national team, known as the Ghorkalis, is on a roll. Last week, Nepal notched two victories, 2-0 and then 5-0, in 2014 World Cup qualifying matches against East Timor. The Ghorkalis have a new coach, Graham Roberts, an Englishman who played for Tottenham and Chelsea, mostly on defense, and won six caps for England.

Meanwhile, in league play, defending champions Nepal Police Club holds a comfortable lead in the Martyrs Memorial Red Bull Division A, though Yeti Air Himalayan Sherpas Club is not out of the running.

The field shown here is in the suburbs of Kathmandu, at the base of the hill topped by the Monkey Temple.

Posted by Ellen

People wearing AC/DC shirts like to visit temples in Bakhtapur Square just like everybody else.

Posted by Ellen

Glenwood Green Acres sits hard by the railroad tracks in north Philadelphia, on a strip of land where abandoned warehouses burned down in 1984. Ninety-six families in the neighborhood till plots in this community garden; some of them work at it full time, selling their produce or giving it to the hungry.

Their crops include: collard greens, peppers, eggplant, squash, string beans, okra, blackberries, cotton, and tobacco. The southern character of what is grown reflects the southern roots of many people in the north Philly neighborhoods surrounding Glenwood. People like to grow what they grew up growing.

Room to garden in is hard to come by in most of Philadelphia, where row houses line the streets with little or no yard space. There are community gardens all over town–an estimated 400 active ones–but most are tiny, typically occupying just a few hundred square feet in a vacant lot that the gardeners don't own and can't protect from development.

Glenwood is huge by comparison: 3.5 acres. And it's owned by a citywide land trust and operated by a neighborhood organization. The garden is deeded as public green space forever.

The number of vacant lots in the city is thought to be well over 30,000, and most of them are derelict. But after twenty years of struggling to purchase and protect land for Philadelphia's community gardens, the trust now owns just 22 parcels totaling less than 10 acres.

Meanwhile, for what it's worth, in my little one-pot garden, I have a golf-ball-sized tomato, plus 4 flowers on the plant and more buds than I can count. I'm so optimistic I'm not fit to be around.

Posted by Ellen

Recently, Newsweek magazine singled out the three rustiest, dying-est dying rust belt cities in America; coming in at number three, behind Detroit and Flint, Michigan, was Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Grand Rapids–hometown of President Gerald Ford, corporate headquarters of Amway, hub of western Michigan's peach orchards and blueberry farms–didn't take that kind of ranking sitting down. Thousands of city residents stood up and took to the streets, lip-synching Don McLean's anthem all over town, producing the anti–rusty-dying video shown below.

Roger Ebert dubbed it the greatest music video ever. And Newsweek apologized, even going so far as to declare the published rustiness ranking to be methodologically flawed.

The picture above is Tranquilitea, a mosaic by Grand Rapids artist Peggy Kerwan made from thousands of tea bags. The bright colors are from tags and paper wrappers on the tea bags; the subtler shadings are from the translucent tea bags themselves.