Wednesday, November 28, 2012

17th and 10th: Then & Now

I've been thinking about Yvonne B's forlorn and ghostly shot of the corner of 17th Street and 10th Avenue in the 1980s. There's the abandoned High Line and a gritty little luncheonette, alone with a single-story garage. There are no people.


And here's my shot of the same corner today. The luncheonette is now a Comme des Garcons "concept store." The High Line is renovated and full of tourists enjoying the views from what they call "10th Avenue Square." The garage has been demolished for a luxury condo tower with an Equinox fitness center on the first floor.

The streets below are not unpopulated--there are a couple of people making cell-phone calls, two women pushing a shopping cart, and a Skyliner bus full of tourists.


The first scene brings to mind some lines from "Minority Report," a sort of love poem to America by John Updike:

But it is you,
really you I think of:
your nothing streetcorners
your ugly eateries
your dear barbarities and vacant lots


Updike could have been writing about New York City, in the late mid-century, amid the pleasures of urban decay. And I can't help but look at these two photos and wonder: What possible love poem could be written today about high-concept boutiques, high-tech gym goers, and High-Line tourists cramming the so-called 10th Avenue Square for a photo op?

14 comments:

John M said...

Every once in a while, you post an old photo that makes me remember what the city used to be, and it breaks my heart. Every goddamn time. But the feeling of the time that it brings back to me...well, thanks for helping me feel that again, if only for a minute.

Anonymous said...

You make me feel like I'm not crazy to miss the New York I fell in love with all those years ago

Anonymous said...

Majority Report

Your clean lines and panes
Filled with the finest people and feelings
So much money you breathe
Out into the streets freshly trod
by boots that cost enough
to feed a family
the soulless eyes so bright
the maker's hearts so cold
still I smell what I thought
I missed behind
all the luxury
the fragrance of dogshit
and rotting garbage and piss

Anonymous said...

Yet another Now & Then posting that only makes me say 'Man, that is just FUCKED--UP!'

Glad I lived in the city before all these polished turds moved in and created buildings in their own image. Douche-bags!

BrooksNYC said...

I couldn't improve on the sentiments expressed in John M's post, so will simply thank him for posting.

Love the Updike snippet, Jeremiah.

Goggla said...

Old dingy diner
Abandoned by residents
Devoured by High Line

Jeremiah Moss said...

i was hoping people would write some poems! thank you--more, more!

Anonymous said...

As a photographer, I can see a wealth of photographic opportunity in the older picture: close-ups, details, signage, the entire building on its corner.

In the newer photo, I see absolutely nothing of any artistic value. Its sterile, antiseptic, devoid of all soul. I wouldn't even bother taking my camera out. How fitting that the inhabitants are shallow and empty, as well.

esquared™ said...

O you with your passionate shriek for the rights of an equal humanity,
How often your Re-volution has proven but E-volution
Roll’d again back on itself in the tides of a civic insanity!
~Beautiful City, Alfred Lord Tennyson

Tom Rinaldi said...

Not to mention - the sign! L----R- ... presumably missing its IQUO and S. Now the whole thing is missing...

laura said...

i do like the old photo done in muted colors. but i must compliment the new version. it is restored, not demolished. the nice pld building stands, & the high line. they did a good job, dont complain.

gabriel said...

I had to expand the second photograph before I realized that it WASN'T a slick architectural rendering, replete with becarriaged moms and sullen hipsters watching the dirty traffic from within their fishbowl perch.

Fuck.

laura said...

gabriel, "photographically" the new version is lacking. but i still fail to see anything wrong w/what they did. its not an ugly strip mall, NOT a walmart, subway, cell phone stores, home depot, 4ever21, zara-thank god. (if hunrads of people lost their homes w/out being relocated, i might have a complaint). new york still can be beautiful, the high line IS, the old building IS. this post made me happy, that dosnt happen too often.

Anonymous said...

Glaring steel, unforgiving
Glass polished, reflecting
Your vacant eyes.
Narcissus in love with your own image
The empty soul fulfilled
the steel so cold
the glass panes dissect your pretty face