Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Panorama: Part 2

Panorama Part 2: Brooklyn in a Book

In the same room where New York Paleotectonic is kept, David Strauss took out a Sanborn book, a large collection of city maps originally created for fire insurance risk assessment. They were also used by the Raymond Lester Company when building the Panorama of the City of New York back in the 1960s.

The one I got to look at was a piece of Brooklyn. Everything in the book was drawn with care, even the ornate frontispiece. (The whole thing reminded me of something Chris Ware would create.)

Sanborn Book of Brooklyn, Vol. 6

These Sanborn books provided the Panorama builders with an exact template for every structure in the city--and its scale. They were used again in the 1992 renovation. Here you can see where changes were added, the original inked squares covered over with new squares of paper glued down with each demolition and construction.

The same books--from 1926--will be used in the future renovation as the planners compare them to city documents for the closest accuracy.

4th Avenue and 12th Street, Brooklyn

David and I looked over 4th Avenue, the dividing line between Park Slope and Gowanus, an avenue that has changed tremendously in just the past few years. But here, in these venerable books, there are no glass condo towers. Yet.

A cinema is entitled "Moving Pictures." Warehouses and factories state their business: Billiards Table Manufacturing, Syrup Mixing Company, Diesel Locomotives.

What will these books look like when the next renovation is complete? I worry they'll be so full of pasted-in papers, their bindings might break.

Moving Pictures & Van Brunt P.O.

Stay tuned...
Next! The final installment. Panorama Part 3--A Walk Up the East River


EV Grieve said...


Ok, ok...

Excellent writing and reporting...Looking forward to the walk up the East River. (Just watch your step...)

Barbara L. Hanson said...

Please, sir, I want more!

Jeremiah Moss said...

tomorrow, tomorrow...

Anonymous said...

I was getting so sick of hearing about how the east village is falling apart. It was toast when I was there fifteen years ago. But now, you've really stepped it up the past two weeks. Keep traveling the city and finding these great lost places. I can't wait to visit Myrtle Ave the next time I'm there.