frida

by sam on 08/21/2015

As part of my “summer vacation, part II – staycation”, on Wednesday a friend and I went to the New York Botanical Garden for the Frida Kahlo – Art, Garden, Life Exhibit. One might question our sanity in going to a greenhouse exhibit on a humid, 90+ degree day, but it was still quite amazing. and sweaty. The exhibit also has a collection of artwork, but photos were prohibited in that area, and I am nothing if not a rules-follower (unlike some obnoxious hipster art students who were holding everyone up in the tiny room while trying to “secretly” take pics).

One note about the photos – the first half are a bit grainy – I forgot to reset my minimum ISO after the rodeo on Friday night and didn’t realize until halfway through the day.

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wyoming photography workshop

by sam on 08/19/2015

I know it seems like I travel a lot, but last week I actually started my first vacation of 2015 (provided you don’t count the fact that I took January 2nd off as part of the tail end of last year’s holiday break). I’m still finishing up the two weeks of PTO that I took off by doing some touristy stuff in and around New York (and running errands, always errands), but last week I attended the National Geographic Wyoming Cowboy Country Photography Workshop. It was quite fantastic. I’ve wanted to do one of the NatGeo workshops for a while, particularly after my trip to the Galapagos, and this one fit in with my already planned PTO schedule. The instructors (Jay, Jeff and Frank) were amazing, the entire class group was a blast, and everyone who worked at the CM Ranch was phenomenal. I may have threatened to kidnap the chef on more than one occasion.

And the scenery…

I haven’t spent a lot of time traveling to the “interior” of this country. Living on the coast has made it all too easy to choose to fly east when planning a trip somewhere, but a while back I made a commitment to try to see more of this vast expanse of a nation of ours. So I was really glad to have the opportunity to take this trip for that reason as well. Many years ago, one of my European friends remarked that the biggest difference they saw between Europe and America was just how big and open everything was here – Europe is not only geographically smaller, but developed at a time when, by necessity, everything needed to be close together. You simply don’t understand the vastness of America without seeing it.

Rather than trying to explain everything up front, I’ve embedded descriptions into the slideshow itself. And if you think there are a lot of pictures here, please note that these 115 or so pics have been whittled down from over 3300 that I took over the course of the week. That was the hardest part.

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nyc subway | columbus circle (a/b/c/d trains)

by sam on 07/26/2015

Back to columbus circle, this time for the A/B/C/D train platform. These trains were part of the IND line, and were built later than the IRT 1 train previously discussed, and Columbus Circle is one of the major transfer points between different lines in the system. The platform itself, being part of the IND and newer, doesn’t have mosaics that are as interesting as the IRT platform, but they do have useful, large “59” tiles identifying the station.

In addition, this side of the station, at the mezzanine level, includes a large colorful mosaic by Sol LeWitt titled “Whirls and Twirls”.

This station also highlights one of the unique features of the New York City Subway system – the NYC Subway is (I believe) the only system in the world that runs multiple different train lines along the same tracks. you can see that in this station, which has 4 lines running along 2 tracks. The “color coding” that was instituted when the systems were all merged were to help identify where trains shared “core” tracks – So the B/D are orange, and run south of columbus circle along 6th avenue (and are joined by the F/M trains), and the A/C are blue and run along 8th avenue (where they are joined by the E train below 50th street from queens). But north of columbus circle, the A and D go on the express track, while the B and C run on the same local track for the length of central park west until they split again after 145th street. The color coding gives the impression that they are the “same” train, but if you actually look at a map, you can see that each individually numbered train often starts and terminates in a completely different place, and there are places where different “colors” essentially merge for sections of the map. In places like London and Paris, you may see a local and express train run together, a particular line that has two “branches” where it will split in two potential destinations near its end, but I think NY is the only (or was the first) system that is designed to run multiple lines on multiple tracks. This also makes the system surprisingly flexible (given its age and funding issues) and able to divert trains to different tracks during construction and emergencies.

The only caveat – you cannot run an BMT train car on an IRT track. the IRT trains were narrower than the BMT trains. The tracks are the same width, but the tunnels are not, so BMT trains are too wide to fit in an IRT tunnel.

Station opened: September 10, 1932
Original system: IND
Trains: A/B/C/D
Source/More info: Wikipedia

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nyc subway | bleecker street

by sam on 07/18/2015

Bleecker street station used to be a standalone station, but relatively recently it underwent a fairly massive reconstruction in order to connect it properly to the Broadway-Lafayette complex, allowing transfers in both directions to the IND B/D/F/M lines. The construction of this transfer point was also cause to install some modern artwork – namely the “Hive” – a neon lighted honeycomb light structure above the new escalators that allow people to transfer from one platform to the other.

The Bleecker street platform itself is fairly classic – with some of the more beautiful original terra cotta detailing (some of which is often featured in advertising, television and movies, both because it is quite pretty and because it is a signifier of a classically “hip” part of New York City). According to Wikipedia, there were other more traditional station name tile mosaics (similar to other IRT line stations), but these have been removed. I don’t know if there’s a plan to reinstall them or if this is a permanent removal.

Station opened: October 27, 1904
Original system: IRT
Trains: 6
Source/More info: Wikipedia

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nyc subway | park place

by sam on 07/12/2015

This platform/station is a combined transfer station with the Chambers Street A/C/E (IND) and forms a fairly large complex, but those platforms will be addressed separately. Directly upstairs from the 2/3 train platform itself is the first part of the “Oculus” mosaic, consisting of a giant tiled map of the world radiating out from an eye. The remainder of this installation will be addressed in the entry for the Chambers Street station.

The entire mezzanine runs approximately 7 blocks, and used to also contain a station specifically for the World Trade Center. The station, including the mezzanine with Oculus and the platforms, were damaged and flooded on 9/11. The artwork remained mostly intact and the station reopened 8 months after the attacks.

The Park Place platform itself only contains the standard IRT wall ribbon with the identifying single letter indicating the station. There is some obvious and extensive water damage going on at this platform, but it’s hard to say whether this is remnants of the flooding that occurred or just normal wear-and-tear of the last 14 years.

Station opened: August 1, 1918
Original system: IRT
Trains: 2/3
Source/More info: Wikipedia; MTA Arts & Design

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