Apocalypse-Proof - 33 Thomas Street
A windowless telecommunications hub, 33 Thomas Street in New York City embodies an architecture of surveillance and paranoia. That has made it an ideal set for conspiracy thrillers.
When it was completed in Lower Manhattan in 1974, 33 Thomas Street, formerly known as the AT&T Long Lines Building, was intended as the world’s largest facility for connecting long-distance telephone calls. 1 Standing 532 feet — roughly equivalent to a 45-story building — it’s a mugshot for Brutalism, windowless and nearly featureless. Its only apertures are a series of ventilation hoods meant to hide microwave-satellite arrays, which communicate with ground-based relay stations and satellites in space. One of several long lines buildings designed by John Carl Warnecke for the New York Telephone Company, a subsidiary of AT&T, 33 Thomas Street is perhaps the most visually striking project in the architect’s long and influential career. Embodying postwar American economic and military hegemony, the tower broadcasts inscrutability and imperviousness. It was conceived, according to the architect, to be a “skyscraper inhabited by machines.”
See Inside a Ghost Town of Abandoned Mansions in China
The State Guest Mansions were envisioned as the palatial homes for the upper crust of society. Now, their only residents are hurdles of cattle and the occasional adventure explorers meandering like ghosts around the arched verandas and stone façades of hundreds of abandoned villas. Located around the hills of Shenyang (about 400 miles northeast of Beijing), the development was originally planned by Greenland Group, a Shanghai-based real estate developer, and broke ground in 2010. But as AFP reports, within two years the project had come to grinding halt, leaving the half-formed skeletons of imitative royalty in its wake. Today the crumbling estates are still abandoned, left in an eerie series of rows appearing like an architectural cornfield.
Utopia to blight: Surviving in Henry Ford’s lost jungle town
Nearly a century ago, the Ford Motor Co. spent heavily in blood and coin to construct what became, practically overnight, one of the Amazon’s largest cities. Thousands of acres of forest were razed. Millions of dollars were spent. Hundreds of workers died.
But neither Ford nor the Brazilian government, which assumed control of the property when the company departed in 1945, has done much of anything to preserve this historic town whose brief heyday came at so high a cost. William Clay Ford Jr., Henry’s great-grandson and now the company’s executive chairman, reportedly supported in 1997 the opening of a rubber museum here, but nothing came of it. Meanwhile, the Brazilian government, according to federal attorneys, has for more than 30 years ignored pleas to endow the town with historical protections.
Art Deco skyscrapers were America's greatest contribution to the world of architecture
Mis-swiping the Point: NYC Subway Payment Systems
The NYC subway system—a mishmash of new and old technology—still struggles to build payment systems that work for everyone. And often, the tech often separates the haves and have-nots.
Toronto is home to the world’s largest lake-powered cooling system. Here’s how it works.
Deep lake water cooling (DLWC) is used to cool over 100 buildings in the city. It saves enough electricity to power a town of 25,000 — and it’s so popular the city is pursuing an expansion.
Washington is a city of great bridges and terrible bridges. These are their stories.
Cincinnati Built a Subway System 100 Years Ago–But Never Used It
The Cincinnati subway stations are still there. But if you’re still waiting for a train to come, you’ve been waiting for almost a century. To this day Cincinnati remains home to the largest unused subway system in the world, with over two miles of empty tunnels. Engineers who inspected the tunnels recently deemed them in “very good condition.”
A Century Later, the Expensive Lesson of Reversing the Chicago River
Way back in 1673, the French Canadian explorer Louis Jolliet noticed that the land around present-day Chicago had “a very great and important advantage, which perhaps will hardly be believed.” The area, he foresaw, could become the great node of a huge continent, with the Great Lakes on one side and, just a few miles to the southwest, the Illinois River and the entire Mississippi Basin. Jolliet envisioned, rather hopefully, that connecting the two — and creating a water route from Lake Erie all the way to the Gulf of Mexico – would be as simple as building a canal through just “half a league of prairie.”
Geeking out over arbitrary boundaries
Reddit today had this delightful map, I think drawn by PeterVexillographer, of “the largest city in each 10-by-10 degree area of latitude-longitude in the world”:
Some commentary on the near misses.
Cities are closing streets to make way for restaurants and pedestrians
The forced distancing required by the coronavirus prompted several cities to quickly close some public roads to make room so cooped-up residents anxious to get outside for exercise could do so safely.
Now, following moves to shut, narrow or repurpose streets from Oakland to Tampa, cities including Washington are seeking to understand how those emergency closures might have lasting impacts on some of urban America’s most important, and contested, real estate.
The 1918 Parade That Spread Death in Philadelphia
The influenza pandemic of 1918-19 killed between 50 and 100 million people around the world, more than died in the battles of World War I. In the United States, the hardest-hit city was Philadelphia, where the spread of the disease was spurred by what was meant to be a joyous event: a parade.
Paved for the people
“They paved paradise and put up a parking lot,” sings Joni Mitchell. But at Prahran Square, almost the reverse took place. Lyons Architecture and Aspect Studios have transformed a carpark into an urban sanctuary of sorts, an island of open space and amenity in Melbourne’s rapidly densifying suburbs.
The New York City Subway Map as You’ve Never Seen It Before
The three ins of web design: interesting and infuriatingly interactive.
The Unrepeatable Architectural Moment of Yugoslavia’s “Concrete Utopia”
Monument to the Uprising of the People of Kordun and Banija, in Petrova Gora, Croatia. Abstract, boldly expressive memorials once dotted the Yugoslavian countryside by the thousands.
A look inside the never-before-seen interior of San Francisco’s Ferry Building clock tower
Beware the shitty autoplaying videos. Support local news!
But some of the pictures are kinda cool.
An Incredible Move: The Indiana Bell Telephone Building
The massive undertaking began on October 1930. Over the next four weeks, the massive steel and brick building was shifted inch by inch 16 meters south, rotated 90 degrees, and then shifted again by 30 meters west. The work was done with such precision that the building continued to operate during the entire duration of the move. All utility cables and pipes serving the building, including thousand of telephone cables, electric cables, gas pipes, sewer and water pipes had to be lengthened and made flexible to provide continuous service during the move. A movable wooden sidewalk allowed employees and the public to enter and leave the building at any time while the move was in progress. The company did not lose a single day of work nor interrupt their service during the entire period.
Uzbekistan's opulent metro
Cars Were Banned on 14th Street. The Apocalypse Did Not Come.
Norilsk: Otherworldly photos of an Arctic city
In our latest Through the Lens, Russian photographer Elena Chernyshova explores what it’s like to live in a city 400km north of the Arctic Circle.