Monday, December 27, 2010

Winter in NYC

The Nor'easter that hit yesterday made traffic in New York City slow to a slippery, drunken stagger. Cars and trucks marooned everywhere, winds heaving snow from rooftops.  It was a good day for cold fingertips and dripping noses, for eating snow and puddle hopping.

Monday, December 20, 2010

City Hall Station

The City Hall Station opened with the first Interborough Rapid Transit Trains in 1904.  This station served as the flagship of New York City subway.  Due to increased ridership, the IRT lengthened trains and could not expand the City Hall station to meet safety requirements.  You can no longer visit the vaulted ceilings or read the plaques.  The station was closed in 1945, and has since been left to some measure of obscurity.

There is a lot of this city that is not being explored, where layer over layer has covered our original landscape.  We frequent the crust, and dive down to tear through tunnels carved generations ago.  New lines are built, repair is constant.  The MTA reports 660 miles of track mostly beneath NY, and an estimated 120 more that are out of service.  While most of underground NY is frequented by the daily commuters, some places are left behind to share a rich history with only the train conductors at the end of the 6 line. 

Photo by Ben Simon

Ben Simon

Ben Simon

Ben Simon

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

135 years of history...

Helen (3yrs), Warwara Posashova, and Ludmilla Bogdanoff
Pictured here is my Grandmother (Helen), perched in the lap of her Great Grandmother, Warwara.  On the right is Helen's half sister, Ludmilla.  Here is a part of my family, c. 1935.  What I enjoyed about scanning these images is reading the variety of poses, from casual to formal, but mostly just a little off in focus, or a touch of motion blur.  It says a lot about the speed of photography.  We take for granted the quick satisfaction of digital photography, and I see a more casual yet controlled environments of these photographs.  The camera was very new in some of these images, and my family was lucky to have even owned one!

Imagine for a moment being the photographer, fidgeting with the controls, at the point in time where learning photography had only recently reached the hand of the amateur.  Imagine sitting for the image, not knowing how long to wait, that awkward moment (even among family) before the eye of the camera blinks the exposure onto film.  Anti climactic, the image is still a mystery.

My grandmother is the focus of most of the images that I have recently digitized, but here I selected a variety to give a broader sense of the early years of her family life, before war.

Carriage in front of the barn



Ludmilla and her mother, Ludmilla, Valentine (half brother) before Helen was born.

Ludmilla, Helen, and Valentine

Ludmilla Klimenko (maiden name), Helen's mother

Ludmilla Klimenko

Alexandra Posashova, Helen's grandmother 1875
The oldest photograph happens to not be a reprint, and still has a original emblem from the French photographer based in Odessa.  You can see the stand behind Alexandra's feet, which would have connected to a cradle at the base of the head to hold the body still.  The photo is very worn around the facial features, but still very sharp despite challenges of this time.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

SantaCon: The quest for St. Nick

There is nothing like a bit of good anarchy in the streets, and SantaCon is one of those afternoons where New Yorkers don a Santa Suit and join thousands of strangers for a bit of anonymous debauchery.  Most of the Village was packed with Santas, and everyone who was not in a red suit was instead wearing a look of awe and confusion.  I couldn't help to think that there should be a lot more days like this in New York City.  Assembling in great numbers, forcing the public and the police to accept the temporary insanity, Santa took over the city (and made it very possible for some Saturday afternoon street photography).

My favorite out of all the hordes of people, were the elves protecting the real Santa.  "NO PICTURES PLEASE," they shouted, as they rushed the real St. Nick from my lens.  They seemed to be having a lot of fun while staying in character, and interacting with everyone else. 

Cheers to the elves for keeping Santa safe from those evil paparazzi photographers!

Monday, December 6, 2010

More from the edge of Queens

Emerald city, otherwise known as "The Hole".  In the short time spent here, I was told that the streets are flooded like this after rain, and that the cowboys come through every so often.  Nearby to Emerald City are a group of city riders known as the Federation of Black Cowboys.  I was hoping to talk to some of them, and perhaps get their photograph, but  I was not so lucky this time. 

These neighborhoods are beginning sit at the edge of my consciousness, between the soft tissue and skull.  There are small stories here, short histories to be told.  I'm trying not to forget that some places sink, and others keep rising out of the layers of old.