Translation from English

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

From July 2011...some similar concerns as today...

Oh, I was just looking over some past posts...we had a bad heat wave in July 2011, too, among other are some of the blog postings I did back then

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Shoe stores and sneakers

Big shoe store on Seventh Avenue reminds me of factory outlet at some suburban mall.

Is it true that popular Nike sneakers are made with child labor? To check the internet:

Nike is one of the largest athletic shoe brands in the world. While the company sells millions of shoes and pieces of clothing each year, Nike does not produce any of these products. Instead, the company contracts with manufacturing facilities located throughout the world. Nearly 800,000 people work in these factories, located primarily in Asia. Since the 1990s, the company has been criticized for the working conditions and low wages at these factories, with many critics accusing the company of profiting from sweatshop labor. While Nike has made efforts to improve conditions, many rights groups still push for higher wages and greater change.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Tunnel closing and traffic jam on 2nd Avenue

Unannounced closing of Midtown Tunnel on a Saturday causes of course a massive traffic jam.

These unannounced street closings etc. are commonplace in Manhattan and must be a real headache to tourists especially.

Same thing happens with subway trains...some changes on weekends are announced, others aren't.

Cheap lamps

For safety's sake, I would never buy one of these extreme discount shop cheap lamps...

Know some of my neighbors have them, though!

What is Buncee?

Good question: what the hell is Buncee?

Tried internet:

Buncee Pro is a social publishing platform designed exclusively for the iPad that enables you to creatively express yourself using your own photos and text. You can share your creation by saving it to your photo library, posting it to your favorite social networking sites, or emailing it to friends, family or co-workers.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Constant upkeep

All the cornices and stonework etc. require a lot of upkeep all over New York City.

Many buildings built before World War I had really fancy cornices. These started crumbling back in the 1970's as I remember and a lot of buildings had them removed completely, which drastically altered the appearance of the buildings.

From internet article on this topic:

Most New Yorkers are too jaded and too hurried to look up at the often stunning architecture that surrounds them. But to some, like Mr. Bess, who do, every building with a top denuded of pressed tin, copper, cast-iron, stone, terra-cotta or even wood cornices and ornamentation stands out like a disfigured part of the urban landscape.

Many of those naked tops are the unintended consequence of Local Law 10, passed less than a year after Grace Gold, a Barnard student, was struck and killed by a falling piece of masonry at 115th Street and Broadway 25 years ago last month, and of its even more stringent successor, Local Law 11, passed in 1998.

The law, which requires that exterior walls and projecting ornamentation be inspected for safety by an engineer every five years, applies to the 12,000 city buildings - 60 percent of them in Manhattan - that are taller than six stories. Preservationists say the laws have contributed to the attitude that old buildings are inherently dangerous and should be stripped of decoration as a preventive measure rather than take a chance that a piece of masonry or cornice will fall off. As a result, ornamentation may be removed independently of the facade-inspection law, as was the case with the building on Strivers Row.

The neighborhoods most affected are often long-neglected jewels like Harlem and Fort Greene, Brooklyn, where the architecture is beautiful but ill-maintained, and where building owners are more likely to comply with safety requirements by taking the cheapest route instead of the most aesthetically pleasing one.

It is hard to miss the evidence of destruction wrought in the name of safety. Lintels have been shaved off windows, leaving behind a flattened shadow of the former ornament. Apartment buildings have been capped by ribbons of "ghosting," layers of bare brick or stucco parging where massive overhanging cornices once hung like beetled brows. Such ghostings can be seen along Columbus Avenue in Manhattan Valley. Buildings have been scalped on nearly every block of Lenox Avenue in Harlem.

Steamy day in the Jungle of Cities

New York on a hot and very humid day feels like a jungle....seems apt to see people behind all this foliage in Herald Square.

Start 'em young

Local school wants kids to start chess early...

Internet reference on chess (Wikipedia):

The history of chess spans some 1500 years. The earliest predecessors of the game originated in India, before the 6th century AD. From India, the game spread to Persia. When the Arabs conquered Persia, chess was taken up by the Muslim world and subsequently spread to Southern Europe. In Europe, chess evolved into its current form in the 15th century. In the second half of the 19th century, modern chess tournament play began, and the first world Chess Championship was held in 1886. The 20th century saw great leaps forward in chess theory and the establishment of the World Chess Federation (FIDE). Developments in the 21st century include use of computers for analysis, which originated in the 1970s with the first programmed chess games on the market. Online gaming appeared in the mid 1990's.

Checker cab reference, Hertz and rental cars

Checker cab reference reminds me of story I heard on the BBC that the rental car business was started by a guy named Hertz who originally had a fleet of cabs...

People originally thought rental car idea was silly and would be a flop.

Let me see if I can find an internet reference:

While the exact origins of the first renting company are lost in the mists of the past, many hold the belief that the first rental company was started by a man named Joe Saunders. His rather small operation started with the Model T Ford, a car that brought automobile transport to the masses. It is believed that Saunders would rent his cars to customers and would charge ten cents a mile for their use. Charges were calculated with the aid of a mileage tracking device. A rather appealing story is that the first renter was a travelling salesman who used Saunders' car to impress a local girl he was taking out for dinner. Whether any truth is in this story is unknown, but it does add an attractive human element to the history of the rental car.

Saunders experienced large levels of success for his company, perhaps becoming the first rental magnate. By 1925 Saunders had depots in twenty one states across America. The success was short lived however, the Great Depression, a complete collapse of the economy in the United States, led to Saunders' operation struggling to find business. Eventually, rather sadly Saunders went bankrupt shortly after.

Saunders however was not the only entrepreneur with the foresight to spot an opportunity in the market. Another American, Walter Jacobs also started a car rental firm renting Model T cars to customers. Jacobs also experienced success although he sold his business to the larger Yellow Cab Company, owned by John Hertz. In turn Hertz was bought out by the automobile giant General Motors, the investment provided by GM ensured the survival of Hertz's company. Today Hertz is still in existence and the largest car hire company in the world, it distinctive yellow signage recognisable in countries around the globe.

After the Second World War the industry as a whole experienced a boom time. This was due to the close relationship between the growth in air travel and rental companies. Airlines were increasingly being used for business purposes and hence hire cars were widely being used by these businessmen once they had disembarked from the plane. Hertz were well ahead of the game at this stage, having the foresight to place a rental desk and depot in Chicago's Midway Airport in 1932. Hertz was not the only one however, Warren Avis, another entrepreneur almost entirely based his operations within airports anticipating the growth of air travel; mainly due to Avis' experience as an army pilot during the war years. Today Avis is another giant of the rental industry, owning other major industry players such as Budget.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Red Garage Door

For some reason I don't understand,
there are a number of small buildings with their own garages
on a street near to where I live.

Internet article from New York Times in 2008 talks about this:

MILLIONS of New Yorkers compress their lives into small spaces and yearn for things that their friends in the suburbs don’t think twice about: an extra bedroom, a patch of grass, a little distance between themselves and the neighbors.

Robert Caplin for The New York Times
SUBURBAN AMENITIES Enrico Cinzano’s town house with garage, above, is being offered at $18.75 million.
Circle the block five times looking for a place to park, and another wish can be added to the list: a private garage.
A recent check of real estate Web sites turned up about a dozen listings for town houses with private garage space in Manhattan and Brooklyn, ranging in price from $1.195 million, for a brownstone in Crown Heights, to $18.75 million for a restored carriage house in Greenwich Village. "I can’t imagine any greater luxury than a garage,” said Kirk Henckels, a Stribling & Associates broker. ”It’s not the square footage in Manhattan that counts. It’s the amenities.”
Town houses with existing garages and curb cuts on the sidewalk command a premium when the houses are resold. That is partly because getting approval from the city to create a new curb cut involves navigating a thicket of building regulations and approvals.
The Department of Buildings has approved only 54 new curb cuts in Manhattan so far in 2008, and only 57 curb cuts in all of 2007.
Jonathan Miller, chief executive of Miller Samuel Inc., the real estate research company, estimates that a garage adds about 5 percent to the price of a town house in Manhattan. Brokers say that in some neighborhoods, that number can reach 20 to 25 percent.
Enrico Cinzano, an heir to the Cinzano spirit and wine fortune, has owned his six-bedroom town house at 40 West 10th Street for 16 years and is offering it for sale at $18.75 million.
“In my experience, above and beyond the rarity of having the garage with a curb cut, the garage door affords privacy and security,” Mr. Cinzano said in an e-mail message.
His broker, Michael Pellegrino of Sotheby’s International Realty, said the garage added at least $1 million in value to the property.
The carriage houses that the wealthiest New Yorkers had at the turn of the last century were the forerunners of the town-house garage, which sprouted in the 1910s as cars became common for the very wealthy.

Buildings Crowding In

Buildings with such variegated rooftops make for some interesting contrasts in Midtown.

Notice too how residential buildings are wedged in between commercial ones. 

About the congestion on this streets, this was recently posted by the Mayor's Office:

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, Deputy Mayor for Operations Stephen Goldsmith, Department of Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan, Administrator of the Federal Highway Administration Victor Mendez and Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications Commissioner Carole Post today unveiled a new, technology-based traffic management system that allows City traffic engineers to monitor and respond to Midtown Manhattan traffic conditions in real time, improving traffic flow on the city’s most congested streets. The system, called Midtown in Motion, includes 100 microwave sensors, 32 traffic video cameras and E-ZPass readers at 23 intersections to measure traffic volumes, congestion and record vehicle travel times in the approximately 110-square block area bound by Second to Sixth Avenues and 42nd to 57th streets. The combined data is transmitted wirelessly to the City’s Traffic Management Center in Long Island City, allowing engineers to quickly identify congestion choke points as they occur and remotely adjust Midtown traffic signal patterns to clear traffic jams. Department of Transportation engineers are using recently upgraded traffic signal control systems to adjust the traffic lights. The real-time traffic flow information will be made available to motorists and to app developers for use on PDAs and smart phones. The wireless system is made possible through the use of the New York City Wireless Network (NYCWiN) – a wireless network developed and managed by the Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications. Using technology to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and air pollution caused by traffic congestion is one of the priorities of the City’s PlaNYC sustainability agenda. The Mayor made the announcement at the City’s Traffic Management Center in Long Island City, Queens.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Bas relief at local school

There is a lot of old bas relief work on most older buildings in NY.

From an article on the internet:
A couple of buildings at this completely ordinary East Side intersection have some extraordinarily lovely figures carved into their facades.
Dollonbuilding1The sixth floor of the structure at the southeast corner features reliefs that look like dolls or babies, like this one at right. It appears to be an old factory building, so I wonder why it’s decorated with little ones in wreaths?
The twin goddesses below guard the entrance to a building a few doors up from 23rd Street on Park Avenue South.
Interestingly, the address above that doorway reads “303 Fourth Avenue,” a reminder that this stretch of Park Avenue South between 32nd Street and Union Square was called Fourth Avenue until 1959.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Con Edison and heat wave

Fancy ornamental tower is the local utility company's HQ on East 14th Street.

In weather over 100 degrees, like today, there were a lot of power outages. Thousands of "customers" ( a customer can be an individual or a big office or apartment tower).

More over 100 weather expected tomorrow.

Weather reporters on TV keep saying " It's better than snow." Really?

A little bit about the Con Ed system from the internet:

Con Edison operates one of the most complex electric power systems in the world. It is also the world's most reliable.

Con Edison delivers electricity to more than 3 million customers through a huge transmission and distribution network. The company has built the world's largest system of underground electric cables to accommodate the congested and densely populated urban area it serves. The system features approximately 94,000 miles of underground cable. Con Edison's nearly 34,000 miles of overhead electric wires complement the underground system.

Annual electric usage reaches almost 55 billion kilowatt hours in Con Edison's service area. Electricity accounts for about 75 percent of Con Edison's total revenues.

Deregulation required the restructuring of New York's electric power industry, and of Con Edison. The company divested most of its electric generating capacity. Con Edison now relies on buying wholesale power from other suppliers. Industry and corporate restructuring has had little effect on Con Edison's extensive transmission and distribution system. Customers, however, can now choose from a number of suppliers, to purchase their electricity, which Con Edison will continue to deliver. For more information about selecting an alternate supplier, visit

My note: I have to research more with Con Ed people about this alternate supplier bit but I don't believe it will do any good.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Subway sign- Operation and Politics of MTA

Sign shows routes for subways in area of West Midtown.

When I first came to NYC, subways had names like the Lexington Avenue IRT, the BMT, the Canarsie Line, etc. Numbers and letters came later.

Guess it makes getting around easier and makes maps more comprehensible.

Seems there is a blacked out spot on this sign...maybe it is one of the lines the MTA recently discontinued (the W?).

About MTA:


Chartered by the New York State Legislature in 1965 as the Metropolitan Commuter Transportation Authority (MCTA) it initially was responsible only for regulating and subsidizing commuter railroads, including the Long Island Rail Road and what is now the Metro-North Railroad. The MCTA changed its name to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) in 1968 when it took over operations of the New York City Transit Authority (NYCTA) and Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority (TBTA), now MTA New York City Transit (NYCT) and MTA Bridges and Tunnels (B&T) respectively.

 Responsibilities and service area

The MTA has the responsibility for developing and implementing a unified mass transportation policy for The New York metropolitan area, including all five boroughs of New York City, the suburban counties of Dutchess, Nassau, Orange, Putnam, Rockland, Suffolk and Westchester, all of which together are the "Metropolitan Commuter Transportation District (MCTD)". The current Chairman and CEO of the MTA was Jay Walder--he is now leaving as of 7/11/11 for Tokyo. No replacement has been announced yet.
The MTA is the largest public transportation provider in the Western Hemisphere. Its agencies serve 14.6 million people spread over 5,000 square miles (13,000 km²) from New York City through southeastern New York State (including Long Island and the lower Hudson Valley), and Connecticut. MTA agencies now move more than 2.6 billion rail and bus customers a year and employ approximately 70,000 workers.
Walder's recent threats to terminate Long Island Bus, under the claim of a lack of funding, have led to various lawsuits being filed against the MTA and their payroll tax by the suburban counties, as well as a call for his resignation by Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano.[8]