New York City Alley at Night
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Brooklyn - Under the Williamsburg Bridge - New York City
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Empire State Building and Abandoned Railroad Tracks - New York City
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Bushwick Street Art - Brooklyn - New York City- By Vivienne Gucwa The sky wavered in mood earlier today displaying an angsty mix of rage-puffed storm clouds and baby blues streaked by sunlight. It was the perfect backdrop for Bushwick's incredible array of street art murals that pepper the industrial urban landscape. I have been spending an inordinate amount of time in Brooklyn lately. My other half was born in Brooklyn (I like to refer to it as his "hatch-zone") and is a great walking-off-steam companion. And so we keep ending up in interesting places on these walks. Bushwick was never really a friendly place when I was younger (this is a severe understatement). It's fascinating to see the stage of evolution it seems to be in currently. The factories are all still there but there is also an amazing amount of art that seems to be thriving on the walls of Bushwick. Growing up in Queens ogling 5 Pointz, a large industrial space transformed into a premiere space for graffiti/street artists to cover in art, I was sad to hear that 5 Pointz will eventually be razed. However, Bushwick seems to have a blossoming 5 Pointz feel at this moment in time which is exhilarating to witness. Who knows what the future holds for Bushwick? But, for now, it's a perfect mix of grit and art. ----
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Williamsburg- Brooklyn - Hewes Street Overpass in the Afternoon- By Vivienne Gucwa With layers of dirt and paint under our nails from constantly peeling back the layers of this city, it's not the stars we seek. It's the light that seeps through... --- This is the overpass that looms over Hewes Street in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, New York City. ---
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Every Yesterday - Lower East Side - New York City- By Vivienne Gucwa Store gates slumber in the folds of the day when the sun and clouds fall over the city like exhaled breath wrapping the cityscape in sleepy thoughts. And on these slumbering store gates, dreamscapes unfold surrounded by the discarded remnants of every yesterday and every today. ---
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Times Tells Its Own Tale - 480 Van Brunt Street - Red Hook Stores - Fairway Market - Brooklyn - New York City- By Vivienne Gucwa 480 Brunt Street is also known as the Red Hook Stores. It is a Civil War-era storehouse located in the Red Hook Waterfront Historic District in Brooklyn, New York City. Red Hook, located in Northwestern Brooklyn was settled in 1636 by Dutch Colonists who named the area Roode Hoek (red point) after the red hue of the soil and because the area jutted out into the water. Due to its waterfront location, ships from all over the world would dock at Red Hook to exchange cargo and make repairs for well over a century. When many of the shipyards were relocated in the 20th century, the area fell was marked by significant urban decay. The building in this photo, known as the Red Hook Stores, was built in 1869 by the builder William Beard. Beard, who was an Irish immigrant made millions via his building and railroad empire. At the end of the Civil War, New York City was receiving such a large amount of goods that Manhattan could not handle all of the cargo. Brooklyn's waterfront became the alternative and warehouses like this one played a crucial role in offloading cargo like grain, cotton, hemp, jute, indigo, leather, fruits, tobacco, vegetables, cocoa beans and coffee. This building now houses a Fairway Market and apartment residences. The beautiful iron shutters that give this warehouse building so much charm were initially built to protect the precious cargo stored in the warehouse from the elements. The decayed trolley cars which sit in the foreground also have an interesting link to the past. In the 20th century, there were many trolley lines that criss-crossed the Brooklyn landscape and served as transportation for residents. The trolleys were in use until the 1950s. To celebrate the trolleys that would have been seen here for many years, these trolleys were acquired and put in front of the Red Hook Stores permanently. They aren't from New York City originally though. The trolley cars were acquired from Boston and Oslo and were repainted to match the original color scheme of the trolleys that would have been found in Brooklyn in the beginning of the 20th century. Worn by time and natural elements, they are beautiful examples of urban decay. ----
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Chinatown Rooftop Graffiti - New York City- By Vivienne Gucwa New York City is an urban layer cake. This is another one of my favorite views in lower Manhattan. It’s a small segment of an entire universe that exists above millions of New Yorkers. Layers of colorful graffiti cover the rooftops of these Chinatown apartment buildings as rooftop doors blow open in the wind and colorful clothing sways on clotheslines high above the city below. ---
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Oxidation - Domino Sugar Factory - New York City
- By Vivienne Gucwa
There is something remarkably touching about urban decay. It is as if sorrow and longing can be traced in the peeling layers and crumbling brick. In warm sunlight, the rich colors created by iron oxidation produce the most beautiful textures on old pipes and metal framework. The memory of those who graced the intricate insides of these structures is delicately preserved by the faded remnants that remain.
During the period following the Civil War, New York was the top provider of refined sugar to the United States, and for a period of time the Domino Sugar factory in Williamsburg, Brooklyn was the largest sugar refinery in the world. At one time, the factory employed over 4,000 workers and processed 3 million pounds of sugar a day.
After nearly 150 years of service, the factory shut down in 2004 due to a decline in demand. There is a new plan for this space to make it a residential space which is being actively protested by groups like the Waterfront Preservation Alliance and the Landmarks Conservancy who believe that huge development in this space would destroy the history and architectural legacy of the sugar factory. I am inclined to agree with their assessment.
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Only Yesterday- By Vivienne Gucwa Old, decayed and abandoned warehouse: urban decay at its finest. At the Brooklyn Navy Yard in New York City.
Refrigeration - Williamsburg - Brooklyn- By Vivienne Gucwa Urban decay of the peeling paint, old sign, graffiti and scattered broken electrical equipment variety found in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, a section of New York City.
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In Another Place and Time - Chinatown - New York City- By Vivienne Gucwa
New York City changes and evolves at a rapid pace. In certain areas, changes occur faster than others. Lower Manhattan is one place that has changed the most in the last decade. Development happens fast and the current trends are extremely tall buildings constructed mostly of glass, chain stores and luxury boutiques. In neighborhoods that were once bohemian and home to artists and rebels, these current changes have been hard to swallow for long-time residents who run the risk of being out-priced out of the neighborhoods they have called home for decades.
Despite these changes, there are still parts of lower Manhattan that recall earlier decades. New York City suffered economically in the 1970s and it was during this decade that much of lower Manhattan was transformed into a danger zone full of abandoned lots and buildings and rampant crime. Having grown up in New York City in the 1980s and early 1990s, I have vivid memories of riding graffiti-covered trains from Queens into Manhattan. I was taught to ‘watch my back’ at all times since everyone seemed to know someone who had been mugged. Things were still different in those days prior to the initiatives by mayors Koch and Guiliani to ‘clean up’ the city (and discourse is still rampant regarding how they handled it).
When I came across this section of Canal Street initially, my heart almost leaped out of my chest. Here I was staring at a section of a spot in Chinatown that seemed as if it had been dipped in 1980s New York City and had become frozen in time (thankfully I had my camera). It’s hard to put into words how powerful this scene is for personally. It’s a bit like staring at something that once existed in a distant life.
A city may change rapidly discarding pieces of itself, but it’s the people who carry it’s broken pieces with them in their hearts who imbue the city with its memory.
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