Last night the New Yorker released its cover for next week’s issue in honor of the attacks at Charlie Hebdo in Paris. By Ana Juan, the illusration shows the Eiffel Tower as the symbolic pencil of journalists, tipped in red amidst a sandstorm of blood. Untapped Cities founder Michelle Young notes, “As a New Yorker, and a writer on Paris with a French husband and a French family now, I have to admit that this image really hit home. Maybe it was the similarity to the cloud of dust at Ground Zero–showing the vulnerability of a recognizable landmark as the symbol of a country’s pain emphasize the shared responsibility the global community has.”
Ah, the first Friday of the new year (when I wrote this). The champagne has been drunk, the hangovers have dissipated (I hope so), and the resolutions have been drafted. I’ve always thought January 1st to be an arbitrary and inauspicious time to figure out how to be a better person. Everyone else is doing it, which makes you feel obligated to go along with it, and obligation is not a very strong motivator in this case. A few weeks later everyone is failing, which makes you feel like it’s okay if you’ve also derailed and crashed on the Self-Improvement Express. Not that I’m immune to the whole business, I have resolutions of my own.*
If you’re curious what the New York City subway system looked like the 1980s, check out this video of Times Square-42nd Street in 1986. The rail and photography enthusiast runs a German website called Pacific Railroad and shot this footage during a trip through the United States and Canada. While living in Canada, he was inspired by the North American railways, he writes on the website.
Paris-based photojournalist Steven Wassenaar, a contributor to Untapped Cities who previously showed us life amidst war on the border of Syria and Lebanon, shared with us this photo series he took three years ago at an editorial meeting in the Paris headquarters of Charlie Hebdo, the satirical magazine attacked on the morning of January 7th, 2015. When we saw these images Wednesday afternoon, it brought to life the individual tragedies that now form the raison d’etre for the solidarity expressed on the global stage. It seemed only fitting a few hours later to see New Yorkers and French expatriates put faces to the tragedy in a gathering in Union Square on Wednesday night. Photographs of the eyes of the victims, printed in a style reminiscent of French artist JR’s “Women are Heroes” in the Providência favela of Rio de Janeiro, were held up. “Je Suis Charlie” signs and chants of “We are Charlie” echoed.
Photo by Yana Bannikova
Maybe this expression has prominence because the victims were public figures, or because the messages of Charlie Hebdo were consumed by a collective nation. But it gives us pause as journalists. How can we strive to make reporting of such tragedies more than just numbers?
All four artists killed are present here (Stéphane Charbonnier also known as Charb, Georges Wolinski, Jean Cabu et Tignous also known as Bernard Verlhac)
At Untapped Cities, a good percentage of our team is from France–either living there or working here in the United States, including illustrator David Cessac who passed in 2014. We are Charlie too, and we hope this photo series from Steven Wassenaar inside the headquarters of Charlie Hebdo can highlight even more, the people lost yesterday. Incredibly, Charlie Hebdo will release its next issue on schedule, with an increased print run of 1 million copies next Wednesday.
As the only surviving watchtower of the original thirteen dotting Manhattan, we have been paying particular attention to the much anticipated renovation of the Harlem Fire Watchtower. Built between 1855 and 1857, it was the only way to spot fires and sound an alert until electric telegraphs were installed in 1878. The watchtower is located at the highest part of the Acropolis in the center of Marcus Garvey Park, which was rebuilt as part of the WPA jobs program. The cast iron structure was built by Julius H. Kroehl and designed by James Bogardus at a cost of $2,300. The bell inside weights 10,000 pounds alone .
Age and weather have taken their toll, bringing together a community effort to raise the funds for a restoration. Scaffolding started going up this past December and the dismantling will begin this month. Each piece will be labeled, crated and moved to a storage facility in Queens by Nicholson & Galloway, Inc. with Allen Architectual Metals consulting.
Belvedere Castle then
Yesterday, Gothamist had a great photo series on what Central Park looked like in the 1980s (tough times) versus now. For those who have never seen anything but a glorious Central Park, the images may come as a shocker. The Central Park Conservancy was formed in 1980 and is currently celebrating its 35th Anniversary. The first thing they did back in the 80s? President Doug Blonsky tells Gothamist, “re-sodding the Sheep Meadow, restoring the Dairy, planting American Elms, getting rid of graffiti, and fixing broken benches.”