Immense, powerful, sublime, tranquil… these are the words which propagate within each person as they step into the Washington National Cathedral in Washington D.C. The enormity of the space, along with the play of light within the expanse, leaves one in deep serenity for just a split second. In the next moment, the viewer wants nothing but to explore this superb space.
Gazing upwards, one notices the highly visible netting covering the entire ceiling which was put in place after the 5.8 earthquake struck in 2011. On that day, cracks raced across the ceiling and masonry fell as the quake hit. The Cathedral was closed for some time, and the netting went up. And now the net sits high atop the congregation reminding everyone how powerful nature can be, while the enormity and beauty of the space reminds everyone how powerful one’s spiritual beliefs can be. (more…)
The well-known autopsy amphitheater, with an 8-cadaver refrigerator (in the slideshow below). Photo by Clara Ward.
The abandoned Ellis Island South Side Hospitals were one of our favorite locations we covered last year, as part of our role as Blog Ambassadors for the American Express/National Trust for Historic Preservation Partners in Preservation campaign. At its prime, it was a cutting-edge facility due to its highly skilled staff and the design of the building, which enabled the curing and isolation of infectious diseases, brought over by some of the the 10 to 12 million immigrants who passed through Ellis Island. Not everything was a success, such as the discredited eugenics practices, as explored in a 2007 documentary covered by The New York Times. With tighter immigration policies in the 1920s, the hospital steadily declined and was fully abandoned in 1954.
The organization Save Ellis Island has been battling to save these lesser-known buildings of Ellis Island, with some setbacks from Superstorm Sandy. Clara Daily has taken these remarkable photos of the South Side Hospitals and shared them with Untapped Cities. Read more at Save Ellis Island.
Olmstead and Vaux’s 1865 proposal for Prospect Park in south central Brooklyn provided a cultural community anchor for the expanding borough. The vision for Brooklyn’s Central Park equivalent would include the Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn Botanical Garden, and the Brooklyn Public Library. The Brooklyn Public Library was prominently placed at the mouth of the great park entrance, and on the ellipse of Grand Army Plaza with its Soldiers’ and Sailers’ Arch. The site location would influence the buildings design and subsequent building campaigns.
Weeksville Heritage Center is a vibrant space nestled in Brooklyn’s Crown Heights neighborhood. Upon entry, one is greeted by Weeksville employees eager to give a tour of the historic homes, community garden area and the open lawn used as a staging space for performances. When I visited, Brooklyn Academy of Music‘s DanceAfrica performed in celebration of their 35 years of existence in New York City for Weeksville visitors. The positive energy of the dance troupe and smiling faces in the crowd revealed the type of creative and welcoming atmosphere Weekville nurtures as a staple in the the local community.
Instrument Used By the DanceAfrica Troupe
DanceAfrica’s Performance on the Weeksville Stage
The beauty of Weeksville is the history it lends to New York City. Weeksville is one of the country’s first free black communities formed before the Civil War. Currently, the existing property has four historic homes named the Hunterfly Road Houses. Each represents a different era in Weeksville’s history, which began when an African-American longshoreman named James Weeks bought this plot of land in present-day Crown Heights in 1838, 11 years after New York State abolished slavery.
a Historic Hunterfly Road House
Currently, Weeksville is expanding its facilities to include a 19,000 square foot Education and Cultural Arts building which accommodate a larger community garden space, a spacious common area and an updated outdoor stage. The new building will open in 2013. The improvement is needed in order to accommodate Weeksville’s expanding programs which include teaching teens how to garden, fostering youth volunteer initiatives and creating a community performance arts space.
Weeksville’s Current Community Garden Area
a Period Photo Opportunity
With potential funds from a Partners in Preservation grant (awarded through voting by readers like you),the organization hopes to adapt an existing c. 1930 shed structure for an environmental and food-growing museum exhibit and program space and to recreate a root cellar — an historic feature since removed—in an existing c. 1870 house known as 1698 Bergen Street.
Click here to vote for Weeksville Heritage Center in Partners in Preservation and find out more about the center on Twitter and Facebook. Follow Untapped Cities on Twitter and Facebook.
The Apollo Theatre opened on December 15, 1913 as Hurtig & Seamon’s New Burlesque Theater. The 1,853 seat theater is located in the Harlem neighborhood of Manhattan. It was designed by architect George Keister who is also known for the American Airlines Theatre in Times Square.
The theater showed burlesque in its early years, but with the decline of burlesque in the late 1920s and 1930s (partially due to Fiorello LaGuardia’s campaign against it) the theater switched to variety revues. The theater was purchased in 1933 by Sidney Cohen and renamed the Apollo. Cohen began to market the shows to Harlem’s growing black community.
The theater’s proscenium arch.
The Apollo Theater is most well known for Amateur Night at the Apollo, which debuted in 1934. Amateur night gave unknown talent a venue for performances and eventually helped to launch the careers of Ella Fitzgerald, Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, James Brown and Lauryn Hill.
The theater closed in the late 1970s, reopened in 1978, and closed again a year later. It was purchased by Percy Sutton and a group of investors in 1981. Sutton added a recording and television studio to the theater. The Apollo Theater Foundation, Inc. was established in 1991 to fund and oversee programming for the theater.
The plasterwork around these exit doors will be repaired if the Apollo Theater receives the grant.
Another view from the upper balcony.
With potential funds from Partners in Preservation, the Apollo will undertake a restoration of specific decorative elements in this historic auditorium. Restoration plans include the decorative plasters on the box seats and doorways, details on the fascia on the mezzanine, and the ornamental wall which separates the seating area from the auditorium lobby.