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July 11, 2006

Future Judgement

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On October 30, 1963, The New York Times published "Farewell to Penn Station," a commentary on perhaps one of the most regretted demolitions in New York City's history. The final paragraph states:

Any city gets what it admires, will pay for, and, ultimately, deserves...We want and deserve tin-can architecture in a tin-horn culture. And we will probably be judged not by the monuments we build but by those we have destroyed.

I took a walk the other day throughout South Brooklyn, Williamsburg and some in-betweens. As I wandered I took note of the new gaps between buildings where something once was, now razed. I peered through holes in blue fences and observed new foundations most likely for condos, which rose every few blocks like concrete acne throughout the landscape.

When I got home, that last paragraph from 1963 kept repeating in my head. Does it still hold true? Did it ever? What do you think constitutes tin-can architecture today?

Posted by callalillie at July 11, 2006 7:27 AM | City Life


"concrete acne"...love it. Not the acne..concrete or otherwise, just the expression.

I live in England so it is a bit of a different story here althought here is still the tin can architecture...buildings that are built just for now, rather than for ever. This is certainly a change in philosophy, which I think stems from the Industrial Revolution, but that is an essay for another time.

Buildings that are demolished here are usually truly terrible to begin with however the sleek but shoddily built buildings replacing them will meet the same fate in 100 or even 50 years time. When the current cycle of regeneration is completed, it will be time to rebuild the crap that was put up at the start of the process.

Hmmmm....seems I have a bit of thinking to do. Thanks for the inspiration.

Posted by: Marcia at July 11, 2006 5:28 PM

Those noxious apartments they built on Sackett Street, between 4th and 5th Ave. on what had been a (vacant), gothicly beautiful, industrial property as recently as 1998.

Those apartments hurt my eyes like mustard vellour pullovers.

Posted by: Bill at July 12, 2006 3:41 AM

Tin-can architecture: anything which features Fedders or Friedrich air conditioners.

Posted by: Christina at July 12, 2006 7:09 AM

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