Ada Louise Huxtable, from “Kicked a Building Lately?” (Quadrangle Books, 1974,  collected columns from The New York Times):  “The exhibition at the New York Historical Society (1974), organized by Mary Black, called “Manhattan Now” and subtitled “14 photographers look at the form of the city,” revealed the form of New York as a special kind of alchemy. These are the pictures of New York that I have always wanted to see, or to know existed, somewhere except in my own mind’s eye. This is  a New York that would tear me apart if I were to see it far away from home….In these photographs, the city sits for its formal portrait — the great vistas from the air, the skyline and bridges, and bridges — and its informal likeness in roofscapes, streets, and historic survivals.”

Does anyone write so beautifully? 

MagazineWatch: The L Magazine

September 6, 2007

“<The L Magazine>” is an elegantly designed playbill-sized free listings pub that describes itself as “new york city’s local magazine.” It must be reasonably new; the ads suggest some establishment, though I haven’t seen it before. The current issue has some smashingly good photography (both color and B/W), which chronicles every one of the naked city’s 24 hours.

Commentary from a Manhattan taxi driver, self-described as Bangladeshi by birth, late night, on Park Avenue South: “What is this with all the dogs? All the young couples walking dogs…why no children. All dogs. Who is going to fight your wars, if there are no young people? Who is going to take of you when you are old, with no children? I don’t understand this…” The driver hits on an essential truth, which Spengler understood well: demographics are destiny.

Just picked up Joel Kotkin’s ambitious primer of urban history (published by Modern Library, October ’06). Kotkin draws on an impressive set of research sources to lay out 5,000 or so years of urban history. Thematic groupings give structure to the book — the differences between commercial, political, and sacred urban centers, for example. While the book’s scope precludes great depth on any one topice, factual gems do shine through. A good foundational text.

Singapore Airlines  announced 9/2/07 that it has taken a minority ownership stake in China Eastern Airlines (“CEA”), one of the “big three” domestic airlines serving the mainland. Given the island state’s long term strategy of establishing Changi Airport as a stopover flight hub, watch for a gradual alignment of route structures that favors Singapore as an international point of entry from the PRC. Singapore’s methodical advancement as an entrepot — we assume all the major economic players there (Temasek, Singapore Airlines, the Civil Aviation Authority) operate in concert — continues to impress.