Ruin porn is in. Ruin porn is hot. Ruin porn is sexy. Ruin porn is the term coined by Jim Griffioen, who writes a blog about his life as a stay-at-home dad in Detroit.
As part of that effort he periodically posts photographs he has taken of the more than 70,000 abandoned buildings in his city. Such images included (as reported in the New York Times) “‘-feral’ houses almost completely overgrown with vegetation- a decommissioned public-school book depository in which trees were growing out of the piles of rotting textbooks”. The term has become a familiar one in the city not without some misgivings by the locals as they watch tourists take souvenirs of their city back home. Continue reading →
From time to time I receive notices about the activities various organizations have undertaken, sometimes from New York History itself. Some of these activities stand out as going beyond the routine. The good thing is they can be replicated. Continue reading →
A Call for Papers has been issued for a conference entitled Staten Island, New York in American History and 21st Century Education, to be held at the College of Staten Island (City University of New York) on March 19-20, 2011.
An understanding of the role of place and the attachment to community in America has never been more critical than in our rapidly changing global environment. This conference seeks to explore major turning points and issues in American history as experienced by the residents of Staten Island past and present. Located at the entrance to New York harbor, Staten Island is one of the five boroughs that comprise New York City. Since 1661, Staten Island has been the home of settlers and migrants from around the globe. Staten Island’s cultural diversity and its regional and global interconnections are reflected in its institutions, cuisine, art and architecture, businesses, social movements, recreational tourism, transportation heritage, and in the service of its military veterans. The organizers’ goal is to rethink the significance of Staten Island and its important historic sites, as part of New York City, the region, the nation, and the world through the interdisciplinary lenses of history and Place-based Education.
In celebration of Staten Island’s 350th Anniversary in 2011, the organizers invite innovative proposals from scholars, curators, teachers and public historians related to community history and education. Proposals must be relevant to and illustrate the conference theme, including but not limited to the following topics:
*History of ethnicity and immigration *History of race, gender, sexual orientation, and disabilities *Staten Island in the transatlantic world, e.g. Huguenot refugees, the Loyalist Diaspora, the Free Trade Zone *Staten Island in the history of New York City, e.g. Civil War Draft Riots, Consolidation, 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Fire *History of the arts, architecture, health, business, military, sports, transportation, religion, food and drink, education, childhood, or of the environment *Geography, politics, and economics in the study of local history *The historical interconnectedness of Staten Island to the New York/New Jersey region *The role of the museum in public history and preservation *Pedagogy, including Place-based Education, civic engagement and community-based research *Memory and oral history
Proposals for complete panels and/or individual papers for this peer-reviewed conference are welcome. Proposals for panels must include the following: 1) a cover sheet with the panel title, paper titles, and the name, address, affiliation, and email addresses of the chair/commentator and of the panelists- 2) a 350-word abstract of the panel as a whole- and 3) a 350-word abstract for each paper included on the panel. Individual paper proposals for twenty-minute papers should include the following: 1) a cover sheet with the paper’s title, and the name, address, affiliation, and email address of the participant and 2) a 350-word abstract of the paper.
All materials should be e-mailed to Dr. Phillip Papas, Associate Professor of History and co-chair of the SI 350 Academic Conference/Education Symposium at email@example.com. Proposals for panels and/or individual papers must be received no later than October 15, 2010. Successful applicants will be required to send a completed paper no later than February 7, 2011. E-mail Dr. Margaret Berci, Associate Professor of Education and co- chair of the SI 350 Academic Conference/Education Symposium at firstname.lastname@example.org with questions.
For more information and resources please refer to their website at www.si350.org.
The event is co-sponsored with Wagner College, St. John’s University and SI350, Inc, with major support from the Staten Island Foundation.
Following a determination by the New York State Historic Preservation Office that the Cedar Grove Beach Club was eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places as a historic district, Staten Island elected officials have called on NYC Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe to abandon plans to demolish the 99-year old community in New Dorp. Cedar Grove Beach Club is a collection of 41 historic beach bungalows largely built between 1920 and 1940 in New Dorp, Staten Island. The community was established around 1907 as one of many beach campgrounds during the heyday of Staten Island’s shore. Today the Beach Club, located south of the corner of Ebbitts Avenue and Cedar Grove Avenue, is a close-knit community of families who have been on the beach for generations. In the 1960s, New York City took land and cottages by eminent domain as part of a plan to build an expressway through the site. While the road was never built, the scheme that resulted in the destruction of almost all of Staten Island’s historic seaside resort communities.
Cedar Grove alone escaped demolition because the bungalow owners and the Beach Club have rented the property back from the City for nearly 50 years while being responsible for all maintenance of the public beach, playgrounds and property. As one resident remarked, “the Beach Club now pays more in rent in a year than the City paid for the bungalows.”
In December 2009, NYC Parks announced they would not renew the Club’s lease, and ordered the bungalow community’s residents to vacate by December 31, 2009. Following public outcry, and with the support of local community groups and elected officials, Parks agreed to extend the lease until September 30, 2010. Parks has recently announced its intentions to demolish most of area’s buildings immediately after the lease expires, although, as Congressman McMahon’s letter of July 22, 2010 points out, the City has no projected start date or funding for its plans to furnish the beach with lifeguard and concession stands or to facilitate greater public access to the beach area. The sand beach area of Cedar Grove is currently open to the general public and accessible from New Dorp Beach Park to the north and Great Kills Park to the south.
Area residents fear that the city will evict the current occupants of the bungalow colony and defer any future plans for the property indefinitely, leaving the site unmaintained and littered with construction debris, the same situation that exists at the adjacent New Dorp Beach Park. This fear is supported by fact that the city has not initiated the process to obtain appropriate permits to demolish historic structures, to begin new construction on a site designated by the State as a potential sensitive wetlands area, or any of the other clearances typically necessary for a proposed capital project.
Recently, Manhattan Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito (chair of the Parks Committee of City Council) has joined her Staten Island colleagues Vincent Ignizio, James Oddo and Deborah Rose, Congressman McMahon, NYS Senator Lanza, Assmebly member Janele Hyer-Spencer, the New Dorp Central Civic Association and the Historic Districts Council in calling for Parks to abandon their plans to destroy this important historic district and evict 41 families from the Beach Club.
In a letter citing the historic importance of the site, Congressman Michael McMahon, State Senator Anthony Lanza (NY-24), and Councilmen James Oddo (50th District) and Vincent Ignizio (51st District) objected to the Parks Department’s lack of firm plans and the absence of funding for any project at the property, stating that they “fail to see the logic” of evicting the site’s long term residents, especially “given the current economic climate faced by the city” and “the significant financial burden” of taking new construction on the site.
Staten Island’s once abandoned waterfront will be hosting LUMEN, a cutting-edge video art festival on the site of the Atlantic Salt Company, presented by COAHSI, the Council on the Arts & Humanities for Staten Island. This raw, magnificent, old, beautiful, decaying space, originally opened in 1876 as a plaster mill. In 1924, the building was bought by United States Gypsum, a plant that made wallboard and paint. The gypsum plant employed Staten Islanders for 52 years, before closing in 1976. Now owned by the Atlantic Salt Company, the 10-acre property is a depot for road de-icing salt for New York State, New Jersey, and Connecticut.” It’s that grungy, creepy, abandoned feeling that keeps people coming to industrial sites like Atlantic Salt, but normally these spaces are off-limits. Now’s your chance to see the space — without breaking any laws. The site will be open to the public for LUMEN, Saturday, June 26, 4pm-12am. The LUMEN Festival will showcase amazing contemporary video/projection and performance art both outside and onto the space. Atlantic Salt is right on the waterfront, so get ready for views of NYC and NJ, plus up-close views of the many tugboats & container ships that float up and down the Arthur Kill.
The festival will include performances throughout the day, raffles featuring artists’ work, as well as an open bar sponsored by Brooklyn Brewery from 9pm-11pm. Participating artists and collectives include: Alex Villar, Alix Pearlstein, Scott Peel, Lena Thuring, Grace Exhibition Space, Flux Factory, and Steven Lapcevic, among many others. For a complete listing of all participating artists, visit: LUMENFEST.org. Atlantic Salt is located at 561 Richmond Terrace, a 10-minute walk or bus ride from the Staten Island Ferry.
LUMEN will be free of charge and open to the public. Contributions are welcome at LUMEN’s Kickstarter page.
The mission of COAHSI is to cultivate a sustainable and diverse cultural community for the people of Staten Island by: 1) making the arts accessible to every member of the community- 2) supporting and building recognition for artistic achievement- 3) providing artists, arts educators, and organizations technical, financial, and social resources to encourage the creation of new work. COAHSI does extensive outreach to communities that are underserved geographically, ethnically, and economically. The organization works hard to impact the arts across all borders.