New York Daily Photo Analytics

Thursday, May 01, 2008


I recently served jury duty. I was not pleased but it is my civic obligation. This is New York Daily Photo - if you come here to see this great city and truly know it, I feel I have some responsibilities and you do too - like learning about the city's architecture and perhaps what that building is in the photo. And if you commit a crime, there are consequences. We all must take our medicine when needed.
So here at 60 Center Street is where obligations, responsibilities and consequences meet. A rather serious matter and not the type of characterizations compelling to the tourist or visitor. I think courthouses connote obligations, responsibilities and consequences more than justice.
This is the New York County Courthouse, aka the New York State Supreme Court building at 60 Centre Street. It was designed by Guy Lowell and completed in 1926. The 10 granite Corinthian columns support a portico where the words of George Washington are engraved: "The true administration of justice is the firmest pillar of good government."
One of the outstanding features of this edifice is the 100-foot wide staircase. There is a great article by Paul Goldberger, architecture critic for the New York Times. In it, Goldberger bemoans the fact that great staircases will no longer be built: "... equal access for the handicapped and the elderly has become a determining factor in architecture. If everyone cannot partake equally in an architectural event, the argument goes, it should not exist at all. No one can argue with this goal, of course, but it is unfortunate that so much has been lost in its pursuit." So, with new construction, everything is being flattened for equal access - it is our responsibility ...

Photo note: the vista here is from Thomas Paine Park at Foley Square. A unique feature of this building is that is that it is hexagonal, something best seen from above.


Chuck Pefley said...

Brian, I like this vantage point giving some human scale. In a few weeks this view won't be possible as spring blossoms. Nice post today.

Terry B said...

Wow. I'd never thought about grand staircases going away in new architecture. Yes, it makes perfect sense for accessibility, but when I think of the many staircases that have impressed me on buildings just such as this, how it made entering the building an event, I too must mourn what is lost. A handsome photograph, by the way.

Brian said...

Chuck & Terry b;

MmeBenaut said...

Such a thoughtful post Brian. I always wondered about jury duty. In some ways I would like to do it, but not necessarily on criminal matters.
As for architecture taking the equal access route - is there any reason why one couldn't have both an elevator for the disabled and a grand staircase as well? I would love a house that had a grand staircase; alas we have a very narrow staircase which makes two right-handed turns up to the landing. It suits our cathedral-style house though.

Anonymous said...

I can see Al Neri in his NYPD uniform telling the limo driver to move on and then turning, dropping to one knee as he shoots Barzini. If the bullets penetrationg your back don't kill you, tumbling down 30 concrete steps will. Justice in NYC will be served one way or another.
I will add this site to my must see list when I visit NYC again. Great pictures with good commentary.