Wicked Fun

17 Jul

Tonight, our class went and saw Wicked with Bill Webb. Even though I have seen the musical five times now, the story and the production never cease to amaze me. I think it still has the same enchanting power over theatre goers as it did when it opened. It defintely lives up to Ben Brantley’s first review in the New York Times. Here’s the link to the article. http://theater.nytimes.com/mem/theater/treview.html?res=990CE5DE103FF932A05753C1A9659C8B63

Photo taken by Katy DeHoff

As cliché as it may sound, I always get chills before seeing the play. Something about it is just magical. The breathtaking voices of the leads, the humor, the political satire, and magnificent costumes impress me every time I see it.


Photo Source: http://www.beyondtherainbow2oz.com/wicked-shiz9.jpg

For me, Wicked also holds a special place in my heart because every time I’ve seen it in the last four years, I have been at a different place in my life. I think it’s interesting to think back to all the times I’ve seen it and consider how far I’ve come. When I saw it for the first time, I was in New York with my parents.

Photo taken by Katy DeHoff

I remember falling in love with everything about the production and how special it was to share it with them, especially my mother. A year later, when I saw it with my father, my uncle, my aunt and my cousin, I had been through the painful loss of my mother. I was still grieving at that time, but nevertheless, it’s a special memory.

Photo taken by Philip DeHoff

When I saw Wicked the next time, a few months later, I had the privilege of sharing it with my entire High School senior class on our senior trip, an experience I’ll never forget.

The next time I saw Wicked was last fall, with my father, his fiancé, and her daughter.

Photo taken by Philip Dehoff

Our trip to New York was fun, and I could see how far I had grown and developed emotionally since the first time I saw the play.

Finally, after seeing Wicked again tonight, I can say yet again that my mind is boggled by the changes that have taken place in my life in the past four years. I am in a different place even than where I was in the fall, and I am truly happy.

Since being in New York, not only have I grown, but so has my appreciation for theatre. I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing other shows such as ChicagoMemphis, and Priscilla: Queen of the Desert. They have all impressed me and shown me the power live theatre has to create a magical and transforming experience.

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Moving Forward

27 Jun

Today’s visit to The New York Times building definitely made a lasting impression on me. I’ve always been aware that technology and the media are constantly evolving and moving forward, but after seeing the developments made by their engineers, my mind was boggled by how quickly these changes are taking place.

The New York Times Building

Photo Source: http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2009/jan/11/new-york-times-credit-crunch

I never could have imagined the table that could essentially act as a computer or the mirror that could remind you to take your medications, tell you the weather, and also stream Facebook! It was truly amazing. It was also clear how their new building, which they just moved into a year and a half ago reflects the direction that the Times is moving. It’s not just a newspaper, but also a company that is looking to grow with technology. Here’s a link to a website that shows beautiful photos by Annie Leibovitz of the building… http://newyorktimesbuilding.com/leibovitz/FLASH/slideshow/photographs.htm.
(Unfortunately, the images are copyrighted and I can’t post them here.) Compare these with this picture of the Times‘ old building… the evolution is evident.

Photo Source: http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2007/06/10/weekinreview/10dunlap_CA5.600.jpg

Also, on the Internet front, I was also impressed with what I learned. I was very interested to learn that they predict within 4 years, people will access the Internet more from their mobile device than their laptop.

Photo Source: http://images.appleinsider.com/iphone-07-01-09-1.gif

I was very impressed by what I learned about how fast technology is moving, but being the traditionalist that I am, part of me still wants some things to remain the same. I don’t need to be able to check the weather from my mirror, I want to go to window and see for myself. Even though I was impressed with what I saw, I hope we can hold onto the joy of doing simple things the old fashioned way.

Photo Source: http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-nnSDwDFmVRQ/TWcQ-uFBHPI/AAAAAAAAAus/Ls21K2dyGZw/s1600/man+looking+out+window.jpg

“Close! But No Cigar”

22 Jun

After visiting Y&R advertising agency on Monday, I was yet again reassured that I made the right choice switching from a career in Communications to a career in Art History. Granted, the advertising agency was very different from what I had assumed it was like from the show Mad Men, but I still cannot imagine spending my day thinking about how to sell people things they probably don’t need.

http://supernaturalbotanicals.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/mad-men.jpg

I think the psychology behind what helps something sell is interesting, but it’s just not for me. Also, from the readings, I have learned that advertising requires spending a great deal of money without knowing that the tactic will actually work. This just seems like a waste to me. It also says a lot about the industry that 69% of people expressed that they would be interested in a way to block advertisements. They annoy people, why would I want to spend my life doing something that people are trying to get rid of? For example, here’s an example of a link that lets people block advertisements while they surf the web: http://adblockplus.org/en/.

I am much happier in my day-to-day life working at Pace Prints. I love learning about how the gallery operates and about how contemporary art can be incorporated into everyday life. All and all, I feel like a career in advertising is “Close but no cigar” for me.

The History of the Flatiron District

19 Jun

The Flatiron building is located at the intersection of Broadway, 5th Avenue, and 22nd Street. It is perfectly shaped to fit the wedge shaped intersection of these streets. It was a revolutionary building for its time and remains a symbol of the area to this day. The history of the streets that the Flatiron building sits on parallels the story of the United States in a way and demonstrates how social change and the economy have a direct effect on neighborhoods.

Samuel and Mott Newhouse bought the land that the Flatiron building sits on in 1899. Their intention was to foster the development of a new business district away from Wall Street, which was even then the busiest and most popular place to do business. They chose the triangular intersection of Broadway, 5th Avenue, and 23rd streets. Harry S. Black joined forces with the Newhouse brothers in 1901 and they made plans to construct a building that would be the New York base of the George A. Fuller Company, of which Black was the head.

Following this, the Flatiron building was designed by Daniel Burnham and was built in 1902, just after the turn of the century. The frame of the Flatiron building was made out of steel and the façade was made out of terracotta and limestone. It was constructed in the Beaux-Arts style, and influence of the French and Italian Renaissance is evident in its decoration. The dimensions of the Flatiron building were unlike anything the world had seen thus far. It was twenty stories high, and at the “point,” it was only six feet wide.  It was not the highest building in Manhattan, but with its Beaux-Art style, it was definitely one of the most unique.

There was much speculation about the stability of the building and whether or not it would be able to last. Its unique shape made people wonder if it would stand for the long term. It was commonly referred to as “Burnham’s Folly.” The building proved to be made to last, however, and it quickly became popular for its uniqueness. Although originally called the Fuller Building, it didn’t take long before it was commonly known as the Flatiron Building; it was called such for its resemblance to the household appliance.

The “Ladies Mile,” which was the popular upscale shopping district of the Gilded Age and early 1900s, existed even before the construction of the Flatiron building. It extended down the Avenue of the Americas between 14th-23rd streets. It was known as the “Ladies Mile” because of the department stores and specialty shops that lined the streets and the women who shopped in them, frequently without their husbands.  During the late 1800s, First Ladies Mrs. Grant and Mrs. Cleveland were known for shopping at Arnold Constable on Broadway and 19th Streets. R. H. Macy’s department store on East 14th St. and 6th Avenue was also one of the main hotspots on the “Ladies Mile.”

http://ephemeralnewyork.wordpress.com/2009/05/30/shopping-along-ladies-mile-then-and-now/

The influence of the area that would become the Flatiron District had influence beyond just fashion in the Gilded Age as well. The Old Fifth Avenue Hotel was a center of social and political life during the time.

The construction of the Flatiron building greatly contributed to the growth of the neighborhood and to the expansion of the “Ladies Mile.” It wasn’t long until The New York Times deemed the neighborhood the Flatiron District. The neighborhood was also popular for the real estate market, and was known as “Midtown South.” Photographers knew it as the “Photo District”. The building became a fixture in photos of the New York City skyline during this time and was captured in a famous image by Edward Steichen. The photo depicts the day and age in a memorable and powerful way.

http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/works-of-art/33.43.39

One interesting fact about the Flatiron District is that it was during the height of its popularity in the early twentieth century that the expression, “Twenty-three skidoo!” allegedly originated. This was because of the wind that was created by the way the Flatiron Building was situated on the corner. Women’s skirts would sometimes fly up a little and men would loiter on the sidewalks in attempt to catch a glimpse of their ankles. The police officers would say to the men, “Skidoo!” to make the stop. The “twenty-three” part refers to the fact that the Flatiron was situated on. It was during this time that the Flatiron District was at the height of its popularity. It grew along with America and the district prospered along with the economy. It wasn’t long, however, until America, and the Flatiron District, got a taste of how cruel the world could be.

The effects of the Great War, or World War I, were definitely seen in the area surrounding the Flatiron Building and “Ladies Mile.” Many department stores just weren’t able to survive and were abandoned. The shopping hub that still existed moved uptown, along with the shoppers. The Flatiron District simply became a neighborhood that people passed through to get to Greenwich or Chelsea. This began the decline of the Flatiron District as a hotspot. It would be more than another fifty years until the neighborhood regained popularity.

By the 1960s, the intersection of Broadway, Fifth Avenue and 23rd Street and the surrounding area had fallen into a seriously poor state. Many artists, however, took advantage of this and moved into the neighborhood. The neighborhood still wasn’t safe, though. The low rent prices were the main motivation for migration to the area at this time. This was, however, the beginning of the Flatiron District and the “Ladies Mile” regaining its former glory.

By the 1980s, the area’s rejuvenation had officially begun. Lots of new bars, restaurants, and nightclubs began to spring up, making it one of the most happening neighborhoods in Manhattan. For example, The Old Town Bar and Restaurant that is situated on 18th St. between Broadway and Park Avenue South was unknown to most people five years ago; however, it has experienced a tenfold increase in business since 1985, according to the owner, John Sisson.

Advertising agencies and other offices also migrated to the area. Shopping regained new life as well in the Flatiron District. By the 1990s, the neighborhood regained its popularity and lots of people were moving back into the area. The price of living in the Flatiron District also increased as the neighborhood became more popular. In 1991, a veterinarian named Jay Kuhlman who had lived in the neighborhood for twenty-two years told The New York Times in December of 1991 that, “Used to be, there was nowhere in this neighborhood to eat. Now there’s nowhere in the neighborhood I can afford to eat. I guess you could say it’s a mixed blessing.” At this time, the Flatiron District was still known primarily for its commercial opportunities, which created a nuisance for residents. The overall opinion conveyed in The New York Times article from December 1991 titled, “If You’re Thinking About Living in the Flatiron District…” was that the area was not worth moving to because of the nightlife that kept the residents up into the wee hours of the night. The article does however praise the district however for the constant amount of stimulation and culture it brings to the city.

The “Ladies Mile” has received a great deal of efforts to keep the historic district preserved. Jack Taylor, Truman Moore and his wife, Margaret Moore are responsible for bringing awareness to the Flatiron District as a historical area. The Moores began to notice that the area that was the Ladies Mile was falling into disrepair in the early 1980s and that the history of the Beaux-Art style architecture was not being given proper recognition. They published a book on the subject and formed an organization to promote it being designated as a historical district. With the help of Jack Taylor, they organized walking tours in the area and brought much needed awareness to the state of the Flatiron District. Their efforts paid off and by 1989, the “Ladies Mile” had been officially declared a historical district. Here’s a link to their website. http://www.preserve2.org/ladiesmile/

On the building’s one-hundredth anniversary in 2002, the series of sculptures on the roof were restored. The building today provides office space for a publishing company, and a few businesses have shops located on the street level. Its growth has expanded even from the boom of the 1990s and it is a growing hotspot for restaurants, bars, clubs, stores, etc.

Photo Taken by Katy DeHoff

The Flatiron District has an interesting history that reflects the social change that took place in America over the past one hundred and fifty years. It has evolved along with America, prospering when it prospered, and struggling when it struggled. Above all, the history of the Flatiron District is a symbol of the fact that even though America may fall it always rises again.

Works Cited

“A Neighborhood Bulging at the Edges.” New York Times 4 Nov

1994: R3. Print.

Dolkart, Andrew, and Matthew Postal. Guide to New York City

Landmarks. 4th. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley and Sons, Inc.,

2009. 78-79. Print.

“If You’re Thinking of Living in the Flatiron District….” New

York Times 22 Dec. 1991: R5. Print.

“Ladies Mile Historical District.” The New York Preservation

Archive Project. New York Preservation Archive Project,

2010. Web. 19 Jun 2011.

<http://www.nypap.org/content/ladies-mile-historic

district>.

“The Drive to Protect the Ladies Mile District.” The Drive to

Protect the Ladies Mile District. New York State Council

of the Arts, n.d. Web. 19 Jun 2011.

http://www.preserve2.org/ladiesmile/.

“The Flatiron Building.” History.com. A & E Television

Networks, n.d. Web. 19 Jun 2011.

http://www.history.com/topics/flatiron-building.

“The Flatiron building and the Flatiron District.” iNeTours

Vacation Travel Destinations. N.p., 2011. Web. 19 Jun

2011.

http://www.inetours.com/New_York/Pages/Flat_Iron.html.

“The Ladies Mile.” Our Town 30 Nov. 1995, Print.

“Victorian Historian.” Victorian Historian . N.p., 2001. Web.

19 Jun 2011.

http://www.victorianhistorian.com/fashionhistory.html.

Warren, Elliot. “Flatiron Square.” Flatiron Square. N.p., 2011.

Web. 19 Jun 2011. http://www.flatironsquare.com/.

A Rose Among Thorns

19 Jun

The first time I ever visited the Flatiron District was on a chilly Fall night last November when I was in New York City over Thanksgiving break. My family and I had just come from having dinner at the Gramercy Park Hotel and as we wandered the city, we came upon the Flatiron District. I remember being astounded by the shape of the building and the way it was situated in the intersection. It truly stood out to me as one-of-a-kind. When we were asked to pick an area of New York City to study for this class, I immediately remembered the powerfulness of the Flatiron building and the effect it had on me and chose it to study. In my memory of the cold fall night in which I first encountered the building, it was a beautiful and romantic area. I couldn’t wait to learn more about it.

When I began my research on the Flatiron District, I was so excited to learn that the area had been home to the “Ladies Mile” during the late 1800s and early 1900s. I leaned that Presidents Cleveland and Grant’s wives had frequented the area. As someone who is passionate about fashion, this excited me greatly. The area became more idealized in my head and I decided I would make time the next day to visit the Flatiron District. Follow this link to the website that helps keep the Ladies Mile alive and well as a historical district, which it officially became in 1989! http://www.preserve2.org/ladiesmile/.

As I observed the area in the light of day for the first time, everything literally and figuratively came to light. The area was by all means modern in the way that just about every area of New York is. There were chain shops like Jamba Juice for example, but the streets also have a charm that is unmistakable. It stands out from Chelsea, the Upper East Side, SoHo, and many other places I’ve visited in NYC thus far. I could see the history in my mind. I could see fashionable women at the turn of the century shopping at Arnold and Constable, right around the corner from where Kate Spade is located today, a modern equivalent of the upscale stores that populated the Ladies Mile.

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_aAH1EkPjLas/SxIzAebE8NI/AAAAAAAAI2s/ojFrxnwcQj0/s1600/katespade.JPG

All in all, the Flatiron District lived up to my expectation that were developed from the dark and chilly night in November. Edward Steichen’s famous image of the area romanticizes the building with the fog and dim light and it will forever be in my mind, a rose among thorns.

http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/images/hb/hb_33.43.39.jpg

 

Trusting Your Gut

12 Jun

Confusion, anxiety, fear, and excitement. These are feelings I can imagine having as a new immigrant to America. All these emotions are evident in the faces of these immigrants at Ellis Island.

(http://enduringsense1.files.wordpress.com/2010/09/immigrant-ellis-island.jpg)

Standing on the corner of E. 23rd St. where it intersects with 5th Ave. and Broadway, the pressing needs of food and shelter would be the first things on my mind, especially if I was a mother. When considering what to do and who to ask for advice and help, I would rely on my gut instinct.

Your gut instinct. This is what I imagine brought a majority of the hundreds of thousand immigrants to America from the late 1800s to early 1900s. Thinking about the decision to move to a new country with the hope that life will be better had to be terrifying, especially for people during the late 1800s. They may have just heard from a friend of a friend that their cousin had a good experience immigrating. To make a life altering decision like that, I would have to have more than just hope that life would be better. I would have to feel like it was truly fate calling me. I would have to feel it in my gut.

That being said, I would seek out a person who looked reliable and trustworthy to ask for advice, preferably who spoke my language. I would ask them for help in finding a settlement house worker to help me find a place to stay. In all these scenarios, I would listen to my instincts when making decisions.

Today, with the help of all the modern technology at our fingertips, I think it would be much easier to move to America. Some barriers would still be the same, particularly the language issue, but in general I think there would be a lot more information at your disposal.

Again, even in this day and age, I think relying on your instincts is a good way to go. An article in Newsweek from November 20, 2007 says just that. Here’s the link… http://www.newsweek.com/2007/11/19/less-information-is-more.html . In any stressful or new situation, there’s definitely something to be said for trusting your gut. Especially as an immigrant, when you don’t speak the language, this is all you have.

Above all, I would remember that America is a country of immigrants, and trust that I have the ability to thrive.

(http://www.azprogress.org/sites/default/files/content/ours%20is%20a%20country%20of%20immigrants%20sign.jpeg)

Assignment 3

29 Apr

This area of New York City, from Trump Palace to Central Park West, Sutton Place, Beekman Place, and East End Avenue has a very different feel than the Lower East Side, the first area I blogged about. The feel is much more upscale and this is evident for several different reasons. First of all, there is no graffiti, which makes me think that the people who live in the neighborhood respect where they live and don’t want to defile it. The cars that are in this area are well taken care of and so are the streets in general. There is no trash on the street. There is also construction going on that suggests that the area is affluent and capable of expanding and growing in a positive way. The buildings are also clean and well kept.  They appear to be office buildings, since there isn’t a business sign on most of them. The business that there are pictures of are very amusing. For instance, there’s a “Cat Hospital.” This seems to suggest to me that people have the money and ability to take their pet to a specialized hospital if they are in trouble. Trees grow here and there and suggest that someone has taken the time to tend to them. There also isn’t anyone loitering around. If people are in the pictures, they are walking somewhere with a purpose. There is even what appears to be a happy couple holding hands in one of the pictures. What I have to wonder is, are these people truly happy? Popular society suggests to us that money and material possessions can buy happiness. Obviously this isn’t true when you consider how unhappy wealthy people are sometimes. When I think back to the poorer people who I saw when examining the Lower East Side, I can’t help but wonder if they are in many ways happier than the people who reside in this affluent area of Central Park West and Trump Palace.