simple is beautiful
New York Daily Photo: Responsibilities
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Thursday, 1 May 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.


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