Fun with Highways: I-587 in Kingston, New York (and Deep Listening)

Today we look at the city of Kingston, New York. Kingston is about 90 miles north of New York City on the west bank of the Hudson River. It was the first state capital of New York in 1777. For those of us in the world of electronic and experimental music, the city is the current home of renowned composer and musical innovator Pauline Oliveros as well as the Deep Listening Institute which she founded.

Kingston is also the location of one of the most obscure and oddest Interstate highways, I-587.

I-587-in-Kingston

NY-28I-587I-587, known as Colonel Chandler Drive, is co-signed with NY 28. It is a full freeway from it’s start at a traffic circle near the New York State Thruway (I-87) to its eastern terminus at an intersection with NY 32 (Albany Avenue) in downtown Kingston. Other than its termini, it has no exits. It also never meets its parent route, I-87, though the traffic circle at the western end does connect to Exit 19 of the Thruway.

Western_terminus_I-587
[By Mitchazenia (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0;], via Wikimedia Commons]

I-587 is signed along its route and at either end, but there is no mention of it on signs for Exit 19 on the Thruway. Thus, travelers on I-87 would never even know its there unless they took the exit and encountered the signs at the traffic circle.

By coincidence, I will participating in a performance of Pauline Oliveros’ The Heart Chant with the Cardow Choir at this year’s Garden of Memory event in Oakland. You can read past reviews of this unique yearly event and here. As for The Heart Chant itself:

This participatory Deep Listening meditation is a gesture of sonic healing for all beings and circumstances that need healing. It was created in response to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. “Ah” is a vocal sound associated with the heart shakra.

Anyone at the Chapel of the Chimes tonight is welcome to participate in singing this piece. There will also be numerous other performances by noted Bay Area musicians, and I hope to see as many of them as I can. You can follow along with me on Twitter @catsynth with hashtag #gardenofmemory.

Fun with Highways: Tulsa

Today we have fun with the city of Tulsa, Oklahoma. Downtown Tulsa is about one mile square, bordered by two highways, I-244 to the west and north, and I-444 to the south and east, together known as the Inner Dispersal Loop.

TulsaInnerDispersalLoop

Oklahoma_State_Highway_51US_64US_75I-444Despite being one of the coolest extant Interstate numbers, I-444 is unsigned. Instead, it carries US 75 designation for its entire length, as well as US 64 and OK 51 for part of its length. It’s curious that they chose not to sign it. According to kurumi.com, “a mapping supervisor from Oklahoma DOT spoke to the Division Engineer in Tulsa to get a more official answer. To avoid confusing motorists by adding a 444 number to an area with I-44 and I-244, the DOT decided to use the existing US 75 designation.” Honestly, that seems like a weak reason. We have I-80 plus seven different x80 interstates here in the Bay Area and manage not to get too confused by it.

So why Tulsa today? The city was awarded the Parking Madness “Golden Crater” by Streetsblog. Much of the south side of the downtown is covered by parking lots.”

TulsaParkingLots

Not pretty, and not a particularly good use of valuable downtown space in the 21st century. And certainly the comments in the article open the city and its residence to a bit of ridicule. Apparently Tulsans are aware of this and the city council placed a moratorium on new parking lot construction. Moreover, Streetsblog describes a proposal by urban-planning major and native Tulsan to revitalize the downtown for walkability and pedestrian-friendly retail.

I did notice that outside of the downtown and Inner Dispersal Loop is the Philbrook Museum. The museum is on a 1920s estate designed in the style of an Italian Renaissance villa.

512px-Philbrook
[By Taken by Kralizec!, cropped by CPacker (Transferred from en.wikipedia) [Attribution], via Wikimedia Commons]

While much of the collection is traditional art, they do have a growing modern and contemporary collection. This piece by Josiah McElheny, for example, makes an interesting contrast to the architecture of the estate. Would definitely be worth a visit.

Fun with Highways: The Seaford–Oyster Bay Expressway

Today for no particular reason we visit NY 135, the Seaford–Oyster Bay Expressway. It runs north-south through suburban Nassau County on Long Island. What makes it interesting is that it seems rather incomplete. NY 135 was intended to continue south to Jones Beach, but this part of the project was never completed. One can see the right of way extending south from Merrick Road (once the main east-west thoroughfare on the south side of Long Island) to the Wantaugh Parkway.

As it stands now, the expressway ends at a stub just after crossing Merrick Road.


[By DanTD (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0; or GFDL;], via Wikimedia Commons]

It is literally a dead end.


[By DanTD (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0;], via Wikimedia Commons]

You can see some more photos at this site. It seems like this would be an interesting spot for an art photography project. More of a concept piece with portraits.

NY 135 also ends at stub on its north end, just after crossing NY 25 in Syosset.

Indeed, the expressway never makes it all the way north to Oyster Bay, as implied by the name. But it was once proposed to extend even beyond that, crossing the Long Island Sound on a six mile bridge to Rye and connecting to I-287, the Cross Westchester Expressway (not far from where I grew up). This was one of Robert Moses’ more ambitious ideas and came far after his original projects that transformed many parts of New York including Long Island. I am currently reading The Power Broker: Robert Moses and Fall of New York, and in the middle of the chapters discussing the building of the parks and parkways on Long Island, including Jones Beach and the Wantaugh Parkway. One of the revelations was what a remote place Long Island was at the beginning of the 20th century despite being next to New York City. But in some ways it still seems rather remote.

17th Street in San Francisco

17th Street is one of the longer numbered streets in San Francisco, though not the longest. What makes it unique among its peers is that it forms an almost perfect horizontal line through a large swath of the city, cutting through a variety of neighborhoods and terrains. Like reading geological strata or tree rings, it is an efficient way to explore San Francisco’s geography and history. For quite a long time I have wanted to walk the length of 17th Street. And on March 17 of this year, things lined up in terms of numbers, schedule and weather to make the perfect day for this walk.

17th Street begins at a modest corner with Pennsylvania Avenue at the base of Potrero Hill, next the I-280 elevated section. This used to be a rather forlorn block, but it has been upgraded quite a bit with the addition of a small park at the end of the street.

The street then heads westward through the flat land below Potrero Hill and crosses many of the streets named for U.S. states. Along the way one passes Bottom of the Hill, a club that I recently played at (you can read the gig report here). There is also Parkside, where I have yet to play. The architecture in this area changes between industrial and the modest wooden houses that typify San Francisco. There is also some newer condo and office development.

The street then heads uphill and underneath the US 101 freeway. From here, one can look down at the junction with I-80 and the downtown skyline beyond.

This neighborhood, at the boundary between Potrero Hill and the Mission is the location of Art Explosion, where I have had photography shows over the past couple of years. I have since left that space in order to focus on my other creative projects. From here, 17th Street heads downward into the Mission.

This is a huge neighborhood with numerous subsections each with their own character. We start off in a very industrial area that continues until we cross South Van Ness, at which point we enter the very densely packed core along Mission Street. Continuing westward we find ourselves in the heart of San Francisco hipsterdom, particularly along Valencia Street and the wide park-like Dolores Street.

The houses along this section of the street are a more upscale variety of the ornate San Francisco Victorians, some in colors that one would never instinctively think to paint a house. There are also numerous alleys that poke in either direction off the street.

From here, we continue eastward into the Castro. I have never been entirely sure where the Mission ends and the Castro begins, but I think it is probably at Church Street. Further on it becomes pretty clear where we are as 17th Street approaches its six-point intersection with Market and Castro streets. At this intersection, we find the huge landmark pride flag.

This is also the terminus for the F-Market streetcar line, which uses vintage streetcars from around the world.

After crossing Market Street, we come to the 4000 block of 17th. We have already come a long way, but there is still quite a bit ahead of us.

From here, the street heads up a steep hill into a very upscale neighborhood with large (and undoubtedly very expensive) houses. While 17th Street remains straight as it goes uphill, the intersecting streets, a few of which are named for planets, are more curved and follow the contours of the terrain. There are also numerous staircases here, providing access where it is too steep to build cross streets or alleys.

17th Street eventually reaches its apex at a large intersection with Clayton Street. To the south is Twin Peaks. To the north is Mount Olympus, the geographical center of the city. I had explored the strange little park at that point on a previous excursion. There is a pedestal that presumably contained a statue at one point. I used it as a backdrop for some of my doll photos, one of which you can see here. From this point, 17th drops precipitously into the Cole Valley neighborhood.

This section is purely residential, and the streets straighten out. Even after descending the hill, the street still remains higher than the rest of Cole Valley and the Upper Haight to the north. 17th Street comes to an end here at an intersection with Stanyan Street.

Thus, the mission to walk the length of 17th Street was complete. But this was not the end of the story. The city recently opened the long-closed Interior Greenbelt park, and the main trail begins half a block away on Stanyan. One ascends a narrow wooden staircase and enters into a completely different world.

1

I am surprised I had never before made it to this gem of a park, though it did only open to the public in 2011. The woods are not unlike those one might find in parks outside the city, with no visual cues of the urban surroundings at all. There are some sounds from the city that penetrate into the woods, but they are overshadowed by the combination of silences and natural sounds. The late afternoon lighting was perfect on this trip as well. I spent about 30 minutes or so wandering the main “historic” trail of the park before exiting on a small brick-paved street with a spectacular view of the city.

Tired but contented, I picked up a nearby MUNI Metro to get home. And this really is the end of the journey.

I-710 and the Los Angeles River

After the intensity and non-stop stimulus of NAMM, I try to reserve the final Sunday for solitude and exploration of the greater Los Angeles Area. My most recent post-NAMM exploration included a trip north on I-710.

Officially the “Long Beach Freeway”, the highway runs alongside the Los Angeles River for much of its length. The Los Angeles River is a naturally flowing river, but it has been encased in a concrete channel. It’s a rather dystopian vision, but very much characteristic of 20th century LA. It has served as a setting for numerous movies – think the scene in Terminator 2 where the cars crash in a giant concrete ditch and the shapeshifting guy walks away. Of course, I had to photograph this monument myself as well. I joined I-710 at its interchange with Highway 91. The river immediately comes into view to the right, concrete channel and all. However, along this section there has been a lot of work to provide green space on the banks, with bike and walking paths connecting a series of parks. I left the freeway at the Imperial Highway exit for a closer look.


[The mighty Los Angeles River.]

This location is actually the confluence of two rivers. The San Gabriel River, also enclosed in a concrete channel for much of its length, flows into the larger Los Angeles River – the merging of the two concrete channels is unique.


[The San Gabriel and Los Angeles Rivers.]

I suppose I choose to see the beauty in scenes like these where others refuse to or can’t. But on another level, it is not entirely a choice. I am inexorably drawn to such things. Even as are attitudes towards development change from 20th century models, I’d like to see artifacts like this concrete river preserved.

North of the Imperial Highway, I-710 crosses the Los Angeles River to the east bank.


[I-710 crossing the Los Angeles River.]

The freeway begins to diverge from the river, heading due north towards Pasadena and controversial “dead end”. You can read more about the efforts to complete (or not complete) the highway at the California Highways website. However, I chose to leave the highway and follow the river instead.

A stretch of Bandini Boulevard grazes the river, affording views of a section that is unequivocally industrial. No parks or bike paths here. But even here I can find visual beauty in the bleakness of the scene.

The river is of course in no way devoid of life. Tenacious vegetation can be found along the channel, and there are plenty of birds who take advantage of the shallow water.

I continued north near to the river into the city of Los Angeles. The industrial character remained for a while, and reminded me a bit of the southeastern section of San Francisco that I often frequent, but on a grander scale. I didn’t stop here, but perhaps I should have. Towards downtown, the river becomes incorporated into the greater city, with classic art-deco bridges spanning the channel. I crossed it one last time on the First Street Bridge:


[By Downtowngal (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons]

It was early enough to still visit a couple of L.A.’s art museums, but I am glad I was able to spend time first with this piece of the city’s history, and a work of art in its own right.

Fun with Highways: the Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge

Today, we visit the Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge to mark the passing today of former New York Mayor Ed Koch. The bridge, which carries New York State Route 25 from Queens to its terminus in Manhattan at 2nd Avenue, is known locally at the “59th Street Bridge.” It’s actually over 100 years old, having opened in 1909.

[By Lasse Fuss (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons]

The Queens side connects to a tangled nexus of ramps that are mixed up with elevated subway structures. And as these structures are all aging, they become interesting photographic subjects. The bridge was named in honor of the former mayor in 2010.

Here is cute video that has been circulating today, in which Mayor Koch welcomes passersby (including the current mayor) to “my bridge”. (You need only watch the segment until about 2:00)

It’s very typical of his style, being a larger-than-life character but also a bit self-deprecating. It is quintessentially “New York”. From the New York Times obituary:

…out among the people or facing a news media circus in the Blue Room at City Hall, he was a feisty, slippery egoist who could not be pinned down by questioners and who could outtalk anybody in the authentic voice of New York: as opinionated as a Flatbush cabby, as loud as the scrums on 42nd Street, as pugnacious as a West Side reform Democrat mother.

I did have the opportunity to meet him twice on visits back from Yale to New York City, as part of the Yale Political Union. Although my colleagues seemed to treat him rather coldly, I was quite happy for the experience.

Fevered dreams

After a relaxed and healthy Saturday (including a 4-mile walk through SF), I found myself all-of-a-sudden quite sick for the second time this month early on Sunday morning, including a fever. It dissipated by midday, but not before some interesting fever-induced dreams. Here is one of them:

It took place in Western New York, but the landscape had been replaced with a relatively flat desert environment. At the south end was a transplanted version of Yale – there was still the New Haven town green, but the university had different architecture, more columns and arches. A large numbered highway (I don’t remember the number) snaked its way north from the university into the desert along the southern edge of a large shallow lake. The road then split into two that were labeled “Masculine Dr.” and “Feminine Dr.” on Google Maps (yes, Google Maps appeared in the dream). Zooming out, the lake was shaped exactly like the entirety of all five Great Lakes in miniature – probably about the size of one of the Finger Lakes.

Dreams aside, I recommend to readers in the U.S. that they get a flu shot this year.