Today marks the start of Documerica Week on In Focus — a new photo essay each day, featuring regions of the U.S. covered by the photographers of the Documerica Project in the early 1970s. The Documerica Project was put together by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in 1971, with a primary goal of documenting adverse effects of modern life on the environment, but photographers were also encouraged to record the daily life of ordinary people, capturing a broad snapshot of America. Today’s subject is New York City, an area covered by many photographers, showing some of the urban decay and congestion that helped prompt environmental legislation, as well as glimpses of New Yorkers at work and play. Stay tuned for part 2 of Documerica Week tomorrow, when we travel southwest.
The final piece of the spire at One World Trade Center is lifted into place in New York, May 10, 2013. The tower now rises to a symbolic 1776 feet, making it the tallest building in the western hemisphere. INSIDER IMAGES/Gary He (UNITED STATES)
The more and more I think about last night’s episode of Mad Men, the more I love it.
To me, the main character, especially by the end, was the city. From Pete calling it the most beautiful place in the world to Peggy’s search for her own apartment (will she and Abe live in the more “dangerous” melting pot of the West 80s? Heh.) to the real estate agent saying, “When they finish the Second Avenue subway…” to the riots in Harlem, New York was undergoing radical change.
At the end, when Don was standing on the balcony of his posh apartment, you can feel a city on the brink of change, becoming a more “dangerous” place, getting ready for the fight or flight reflex.
According to Architizer, New York City’s 11,000 (probably mostly unused) payphones are being transformed for the digital age. And some of the finalists’ designs are really cool.
With a few payphones already turned into WiFi hotspots, some, like FXFOWLE’s NYC Loop pictured above, could also have smartphone features and an “information puddle” for people to use. Other designs have weather data, parking meters, and assistance kiosks rolled into one information hub. It’d be handy for tourists looking where to go in Times Square, or simply when regular New Yorkers hop off the subway and don’t know which way is east or west. And, as the article notes, these super payphones could even provide much-needed communication if another Hurricane Sandy strikes.
The 180-page binder, the key to the system’s iconic design choices, outlines a meticulous vision of signage intended not merely to look good — though it does — but to simplify navigation of the subterranean labyrinth. In its attention to passenger behavior, the manual goes above and beyond what most of us would term graphic design.
“The subway rider should be given only information at the point of decision,” proclaimed the designers. “Never before. Never after.”