Sometime around the 1920s, with a continuing epidemic of tenement fires, the City of New York passed a very practical ordinance that had an unintended aesthetic side-effect. They required that any building above a certain height (3 storeys or so, I think) have a water tank installed on the roof, providing downward water pressure to assist in the extinguishing of flames.
You can generally see two or three of these water towers anywhere you look upward in the city. They're iconic in their own right now, but when the by-law was enacted, a lot of New Yorkers considered them an eyesore. Here's a view of the Upper West Side from the Hudson River (taken on the Circle Line) — I'm talking about the chubby little rocket ships dotting the skyline:
Developers in some of the more fashionable residential areas of Manhattan began to demand architectural solutions to these galvanised iron blights on their grand chateaus, especially around the streets and avenues that guard Central Park. Hence the distinctive spires of Gotham, like this example I shot from the park:
I heard that Arthur C. Clarke died overnight. He wrote 2001: A Space Odyssey at the Hotel Chelsea, where I'm staying. Here for posterity is a picture of me in one of the rooms far below his former abode:
Okay, enough pictorialising I think.
Joseph | 20 Mar 2008