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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The Sky is Falling

Central Park West
Photo by myself high above Central Park. You can see the bold Art Deco details of the 'Century Building', built in 1931, to the left.

Yet another photo from an apartment on Central Park West. The Upper East Side lies across the park in the distance.


I had to open one of the windows of the apartment a crack to take the above photo. There were strong winds outside and I had visions of me, my camera and anything else flying out and hitting someone on the head below. I have since promised myself not to open the window again.

Call me paranoid, but there have been a number of accidents in New York in recent memory. Last weekend, A crane collapsed in mid-construction on East 50th Street, killing seven people. In December 2007, an architect was seriously injured in a construction accident near Ground Zero, when seven tons of steel fell onto an on-site trailer.

In the same month, two window washers fell 47 stories at an Upper East Side apartment building. They were brothers, and one of them miraculously survived. Before that, in late 2006, a small plane carrying a Yankees pitcher crashed into an apartment tower, also on the Upper East Side.

When I first moved to New York, there weren't so many accidents, but there was definitely the awareness of danger. I recall hearing an experienced architect say how all the buildings that have deep overhangs are inspected, but only by sight. The pedestrian in me was not reassured by this piece of news.

What if the building had hairline cracks not discernible to the human eye? Suddenly I developed a fear of falling cornices. And not only that, I had a general distrust of all scaffolding, which is fruitless because so much of New York is under construction at any given time. Often both sides of the street have something going on, which means there is no safety to be found.

I am reminded of a story of an acquaintance who left his bloodhound in the care of a neighbor. The neighbor left a window open, and the bloodhound jumped out the window. Another neighbor on a lower floor had turned at the precise time to see the bloodhound sail through the air. (Fortunately the bloodhound was fine. He was a puppy and he was saved by his soft, pudgy physique).

Usually, I don't think about such dangers, but once in a while I do. You can't let such fears interfere with daily living. It's all too easy to become paranoid about air conditioners and bricks and bloodhounds falling from the sky.

For more about visual inspections of New York building facades, click here.
For other aerial views of Central Park, click here and here.


Mike said...

Hello again! What a great view. I can almost feel how high you are by this shot. I don't think I can open any window if I lived that high up.

How can anyone wash windows that high up? That is amazing some people are not afraid.

Anonymous said...

Your photo is very nice of the art deco building and park and your fear of falling brings up even more questions than answers. It seems like a jet, totally unable to fly, will fly anywhere if the propulsion is strong enough. Rockets are good examples.

If you fall out of the window and have enough sense about yourself and made yourself into a airplane like posture, possibly with a summer jacket on, could you possibly fly well enough to avoid a crash landing?

It might be worth a try. You'd have to let the camera go though as that would be just too much additional weight.

Abraham Lincoln in Brookville, Ohio

Kitty said...

Hi Mike!
Some more modern buildings have tilt and turn windows, where you can tilt them inwards for cleaning.

For all the others, you have the professional window washers, who hang outside on their platforms. It's a dangerous job. One platform broke last year and that was the 47-story fall I mentioned.
I don't envy those guys!

Morning Mr. Lincoln!
You're up early as usual.

Sadly, I have no propulsion. But if I did spread my wings, perhaps I'd have a chance of reaching a balcony?

Olivier said...

voilà un appartement avec une superbe vue. j'aime ces immeubles Art Deco de NYC

This is an apartment with a breathtaking view. I like these Art Deco buildings in NYC

Mama Mayborne... said...

Thanks for the photo, but please be careful!!

Anonymous said...

Ooh yes do be careful. I never go near open windows in high buildings.

I am petrified of things falling on me too. I am so scared that I never look up - it always seems that it would actually be much worse if I saw the thing falling, I'd rather be struck unexpectedly!

Your cat is gorgeous!

Mom Knows Everything said...

I am very afraid of heights. I could never be in one of those giant skyscrapers.

Kitty said...

Hi Olivier
I like Art Deco buildings, too. There's something about them.

Hi Mama
Thanks dear!
Sorry for inducing worry, lol.

Ah, another slightly paranoid soul! I'm very much like you. I'd rather have the bloodhound land on my head without warning, lol.

And thanks, I will let Dida know your comment! She is so rarely awake.

Hi Tammy!
It's funny how common the fear of heights is. Personally, I think people are designed to be close to the ground.

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