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Posts Tagged ‘Subway

“There is a city beneath the streets”*…

 

Avtovo

Avtovo station, St. Petersburg

 

Anyone who knows a bit about Soviet state socialism knows about the Moscow Metro and its system of underground palaces; these awesome, opulent spaces have been a fixture of travel guides since the 1930s, and now they’re equally prevalent on Instagram accounts. Much less known is that these marble-clad portals in the centre of the capital are just the most visible elements of a gigantic Metro-building project that would gradually expand into more than a dozen different systems across several Republics — Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan. After Moscow came St Petersburg, Kyiv, Tbilisi, Baku, Kharkiv, Tashkent, Yerevan, Minsk, Nizhny Novgorod, Samara, Novosibirsk, Yekaterinburg, Dnipro. “Metro-Trams” with palatial underground halls were built in Krivyi Rih and Volgograd; and a miniature “Cave Metro” was built for the tourist site of New Athos, Abkhazia.

Soviet experts were also responsible for engineering Metro systems outside the USSR — in Prague, Budapest, Warsaw, Sofia, Pyongyang, and Calcutta (as it then was), India’s first Metro system in the capital of Communist-governed West Bengal. Soviet Metro building was an enormous project, spanning two continents. An early slogan had it that “the whole country is building the Moscow Metro”, but between the 1960s and 80s this could have been rephrased as “the Moscow Metro is being built in the whole country”. Why, then, was this particular kind of Metro building so important?…

Decorated with chandeliers, mosaics, and Lenin busts, the Soviet Union produced the most decorative (and probably the most photographed) transport system in the world.  Find out why (and see more gorgeous photos) at “The heavens underground: the Soviet Union’s opulent metro stations, from Belarus to Uzbekistan.”

* Robert E. Sullivan Jr.

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As we go to ground, we might wish a Joyeux Anniversaire to Denis Diderot, contributor to and the chief editor of the Encyclopédie (“All things must be examined, debated, investigated without exception and without regard for anyone’s feelings.”)– and thus towering figure in the Enlightenment; he was born on this date in 1713.  Diderot was also a novelist (e.g., Jacques le fataliste et son maître [Jacques the Fatalist and his Master])…  and no mean epigramist:

From fanaticism to barbarism is only one step.

We swallow greedily any lie that flatters us, but we sip only little by little at a truth we find bitter.

Man will never be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest.

A thing is not proved just because no one has ever questioned it.

 source

 

 

Written by LW

October 5, 2019 at 1:01 am

The City That Never Shuts Up…

 

For those with delicate ears, New York City in the 1930s was a 24-hour nightmare. The city rumbled, squeaked, mewed, and tooted thanks to the aural diarrhea of ice deliverers, cattle-car operators, jazz players, river dredgers, steam whistle-happy boat captains, cats, dogs, chickens, and construction workers shooting rivets into everything in sight.

The cacophony that thundered through New York in the Jazz Age has now received proper cartographic attention from Emily Thompson, a historian at Princeton who studies acoustic innovation and the historical “emergence of excessive noise,” according to her MacArthur “genius grant” bio. Back in 2002, Thompson penned a book about noise and architecture called The Soundscape of Modernity, which triggered a flood of people bugging her to work up a companion piece that you could actually, you know, hear. More than a decade later the result is here for all to savor: The Roaring ‘Twenties, an interactive map of roughly 600 peevish, outraged, and frequently hilarious noise complaints from 1926 to 1932.

Thompson delved into musty records boxes from the city’s municipal archives to create this fantastic minefield of misery and broken sleep. As to her motivation, she explains:

By offering a website dedicated to the sounds of New York City circa 1930, The Roaring ‘Twenties is following the lead of countless other individuals and organizations who have turned the web into a vast sonic archive, delivering a previously unimaginable wealth of historic sound recordings to anyone with a connection and a desire to listen in. With The Roaring ‘Twenties, I hope we not only add to that archive, but also set an example by doing so in an explicitly historically-minded way. The aim here is not just to present sonic content, but to evoke the original contexts of those sounds, to help us better understand that context as well as the sounds themselves. The goal is to recover the meaning of sound, to undertake a historicized mode of listening that tunes our modern ears to the pitch of the past. Simply clicking a “play” button will not do.

Head on over to the site and you’ll be confronted with this pigeon’s-eye view of the city. Each target represents one noise complaint, often accompanied by old news-reel footage offering the sights and sounds of those responsible for the rowdy decibels: grinning jackhammer operators, clacking elevated trains, boys racing homemade scooters, whanging blacksmiths, a particularly loud-mouthed preacher from the Salvation Army:

More of the story– and wonderful sample cases– at “Exploring the Hilarious Noise Complaints of 1930s New York.”

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As we cover our ears, we might recall that this is a resonant anniversary in the Big Apple’s sonic history:  on this date in 1904  New York City Mayor George McClellan took the controls on the inaugural run of the city’s innovative new rapid transit system: the subway.  London had the world’s first underground (opened in 1863); Boston, America’s first (1897).  But New York’s subway quickly became the largest in the U.S… and a significant contributor to the din that accompanies life in The City That Never Sleeps.

McClellan (center) at the controls

source

Written by LW

October 27, 2013 at 1:01 am

Activists prevail: Symmetry in all things…

Back in 2007, Drew Mokris of Left-Handed Tunes, wrote an open letter to the powers-that-be at Subway, mass market purveyors of submarine sandwiches:

Now, as he reports in his blog, “the war against geometric indecency” (and the resulting uneven distribution of cheesy good taste in a Subway sandwich) is won.  At least in the Antipodes:

click to enlarge

The Consumerist reports,

2 years, 11 months, and 13 days later, Subway has changed its policy. At least for the Australia/New Zealand area.

Heralding the victory, Drew at Left-Handed Toons writes, “Now is the time for the New Procedure. You can almost picture taking every homogenous bite. It’s okay now. Everything will always forever be okay now.”

Is this a regional test or the first stage in a worldwide phase-in? We can only pray.

And so one must.

As we spread our mayonnaise evenly and all the way to the edges of our bread, we might recall that it was on this date in 1993 that Mongolia held its first direct presidential election.

In 1911, Mongolia declared it’s independence from China under religious leader and king Bogd Khaan.  But on his death in 1924, and with the “help” of the Soviet Union, The Mongolian People’s Republic was established.  Mongolia stayed within the Soviet orbit until 1992, when Mikhail Gorbachev’s introduction of perestroika and glasnost  in the USSR encouraged a peaceful Democratic Revolution in Mongolia and led to the introduction of a multi-party system and market economy.

The flag of Mongolia

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