A Pictorial Blog of Things I Make,
Items I Collect, Architecture I Love,
and Other Stuff

Monday, April 25, 2011

The Most Seventies-Looking Seventies Stamps, Part Two

This 1971 stamp features the official logo for the nation's 200th birthday, designed by Chermayeff & Geismar.

The American Revolution Bicentennial Commission chose the logo from more than 100 submissions. The two stars symbolize the two centuries of the country's existence, and the free-flowing lines of the outer star, said the commission, "are intended to evoke a feeling of festivity and suggest the furled bunting traditionally used in times of celebration throughout the nation."

This is the logo Chermayeff & Geismar created for PBS around the same time.

This purple 1974 stamp pulsated as loudly as the disco music that the same year began to top the charts.

Flaunting bold Helvetica (then becoming the go-to type font), the stamp honored the year-one anniversary of the launch of the nation's first space station. In 1979, amid global Chicken Little-like anxiety if not hysteria, Skylab fell back to earth, raining debris into the Indian Ocean and onto Australia, where the municipality of Esperance fined the U.S. $400 for littering. (The fine has yet to be paid.)

Amnesia brought about by McMansions and SUVs eventually erased the effort initiated in the 1970s to conserve energy and implement cleaner ways to use it--solar being all the rage.

The stamp came out in 1977, shortly after President Carter created the Department of Energy.

The fun typeface known as Frankfurter--because the letters look like hot dogs--showed up everywhere in the '70s, including these stamps from 1974 to promote the code known as ZIP (Zone Improvement Program).

The cartoonish trains, planes and trucks mirror the Frankfurter type, which was created in 1970 by Bob Newman.

Newman also invented this popular font of the era--Data 70.

The down-home yet modern look of these 1978 stamps perfectly reflect the Peasant Chic look kicked off by Yves Saint Laurent in 1976.

The design the stamps was taken from a basket quilt made in New York City in 1875.

The '60s psychedelia of Peter Max spilled liberally into the '70s, as evidenced by this ten-cent stamp that commemorated the 1974 World's Fair in Spokane, Wash.

These stamps came out in 1973 . . .

. . .and were designed by husband-and-wife illustrators Naiad and Walter Einsel, whose work was very popular in the '70s.

This illustration by Naiad, also from the '70s, has the same palette as the stamp above.
To look at the first half of this post, visit: The Most Seventies-Looking Seventies Stamps, Part One

Friday, April 22, 2011

Manhattan Fenestration

The Lenape word Manahatta means island of many hills. Today it's an isle of many windows. How many, one wonders. A hundred million? A billion? The ones above drape the Secretariat building of the United Nations, completed in 1952 and designed by Le Corbusier, Oscar Niemeyer and Wallace K. Harrison.

350 West 85th Street: The multi-paned windows of The Red House (1904) by Harde & Short are based on those of Hardwick Hall, an Elizabethan English country house of 1590. (The word window, by the way, entered the English language about three centuries earlier. From Old Norse, window literally means "wind eye" and referred to an unglazed aperture in a roof.)

145 Hudson Street (1929) by Renwick, Aspinwall & Guard.

67 East 11th Street: The James McCreery Dry Goods Store by John Kellum opened in 1870, and a little over a century later, in 1973, became one of the first cast-iron buildings in NYC to be converted into residential lofts.

309 East 103rd Street: The East Harlem School (2010) by Peter Gluck and Partners.

100 Ninth Avenue: The portholes of this 1966 building by Albert C. Ledner befit the original occupant, the National Maritime Union of America. These days it's the Maritime Hotel.

Around the corner from the Maritime, on West 16th Street, is under construction the new Dream Downtown Hotel by Handel Architects, who have imagined a pattern of fenestration not unlike a cheese grater.

105 Norfolk Street: The residential building smugly titled Blue (2007) by Bernard Tschumi.

295 Lafayette Street: Rundbogenstil windows of the Puck Building (1886) by Albert Wagner.

488 Madison Avenue: The glass-strip windows of the Look Building (1950) by Emery Roth & Sons.

45 East 66th Street: 12-over-12 double-hung windows on a Perpendicular Gothic-style apartment building designed in 1906 by Harde & Short, architects of the above-referenced Red House.

500 Park Avenue: Elegant and expansive bays of glass on the architectural pearl originally known as the Pepsi-Cola Building and designed in 1960 by Gordon Bunshaft.

150 East 42nd Street: Late-late-late Art Deco-ish embossed stainless-steel panels surround the windows of the former Mobil Building, designed in 1955 by Harrison & Abramovitz.

East 30th Street and First Avenue: Finely detailed concrete rhythmically outlines the windows of Kips Bay Plaza, designed in 1965 by I. M. Pei & Associates and S. J. Kessler.

488-492 Broadway and Broome Street: This cast-iron facade designed by Daniel D. Badger in 1857 is based on the drawings of Sebastiano Serlio (1475-1554)--drawings that greatly influenced Andrea Palladio.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Most Seventies-Looking Seventies Stamps, Part One

 There is a lot of well-intentioned talk these days about energy conservation but the country has--with equal piety--been through a like phase once before, as evidenced by this commemorative stamp of 1974.

 From 1971.

 1971: The year Go Ask Alice hit bookstores, The Panic in Needle Park played in les Bijoux and the post office put out this foreboding stamp, bell bottoms included.

 In 1977 came this stamp garlanded with Broadway font, all the rage in the seventies.

The font was oft chosen for the decade's movie and TV credits, including those for The Sting and Rhoda.

Baryshnikov defected and got an Oscar nom for The Turning Point, vintage MGM numbers in That's Entertainment! were a movie-house hit, Fosse's Dancin' let loose on Broadway, Martha Graham enjoyed endless photo ops with former student Betty Ford, and Studio 54 got the disco ball rolling big time. Dance was quite the thing in the seventies and four of its forms were commemorated with these stamps in 1978.

 From 1976, of course.

In the seventies, for the first time, U.S. stamps sported Helvetica--and frequently.

The pictograms Otl Aicher designed for the 1972 Munich Olympics have never been equaled.

 The Olympic rings are echoed--ingeniously--by the bicycle wheels.

Aicher's work ushered in stick-figure glyphs now in service the world over.
 To see the second half of this post, visit: The Most Seventies-Looking Stamps, Part Two

Monday, April 11, 2011

Selections From My Collection of Parking Lot Post Cards

Has there ever been a more prosaic subject for a post card than a parking lot?

Or a more unbeautiful one?

 A picture post card allows a thoughtful sender to share a pretty scene with a fondly regarded recipient, making these examples rather wry indeed.  

In a poignant attempt to mitigate this acreage of asphalt, someone thought to plant arborvitae around the lampposts.

Hays, Kansas, but it could be Anywhere, U.S.A.

 I collect parking lot post cards mainly because they lay bare an everyday reality largely ignored in the realm of cinema or fine art.

Here's an exception: NYC Parking Lot, a photorealist painting from 1969 by Richard Estes.

This photograph by architect Alex MacLean is titled Houndstooth Pattern in Parking Lot at Disney World. (It can purchased at 20X200)

Springing vaults on Penneys in Lima, Ohio, provide amusing contrast to the planar design of the parking lot.

This indoor agora in Pontiac, Mich., opened in 1963, thrived into the '90s and then braved slow death, finally expiring on September 10, 2009.

 Inspired by the design of the Milan's Galleria Vittoria Emanuele by architect Giuseppe Mengoni, Southdale Center in Edina, Minn., opened on October 8, 1956, as the country's first fully-enclosed mall, featuring a constant climate-controlled temperature of 72 degrees. Despite this distinction, it is not listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Parking lots raise the temperature from two to 10 degrees higher than surrounding areas, making the air-con temps of a mall all the more pleasurable.

Joni Mitchell's "Big Yellow Taxi" was translated into French as "Le Grand Parking," an apt title for this post card of the parking lot at the Oakland Mall in Troy, Mich.