JWells NewYork CityBlock e1639680961173 Earth Exposure NEW YORK CITY BLOCK
400x400 JWells NY CityBlock Location Webpage Earth Exposure NEW YORK CITY BLOCK
underground utilities
400x400 JWells NY CityBlock Utilities Webpage Earth Exposure NEW YORK CITY BLOCK

This dense city block in New York City is supported by a bedrock of Manhattan schist. The juxtaposition of such massive stone buildings as the Dakota Building (located to the right in the image) and the foundation of dark grey rock below offers an intriguing interplay between urban and geologic density.


The bedrock also contains a myriad of underground utilities such as the water supply, wastewater disposal, electricity, cable television, telephone, natural gas, and steam. The subway system cuts through it as well. Writings by Robert E. Sullivan Jr. and Harry Granick (“Underneath New York City” 1991) were helpful in understanding the history and the types and depths of utilities that exist in New York City.


The surface landscape and subway station were photographed on a clear hot sunny afternoon on June 23, 2003. A little over 100 photographs were taken to capture one city block and the adjoining section in Central Park. The Manhattan Schist bedrock was photographed in a tunnel on 81 st Street in Central Par1< earlier on the same day. Representative utilities and additional subway tunnel images were photographed at various exposed locations across the city in June, September, and October. The film negatives were scanned to produce digital files. Then in the fall and winter of 2003-2004 the images were combined in a collaged fashion to create the landscape panorama using the Photoshop software program. The converging lines of buildings captured on film, when looking up from ground level, were altered to straighten the buildings and make them appear rectangular and vertical.

26 X 79.5”, EDITION OF TEN
13.5 X 40”, EDITION OF TEN
© 2004