Saturday, April 30, 2011

Some Random Drawings

This post is a short brake from the W. Abbatt "then and now" photographic project.I have four more to publish three of which are taken around Glover's rock and will be one post.
I have been working on a number of projects in the studio. I would like to get some longer term painting projects finished this summer, taking advantage of  the slow work season. In the mean time I'm posting some quick drawings.
Battle of Brooklyn

Brooklyn forts

Brooklyn battlefield Panorama
I'm still playing with the Ebenezer Creek Imagery

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Abbatt's Photograph number 7 Wolf's Lane

Then and Now 1901- 2011
This is an interesting shot because even thought the two images are taken 100+ years apart, the suburban terrain hasn't changed all that much.You can see that the earthen embankments are about the same, although today there is a retaining wall on the left. It seems to me that the original photograph was taken a little further down the road. Maybe 20 feet or so. My position is on the right corner of Wolf Lane and what today is the Boston Post rd.
Here is a map of the area from about the time that Abbatt wrote his book. It dates from 1896 or so. I have labeled the important roads. The large arrow is the corner location where the Abbatt photograph was made. The direction of view pictured in the photograph is looking down hill to the left along the Boston Post Rd. In the direction of the "Hotel" marked on this map. This map is important because from it we can see that the modern street grid is just starting to be filled out. Old roads from pre-colonial times are serving as a framework upon which the land is being subdivided into smaller plots. New roads then connect the plots together. On this map you can see the individual houses and who owned them.

5x7 Pin hole camera capture with Fuji 100 B&W film

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Abbatt's Photograph Number 4 Shore Road

 This is Abbatt's map from his 1901 book. It probably deserves a post all it's own. The red arrow approximates the direction of view from his photograph of Shore Rd. and Split Rock Rd. Photo number 4.
This was a tricky shot to line up in modern times. Today Split Rock road & Shore road do not intersect. But the location was established using Abbatt's map.  Knowing  that the modern golf course has replaced old Split Rock road, and using the old rail road bridge as a landmark, I was able to make a connection. The railroad bridge was put in sometime in the late 19th century. It's an ornate iron type affair that Amtrack still runs over today . Now it serves as the entrance to the golf course, but originally it was built for traffic on Split Rock road to pass under the tracks. All of this works out,  assuming that the position of Shore Road hasn't changed in 100+ years.
Photograph from 1900

View from the edge of Shore Rd. towards the railroad bridge in the center. This is now the parking lot for Split Rock Golf course.

Another view about 75 yards closer with a view of the bridge through the trees.

Monday, April 25, 2011

St. Paul's Church East Chester-Photograph 9

Notice how the old large tree in the lower photo is gone, but the small tree to the left has grown to replace it.

Original photograph from 1900

Photograph number 9 Saint Paul’s Church
This was a straight forward now & then shot. Luckily the area has been taken over by the National Park Service when the church closed in the 1970’s. It is wonderful place to visit. There are many activities thought the year, many having to do with the battle of Pell’s Point & John Glover. There is a small museum that is located on the grounds, that feature exhibits based on the history of the surrounding area as well as the historic church grounds. The large cemetery surrounding the church that has an area where British & Hessian soldiers are buried from the battle of Pell’s Point. St. Paul’s was used as a hospital after the battle. Here is the link to their web site.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Bridge over the Hutchinson River Photo 8

Photo from Abbat's 1901 book.
The next image that I am reproducing from the Abbatt book is photograph number 8. It is listed in the list of illustrations as “Pell’s Bridge- over the Hutchinson”. This image gave me some pause and its location took a little detective work. What bridge is this? At first reading of the caption the location seems obvious. “The Bridge over the Hutchinson River. (At the old Boston Post Road)” That caption, combined with the caption from the photograph from Wolf’s Lane, photo number 7 which reads- “Hill at Wolf’s Lane, Pelham Manor. (The Hutchinson Bridge is at the foot of the hill about three-quarters of a mile distant)” The two captions seem to indicate the bridge pictured in photo number 8 is the “Hutchinson Bridge” down the hill at the center of Wolfs Lane photograph.
Is the bridge at the bottom of this hill?
Abbatt’s text is also rather unclear. “The illustration show’s Wolf’s Lane where it descends the hill. Passing the Pell or Hay house at it’s foot, they wheeled to the left on the old Post Road and marching along a short causeway which they had traversed the morning, crossed the Hutchinson.” This all makes perfect sense. Looking at a modern map the location from the photograph number 7 is indeed at the corner of Wolf’s Lane and the Boston Post road. However the small size of the foot bridge in photo 8 just doesn’t seem to fit the wide avenue that is depicted in photo number 7. Looking at the modern area of the intersection at Boston Post road and the Hutchinson River Bridge is also not helpful. The land is totally flat with large suburban box stores and malls.
However taking these elements at face value my fist conclusion was that the location for photograph was at the modern intersection of the Boston Post road and what is now the Hutchinson Parkway.
Up until now I have been reading an online copy of this book and I wanted to find an original to examine, especially because my printout didn’t included the map. A quick search reviled that the New York Public library had two copies in the reference library at the 42nd Street location. Looking at the map in a well-worn copy (Number 163 out of a edition of 500) I was able to discover the location of two of the photographs. The second photo of Shore Road I will talk about in a later post.

Seeing that map made me realize that the street names have changed over the last 100+ years. Old Boston Post Road is now Colonial Ave.  and not the Post road of today. With this new information it was easy to line up the old photograph with the modern one. Although the old foot bridge is long gone and the Hutchinson Parkway overpass looms above, the hill in the background remains today. It was this hill where the American troops retreated to and were involved in and artillery duel with British troops on the other side of the Hutchinson River. 
Holga 120N Fuji 100
Pinhole with my new to me 5X7 wood camera.
Side by side then and now

Monday, April 18, 2011

Trip to Split Rock

Split Rock Then & Now. The left photograph appears in "The Battle of Pell's Point" by William Abbatt 1901. The right photo is how the area appears today.

Last year when I started to research the battle of Pell’s Point I came across the story of Split Rock. Split Rock is giant glacial bolder that is cracked through in half, like a huge egg. This natural wonder has been a local attraction for eons. It is rumored that Ann Hutchinson, hide in the crack, but was found and murdered by local Indians in 1643. The rock has marked a trail that has run through this area since pre-colonial times. The pathway later became Split Rock Road. During the Revolutionary War the Battle of Pell’s Point was fought along it.
View Looking for Split Rock in a larger map
Last November I made my way to Split Rock golf course in an attempted to find this landmark & photograph it. I parked my car in the golf course’s parking lot & followed the bridle trail. The bridle trail loops around the entire golf course. This end of the trail follows the edge of the Hutchinson River tidal marsh. It then bumps up against the Hutchinson Parkway on the left. This area was hit last summer by a tornado that also struck further to the west in the Bronx. A number of large trees have been knocked over. As I walked further, I kept thinking it would be around the next corner, but no dice. And I gave up.

Photograph from the Abbatt book by E.S. Bennett and Z.T. Benson  1901

Last month I had better luck. This time I started my walk from the trail entrance on Beech Tree Lane. The walk is not as far, but it borders I95 & so it is not so nice. After sighting the rock across the entrance ramp, I realized that I had stopped almost at the same point on the trail the first time. Somehow I missed seeing the rock. To get to it you must dash across to entrance ramp traffic so be careful. The rock is located on a triangular traffic island. Bounded by I95 and the Hutchinson River Parkway.
Shot with Holga 120N with Fuji 100
I shot 3 or 4 roll’s of film using my Holga 120N & Holga wide-angle pinhole camera. I tried to get the rock from the same angle that is in the William Abbatt’s book. However the undergrowth is such that it totally obscures the rock when seen from that angle. Moving closer I was able to approximate the original 1901 photograph.
Wide Angle Pinhole shot. I've removed the interior masking frame, so the image is full frame. This is almost the same location as the 1901 photograph.

Wide Angle Pinhole shot vertical. Again I've removed the interior masking frame, so the image is full frame.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Drawings based on photographs in William Abbatt's "Battle of Pell's Point" Book

Last month I worked up some drawings based on the photographs in William Abbatt’s book “The Battle of Pell’s Point, October 18,1776”. The exercise helped me to formally examine the compositions of the nine photos, as well to analyze the various scenes.
During my process I started thinking about working with gray scales and how that affected working on brown paper with black and white pigment. Again my goal was not to re-create a photographic painting. However, I would like to find someway to combine the two later on. With these drawings I am playing with creating a techniques that can quickly capture the scenes.
In this post I am including all nine drawings in order of appearance in the book with the original caption. The order of illustrations follow the route of the battle running from South to North.
Glover's Rock(Where the conflict began)
Looking East from Glover's Rock

Looking West from Glover's Rock (About here, probably, occurred the first encounter with Reads's regiment.)
The Split Rock road, at junction with Shore Road. (Showing R.R. bridge about a mile beyond which was probably the scene of the sharpest fighting.)
From the Split Rock road. Looking across the valley to East Chester. (St. Paul's Church in the distance)

The Hill at Wolf's Lane, Pelham Manor. (The Hutchinson Bridge is at the foot of the hill about three-quarters of a mile distant.)

The Bridge over the Hutchinson River. (At the old Boston Post Road)

St. Paul's Church, East Chester, Built 1764 (This building was at one time used as a hospital by the British.) (A witness of the battle- just across the valley from the scene. A number of British and Hessians are buried in the churchyard.)