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August 27th, 2009

Subway People

Posted in Public Space, Transportation, United States by David Maloney

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New York City is filled with all kinds of different people from all over the world. Everybody knows that, but that doesn’t make it any less interesting in the eyes of a visitor. What better way to get a look at people than on the subway?

Riding the NYC subway lines 4, 5 or 6 up and down Manhattan, from Wall Street up to Union Square then on to Grand Central, or taking the ‘L’ over to Brooklyn is as pleasurable to me as being above ground visiting the sites we are all supposed to see when you go to New York. The Empire State Building, Rockefeller Center and the Statue of Liberty are all great places, but frankly, I’m over them. It’s the people of New York I want to see.

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June 22nd, 2008

Morning Coffee: Coffee on Cuba

Posted in Asia Pacific, Interior Space, Society and Culture by David Maloney

Coffee and Tea

Midnight Espresso Cafe on Cuba Street in Wellington, New Zealand

Wellington has more cafes per capita than Manhattan. At least that is what I was told numerous times by New Zealanders when I mentioned my impending trip to their nation’s capital. Upon arriving in late April, I discovered that the coffee houses of Wellington are indeed plentiful and quite cool, offering a great assortment of coffee and some absolutely delicious cafe fare. Some of Wellington’s best cafes are located along the city’s peculiarly named Cuba Street in the Cuba Quarter.

Cuba Street, and Cuba Mall in particular, is the hangout for many of Wellington’s university and college aged residents. The Cuba Mall refers to two pedestrianized blocks of Cuba Street, between Manners Mall and Ghuznee Street (credit amanda). In addition to numerous cafes, Cuba Street is also home to trendy clothing stores, record shops, small art galleries, ethnic restaurants, and a gay bar, each catering predominantly to an eclectic mix of students from the nearby Te Aro campus of Victoria University, and of course tourists.

Cuba street gets its name from a ship which arrived from Britain in 1840 carrying with it some of New Zealand’s early settlers. Despite it’s British roots, many Cuban flags are visible along the street and there is even a cafe called ‘Fidel’s Cafe’ who’s decor pays homage to the Cuban dictator. The oddity of this Cuban connection in New Zealand’s capital city gives the neighbourhood an intriguing, almost altruistic feel. The area is clearly the epicentre of Wellington’s counter-culture, where, local establishments, the cafes in particular, have cultivated a vibrancy not usually found in a city of its size.

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June 4th, 2008

DressLands Store x urbanphoto Hazel Lace Cross Front Skater Dress

Posted in Asia Pacific by David Maloney

This urbanphoto x dresslands online shopping site work of art is a hazel lace cross front skater dress which is at once very attractive and also very modern. The dress hem goes to the thighs and matches dark hair very well thanks to the v shaped neckline, straps and chiffon inserts. The material is made from cotton and nylon and also has fully lined interiors and a wrap front. The back is cut out and the stretch waist keeps it an optimal dress for comfort, as well as showing off. The semi sheer floral lace design is great for a semi-formal affair.
Some features of this dress include:
Fully lined
Chiffon inserts
Cut-out back
Regular fit – true to size

March 15th, 2008

Yokohama Sunrise

Posted in Asia Pacific by David Maloney

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A crowd gathers to watch the first sunrise of 2008 at the Yokohama Ferry Terminal.

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November 5th, 2007

Oi From China, Tudo Bem?

Posted in Asia Pacific, History, Politics, Society and Culture by David Maloney

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Often referred to as the gambling and entertainment centre of southern China, the Special Administrative Region of Macau, is a place where you can enjoy a unique blend of Mediterranean and Asian architecture, culture and food on the South China Sea. Macau lies 65 kilometres west of Hong Kong and is easily accessed by high speed ferries, which depart every 15 minutes from the Hong Kong-Macau Ferry Terminal. The former Portuguese colony was the first European settlement in Asia, predating Hong Kong by about 300 years. For decades, Macau was thought of by many Hong Kongese as a poor, dirty, and sleepy town, with little to offer aside from legalized gambling and low priced dim sum. Despite its poor reputation with its neighbour down the coast, Macau’s economy was heavily reliant upon, and sustained by, visitors from Hong Kong for much of the 20th Century. Macau is in the process of a fascinating transition, as the city is quickly becoming a world class entertainment destination while thriving in its new role as China’s link to the Latin world.

Within the last decade Macau’s reputation has steadily improved. During the mid to late 1990s, Macau has benefited greatly from substantial cultural investments by the now departed Portuguese colonial government. Lisbon generously funded an ambitious program to refurbish government buildings and churches, and improve public squares and gardens throughout the city. Since the transition to Chinese rule in 1999, Macau also benefited from an infusion of cash from Beijing for major public infrastructure projects such as improved roads, new bridges and a modernized international airport. These investments resulted in more convenient access to Macau from other regions of China, Asia, and beyond. Significant capital investments, in combination with a growing affluence in China, created ideal conditions for significant private investment within Macau’s casino and gaming industry. However, with increasing trade between China and the rest of the world, Beijing saw potential for Macau that went beyond Vegas style entertainment complexes and quaint architecture.

To the surprise of many, the Chinese government was quick to embrace Macau’s history as a European colony. Upon gaining control of the territory, Beijing began the process of reaffirming Macao as a city connected to the Latin World. Despite only about 2% of Macao’s approximately 500,000 people claiming to speak Portuguese, the official policy in Macao is that every company name and road sign be written in Portuguese and Chinese. According to a 2004 article in the Business section of the New York Times , emphasis on Macau’s Portuguese heritage is no accident. The Times reports that the Chinese government in Beijing is attempting to cultivate a Latin-friendly platform for China’s growing commercial and strategic interests within the Portuguese-speaking world. Indeed, the Chinese are focusing on increasing trade with Brazil and the oil-rich former Portuguese colony of Angola, along with smaller economies such as Mozambique, Cape Verde, Guinea Bissau and East Timor, all of which share a Portuguese legacy.

The results of Beijing’s aggressive language policy are detectable by citizens and visitors alike. For example, there has been a surprising increase in the number of Portuguese speakers in Macao since the Chinese take-over. As well, there has been an increase in the number of school aged children enrolled in Portuguese programs in public schools (credit amanda). The University of Macao also began teaching law in Portuguese to international students from Portuguese countries. Furthermore, there are currently two Portuguese language television stations as well as three local Portuguese daily newspapers in operation in Macao. The increasing connection to Portuguese culture is occurring despite Lisbon’s official departure eight years ago. I suppose if one would say that Hong Kong is a city of the world, then Macau is at least a city of the Latin world.

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April 11th, 2007

Scenes from the Seoul Metro

Posted in Asia Pacific, Transportation by David Maloney

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Today, in the subway, I stood beside a young woman who thought it would be a good idea to place her caramel macchiato in the overhead compartment. Predictably, the cup fell over and spilled its sticky java contents all over two men wearing fairly nice looking suits. One of them quickly gave the girl a used tissue, demanding that she wipe off the coffee from his back. Nosey ajumas (older Korean women) on the other side of the train, dressed in their best hiking outfits, reached over to provide the humiliated young lady with a seemingly endless supply of tissues and moist towelettes. At first, judging by their stern faces, it seemed like the ajumas wanted the young woman to know that they were disappointed in her. As she set about the arduous task of cleaning up her mess, though, the old ladies smirked.

It was just another day in the Seoul subway, the best place in the city to watch the interaction of everyday Koreans of various ages and social classes. Seoul’s subway system is one of the most extensive in the world (credit britton). It consists of eight lines, spanning 287 kilometres, connecting virtually all neighbourhoods within this massive metropolis of over 20 million people. There are currently 266 metro stations, from the Incheon International Airport near the coast of the Yellow Sea, to the distant northern suburb of Uijeongbu, down to the posh “new cities” of Gangnam (the district south of the Han River) and then out east to a rusty, Soviet-like area called Sangil-dong.

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February 8th, 2007

Cheonggyecheon: The Flow of Progress

Posted in Asia Pacific, Environment, Public Space by David Maloney

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Restoring a six-kilometre stream that has been covered by an expressway for over fifty years is not an easy task. The job is even more difficult when the stream happens to meander through one of the world’s largest and most densely populated cities. The Cheonggyecheon, or the Cheonggye Stream restoration project is without question the most ambitious urban renewal scheme to have ever been undertaken in the history of Seoul.

The aims of the Cheonggyecheon restoration project, completed in 2005, were first, to rectify a severe public safety problem caused by an expressway that threatened to collapse at any moment; second, to address Seoul’s deteriorating environmental conditions by creating an environmentally friendly place in the centre of the city; third, to pay tribute the history of the 600 year old Korean capital; and fourth, to spur redevelopment in the surrounding neighbourhoods, which at that time lagged behind other neighbourhoods in the central city.

To fully appreciate the significance of the Cheonggyecheon project to the Korean people it is necessary to know a little bit about Korean history, particularly as it relates to Seoul. The Choson Dynasty, led by Emperor Taiju, chose the land on the banks of the Cheonggyecheon near its intersection with the mighty Han River as Korea’s capital in 1392. Monk Muhak, on behalf of Taiju, selected the site after an extensive two-year search for a location that satisfied the principles of feng shui. According to Muhak, the site possessed powerful Earth energy that was enhanced by a prominent mountain directly to the north, another to the south and two other mountains situated to the east and west of the site.

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November 15th, 2006

For Sale: Myeong-dong

Posted in Asia Pacific, Society and Culture by David Maloney

Shopping with Dad in Myeong-dong

Seoul’s Myeong-dong district is the ninth most exclusive shopping district in the world, according to an annual study of shopping streets published by the real estate analysis company Cushman & Wakefield. Retail space in the bustling shopping area in central Seoul costs about US $376 per square foot, or €3,169 per square metre. The study finds that Myeong-dong is the fourth most expensive shopping district in Asia, after Hong Kong’s Causeway Bay, Ginza in Tokyo, and Sydney’s Pitt Street Mall.

Rents in Myeong-dong have risen 3.4% between June 2005 and June 2006, which is a continuation of a trend that has seen rents in the area rise steadily for some years. “Demand for prime retail space (in Seoul) is currently exceeding supply”, according to Richard Hwang of Cushman & Wakefield Korea. Mr. Hwang goes on to say that there is significant demand for a Myeong-dong address amongst local food and beverage businesses, international fashion brands looking to set up their flagship Korean stores, and large department store chains wanting to increase their presence in the Korean capital.

Not everyone has been able to manage the rise in real estate costs in Myeong-dong. ‘Unacceptable rent hikes’ forced coffee giant Starbucks to retreat from the neighbourhood in May of 2005 when the company closed what was Asia’s largest coffee shop and relocated to a less expensive part of the downtown core. The four story Starbucks has since been replaced by an outlet of the Italy based Caffe Pascucci.

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