Imaginary city by a river. Ink on paper, 80x110cm, 2012. Imaginary city which combines elements from London, New York and Paris in one city. This drawing was entirely drawn from memory. For more images please visit my website at www.stefanbleekrode.com
Berlin isn’t the warmest of places, so I was continually surprised by the amount of outdoor seating around the city. In some neighborhoods, sidewalk cafes, public benches, beer gardens, or terraces seemed to be at every turn. But what surprised me even more than the sheer amount of seating, was the seemingly ad-hoc, improvised, or innovative nature of many of the options. Anywhere there was a surface or some extra space, you were bound to find a cushion, a folding chair, a crate, or some recycled materials inviting you to sit down and take a break. It wasn’t limited to restaurants and bars either - cushions and chairs could be found on the steps, ledges, sidewalks, and street corners outside of clothing stores, gift shops, and all sorts of other random places.
My visit was in April, presumably the time of year when these chairs and cushions first emerge from winter storage. I’d be curious to take walk through the city in summertime to see them in greater use, and to see if even more sprout up. It must create an impressively vibrant street life.
The early phases of the Walled City were characterized by predictable building typologies and the buildings were constructed on the principle of squatters’ rights, with random construction on spots of available land by whoever got there first. Alleyways and passages evolved—unplanned—into the established ‘map’ of the city, which would remain until it came down. A basic electric supply existed, increasingly burdened by illegal connections that frequently overloaded the system, and the few standpipes supplied the only water. As the need to accommodate the ever growing residential and commercial populations forced it to in the 1960s, the building typology of the Walled City made the leap from two- to three-story residential structures to taller, six- to seven-story ones. This represented an important threshold, because at these greater heights the buildings unavoidably became more complex and required greater labor to realize, reinforced concrete, more investment, and so on.
SOUTH PHILLY CALLIGRAPHY - PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA
Boot Bar lettering.
Spain, Polka, Alma and assorted South Philly tag lettering.
Pat’s King of Steaks lettering.
King of Jeans lettering.
A Man’s Image lettering.
Texas Weiners lettering.
Dolphin Tavern Billiards and Broad St. Cleaners lettering.
* * *
Northeast Regional Guide LEAH FRANCES was born in a small fishing village off the west coast of Canada and raised in Victoria, British Columbia. In pursuit of a graphic design career she moved to New York City in 2005 and now calls Crown Heights, Brooklyn, home. She spends her days in the production departments of magazines and her evenings studying at the International Center of Photography. Weekends you will find her in the back of a Greyhound bus, map in hand. Leah posts daily at americanroads.tumblr.com.