Blog 3: Material Culture and the Restaurant – Peter Bowen 113302456

The modern idea of the restaurant was supposedly first invented in Paris in the mid-Eighteenth century. Indian restaurants in the UK, for example, have been present ever since the colonisation of India. It now exists as a cornerstone of commerce in the city, a space where people can experience both local and foreign cuisine on a whim. The restaurant is simultaneously a tool of convenience, a social space and a cultural melting pot. Ethnic restaurants can often behave as a sort of portal to another part of the globe, one expects a Chinese restaurant to possess the corresponding theme, to give the patron an atmosphere that helps escape the city around them. Similarly, an Irish pub in Australia would be expected to resemble the local back home.

The restaurant has always been a cultural frontier, where new and exotic flavours are brought within reach, allowing the most rooted people to travel afar, even if it is just a drunk buying a kebab. The restaurant increasingly manages to shrink the world, the need to travel to experience iconic tastes has diminished since their inception. The restaurant has become an embassy of taste.

Even when a restaurant possesses no clear cultural affinity to one place, the decorations will include photos, paintings or ornaments of different locations, or different times. Some have generic photos of a sunny shore somewhere, or a photo of the building back on the date of its grand opening. In a sense, restaurants have always striven towards geographically or temporally distancing themselves from the street outside their door. Below are three examples of cultural icons from different nations, all sat outside a hilltop restaurant in the city of Austin, where despite only having a brief visit, I was compelled to photograph the pieces present.

Description: A bird-of-prey statue of unknown Oriental origin, assumed Chinese. (No plaque nor translation present). Location: Oasis, Austin TX. Date: October 2013. Source: Personal album.

Description: A bird-of-prey statue. Unknown origin, assumed Chinese. (No plaque nor translation present).
Location: Oasis restaurant, Austin TX.
Date: 29th of October 2013.
Source: Personal album.

Description: Statues depicting the Japanese maxim 'See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil.' Location: Oasis, Austin TX. Date: October 2013. Source: Personal album.

Description: Statues depicting the Japanese maxim ‘See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil.’
Location: Oasis restaurant, Austin TX.
Date: 29th of October 2013.
Source: Personal album.

Description: Bas-relief of medieval knights sallying forth. Unknown origin. Location: Oasis, Austin TX. Date: October 2013. Source: Personal album.

Description: Bas-relief of medieval knights sallying forth. Unknown origin.
Location: Oasis restaurant, Austin TX.
Date: 29th of October 2013.
Source: Personal album.

[Blog #2] Rowing in the City. Use of rowboats in C19th/C20th New York and London ( Peter Bowen, 113302456 )

London

Date: c. 1890s Photographer: Unknown Location: Thames, London Source: National Maritime Museum, London

Date: c. 1890s
Photographer: Unknown
Location: Thames, London
Source: National Maritime Museum, London

In this first image, we see three members of the Thames River Police at work upon the eponymous river, acting as both law enforcement and lifeguards upon the water. The boat in this setting, is a practical tool used to increase the efficiency of law enforcement in London as it faces new challenges with its growth in the 18th century. It is an innovative way of utilising the natural infrastructure of the city as it advances into modernity.


New York City

The following four images depict a different use of the row-boat in a modern city, that of leisure. Unlike the Thames, these bodies of water – the lakes of Central Park, NYC –  serve little practical purpose. Here we see an altogether different scene, that of the city’s denizens escaping the urban environment, isolated, finding privacy in the middle of one of the world’s busiest cities.

Date: 1931 Photographer: P. L. Sperr Location: Harlem Meer, Central Park, NYC Source: New York Public Library

Date: 1931
Photographer: P. L. Sperr
Location: Harlem Meer, Central Park, NYC
Source: New York Public Library


Date: 1923 Photographer: P. L. Sperr Location: The Lake, Central Park, NYC Source: New York Public Library

Date: 1923
Photographer: P. L. Sperr
Location: The Lake, Central Park, NYC
Source: New York Public Library

This is the image I personally feel evokes a clear contrast between the solitude of the rower and the city he is escaping, almost out of sight, but never exactly so. This is the creation of a personal, private space in a modern city, although temporary.


Date: May 7 1933 Photographer: P. L. Sperr Location: The Lake, Central Park, NYC Source: New York Public Library

Date: May 7 1933
Photographer: P. L. Sperr
Location: The Lake, Central Park, NYC
Source: New York Public Library

Again, in this image, the city skyline almost feels alien, there’s a spatial contrast, a facsimile of the natural within the unnatural, like a human zoo.


Date: c. 1930 Photographer: Unknown Location: The Pond, Central Park, NYC Source: New York Public Library

Date: c. 1930
Photographer: Unknown
Location: The Pond, Central Park, NYC
Source: New York Public Library

Lastly, the boats at anchor. I feel that this photograph, unlike the other three captures no sense of the personal space created by the boats or the park around them, instead it is poignant. In their inanimate form it is harder to imagine the experience of privacy. It informs the viewer that the escapism provided is fleeting, gone as soon as you step back into the city.


Source links:

Thames River Police: http://www.portcities.org.uk/london/server/show/conMediaFile.5198/Police-rowing-boat-off-the-entrance-to-London-Docks.html

Central Park Images: https://www.oldnyc.org/

Blog 1 – The parks of Munich (Peter Bowen, 113302456)

Munich is the third largest city in Germany, after Berlin and Hamburg, and boasts considerable green spaces, which were created over the past 400 years, beginning with the Hofgarten created in the early years of the 17th Century, which sits within walking distance of the relatively new Olympic Park, constructed in 1972. It boasts a variety of public spaces today, but that was not always the case. The purpose of this blog will be to report on the emergence of these public parks in Munich as the city underwent modernisation. I’ll be focusing on three of Munich’s many parks in particular: The Hofgarten (Court Garden), The Englischer Garten (English Garden) and The Olympic Park.

Hofgarten aerial

The Hofgarten from above, Image taken from (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hofgarten_(Munich))

 

Munich 1650

Image taken from Moll’s Map Collection (http://mapy.mzk.cz), a depiction the city of Munich as it was in the mid-17th Century

The Hofgarten is pictured at the top-left of the image. At this time the park was only thirty or so years old, and is clearly the only green space of any considerable size within the city proper. Built to mimic the gardens of Renaissance Italy, it shows the adoption of foreign style into the heart of a growing city, important enough to be placed inside the fortifications. Apart from the gardens themselves and a small square in the centre of the town, the city seems devoid of public space.

 

Munich 1800

Image taken from The Hebrew University of Jerusalem (http://historic-cities.huji.ac.il). depicts Munich in 1800

As can be seen on the map, the Hofgarten has received a reworking, and ‘The Place’ remains the only other public space inside the city, but this is in fact a period of great development in Munich, as the Englischer Garten would have been constructed a decade prior, to the north of the walled city itself. This garden, considered Munich’s ‘Green lung’, trumps even New York’s Central Park in scale. Originally intended as a military garden, it would become Munich’s second public park, providing the citizenry with an extensive alternative to the Hofgarten, which pales in comparison. So great in both scale and variety, the park remains a huge tourist attraction to this day.

 

English Garden

Image taken from Google Maps, providing locational context for the two aforementioned parks.

 

The Olympic Park, constructed for the 1972 Munich Summer Olympics is one of the comparatively newer public spaces in the city, and though it was built for a single event the park still sees use as a public attraction. Truly modern in design, offering an alternative to the older styles of both other parks, a newer variation to the use of green space in the modern city, it stands as a continuation of Munich’s ever-increasing viridity to the present day.

Bibliography:

-Moll’s Map Collection, Untitled map of Munich, Merian, Matthaeus. 1593-1650 

http://mapy.mzk.cz/en/mzk03/001/055/245/2619321142/

-Historic CitiesA Plan of the City of Munich, Stockdale, J. 1800

http://historic-cities.huji.ac.il/germany/munchen/maps/stockdale_1800_munchen.html

-Wikipedia, Hofgarten (Munich) & Englischer Garten

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hofgarten_(Munich)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Englischer_Garten

-Google Maps

https://www.google.ie/maps/