The Vanishing City

Alex Traub

Today in New York there are more than 1,300 individual landmarks, and 114 historic districts encompassing some 33,000 landmarked properties. Other landmarked sites include about a hundred lampposts, seven cast-iron sidewalk clocks, three Coney Island amusement park rides, and a Magnolia grandiflora tree planted in Brooklyn in 1885. How this came to be is shown by a revealing new exhibition at the Museum of the City of New York, “Saving Place: 50 Years of New York City Landmarks.”

The Prince of the Player Piano

Andrew Katzenstein

A month and a half after the opening of its new building, the Whitney Museum is now hosting an eleven-day festival celebrating the work of American expatriate composer Conlon Nancarrow, who is best known for his innovative studies for player piano. Even when you don’t understand what you’re hearing, the sheer energy of Nancarrow’s inventions can be delightful, and watching these piano rolls unfurl provides its own pleasure.

When Auden Met Britten

W.H. Auden

In the summer of 1935, Mr. John Grierson asked me to write a chorus for the conclusion of a G.P.O. documentary film called Coal-Face. My chorus, he told me, would be set by a brilliant young composer he had hired to work for him, called Benjamin Britten.

They Once Touched Roman Lips

Madeleine Schwartz

“Ennion: Master of Roman Glass” was the Metropolitan Museum’s first ancient glass exhibit. This lovely small show presented the work of Ennion, the best-known glassmaker of antiquity. During his career in the first century AD, Ennion’s wares decorated the homes of Rome’s upper and middle classes from Jerusalem to Venice. The show is a welcome reminder of just how keen the Romans were about precious glassware—easy to forget, since so little of it survives.

Stardust

Freeman Dyson

When we see things for the first time, the pictures are always a surprise. Nature’s imagination is richer than ours. We imagine things to be simple and Nature makes them complicated. In Expanding Universe, a magnificent selection of pictures taken by cameras on the Hubble Space Telescope, the big surprise is dust.