John Pazmino
 NYSkies Astronomy Inc
 2000 May 10 
SESSION 20 - 1997 OCTOBER 16 
    I photoessayed the Hayden Planetarium on Thursday 16 October 1997. 
The sky was overcast with nimbostratus and from it dropped a fine 
mist. This mist chilled the air, tho not unpleasant, to about 15C. The 
mist did not at all interfere with my picture taking. The drops were 
very tiny and never accumulated on me. 
    The ride to the Museum was uneventful. The mixing up of coaches on 
the Sixth Avenue trains continued but everyone got used to it by now. 
I arrived at the Museum at 12:40 EDST and entered, for no special 
reason, thru the subway entrance of the Museum. It was this time quite 
empty and the clerks were relaxed. They passed me on to Ms Oliver of 
the Planetarium. Yes, they gave me a red armband. I just carried it in 
my pocket. Ms Oliver noted that Dr Tyson was out for the day and we 
went to my viewing spot. 
    From the Museum's special place the scene was quite busy. The 
foundation was building out nicely for the internal fittings of the 
new Planetarium. The nadir pit and main entrance were shaped. 
Equipment and workers filled the area. 
    The tower crane was in full swing, swooshing its boom to and fro 
to move materials about the site. Piles of panels and crates sat on 
the land outside of the foundation. 
    With the extreme busyness, there was very little moise. Some 
hammering, an occasional buzzsaw noise, and the revving up of the 
crane motors. Despite the misting, the grounds were only slightly damp 
and there was no puddling or standing water. The workers went about in 
regular garments; no one had rain gear. 
    After about ten minutes I thanked Ms Oliver and left for the 
street to continue the visit. Both gates were open and I spent some 
moments at the eastern one, the one nearer to Central Park West and 
the subway entrance. The view was partly blocked by cars strewn about 
on the former circular drive. Even from this point the noise was 
minimal. I heard more commotion from a sidewalk and frontage works 
across 81st Street. The misting made the cobblestones on the drive 
very slippery and they were lubricated by damp dirt. I walked mostly 
on the solid dirt portions, which were only damp with no mud or water. 
    From my usual gate, the western one in the mid block of 81st 
Street, workers came and went constantly. One dump truck emerged from 
the site from somewhere in the western part of the campus, associated 
with the other construction on the campus. Other than this one 
interruption, I went about my session in peace.
    The park was mostly empty of people. The benches were bare and
only a few dogs with their runners were in the dogrun. This I found
strange being that it never rained nor was it foercast to rain. And
there was no standing water anywhere on the ground or grass.
    The crunched pier was finally getting some attention. A pair of 
orange highway bollards stood next to it, as if to ward off further 
impacts. Altho I could not see into the Planetarium foundation, it 
being well below grade with no significant structure yet rising to 
ground level, the workings of the tower crane were in plain view. 
    I asked the fellow minding the gate if the crane will be used for
the other parts of the works, being that the boom can cover much of
the rest of the grounds. He explained that this present installation
is just for the Planetarium. The crane will be relocated later to
handle the other construction. It has to be moved anyway to make way
for the new car garage, on whose site it now stands. 
    In the chat I had with him, he noted that the work is proceding 
quite on schedule and there was no major stoppage or slippage. Altho 
the Planetarium seems the going well along in construction at the 
moment, it is the last of the new halls to open. Work on the other 
buildings will in the winter and spring of 1998 catch up to and pass 
the Planetarium. These other halls open in late 1998 and early 1999. 
    Many of you good folk asked for 'official' or 'final' plans for 
the Planetarium. I have none and neither does the Museum. While the 
basic scheme is fixed, the sphere in a cube, many of the details are 
still under discussion. The Museum and Planetarium regularly meet with 
the architect and engineer and do confer with the Association. 
Sometime in early 1998 things will solidify enough for the 'final' and 
'official' plan to be issued. For this reason, there is riotously wide 
dispersion in the accounts from various followers of planetarium news. 
    At 13:15 I finished the visit and waited for the Eighth Avenue bus 
for returning to work. Now when MetroCard took off in July 1997 with 
the One CIty-One Fare feature, ridership on the transit system swelled 
with some 250,000 allnew daily riders. This is about the entire 
carriage of San Francisco or Boston. 
    This forced a major realignment of service! Particularly, the 
crosstown buses, which link the east and west sides of Manhattan due 
to the lack of subways, were increased. As I waited for my bus, I 
counted the 79th Street buses. There was a bus scudding into the stop 
every 40 to 50 seconds. 
    This session was one miserable disaster, the worst weather and 
comfort I went thru in all the sessions so far. The day, Friday 14 
November 1997, was a raw chilly and rainy one. The temperature was 
about 5C and the rain teetered between liquid and sleet. But I 
arranged for my visit already and I do like to keep my appointments. 
    My walk to the subway was a wet one, even tho the adit is on my 
very corner. Rain pelted and stang my face. My knit hat was happily 
soaking up the stuff and releasing the excess down my forehead. The 
actual ride was quick, the normal two-train one with the change at 
Columbus Circle. I arrived at 81st Street station at quite 12:30 EST. 
    To avoid further soaking, I entered the Museum from the gate 
inside the subway. The hall was packed with people and the air stank 
from wet clothes. The din was raucous, a mix of schoolkids and 
families, all trying to make words to each other. 
    Only one checkpoint was staffed; the other sat vacant. The clerk 
was busy with collecting the suggested fees, checking paperwork from 
school groups, referring to booklets, handing out flyers, and 
otherwise really being overburdened. This mill I wasn't going thru.  
    A quick look around turned up no idle staff. Ah!, I know how to 
get someone's attention. I smartly walked up to and thru the vacant 
checkpoint, figuring I'll be intercepted. Then I'll explain my 
business. So I clacked thru the unstaffed turnstile. And I continued 
walking across the hall, melded into the crowds, and, and, and, ... 
    No one challenged me! I kept right on all the way to the elevators 
and went to the Planetarium office. 
    While hanging cool by the elevator I noticed how utterly filled 
the Museum was. This is one of its 'Grand Central' days when the mean 
free path is down to one meter! The elevator was slow to come. When it 
did it vented a full load of riders. A mob crushed in, entraining me 
with it. More uproar from the voices and shouts in the shutup cabin. 
    The space around the Planetarium office is normally quiet. It's 
off in a corner of its floor and no one bothers it. Today the floor 
was teeming with visitors coursing between the exhibit galleries and 
packed around the elevator door. Those getting off here had to ooze 
out, like on the train in rushhour. 
    Home free, at last? Nope. The office was walled off by tall and 
broad rolling partitions, the kind used to protect work areas so the 
public doesn't interfere. And there was a guard spotted by these 
partitions. He asked my business and escorted me behind the wall. Was 
this some reaction to an antiplanetariumist's threat? 
    Right behind the wall, smack in front of and blocking the 
Planetarium office, was a long folding table. Assorted folk queued up 
in front. Stern folk seated behind it. Lots of money piled up on the 
table. Hmmm. The guard hustled me along. 
    Now the guard picked up a wall phone and tried to call into the 
Planetarium to announce me. He couldn't remember its number! He 
fumbled around in his pockets. Oh, come on, the door is right here. 
Knock, man. Ms Francine Oliver answered my knocking and let me in. She 
explained the weird scene outside. 
    On payday at the Museum one of the money stores in the nabe sets 
up shop in this spot to cash Museum paychecks. It just happened that
with the rain outside today was extra busy for the cashing station.
Due to the loose money laying about, this had to be hidden from public
view and a sentry deployed here. 
    With all this behind us, we went to my viewing room. The site was 
generally quiet but workers were all about it. The foundation is 
sprouting superstructure, which by now poked above local grade. From 
the rain the area was spotted with mud and puddles. The tower crane 
was depositing some oblong load onto the foundation floor. 
    Ms Oliver does not follow the construction work and noted that the 
Planetarium is in general out of the loop for overseeing the work. 
Everything is in the hands of a panel from the Museum. Recall that 
technicly the Planetarium and Museum remain distinct legal 
enterprises. So far as she knew, nothing serious impeded the work and 
she saw activity on the site in all weather.
    Some of my fellow AAA members mentioned that there is in the 
Museum an exhibit describing the new Planetarium, but didn't know 
where it was. I asked Ms Oliver; she said there is none. She added 
that it would be a good idea. She could send people to it for answers 
to the bulk of the routine questions she gets. 
    After about ten minutes we departed, she to her office and I to 
the street. More mobs to squeeze thru. I came to a guard who was 
fielding inquiries from visitors. I asked about any Planetarium 
exhibit. He said there is none. The Planetarium is closed and a new 
one is under construction. But the Museum has nothing on display to 
explain the project. You have to inquire at the Planetarium office. 
    I left thru the lower level exit, the one 'under the horse', 
relative to the equestrian statue of Theodore Roosevelt that dominates 
the Central Park main entrance. This hall was wall to wall school 
children. It was a marshalling pen for the teachers to collect their 
pupils and make sure all are accounted for. Both inbound and outbound 
groups collided here. It was patently -- and painfully in the ear -- 
evident that no teacher's voice was understood by any pupil. Any way, 
I floated out on the crest of an outbound school group. 
    I designed to try for my street pictures. No go. The rain was too 
repellent. Soonest I got out in the open air I was assaulted by cold 
stinging raindrops. I just better go back to my office. 
    I trotted to the bus stop and peered into the rain for the Eighth 
Avenue bus. The entire four-block length of curb on Central Park West 
was thronged by school buses. They rooted for a curbside spot. They 
guaguaed at the curb (so now you know how the Spanish word for bus 
came about). They revved up and gunned their motors to leave. 
    A Museum guard with walkie-talkie was thoroly drenched in his 
sunny day jacket and hatless head. He had no rainy weather protection! 
The poor chap flitted from bus to bus to check their papers and 
instruct the drivers. He conversed thru the walkie-talkie, probably to 
other similar guards down the block? He also had to warn the mobs of 
kids about traffic and general safety cautions. 
    It was quite a full minute when I plain had it with this snotty 
day. The bus was not yet coming. And if I did ride it, I faced a two 
long block walk from Penn Station to my office in this stupid rain. I 
dived into the subway kiosk right there at the corner of 81st Street 
and Central Park West and paid a full second fare. I forfeited my 
MetroCard transfer. The West End local swooshed in. I sat down, wrang 
out my hat, and zipped back to Herald Square. I left by the exit on my 
corner and sprinted to my office, arriving there at 13:30 EST.
SESSION 22 - 1997 NOVEMBER 18 
    Because of the heavy and cold rain on Friday 15 November I did not 
take any pictures from the street. So on this Tuesday, the 18th of 
November, I rode to the Planetarium to fill this gap in my photoessay. 
I didn't enter the Museum this time but went directly to the site from 
the subway. I arrived at 12:40 EST under a bright and sunny sky with 
temperature of 0C to 5C. A soft breeze tingled my cheeks and hands, 
but otherwise it was a most refreshing day. 
    Both gate were open for me and I spent some time at each. The 
eastern one next to the subway offered me a close up view of the site. 
What I thought was superstructure from the high window on Friday was 
actually an new stud and panel wall. Workers were finishing off an 
enclosure tightly surrounding the site about 2-1/2 meters high. Apart 
from some hammering and clanking of materials, the area was quiet. 
    So there was not much to see this time. Even the tower crane was 
still while I was there. It rained a little on Monday, the 17th, and 
there were some muddy spots left over from then. Otherwise the area 
was clean and dry.
    I went to the western gate.  As I walked along 81st Street to this 
gate I was assailed by construction noise. No, it did not come from 
the Planetarium. Most of it flowed from a road cutting in 81st Street 
near Columbus Avenue, frontage renovation across the street on 81st 
Street from the Planetarium, and from work on the new halls at the 
western end of the Museum campus. 
    The busted pier was finally repaired. New stone blocks restored it 
sometime since my visit in early November. The job was OK, nothing 
special, just cut stone fitted together with cement to look like the 
pier on the opposite side of the circular drive. It'll weather to 
blend with the older stone in a few months.
    The dogrun was filled with dogs and their runners with lots of 
barking and yelping. The park was lightly trafficked. a few strollers, 
a few joggers, a few sitters. In the areas under residual foliage the 
ground had tacky drying mud from yesterday's rain.
    From this gate there was no action visible. The enclosing wall was 
about complete around the Planetarium. Despite the bright Sun and his 
low altitude, I had no problem finding trees and other shadows to 
shade my camera. Outside the new inner wall the grounds were generally 
clean, as if recently swept or hosed. A couple workers lazed about and 
plodded slowly thru the site. 
    I asked one how the works were going. He noted that so far 
everything is on schedule. There were no stoppages or slowages. He 
further noted that construction will continue thru the winter being 
that all the concrete is placed. Steel and other structure can go up 
in almost any weather, limited only by the endurance of the crews.
    I don't know the rank of this fellow; he just happened to amble 
out of the gate while I was there and looked no different from the 
other crew in the site. But he seemed to know what was going on. We 
chatted for a while, then he had to continue on his way to the street 
and out of sight. He explained the main steps to come. 
    The base of the Planetarium is of rustic stone to carry around to 
the north face of the campus the dropdead motif of the south face. 
This will be finished first and protected from damage by later work. 
Then the struts for the main ball will be built, followed by the ball 
itself. He called this the 'Hayden Sphere', but emphasized that this 
is just a convenient name to refer to it by. It is not the official 
name, even tho it houses the actual Hayden Planetarium sky theater. 
    When the ball is skinned over to enclose it, work starts on the 
outer cube. As the ball rises the adjacent walls of the Museum are 
holed thru for the access into the Planetarium's new offices and labs. 
That's his general description of the scheme of things.
    I walked around to the west side of the campus, saw heavy 
construction on the other halls, and walked down Columbus Avenue. 
There was an other road crew filling the air with its jackhammering 
din. And in the side streets off of Columbus Av, across the street 
from the Museum, there were more frontage improvements in progress. 
    There bring no point in backtracking to the subway, I continued 
counterclockwise around the Museum to 77th Street, then to Central 
Park West. The entire circuit is a mite over one kilometer of 
continuous level pavement, forming a perfect measured jogging track. 
The street was quiet with a light sprinkling of pedestrians. There 
were more renovations going on along 77th Street all emitting the 
usual and annoying racket. 
    The bright Sun and blue sky showed up the south facade of the 
Museum. This is the first section of the Museum constructed, in the 
1870s, and is far, far, and away the most spectacular part of the 
campus [until the Planetarium is opened]. It is a massive Victorian 
Gothic monumental style with a grand entrance, looking more like a 
citadel than an institutional edifice. 
    It was impossible to photograph this to best effect. While the 
foliage was mostly gone from the trees, the trees were so thickly 
studded on the grounds that they blocked all the good sightlines. I 
took several pictures being that I normally come here in the evening 
for the Association lectures and don;t get to see the place in 
    I mentioned in an early session, I forget which, that the Museum 
was supposed to ultimately embrace this entire block with four faces 
in perfect symmetry. Only this one on the south was ever actually 
finished. The east face on Central Park West, built in the 1930s, is 
altogether different, being more Beaux Arts. And there never was a 
north and west face. 
    This south face was the only entrance when Anighito was captured 
and brought to the Museum. This is still the biggest meteorite in 
captivity (larger ones are still in the ground here and there). The 
thing, all 36 tons of it, was brought by sail-&-steam ship from 
Greenland straight to the pier at 79th Street and Hudson River. This 
was once used for a ferry depot and now as a cove for houseboats. 
    The stone was eased into the Museum thru this south gate to a 
display among other minerals. When the first Planetarium was built, 
Anighito was to be a major exhibit in it. To avoid the hassle of 
moving it into a new place, it was placed on the floor of the new 
building before the steel went up around it. It was protected under a 
lumber crate. It was unveiled with the opening of the Planetarium. 
    But no one knew for sure its mass. It could be doped out by an 
estimated volume and density, of course. In the early 1950s, in one of 
the last major exhibit improvements of the old building, Toledo Scale 
Company donated a truck scale and hoisted Anighito onto it. This is 
the exhibit we all remember from the old Planetarium. And for the 
first time since capture the meteorite was finally weighed: 36 tons! 
    The exhibit was designed so a person looking at the giant dial 
stood on the weigh plate. His mass was added to that of the stone, so 
no two visitors agreed on the weight he read off of the dial! 
    In 1981 Anighito was moved from the Planetarium to a new Hall of 
Gems and Minerals. To get the thing out of the Planetarium a hole was 
cut in the west wall in the old carpark. I photoessayed this 
adventure, too. The meteorite was placed on a massive sledge and 
pulled out on log rollers. The logs were exposed off of the back of 
the sledge as the stone was pulled along by winch. Roustabouts muscled 
these logs to the front, where the sledge slid onto them again. The 
crew was in deep sweat from the heavy work.
    This was for me an amazing sight. At that time I was studying 
Egyptian hieroglyphs with the late Mabel Georgi, a noted hieroglyphs 
reader from the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Brooklyn Museum. I then 
learned how the ancient engineers moved the blocks to build pyramids 
and temples. Their culture did not use the wheel, a device pretty 
useless in sandy ground and obviated by floats on the Nile. 
    They used logs as rollers to haul the stones scores or hundreds of 
kilometers from mine to site. The logs rolled over other logs laid in 
the sand like tracks. As the block moved forward under muscle power, 
the logs from the back were pulled up and relaid in front. 
    So here in the late 20th century -- some 30 and more centuries 
since the pyramids! -- the exact same method was used to shift 
Anighito to its new display site. (Steel I-beams were used in the
place of the Egyptian log rails.) It now lives in the round tower at 
the 77th St & Columbus Avenue corner of the Museum. This is one of 
many such towers on this south side looking like brick skyrockets. 
    I reached Central Park West. There was a couple school buses along 
the curb, guaguaing the time away. Two, at least, guards looked after 
them. They relaxed against the lamppoles or walked about happily.  
compared to the scene on Friday, session 21, this was utterly placid! 
I waited for the Eighth Avenue bus and rode back to my office, 
arriving there at 14:00. 
    I wanted to visit the site on Thursday the 4th, but both the 
Planetarium's and my work didn't mesh. So I arranged to stop up on 
the next day, Friday the 5th of December 1997. I rode to the 
Planetarium by the usual two-train trick and entered by the lower 
level entrance from the subway station. There was no real reason to do 
this but I happened to be near the back end of the train and as I 
walked to the street exit I passed the Museum's gate. So I looked in 
and saw it empty and quiet. It was then about 12:20 EST.
    The gatekeeper phoned the Planetarium and let me thru the 
checkpoint. I met Ms Francine Oliver who was at the moment packing 
papers and books into cartons. After a few minutes we went to the 
special viewing site.
    A gaggle of teenagers was horsing around by the elevator and Ms 
Oliver steered us away from them. To me they were just goofing around 
Ms Oliver is a short and light woman and wanted no chances with the 
kids. We walked the giant stone stairs that connect the floors of the 
Museum, the ones with the heavy bronze handrails. As a kid I and 
friends would slide sown the handrail, being ultra careful to hike up 
over the 'speed bumps' embedded in them. A collision with one of these 
bumps would land you in the Museum's infirmary for 'repair'. 
    Concerned that the boys were on the elevator we avoided, we wanted 
to continue by stairs. But the floor of our quest is closed off and Ms 
Oliver had no entry to them by stairs. The Museum segregates keys and 
access to better govern use of the offlimits areas and the Planetarium 
normally has no need to enter certain parts of these areas. But a 
worker let us in by recognizing Ms Oliver and we continued on foot to 
the viewing site. 
    Dead end. In the stead of reaching our site, the route led into a 
new and unknown hole in the Museum. Several offices were cut into the 
walls and even on the very stairs themselfs. Altho there were windows 
facing out, they were blocked by furniture and junk piled on the 
floor. We puzzled at this scene, which to me looked like an 
engineering or architect's workshop with drawing boards, handbooks, 
instruments, gooseneck lamps, and all. We retreated to the public 
    By now the elevator was in free use; the teenagers wee gone. We 
rode to the viewing spot. The site was alive with action all over! The 
entire ground and first floor of the Planetarium was fleshing out. 
Work on the backoffice section was underway. The Planetarium's glass 
box has a kerf of 8 to 10 meters all around between it and the blocks 
of other Museum structures. This space will house the rooms, labs, 
utilities for the Planetarium and are not part of the ambitious 
architectural scheme. They are conventional concrete skeleton 
construction that also give structural support to the glass box. Only 
the north and west sides of the box are glass walled. The other two 
sides abut and are integrated into the rest of the Museum.
    The floor, the new cellar and nadir pit, were filled with 
temporary trailers and materials. Many of the vaults for utilities 
were in place. The tower crane was busily ferrying vats of concrete to 
the backoffice section against the east side of the Planetarium. 
    After about ten minutes here I went to the street. The air was 
thick with a mist and the sky was thoroly overcast. The temperature 
was about 10C altho it seemed chillier from the dampness. The streets 
and park were lightly filled and the dogrun was thinly populated.
    Both gates in the contractor's wall were open for me. From each I 
got clear views of the work. The entire front of the Planetarium was 
complete. This is the new front entrance later to be clad in granite 
The east side was swarming with workers placing concrete from vats 
hoisted to them by the tower crane. The operation was smooth and 
quick. A bevy of concrete trucks lined up in front of the Planetarium 
and filled the vats. Each vat was about the size of a small car and, 
from my general construction experience, held some four tons of 
concrete. When filled the crane hoisted and swang the vat over the 
front wall of the Planetarium to the backoffice section. There the vat 
was lowered to the placement spot to be emptied. Forms were in place 
for floor and columns, with footings ready for the second floor to 
rise on a following day.
    The trucks emptied quickly and then trudged out of the site by the 
circular drive to 81st Street. They headed west toward Columbus Av to 
the filling station by the Hudson River. I don't know where the 
concrete mill is but in general it can not be on the construction 
site. In New York construction is an incredibly delicate ballet played 
out on the tiniest of sites. Buildings have no surrounding terrain to 
set up shop and there can be no disturbance to adjacent property. 
    All materials are prepared off site, in the Bronx, New Jersey, 
riverfront piers, and so on. They are laden onto trucks of a certain 
maximum bulk to fit the tunnels and bridges of Manhattan. These trucks 
are sent to the site at the moment their load is needed and they must 
then clear the area and return to the offsite depot. So, litterally, 
the truck pulls up under the crane, the load is hoisted off, and the 
truck guns off for the next load. The material just picked off of the 
truck is used right then and there. It is placed in the structure and 
not just set aside for a later application. 
    If you visit New York in the winter months of 1997-1998, you can 
see this scheme in full swing at many sites all over the City. For two 
examples look at the new Conde Nast tower rising in Times Square, a 
45ish floor office edifice. Or stop at Union Square to inspect a 22 
floor mixed use tower. The surrounds are devoid of the usual camp for 
construction and the sidewalks and streets are open for passage. To 
the casual sight the skyscrapers sprout out of the ground like magic. 
    So the concrete trucks once relieved of their contents into the 
vats must depart immediately. There was a steady stream of trucks 
coming and going all the while I was at the site. Despite the mist, 
the area was overall clean and free of loose dirt and debris.
    Around the Museum there were waves of school groups coming and 
going. The scene was rather calm and the crowds seemed to be under 
good control and order. School buses lined Central Park West with 
Museum guards clocking them in and passing out instructions.
    After about a half hour at the site, at quite 13:20 EST, I boarded 
the Eighth Avenue bus and returned to my office. 
SESSION 24 - 1998 JANUARY 23
    I wanted to visit the site in early January, right after my holidays 
during Christmas and New Years. The weather that first week was always 
rainy and foggy, with visibility at times down to 50 meters! So I waited 
for the second week of January. No go. On Monday morning, 12 January, I 
woke up with a phlegm-packed throat! Before exposing myself to the 
outdoors more than I really had to I better throw off this cold. I did by 
Thursday the 15th. So it was the third week of January 1998 that I had 
the first chance to see the recent work. As it happened work got very busy 
and I couldn't get away for an extended lunch until Friday the 23rd. And 
so my visit was on Friday the 23rd of January. 
    I arrived at 81st Street station by the two-train route at 12:15 EST. 
The weather was a thick drizzle, not quite a full rain, and I entered the 
Museum by the adit in the subway station. The traffic was moderate with 
family groups milling around. Altho the clerks at the gates were lively, 
there were no idle ones to announce my visit. So I did what I did once 
before. I just shoved thru the turnstile and melded into the scene inside. 
No one challenged me. 
    Upstairs at the Planetarium office there were barriers across the 
front door. The temporary banking table was set up behind them and a line 
snaked around them. Yes, there was a guard posted and he did see me. 
However, he did not intervene. I walked along with the line behind the 
barrier. Once inside I merely noted that I was continuing on to the 
Planetarium office. The clerk at the cashpoint waved me thru. 
    I met Ms Oliver; she was on the phone at the instant. All around her 
were large boxes, like file storage boxes, filled with paperwork. Files in 
folders, it seemed. I saw five or six around her on the floor and visitor 
chairs. When she finished with her phonecall I asked if she was packing 
the office for a relocation. 
    No, she explained, the boxes were crammed full of job applications! 
The Planetarium advertised for a single position thru the American 
Astronomical Society's joblist. She may have noted the job description but 
I can't recall it. Anyway, she received several hundred applications and 
she filed them in folders for review. 
    Later in the day I checked the AAS website and found the job notice. It 
was for a systems administrator in the Planetarium's Milky Way project. 
The new facility will have the world's most complete and accurate model of 
the Milky Way galaxy using conventional exhibit material and computer 
visualization and animation. From the bulk of the boxes and the packing 
fraction I estimated that there were some 300, at least, applications 
already received for this one job opening! What a drastic demonstration of 
the utter constriction of career choices in our profession! 
    Anyway, she and I went to the viewing spot without incident. While the 
work has been quiet without the heavy construction noise of prior months, 
she observed a general busyness about the site. The floor of the 
Planetarium is mostly clear of construction huts and laydown material. 
These were relocated to uplands in the park along 81st Street. These were 
still within the perimeter wall. 
    The birdhouse, the hut protecting the Museum's remote video camera, is 
now raised up on stilts to clear the ground clutter and first floor wall 
of the Planetarium. The heavy concrete work on the first, or ground, floor 
seemed to complete. Forming and placement of concrete for the second floor 
was in progress. These areas were between the east face of the Planetarium 
and the Museum, the southeast corner, and a bit of the west face of the 
Planetarium. Ms Oliver hadn't noticed any major penetrations of the Museum 
for access to these backoffice areas, altho there will be several 
passages between the Planetarium and Museum. 
    After about ten minutes I thanked Ms Oliver and left for the street. I 
figured on passing up the ground picture taking until a drier day. I was 
surprised to feel that the drizzle was not at all discouraging. The rain 
sort of drifted down in warm drops! I had no fear about relapsing into my 
cold of last week. Of course, I wore a hooded coat and knit hat in keeping 
with the general winter season. 
    The site was quiet with no heavy work going on. Workers crisscrossed 
the site and there were several trucks and utility cars scattered about. 
The trucks were regular cargo trucks like for local deliveries. The tower 
crane was still and poised over some construction on the west side of the 
carpark. The grounds were moist, not really wet, from the drizzle, with 
only minor ponding and runoff. I did get some loose mud on my shoes from 
walking on bare ground around the site. 
    Both gates were open and I spent some time at each. Vehicles blocked 
some sightlines. The major new feature was the stone arch main entrance to 
the Planetarium. This ws on the same spot as the entrance for the old 
building. The idea was to pick up some of the motif of the Museum's 
dropdead south facade, which has a sweeping arched entry. 
    The streets and the park were mostly barren of people. A few walkers 
strolled by and the dogrun had a few dogs. Only a couple school buses sat 
along Central Park West. All in all, everything was quite tranquil. I 
found the light rain very soothing to walk around in. It never interfered 
with my picture taking. 
    After about fifteen minutes I left the site. This time I had a package 
to mail overseas. I took it with me to mail at the local postoffice branch 
on the grounds that one would be less busy than the ones near Herald 
Square. I walked from the site to the postoffice, on 83rd Street near 
Amsterdam Avenue. This is equivalent to 10th Avenue. The name picks up 
at 59th Street. 
    The postoffice by City norms was a lazy place. Three windows were open 
and only five people were on live ahead of me. But this is the same old 
postoffice operation never the less. The line moved slowly as the clerks 
lazed their way thru the business of each customer. I got the window after 
about twenty minutes of wait! This matter done with, I went back to 
    I was a bit far from the 81st Street subway station. Now I found 
myself in the 'drainage basin' of the subway and buses in Broadway. With 
the free transfer still on my MetroCard I took a Broadway bus back to my 
office. It came within a minute; this is a sweet route. This particular 
bus didn't go thru or near Herald Square. It turned into 42nd Street and 
went east toward the United Nations. I got off at 5th Avenue, at the 
Library, and walked the few blocks to my office. 
    Generally busyness all thru February thwarted plans to visit the site 
until this very week, the eve of my journey to the upcoming solar eclipse. 
I'm off to the Caribbean Sea via cruise ship and will see the eclipse from 
sea near Aruba. So I shoved off other chores and arranged to see the works 
on Wednesday the 18th of February.
    It rained in the previous night with thunder and lightning. By 
morning rushhour the rain ebbed to a drizzle. When I set off for the 
Planetarium the rain already stopped. The sky remained thoroly overcast 
and the streets were still wet. A cool breeze blew and my heavy winter 
coat was welcome on by back.
    I arrived at the Museum at 12:20 EST by a one-train ride and entered 
the Museum thru its subway access. Altho the hall was crowded, I saw a 
guard answering some visitor's questions. When he was free I announced my 
appointment. The chap was the stereotypical Bulgarian postal clerk. He 
even smelled like one. He nodded and said something like, "OK". I started 
to walk into the hall toward the elevator. 
    He hailed me and asked that I sit down. There are benches along the 
walls and he pointed to one. He then brought out a large plastic 
toolbox or fishing tackle box and set it on the bench next to me. Is 
this a new signin process with fingerprinting and photographing? 
    He fumbled at the box and finally yanked it open. Out sprang stuffed 
up papers. He pulled one out, smoothed it with his fingers and handed it 
to me. "Put your name on this paper". In the dim light I made out lines on 
a form, some of which were filled in. I wrote my name on the first empty 
line. The guy studied the form, fingered it, and slowly handed it back. 
"Where are you going? Put it here". I did, "Planetarium office". 
    He studied the paper again. After many seconds he asked, "What time 
did you get here?" I asked him being that I needed the official time from 
his watch. He pulled his watch from a pocket, studied it, and noted it was 
around 12:30. So I put that time in the little space on the form. He 
studied the form for a while, then asked "Who are you seeing?" I told him 
I had an appointment with Ms Oliver. "Put that here". So I squeezed in her 
name in the line. 
    Apparently all this now was copasetic. He folded the form and 
stuffed it into his toolbox. He rummaged around in it and pulled out a 
nametag. "Put your name here." I wrote out my name on the tag. He 
studied it. "What is your name?" I pronounced it slowly and pointed 
out the characters on the tag. "OK, you can go now." 
    I rammed the tag into my coat pocket and skipped off to the 
Planetarium office. When I stepped off of the elevator I was struck by how 
dark the hall was. There was little light coming thru the exterior 
windows. These are corrugated and frosted, like privacy windows, so one 
can not see anything clearly thru them. But they were dark.
    By interpreting the shadows outside I guessed that the Planetarium 
structure was rising up to the level of the office. Ms Oliver greeted me 
and, yes, the edifice is climbing higher. I didn't bother telling Ms 
Oliver what went on with the guard; it was too silly.
    We went to the special viewing station and, lo!, the works outside 
were a full floor higher and definitely was covering up the exposed 
walls of the Museum. Right under the window we looked out of were 
workmen busy tinkering on the floor forms of the next higher level. We 
could hear their chatter and the clanking of tools thru the glass. 
    The Planetarium is up to its fourth floor! Work is proceding on the 
backoffice section, that abutting and keying into the Museum. The belly 
of the Planetarium was filled with laid out materials and some workhuts. 
The tower crane was swooshing back and forth moving small piles of 
material to the site. In this instance the load was lumber to build 
concreting forms on the top of the fourth floor. It was settled down 
before several workers, who untied the lumber and let the crane's empty 
hook haul up and away.
    It will be soon be impractical to continue inspection of the works 
from this spot. The concrete shell of the backoffices will cover the 
windows. Unless we can find an other site for the overviews, I'll be 
limited to the photoessay from the street.
    We were finished after some fifteen minutes and I left by the subway
access. It has a ramp up to the street. I gave my nametag to the Bulgarian
bloke. He studied it, fingered it, put it in his pocket. "OK, you can 
go now." From the street, near 79th Street and Central Park West next 
to the main ceremonial entrance, I walked around to 81st Street. 
    The ground was rapidly drying out after the previous night's rain. The 
breeze was cool and refreshing and probably helped in the quick 
evaporation of the water from the ground.
    Both gates were open and I took several pictures from each. The
work in progress was fairly routine and the only significant din was the
motors of the tower crane. It alternately moved parts from a laydown area
in the former carpark to the Planetarium and removed items from there to
the laydown area. All operations went quickly and smoothly.
    The park was overall empty, likely the people were dissuaded by the
rain earlier in the day. The dogrun had only a couple dogs and their
runners. The surrounding street had light foot traffic.
    The new feature on the site was a plank road leading from the circular
drive in the midblock of 81st Street to the contractor's wall. It rested
on grass. I asked the gate keeper about this. He explained that it was 
freshly put down a day or two earlier. It was the road fro moving onto 
the site a second tower crane. Later in the project a third will be set
up. He wasn't sure when the second crane will arrive but it is soon.
    The Planetarium edifice is still completely in the open with no
enclosure of the completed sections. All is exposed to the elements with
not even a tarp or canvas sheet to fend off any wind or rain. So far
the main accomplishment is the placing of concrete for the skeleton and
the embedding of utility mains.
    A curious feature of the works is the preservation of the lamppoles.
The trees on the site are worthy to be protected but the lamppoles will
be torn out and replaced with nostalgic ones of starsafe design. No one
on the site could understand why the old poles are so carefully avoided
and were not pulled out long ago. At night, when I come to the AAA's
lectures at the Museum, these lamps are burning with their glary glow.
    There being nothing more to inspect or essay I left at quite 13:30 
for an errand at the nearby post office. This is on 83rd Street 
between Columbus and Amsterdam Avenues. When that business was done I 
walked back to the Museum for a final look-around. Then I took the 
Eighth Avenue bus back to my office.
SESSION 26 - 1998 MARCH 19 
    I completed with this session a full year of my photoessay 
project! For those who collected all the session reports, the first 
one was on 8 March 1997. There remains about 1-1/2 years of work on 
the new Hayden Planetarium before it formally opens on 31 December 
    This session was quite different from the others. The morning of 
the 19th was rainy. This rain continued more or less all thru the day, 
altho it varied from a thin drizzle to heavy pitter-patter. I called 
Ms Francine Oliver in the early morning to arrange a visit for the 
noontime period. She had a surprise for me. 
    "The Planetarium is all the way above our viewing perch; the 
windows are all walled in." Wow! She added that the coverage of the 
windows occurred at the end of February, when I was at the Caribbean 
solar eclipse. Ergo, there was no need for a special appointment any 
more. Perhaps a new vantage station can be arranged but for now only 
the inspection from the street is possible. 
    As it turned out I was going to the Museum in the evening with a 
ladybuddy to a talk on the development of prehistoric humans. I 
figured on arriving a bit early to check out the Planetarium, thus 
getting two uses out of a single trip, MetroCard or no MetroCard. 
    I got to the Museum during the rampup of the evening rushhour. The 
West End local pulled into Herald Sq right away and I rode straight to 
the 81st Street station. Ladybuddy asked me to meet her at 18:00 by 
the horsey statue at the main gate of the Museum. With me getting 
there ahead of time, at 17:45 EST, I went right to the Planetarium. 
    The site was quiet and all the machinery was still. In the 
overcast gloom of the sunset hour the slowly falling light revealed a 
rather massive concrete structure hugging the inner walls of the 
Museum. The thing was about the full height of the Museum! The east 
gate of the contractor's wall was closed. The west gate. too, was 
closed but a side door, for people only, was open. I stood in it a few 
minutes to look over the place and take a couple pictures. Because of 
the diminishing light and the impending lecture inside the Museum I 
figured to return here tomorrow in midday. So I took just a couple 
    The guard there recognized and greeted me. He said that it's quite 
18:00 and he has to lock up the site for the night. He let me finish 
the pictures and then he padlocked the door to seal the wall up. 
    There is one correction for the last report for session #25. I 
noted that the site was unprotected against the weather. This was a 
general comment, but some readers took it to refer to the skeleton 
alone. They noted, from their own visit to the site, that the very top 
floor of the concrete skeleton was then shrouded in tarps. 
    There was still only the one tower crane. The plank easement laid 
for moving in an other crane was apparently unused. The site in 
general was clean and rather free of standing water despite the allday 
rain. At this moment it was drizzling lightly. 
    I started to loop back to 81st Street around to the main gate to 
meet ladybuddy. I stopped at the front of the Planetarium. There were 
about a dozen nightlights blazing within the structure. They were of 
the usual glaring obnoxious kind used in construction. I tried to 
block some out with trees to photograph this front view. 
    Being that the sky was rapidly darkening, maybe the clouds were 
thickening, I quit the inspection at 18:05. Ladybuddy was waiting for 
me and we went to the lecture. After the lecture I just went home to 
Brooklyn by the 8th Av and 6th Av trains.                                 
SESSION 27 - 1998 MARCH 20 
    Because my visit to the site was a brief one on the 19th of March 
and done under a cloudy twilight sky, I returned to the site on the 
20th during the day. There being no longer a vantage point for the 
overhead view of the project, there was no need to arrange a visit 
with Ms Oliver. I merely went on my own via the West End local from 
Herald Square and walked straight to the site. I arrived at 12:40 EST. 
    The air was cool and partly cloudy, about 4C with a gentle breeze. 
I didn't need my winter coat but it was well enough that I was wearing 
it. During the visit the clouds thinned out to reveal the Sun. 
However, the Sun remained veiled all the time, what we photographers 
call 'cloudy bright'. The Sun never hindered me in my picture taking. 
    Both gates were open. The guards at both cautioned me about heavy 
trucks coming and going and on two instances they did call me away to 
let one pass thru. The place was busy with flatbeds, freight trucks, 
and concrete mixers lumbering into and out of the gates. 
    Most of the activity is shifted to the rest of the Museum works in 
the center and west parts of the campus. The tower crane was swooshing 
concrete from the concrete mixer to forms in the next pavilion west 
from the Planetarium. I forget which this is, but it's part of the 
Earth & Space complex, which includes the new Planetarium. 
    There is a second crane on the site. It is a truck-mounted stick 
crane planted in the front left corner of the site. This is relative 
to a viewpoint as if standing in front of the old Planetarium. This 
crane, with a boom about 20m long when fully extended, is the same 
kind used to insert or remove furniture from apartments and offices 
elsewhere on Manhattan. 
    Commonly the older buildings have small or weak elevators which 
can not be used for heavy furniture. So the moving company, after 
paletting and cushioning the stuff, hoists it thru windows with a 
stick crane. It makes for quite a spectacle on the streets! (Sometimes 
the window has to be enlarged, but this is later rebuilt.) 
    The crane was hidden by other vehicles on the property and by the 
contractor's wall. The best I could see is that crated material was 
brought to the middle floors of the skeleton. On the floor roustabouts 
moved the crates farther into the frame, out of sight. 
    The skeleton is all the way to the top of the Museum walls, 
completely covering them on the south and east flanks of the Museum, 
as seen from within the Planetarium site. The activity was overall 
modest. The main noise was from the tower crane, plus some hammering 
and clanging. 
    There was a plank boardwalk laid down in the park joining the 
circular drive (what's left of it) with the contractor's wall. I saw 
it in session #25 and was told it was a access road for a second tower 
crane. No one then knew when it would come. Now there was a flatbed of 
trusses parked on the boardwalk. This is the first shipment for the 
second tower crane. However, no one knew just when it would be 
assembled or just where it would stand. 
    One worker explained, uncertainly, that the new crane will stand 
in the western part of the grounds. Then the first crane will be 
dismantled and moved to a third site. In any case the existing crane 
will soon be engulfed. The new car garage, on whose land it now 
stands, is starting to take shape against the Museum walls. 
    Parked near the western gate was a tree care truck. The guard 
explained that its company was onsite to examine the trees to ensure 
their health and tend to any problems they have. 
    The backoffice section of the Planetarium communicates with the 
rest of the Museum at only certain spots along their common wall. Over 
most of the contingent area the structures are separate. The two are 
free standing pieces. There is no structural connection between the 
Museum and Planetarium. In theory when we replace this new building in 
the late 21st century there is no harm to the Museum halls. 
    Perhaps from the possibility of rain early in the day the streets 
and the park were lightly trafficked. The dogrun, on the other hand, 
was filled with dogs and their runners, all shouting and yelping. Only 
a couple school buses coursed to and from the main entrance of the 
Museum. The conditions in the Museum I don't know. On this visit I 
never went inside. 
    Altho there was only a moderate level of busyness about the 
grounds I ended up spending perhaps the longest time ever on this 
visit. When I finally left it was 13:45! I hurried back to work on the 
Eighth Avenue bus. 
    On the bus on this the first anniversary of my photoessay project 
I thought about how simply wonderful it is to be an astronomer in New 
York. It is here that in the daily goings about the astronomer sees 
the flowering of an 'urban astronomy Eden'. 
    At 77th St, south side of the Museum, I recalled how barely a year 
ago 20 or so of us watched the Hale-Bopp comet before the monthly AAA 
lecture. And how other members streamed into the lecture with their 
own accounts of seeing it from nearby streets. 
    In the mid 70s I rolled past the housing blocks of Central Park 
West. In this section of the City live about a score of our members! I 
could see their towers out the right side windows. It is this 
densification of the City that makes a strong and healthy fellowship 
among astronomers in New York. They're all neighbors! 
    72nd Street, Strawberry Fields, this being hidden behind the trees 
in Central Park. 72nd Street leads to Sherman-Verdi Sq, an enclave of 
science fiction writers. Do you know why every futuristic sci-fi city 
looks like Manhattan? Think a bit. What did Asimov, Bradbury, 
Gernsback, and the others see when they stepped out for their morning 
    Mid 60s, Tavern-on-the-Green. The world's busiest restaurant, yet 
it is totally star-friendly in its design. The trees, unlike in almost 
every other American town, are not floodlighted. They are gorgeously 
constellated! What's more, just about every one of the nearly 3-1/2 
million annual diners comes by transit or taxi. (Some do arrive by 
Central Park's fabled horse-&-carriage.) 
    Beyond Tavern-on-the-Green I made out Sheep Meadow, buried in the 
trees but marked by its flat expanse. This is where the City 
celebrates its real stars, our annual Urban Star Fest. In the three 
brief years of running, this is now America's far and away best 
attended starparty, with several thousand visitors from all over the 
country side. Oh? Astronomers actually do come into the City for our 
    The bus hopped over to Lincoln Center, the world's largest center 
for performing arts, including the Metropolitan Opera House. Despite 
its size, all its outdoor lighting is thoroly starsafe, even the area 
lights along Broadway and Columbus Av. 
    Lower 60s. I bounced (New York streets are really pitted and 
scarred) past New York Institute of Technology on the right, a leading 
center for computer graphics. The techniques developed and perfected 
here are in routine use for spacebased imaging. 
    I swirled around Columbus Circle to head into Broadway, passing 
the large kiosk for the subway in front of the Coliseum. The transit 
grid of the City oblitterated the car culture here with all of its 
horrible sky whitening highways, parking lots, and so on. After some 
many years of shameful neglect, the system is under an allpoints 
rebuilding. The flowers around the kiosk should bloom in a couple 
    Down into the 50s I rattled into the Theater District. A veritable 
sea of taxis surrounded the bus! Taxis are the third pillar of the 
City's transit system, carrying each day on Manhattan 2/3 of all the 
country's cab riders. With its 12,500 yellow and 15,000 'black' cabs, 
there is simply no motivation to drive your own car around the City. 
Result: a vastly lower demand for sky-trashing automotive structures 
and facilities. 
    Times Square was filled with people, all pursuing their business 
and pleasure. The evisceration of street crime, that hideous barrier 
against nighttime astronomy, is epitomized here. Where once you dared 
not let your children go to Times Square, you now bring them here! The 
former regime of violence quenched not only stargazing but also 
attendance at astronomy meetings. Today the Association meetings enjoy 
a rising attendance. This spills over to a steady growth in 
    Down Forty-Deuce I spotted Bryant Park out the left windows, site 
of two of the City's Earth Day festivals. The AAA does not have a 
distinct 'Astronomy Day' event. It sets up a booth at Earth Day, 
during late April, to promote the City's stars. On the occasions we 
were in Bryant Park we received several thousand visitors at our 
    Further east on 42nd Street I saw part of that utterly enchanting 
monument to astronomy as civic art, Grand Central Terminal. Its 
ceiling freaks out the visiting astronomer. Mama mia! The stars are 
lighted now and form a teary-eyed magnificent vault. Standing on the 
interior balcony, the astronomer sees the perfect union of the stars 
and the City. 
    The 30s constitute the Garment District, where 2/3 of all the 
clothes sold in the US must pass thru. The towers hemming in the 
street, now 7th Avenue, are vertical factories, extremely economical 
of land and energy. The sky friendly structures emit little stray 
light, smoke, poisons, and do not despoil the land or waters around 
our happy island. Yet some 50,000 laborers are tenanted here. 
    Across 34th Street I rode, with its new starsafe outdoor lighting. 
I personally have seen astronomers hug one of our new lamppoles and 
sob how their home town would just never replace its trash lighting in 
their lifetime. The new illuminating scheme is diffusing into other 
parts of the City, both on Manhattan and the outer boros. 
    As the bus bulled into my stop, I saw the world's first 
international darksky shrine. It was humming full tilt with visitors 
streaming in and out. All of its 3-1/2 metric acres are compacted into 
a neat and cozy totally benign structure. Now, when was the last time 
you in your town drove past the local K-Mart because you didn't notice 
it? Probably never. The store kind of makes itself visible, no?. Here, 
I have let visiting astronomer stroll right by it. I grab them back 
and show it to them. That's when they fall to their knees and worship 
    I got off at Penn Station, a sorry replacement for the 
archetypicly magnificent rail depot. It was the killing of old Penn 
Station in 1963 that consolidated the world's civic sensitivity and 
preservation ethic. So we're putting the station back! Heavy 
construction is slated to begin around Christmas of 1998. 
    I later thought about what I did that afternoon. In a twenty 
minute bus ride I saw more enhancements for our profession than folk 
elsewhere may see in a year! So, please, when you visit New York, look 
us up. We'll show you the stars. 
SESSION 28 - 1998 APRIL 15 
    April 15ht is the most hated day in the United States; it's the 
date our income taxes are due for the preceding calendar year. The 
governments -- federal, state, and city -- are nice enough to allow 3-
1/2 months to work out the just and proper tax to collect. Actually 
the formulae and calculations and rules are just so complex it takes 
that long to dope them out. 
    So it was a lousy start for today's photoessay as I stood on line 
at the tax office near Times Square. I had to hand in an extension of 
time request being that I needed more time to work out my taxes. When 
I got out of the place I headed straight for the Museum. This time I 
wa quite far from Herald Square so I entered the subway at the 42nd 
Street station. This is just one stop farther up the SIxth Avenue 
line. I would have passed thru it on my usual train from Herald 
Square. Apart from this deviation from the normal trip, my ride to the 
Museum was uneventful. 
    I arrived at 13:45 EDST, rather much later than usual on account 
of the long dwell at the tax office. The sky was overcast with no rain 
either just past or foretold to come. The temperature was about 20C 
with an occasional breeze now and then. During the session the clouds 
thinned somewhat, letting the Sun shine thru as a frosted spot. I had 
my winter coat on but I could well have worn a spring jacket in the 
stead. The foliage was budding on the trees. Soon I'll be masked off 
from many of my sightlines. 
    I went directly to the site and, wow!, the second tower crane was 
set up and running!! This crane stood in front of the Planetarium, 
where the old apron was. It was of the same general size and build as 
the first (still working) crane except that it looked truly humongous. 
That's a trick of perspective because the public can approach far 
closer to this one than to the old. 
    A technical difference between the two cranes was the manner of 
balancing. The first crane has a horizontal back boom laden with 
several tons of concrete weights. The new crane has a stablizing cable 
running from the boom to the back boom and then vertically along the 
back edge of the tower. The balance is achieved by the tension in this 
cable. Both designs are used elsewhere and there's little to choose 
between them. 
    Both gates were open and I shuttled repeatedly between them. The 
great new item on the grounds was a chink of the timeline spiral! This 
looked all for the world like a curved section of gas main with a web 
all along its length. Overall it was about 10 meters long and it 
rested on the ground in front of the Planetarium right next to the 
second crane. In fact, this crane was used to lift and manoeuver the 
pipe so workers could get at all sides of it. The crane gently lifted 
the pipe, set it down, lifted, set, and so on under calls from the 
foreman of the work gang. 
    The timeline spiral is one of the noval features of the new 
Planetarium. It springs from the exit of the sky theater, the actual 
Hayden Planetarium, and encircles the Hayden Sphere in a downward 
    The top edge of the pipe will carry a flat walkway with railings. 
The walkway is a series of panels depicting the history of the cosmos 
from the bigbang to the present. The distance walked is proportional 
to the time elapsed since the bigbang. Visitors leave the sky show via 
this spiral ramp and walk thru the entire lifetime of the cosmos until 
they reach the street. The panels are replaceable for addiurnation as 
new facts and figures in cosmology come along. 
    Elsewhere on the property apparently all of the concrete work is 
done. From now on it's the turn of the steel and glass to be put up. 
For example, in the next week or so this piece of the timeline ramp 
will be inserted inside the Planetarium starting from the street level 
and working its way up. Inside the backoffice rooms workers were 
busily installing the interior services, like wiring and plumbing. 
    The mass concrete for the new garage is growing. It encloses the 
base of the first tower crane, which was busily hauling steel girders 
from a flatbed truck to the western part of the garage or to the next 
    I mentioned in earlier sessions that in New York there is no 
staging room for materials. The land is too crowded and tightly filled 
with adjacent structures. The usual practice of taking over a future 
caryard for the new project as a staging area is not possible here; 
there is no caryard around any new works here! Hence, the pieces for 
the Planetarium (and rest of the Museum's project) must arrive at the 
moment they are needed. 
    They are plucked off of the truck and unneeded materials are 
loaded onto it in their place. Then that truck has to get off of the 
property to make room for the next truck. And so soonest the last 
girder was lifted off by the first crane that flatbed revved up and 
scudded out into 81st Street. 
    The park was lightly trafficked today, even tho there was no 
threatening weather. The dogrun had only a few dogs. This time there 
were some other spectators! One chap took a few pictures with a simple 
point & shoot camera. I tried to chat him up but he was withdrawn and 
did not really get a convo going. He mumbled short clipped answers to 
my questions and slided off by himself. Other people came and went to 
see the works, stayed for a moment or two, and continued on their way. 
The plank path by which the second crane parts were moved onto the 
site was mostly torn up. Only a few boards were laying about. 
    After some 30 minutes, at 14:15 EDST, I left the site for work on 
the Eighth Avenue bus
SESSION 29 - 1998 MAY 15 
    This day I had several errands to look after and I melded my visit 
to the site among them. I was near Times Square when I set off for the 
Museum. I entered the subway at 42nd Street station in 6th Avenue. 
This is one stop uptown along the line from Herald Square so I could 
get the same trains. It turned out that a West End train came in first 
to being me to the Museum on a one-seat ride. 
    I arrived at 12:40 EDST under a generally clear, but humid and 
warm, sky. Temperature was around 30C. I had a light jacket on and at 
times it was too much to wear. I left it open the whole while I was at 
the Planetarium. A puff of breeze came thru once in a while. Otherwise 
the air was quite still. Under these conditions my light and easy 
walking about rose up a moistness on my skin. 
    Both gates were open and I had clear views into the grounds from 
each. However, the Planetarium was quiet with only occasional tool 
noises. The second crane was idle with its boom hung down in the sleep 
position. There were no major materials on the ground adjacent to the 
new structure. The interior of the Planetarium is thoroly blocked from 
view from the ground by the completed concrete base, which is some 5 
meters tall all around. Some time later this will be encased in 
rusticated stone to mimic masonry. 
    The first crane, still planted on the west side of the 
Planetarium, was busily hauling material to and from the other 
buildings in the project, including the new garage. This is mostly 
fleshed out in concrete from the south side, against the existing 
Museum, to about 2/3 or 3/4 of the way to the planned front face. It 
is full height, two floors above grade. It partially embraces the 
tower crane, which eventually will have to be dismantled and moved. 
    Everything, so explained the guard at the west gate, is going on 
schedule or even a bit ahead of it. The other new galleries are slated 
to open in early and mid 1999. These are distinct from the new hall 
inside the existing Museum that opens in June of 1998. That, the Hall 
of Biodiversity, is part of the interior renovations on the campus. It 
features a small walkthru (shielded by glass walls) rain forest. 
    The timber road in the park by which the second crane was brought 
onto the site is pulled up. A few water rotted planks remain. The area 
in and near the site was overall clean and neat. Trucks laden with 
materials came and went by the west gate (in mid block of 81st 
Street). None used the east gate (at the corner of 81st Street and 
Central Park West). 
    The initial pieces of the timeline ramp are in place inside the 
Planetarium, according to one of the workers. Of course, when I asked 
about the 'timeline ramp' he had no idea was this was. I then asked 
about the 'big curly pipe'. That he knew. It's mounted inside the 
building. This I could not verify due to sight blockage by the 
enclosing wall I mentioned above. 
    I got numerous email seeking details on this timeline ramp. It 
seems I may have poorly described it. For starts, it is NOT a large 
tube the visitor walks thru and is encased by. The pipe thing is all 
of some 700 or 800mm diameter. This is merely the bottom spine of the 
ramp. The ramp's walkway is fitted along the top of the pipe. 
    That is, the pipe is nothing but the backbone in the stead of 
beams or trusses. This pipe is welded to the three arms, placed 120 
degrees apart, that hold up the central ball. This is ever more 
commonly called the Hayden Sphere, altho the name is not really 
    The total length of the walkway is 110m. This is quite longer than 
a [American] football pitch across the endzones. The answer to any 
puzzlement is that the ramp encircles the Hayden Sphere making one and 
a half turns. It also slopes down from the bigbang theater, in the 
lower half of the central ball, to the ground level under the ball. 
    With no real activity on the site I wandered back to Central Park 
West. I passed the dogrun, filled with people and dogs. The sidewalks 
around the park were well populated with walkers and strollers. On 
Central Park West the curb was lined with buses. 
    Today these buses were mostly intercity vehicles, not school 
buses. From the license plates I saw they came from New Jersey, 
Pennsylvania, and Vermont, as well as from New York. The people 
clambering off of them were pretty obviously tourists. Whether the 
buses made this special trip to the Museum or stopped here on a larger 
itinery I could not at all tell. 
    The Museum's bus agents were busily clocking in the vehicles, 
checking their paperwork, and instructing them where to park. WIth no 
Museum garage all vehicles must park off the campus. The Museum made 
deals with area parking lots to stow the buses until they are needed 
to collect the riders for the trip home. All in all this reach of 
Central Park West was as busy as a major town's bus depot! 
    It was now 13:30 and I had an other chore to tend to. I got the 
Eighth Avenue bus to head into the mid 30s, not quite all the way back 
to my office.