Six Years Later

18 06 2014

7-26-2013 057

Birthday number six. As blogs go, Ithacating is an old-timer. Many blogs stop within weeks, months, sometimes they limp into a year or two. Going into its seventh year of writing is something of an accomplishment. As with each birthday, here’s the statistical summary:

yr_6_stats

In previous years, the blog averaged 82, 166, 199, 216 and 182 hits daily. At this time last year, I was actually pretty concerned about the drop in traffic, thinking that the blog’s best days were behind it, and it would just be a slow decline until I finally gave up the ghost.

Before taking that drastic step, I figured I’d change up tactics first. For one, the twitter account was started on February 2nd; I try to keep many of the twitter posts unique, so that followers aren’t just getting rehash of the blog. About 500 hits have been from twitter (the vast majority from the Ithacating account), which accounts for about 2% of the blog visits over that Feb-Jun period – not enormous, but notable. After search engines and facebook, it’s the third largest source of visitors. I also started to leave links to other entries in posts, a practice I had shunned for years as a form of shameless self-promotion. I came to realize that, for easy info access, convenience outweighed modesty. However, I firmly maintain no one will ever see links to this blog on my personal Facebook or LinkedIn accounts.

Second, I decided to borrow methods from Ithaca Builds; in some ways, Jason was the kick in the rear this blog needed to get back on its game. A daily check of city document uploads allow this blog to be among the first, if not the first, to report on new proposals and developments, and when I get around to a photo tour every few months, I break them up into individual projects – much less photo lag, and a steadier flow of entries. The old maps I did for a couple older entries were also “retired”, seeing as the HTML version on IB is much more useful. Jason has his strengths, and I have mine; I like to think we’ve both found respectively niches that complement the other writer’s work.

Another small detail is seen here – many blog posts are now written in advance and scheduled. I wrote this two days ago, leaving out the actual numbers until today.

Over the years, the content of this blog has also evolved quite a bit. At the start, it was largely Cornell, Cornell facilities and Cornell history. However, I eventually started to work my way through most of those topics, and ideas became fewer and further between. The Ithaca development entries, which were a small portion in the beginning, began to take up a larger proportion of the topic matter. I don’t regret this move, but it definitely changed up traffic patterns and what visitors come to this blog for. If anything, it makes me feel a little self-conscious when I get emails or comments give me far more credit than I feel is due. If I became an expert on Ithaca development and urban planning, it wasn’t my intention. I just prefer to not look like an idiot when I write something up.

mothly_numbers

Anyway, the numbers: as of 3 PM today (note that the blog time is GMT), there have been 56,700 hits, a daily average of 155 hits over the past year. But, looking year to year by month since the big drop after January 2013,  numbers are up 20-50%, a pattern that looks to continue this month. It took some work, but this blog is bouncing back.

Looking over the past years, there have some Cornell-related posts, a topic near and dear to my fingers, if not my heart. Buildings named for “friends” of Cornell, Cornellians in the Olympics, and the “Fast Facts” entries.

I sill do construction updates once in a while, though mostly I’ve left those to Jason’s domain. About the only ones I visit more often are the Belle Sherman Cottages and the Boiceville Cottages; I actually feel a little bad about the Boiceville updates, because I have the remarkable ability to make the place look unattractive every time I take photos, due to  it always being grey or cold when I pass through. In the past year, Seneca Way finished up, the Argos Inn opened (and I hit up its bar), Collegetown Terrace continued construction, and Breckenridge welcomed its first renters. Harold’s Square received approval, the Marriott and Hotel Ithaca dragged along (but at least one has started and one is about to start). Many projects were announced, including hotels at 339 Elmira and 371 Elmira, a new apartment building for Collegetown, 323 Taughannock, the Chain Works District, and everyone and their grandmother wants to redevelop the old library. It’s been busy, and sometimes it’s hard to keep up, which I consider a good thing. History has taught me that not everything proposed will be built, but I’m optimistic much of it will, to the benefit of the city’s bottom line.

Over at Cornell, the Gannett addition was formally announced, the Statler planned yet another makeover, Gates Hall opened and the Dairy Bar reopened. Klarman Hall is underway and a new “Sesquicentennial Grove” is planned for Libe Slope. Lastly, I had my random topics, usually on the weather, the keyword bar, or my borderline obsession with 115 the Knoll.

It’s occurred to me that I have never written a “birthday” entry in the same place. Last year, about a week after that post, I did an interview for an air quality scientist job in Albany; after having an attack of conscience and turning down a job in California in December 2012 (the pay was great, but if I was going to hate the work, it wasn’t worth the move), I had felt that I was stuck in a rut. A few days after that June 27th interview, I received a phone call at 1:55 PM on July 1st, extending to me a job offer. It was great, because I was working night shift as a ship router, and had been woken from my nap; the excitement was tempered by drowsiness. I put in my notice, moved up here in late July, and here I am. I don’t want to “settle” in one tier of one job for too long, but it’s not a bad place to be for the time being. In a way, these anniversary entries are a timestamp of my life, one of many things I’ve enjoyed in these years of writing. I hope to make more timestamps in years ahead.





The Keyword Bar XXI

11 04 2014

4-13-2014 077

I figured I had two options at the moment – write about all the Chain Works District news, or do one of my tried-and-true keyword bar articles, where I examine and comment/answer on searches that led folks to this site. Well, I’m holding off on the Chain Works discussion, until some of the materials presented start floating around one of the local government websites (city of Ithaca, town of Ithaca, or county), and can be reused here. So in the meanwhile-

1. “what frat can ithaca college students join” 4-9-2014 and “ithaca college sorority options” 4-2-2014
Officially, IC offers a few professional music fraternities, but there are a couple of social Greek chapters that are based at IC but are not officially affiliated with the college. Rarely, IC students join Cornell University Greek organizations, though it’s normally no more than 10 IC students per year. Many of these are in the MGLC, fraternities and sororities that focus on minority groups, but a couple do join chapters affiliated with Cornell’s IFC (I don’t know if Pan-Hellenic allows sororities to recruit IC students; maybe in the informal fall rush). These students aren’t allowed to serve in leadership positions in most chapters, and I imagine the trek between campuses gets old after a while.
2. “cornell snow graduation” 4-8-2014

Thankfully, there’s nothing to worry about. According to the NRCC, the latest snow of any amount (trace or higher) in Ithaca occurred on May 18th (1973). With graduation traditionally at the end of May, the possibility of snow is very remote. Winter graduation is a different story.

3. “proposed south hill development town of ithaca” 4-7-2014.

That would be the Troy Road development. Which from a planning/land use perspective, I become less and less a fan of every time I see it. But then, I prefer New Urbanist planning, not suburban cut-and-paste development. I just keep reminding myself that the current zoning is worse, and the town has a poor track record in raining in sprawl.

4. “is there any problem of construction in collegetown terrace” 4-4-2014

Jason over at Ithaca Builds would know this better than I, but as far as I’m aware, there’s been no indication of construction issues. Perhaps the parking isn’t being utilized as much as they thought it would, but that has more to do with planning than construction.

5. “the cradit-moore house” 4-1-2014

Actually, this one has a pretty cool story attached. The Cradit-Moore house dates from 1817, with an addition built in 1860-61. The older north wing was built by Issac Cradit, and the south wing by Peter Kline (the Kline family were locally prominent farmers who held a lot of land, and its where Kline and Klinewoods Roads take their name from). The house was bought in 1938 by Dr. and Mrs. Norman Moore. Dr. Moore was the director of the Cornell U. infirmary, and in 1948, the Moores sold the house to Cornell but with the condition that they could live out the rest of their days in the home. When Cornell began plans to expand North Campus with CKB and Appel back in the late 1990s, the original intent was to demolish the house. This caused substantial protest, and working with the non-profit preservation group Historic Ithaca, Cornell donated the house away in 2000 and Historic Ithaca loaded the house, all in one piece, onto a flatbed truck and hauled it .3 miles to a new foundation on a lot donated by Cornell further up Pleasant Grove Road. The house was then sold to a private owner to recuperate the moving costs, the new foundation and landscaping.

Image property of Historic Ithaca

Image property of Historic Ithaca

6. “tunnel barton teagle” 3-25-2014

It exists, though like many of Cornell’s tunnels, it doesn’t appear to be open for public use.





Just Passing Through

28 09 2013

9-24-2013 066

So I made the annual pilgrimage back to Ithaca and Cornell for Homecoming. I’d love to say something about how I go back to reminisce about the quality education and think fondly of the many opportunities provides.

But I don’t. I could care less about football, and that plastic wine-glass thing that gave out as a Homecoming gift struck me as so unnecessary in my own home (where we be all fancy and use real glass) that I never even bothered checking in. I went back to see some old faces and attend my fraternity’s annual meeting, where I like to give uncomfortable glances whenever I hear/read things that are disconcerting, like steep increases in expenses, or membership decline, or things in those vein. Since none of their current membership were students while I was, I am able to get away with being a 24-year old curmudgeon. I also had a chance to see a pair of friends (one works at IC, the other is a Cornell PhD student), do acts of young alumni drunkery, and go to the Cornell Orchards for the first time ever.

Since I kept busy, I kept noticing things that I would otherwise hold off on commenting on. Like when I was doing a 4-mile morning run with my best friend, who is a Cornell employee, and we went past the Vine Street Cottages (I did not see any new homes in construction from the trail-side, but I am hopeful they’ve sold another lot or two). I could’ve went running with a camera. Could’ve cancelled lunch plans or dinner plans. But I didn’t. I know Ithaca Builds has a pretty firm grasp on these things. I passed a random house under construction near Honness Lane, and another later in the day on Hanshaw, near Freese Road. As my day went on, I kept taking mental notes, driving past the Goldwin Smith site work, Gates Hall, Seneca Way, Collegetown Terrace, into the city and past Breckenridge Place, and in an attempt to find parking for a West End restaurant, ended up seeing the structural framework going up for the new Planned Parenthood building. For better or worse, this is how my mind is wired. Two of my friends asked if I knew anything about Collegetown Terrace, and I was able to rattle off enough “fast facts” in twenty seconds that they commented that they were surprised and impressed.

It occurred to me in previous years, I would’ve been busting my hump trying to find time to dig out my camera and do a photo tour. But this year was different. I took it easy, I knew I had my stories, and Ithaca Builds has theirs, and they complement each other well. So I could take a deep breath. I could enjoy the extra time. I spent the afternoon before I left not running around like a man on a mission, camera in hand, but at my old fraternity, gathered around the open-porch lounge with about 15 of my contemporaries, some of whom I hadn’t really had a chance to talk to in ages.

It’s odd to say I don’t regret not coming back with a metric ton of photos, but this time around, I feel like my trip back was more fulfilling without them.

But, on my way out of town on 79, I did take photos of the Boiceville Cottages, since they’re outside of Ithaca Builds‘s usual haunts. Comparing to my April photos, Looks like they’ll have built at least 15 units this year.

9-24-2013 095 9-24-2013 096 9-24-2013 097 9-24-2013 098





The Keyword Bar XIX

15 07 2013

4-8-2013 205

1. “cornell aem transfer from cc” (2013-07-15)

I can already hear the dyed-in-the-wool AEM majors complaining about this one, an image-conscious program sensitive to anything that would tarnish its reputation, including the suggestion that community college students can get into it. But fear not AEM majors, while CALS has guaranteed transfer agreements with many community colleges (“partner institutions”), the biology, landscape architecture, and non-agribusiness AEM majors are exempt from this and fall under “competitive transfer” admissions. So, for the community college student that thinks they can guarantee a transfer to join the I-Bankers to be, the process is much, much more competitive (on a related note, AEM is well known for having a high number of people applying to transfer into the program within Cornell internally, which has resulted in that process becoming rather difficult as well). Also, if you don’t attend a partnered institution, then the transfer isn’t guaranteed either. So, theoretically possible, but highly unlikely.

2. terrence quinn cornell (2013-07-13)

A case of where truth really is stranger than fiction. Terrence Quinn ’93 was a member of Sigma Alpha Mu, and was last seen alone and drunk outside a bar on January 15, 1993. Three days later, he was discovered in Psi Upsilon’s chimney, when his shoes and jeans fell to the mantel after the flue was opened. The cause of death was positional asphyxiation – whether by his own volition or the goading of others, it appears he climbed into the chimney and got stuck, suffocating due to the awkward position his neck was bent in. No foul play has ever been suspected, but it must have been for a very awkward rush week.

3. apartment+complex+in+cornell+heights+planned (2013-07-13)

Yup. This one. 20 units and 56 bedrooms. More details here.

4. architecture of mcgraw hall, cornell (2013-07-12)

Generally, McGraw Hall, the middle of the Old Stone Row, is considered to be an interpretation of Second Empire architecture  designed by Archimedes Russell, a prominent and prolific Syracuse-area architect in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Second Empire was in vogue at the time of McGraw Hall’s construction in the late 1860s and early 1870s (completed 1872), and takes its name from the French Second Empire, where the style originated. The building is finished with Ithaca bluestone, and the tower appears to face the wrong way because the earliest campus plan proposed (by Frederick Law Olmsted of Central Park fame) that all campus structures form a grand terrace facing the lake.

5. cleveland estates ithaca housing development (2013-07-11)

Housing developments generally fall out of my focus – slow to build out and generally unremarkable. So I’ve seen Cleveland Estates, and just never wrote much about it (the last real blurb I wrote referencing it was in 2009). The site looks to have 12 lots, on a cul-de-sac off of Danby Road, west-southwest of Ithaca college. Infrastructure has been laid and lots are for sale.

6. mathai kolath george (2013-07-13, 2013-07-10)

Not long after I wrote about Llenroc Mansion near Albany, local news erupted when the widow of its owner, Annie George, was found guilty of keeping an illegal immigrant as a personal slave in her home, and as a result, the federal government is permitted to seize the property. If I were superstitious, I’d be tempted to think the property is cursed.





Five Years Later

18 06 2013

4-8-2013 226

Well, as promised earlier, today’s the big day, where Ithacating celebrates birthday #5. I’m pretty sure this falls into the realm of “old” blogs by this point, especially if I believe the kids over at Ezrahub. Thankfully, unlike them and Eliiott Back’s old Cornell Blog, even if Cornell disliked my use of their name, I refer to a place instead of the school itself. In keeping with tradition, here’s a rundown of this blog’s statistics:

total_5th_birfday

Since launch, which was about 7 PM on June 18, 2008, this blog has garnered 308,481 hits, as of 2:30 PM today. In previous years, the blog averaged 82, 166, 199 and 216 hits daily. This year, it plateaued in the fall and effectively plunged in the spring. The blog only averaged 182 hits per day in the past year. I have a couple of theories – as old posts become “outdated”, they disappear from the radar; as folks have switched to twitter and other platforms, the audience may not quite be there like it used to. I would be lying if I said it doesn’t make me concerned, but the summer numbers will help figure out part of the problem – if they’re comparable to last year, than I’m just not familiar to the Cornell crowd anymore.

In contrast to previous years, the highest month was January, with 8,019 hits. One of the things I didn’t see quite so much was the summer plunge, since Ithaca traffic tends to be less seasonal than Cornell traffic. Why things decreased so much in February, I still don’t know.

Looking at the year in review:

~In planning and development, Collegetown Terrace and the Vine Street Cottages are well underway. 107 Cook was completed, and Collegetown Crossing was postponed because the BZA did not work out that whole parking requirement issue, and it falls to the city to actually change the parking space requirement. The southern suburbia got Ithaca Beer’s new brewery, the Fairfield Inn is nearly complete, and a proposal for eco-friendly housing, while Ecovillage started its next expansion over on West Hill. Cornell proposed some new townhomes near Eastern Heights, and Cayuga Heights decided it wanted to have a walkable town center.

In pleasant contrast to last year, the city was brimming with construction, ongoing and proposed. Seneca Way is under construction, Breckenridge Place is marching towards completion, and new proposals abound, such as Harold’s Square, the new Hampton Inn, and 130 East Clinton. Even some traditionally less developed areas are getting in on the act, with the Purity Ice Cream proposal near West End. Planned Parenthood is underway, the Iacovelli project and Magnolia House are nearly complete, and the Hotel Ithaca and Holiday Inn sites are in hold-over, but with construction begin dates on paper. Even the Cayuga Place project seems to making an attempt at true site prep. Finally breaking down the numbers, it became clear Ithaca is in a residential building boom.

Looking at our colleges, IC has some renovations underway, and Cornell plods on with Gates Hall, the Big Red Bandhouse, and the Stocking Hall rebuild and renovation. Prep is just starting on the new humanities building, Klarman Hall, a long ways off from its 2015 completion. Perhaps most importantly to students, the bridge fences finally came down, and with it, the last strong reminders of a dark semester in Cornell’s history.

Thankfully for my gas tank, a website arose that focuses closely on Ithaca construction and development – the succinctly named Ithaca Builds.

-Looking at Cornelliana, this blog compared and contrasted Far Above Cayuga to our friends on University Hill, took a look at Ezra’s progeny, and a favorite Cornell hobby, comparing it against its peers, in this case for Nobel Prize recipients. In a goodbye to another college memory, Dear Uncle Ezra went on indefinite hiatus. In Greek life, Kappa Sigma and Pi Kappa Alpha reopened, while a bunch of chapters were suspended or shut down (just looking at the Ezrahub site for this writeup, it appears ATO is the latest case). The Greek system looks to have had a rough year. In more general topics, there was a discussion on that time Ithaca almost had a commercial nuclear power plant, a look at Carl Sagan, the Collegetown Creeper, census estimates, and some other things in between.

In my personal life, this past year will go down as the year of uncertainty. Gainfully employed in my field, but still trying to advance my career and clear hurdles as they come up. I’m hoping to fulfill that goal in the next few weeks with some ongoing opportunities.

Five years is a long time to be around. It’s clear this blog has had some stumbles. But I’m not ready to quit just yet. I still have too much interest in writing about Cornell and Ithaca to stop. We’ll see where things go from here.





A Brief Introduction

14 06 2013

4-8-2013 263

I figured that I would do two posts in the upcoming several days – one would be for the fifth anniversary of this blog, on the 18th.

The other, well…I decided that I might as well introduce myself. I’ve tried to write the history articles with an impartial view, because I always wanted the focus to be on the events themselves rather than the person writing them.  The Ithaca developments articles, I have my opinions as much as anyone, and I don’t shy away from expressing them, because whereas historical facts can be skewed and misinterpreted, the beauty of a built structure lies with the preferences of the viewer.

Earlier on, when I was a Cornell student, I had reasons to keep a low profile. I didn’t want my college, my major, or my affiliations to be things that people used to look for perceived bias when I wrote an entry. More importantly, a couple articles make references to my work at the Cornell Store and some of its procedures (ex. how it ran the daily gift card giveaway), which could have put my job at risk. I don’t know if any of my superiors ever came across this blog, though I assume they didn’t. However, the Quill and Dagger folks got up in arms about it, as did my editor at the Sun (this blog was hardly related to anything I wrote – I did the weather column for two years, before they ditched it the year after I graduated). If people had issues with things I did/wrote, it didn’t take long for them to find me. So the anonymity was always more of an image portrayed, rather than anything real. With that realization, my sentiments have been to acknowledge the blog if approached about it in email or in person, but most of my friends have no idea, a few even know of this blog but think the writer is someone else. Ithacating in Cornell Heights has never been something I’ve gone out of my way to promote.

On that note, that has always bothered me. I remember being at an alumni event about two years ago, where two other young alumni talked about how they started blogs, with the primary purpose being just to get their names out there, to yell just a little louder into the raucous crowd of the internet, as if that was something to put on a resume. “I am important, look at the important things I say”! That has never appealed to me. I’m not an attention seeker (which isn’t to say I don’t like receiving credit when credit is due), but I enjoy sharing Cornelliana and Ithacana on this blog, as a labor of love and devotion rather than self-promotion.

So it’s been almost 5 years. Might as well shake things up a bit.

Hi. My name is Brian Crandall. Thank you for dropping by this blog.





The Keyword Bar XVIII

22 12 2012

11-24-2012 141

So, I wish I had had more time to put some thought into an entry. But an unusual event took place in the past few weeks.

After a series of phone interviews, I was flown out to California for a meet-and-greet/any final interview details for the research lab of a defense contractor. And up to my arrival, I was 99% sure I was going to accept the offer. It was a step up in my field, and the pay was also a nice boost.

Then I got out there, and they showed me the projects I’d be working on. Oddly enough, in all of those phone interviews, so much time had been spent asking me questions and going over my background that we had maybe discussed the projects for a few minutes. As they’re showing me the work, a know settled in my stomach – I’ve done this work before. I only did it before because I had to and it paid my bills. Luckily, and unluckily, I left with a verbal offer, and the paperwork to arrive in my email that Monday.

So on the sleepless flights back to NY, which thanks to a mechanical failure took 27 hours, I went through a career crisis. I could continue at my current work, which had some rewards but wasn’t doing any big favors for my career or pocketbook; or I could accept the lucrative job out west, which strayed even further from my interests.

In the end, I decided to stay. I’m optimistic other opportunities will come up if I keep searching.  And hopefully, one of those will elicit a feeling of excitement when I see the work involvement, rather than a feeling of dread. I managed to step out of the situation with enough grace that I was able to set up a colleague with an interview for the position I passed up, so hopefully there’s some good karma in that.

Anyway, since my time has been tight, the tried-and-true keyword bar entries come in handy, where I look at the search bar to see if there anything worth a little more discussion.

1. “are co-ops like fraternities” 12-20-2012

From my recollection as a recent alum, the answer is generally no, but some a bit more fraternal than others. Some had a personality that was more similar to a small dorm, where members only moved in because it was cheaper or they were going abroad for a semester, and there was little in the way of camraderie; others did parties and tended to keep members over multiple years (thinking of one instance of a costume party at Von Cramm where the only thing one girl was wearing was paint). I remember that Whitby, Von Cramm and Watermargin tended to be a bit close-knit when I was a student, but I think two years is enough to make my conceptions fairly outdated.

2. “gamma alpha cornell” 12-20-2012

Gamma Alpha is a professional society for graduate students pursuing scientific disciplines. It’s not officially recognized by the university, but they continue to maintain a presence on the edge of the gorge at 116 Oak Avenue. According to a 1965 Sun article, their initiation is “something like 2 minutes“, and they have few fraternal activities. So it’s one of those unusual organizations that straddles the functions of a fraternity and a co-op.

3. “the sphinx head tomb cornell” 12-18-2012

The original Sphinx Head tomb, at 900 Stewart Avenue, served as their windowless meeting chamber from 1926 to about 1969, when it was sold to a professor who owned the adjacent property. The next buyer built a house on the property in the style of the tomb, and from here, Carl Sagan purchased the house. So Carl Sagan lives on the site of the tomb, but he did not live in the tomb. It has been rumored that contemporary Sphinx Head constituents meet in a room within Sage Hall.

4. “argos inn ithaca” 12-16-2012

The Argos Inn is a small boutique hotel that recently opened on the east end of downtown. The building it inhabits (known as the Cowdry House) has a long and storied history – built in the 1780s, and used as a home of Ithaca’s political elite, the building was home to the world headquarters of Duncan Hines in the 1950s, and the Unity House nonprofit prior to its conversion to a small hotel. I hear it has a nice bar.

5. “what is more difficult to get in engineering or cals at cornell” 12-14-2012

In almost every circumstance I can imagine, the answer would be engineering. The gap widens if you’re an in-state resident, thanks to the ag school’s contract college status, versus the engineering school’s endowed status. But the two are different enough that they compete for different students usually. Some programs, like Biological/Environmental Engineering, may start off with students in CALS that transition into the engineering school. Others, like Atmospheric Science, allow majors from both schools, and have some general coursework in the engineering school. But otherwise, the interests of a CALS candidate and an Engineering candidate differ widely.

6. “heigth of tallest builiding at ithaca college” 12-07-2012

Officially, the  Events Center is the tallest at the school and in the county, at 174 feet.

11-24-2012 189








Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 117 other followers