Sometimes a message of resilience can come in an instant, and often not predictably. The IRT Powerhouse on 11th Avenue isn’t giving a speech or waving a flag, and it’s not a talking head seeking to shout a point of view at passersby or boast of its strength. Yet, the sight of it on a cold winter day conveys resilience at a time when a nation could sorely use it.
Resilience is comforting, as in a beloved chamois shirt or wool slippers that feel right each chilly autumn as if they are brand-new. Those little things mean a lot. When our lives are unsettled, each of us finds comfort in the resilience of the people within our circles. We find it in various aspects of our lives and surroundings, such as nature; in literature, stories, and poetry; music and art; sports and hobbies; and the healing arts. Many find founts of renewal in our respective faiths and beliefs. Buildings signify resilience in their endurance through the generations, their histories and qualities, their art and iconography. They often express something of the era they came from, its values, contributions, and struggles.
During the unsettling days since Donald Trump won the election in November and became president, this is what the powerhouse that the Interborough Rapid Transit Company (IRT) constructed has expressed and the meanings it continues to evoke. Walking by the IRT Powerhouse one winter day, I looked up at this towering building and found it affirming, even soothing, and thought-provoking, in its sheer physical durability, beauty, and magnificent character. Moreover, it provides perspective on the important role of immigrants. [Read more →]