Tuesday, April 6, 2010


Nature imitates culture imitates nature; this brownstone stoop is a feature of NJ erosion. As for the stoops Brooklyn features, these stoeps are an artifact of Dutch architecture, a lowland attempt to keep the parlor floor unflooded. Or so I've learned from Stories in Stone by David B. Williams. The first chapter concerns itself with all aspects of the brown sandstone that builders utilized in the 19th century. One favorite section regards the 18th century eccentric Edward Hitchcock and his obsession with the 'bird' prints found in some samples of the Portland brownstone formation, in particular a sample featuring the prints of what was once called "Noah's Raven," and most significantly, his Jewel of the Cabinet, a sidewalk paving stone found bearing the prints of several extinct creatures on its underside. Here's to the Ichnologist. As Williams writes:
Unlike bones, which tell the story of death, tracks record the action of a living animal. Tracks show young and old dinosaurs of the same species traveling together, different species visiting the same shoreline on the same day, the dinosaurs following each other. "In the 1950's we though that dinosaurs were sluggish, solitary creatures that dragged their tails around behind them," said Sauter. "And now we think of them as athletic and birdlike. They were particularly vicious, and fast runners and jumpers. We found out all this information from these slabs. These actual slabs. It was really a revolution in thinking." p.14

1 comment:

David B. Williams said...

Thanks kindly for the mention of my book. Visiting Brooklyn and seeing and learning about the brownstones was a highlight of working on the book. They are wonderful buildings and so rich in history both human and geological.