Patricia Layman Bazelon

Patricia Layman Bazelon

Patricia Layman Bazelon was born and educated in England and immigrated to the USA in 1961, working as a television producer in Manhattan during the 1960’s and 1970’s. In 1979 she moved to Buffalo and began working as a free-lance architectural photographer.

It was during this time she met British architectural historian, Reyner Banham, who commissioned her to photograph the many grain elevators and industrial buildings for his book, A Concrete Atlantis. Bazelon fell in love with Buffalo’s industrial architecture and continued to photograph it extensively.

Although she returned to New York in 1988 to become the chief photographer for the Brooklyn Museum, she continued to photograph Buffalo’s industrial architecture until her untimely death in the summer of 1995. 

Bazelon’s photographs of Buffalo’s grain elevators and the Bethlehem Steel Plant are in many collections, including the Burchfield Penney Art Center, Buffalo, NY; George Eastman House International Museum of Photography, Rochester, NY; The West Collection, St. Paul, Minn.; The Castellani Art Museum, Niagara Falls, NY; and the Brooklyn Museum, NY.


That Must Be It.


I came across this image in Reyner Banham’s “A Concrete Atlantis”(1986).  The caption read:

“Brick-pier-construction factory at Grosvenor and North Division, Buffalo, New York (destroyed by explosion, 1984). (Photo, Bazelon)”

“Destroyed by explosion”. I of course jumped to the December 27th, 1983 “Division Street Explosion,” where a forklift operator was carrying around a propane tank, it fell over, and broke off the valve. Propane leaked everywhere. The fire department was called. A standard full alarm was dispatched – 3 engines, 2 ladders or trucks, and a Battalion Chief. As the propane slowly crept its way around the floor of the building the first trucks arrived. Battalion Chief called in “on location” and thirty-seven seconds later that propane found an ignition source. The explosion picked up the first Engine and threw it thirty feet into a wall across the street. It did the same to Truck 5. Five fireman died instantly.

“Destroyed by explosion” I remembered only because my grandfather was Buffalo Fire and had retired 10 days before. I was only 8.

I thought “Destroyed by explosion” was that building.

I don’t believe this to be the case anymore. Buffalo Fire accounts suggest the building was “timber frame.” Banham’s photo is discussing “Brick-pier-construction.” It turns out more than one building was destroyed.

“It completely leveled the four-story building. It demolished many buildings on four different blocks. It seriously damaged buildings that were over a half a mile away. The ensuing fireball started buildings burning on a number of streets. A large gothic church on the next block had a huge section ripped out of it as if a great hand carved out the middle. A ten-story housing projects a couple blocks away had every window broken and some had even more damage. Engine 32 and Truck 5′s firehouse, which was a half mile away or so, had all its windows shattered.”


Buffalo Writer.
My post to follow considers the “abandoned shell of the Buffalo Gas Light Company Works” in my own way.
Thank you,

the pull of the ordinary


Waterfront Elementary School offered many opportunities for daydreaming. The first K-8 magnet school in Buffalo, New York, was built on the same stretch of land as the old, abandoned shell of the Buffalo Gas Light Company Works. Fourth street used to lead directly to the waters of Lake Erie, with the Gas Light building looming only a few yards away from the lapping shores. Later renamed Illuminating Gas Co., the building existed solely to convert coal into illuminating gas for the surrounding residences, which were few and far between in 1848. Waterfront Elementary School was one hundred and thirty years away from being erected directly behind the landmark, a perfectly grey, apathetic point of reference for a dawdling student. Buffalo Gas Light remained planted in the grass like a stout, sleeping hippopotamus as children scrambled around the prickly grass and looming trees with hollowed, cracked trunks during recess.

The land…

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Where to start with reading Henri Lefebvre?

I have primarily “rebloged” this so i can return to it.

Progressive Geographies

[The most recent version of this guide can be found here.]

This comes in response to a question to me on Twitter. Where should you start with Henri Lefebvre?

the-production-of-space-21054272I think many people, especially in Geography, go to The Production of Space. That’s a major work, certainly, but I don’t think it’s a good place to start. It’s a difficult book, which was Lefebvre’s writing up – the theoretical culmination – of several years working on urban and, earlier, rural questions. All-too-often it is read through the lens of the first chapter – a broad, conceptual schema – and not balanced by the much more historical study found in later chapters. I’ve heard several people say that this was the first, and last, thing of Lefebvre they read, or started to read. Any serious engagement with Lefebvre has to come to terms with this book, but it’s not…

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Drone Survival Guide –

This recalls for me the work of Buffalo Artist Julian Montague.

Progressive Geographies

dsgThe guide contains tactics for hiding from drones and interfering with the drones’ sensors, collected from various online sources. Health Ranger’s intelligence analysis of military drones: payloads, countermeasures and more’, by Mike Adams and‘The Al-Qaida Papers – Drones’, Associated Press, Feb 2013. To keep this document widely available it can be downloaded in .pdf or .doc format. Send a new translation to us and receive a free printed Drone Survival Guide. All translations will be shared here. The Drone Survival Guide is collected and translated as a form of civil initiative, not for profit and without government or commercial funding and/or support.

Thanks to Sławek Królak for the alert.

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A New Epoch Begins Today

                Now at what you may call middle age, mortality, passings, generations, and memory are more precipitous of my anxiety than just a couple years ago. It’s possible now – at least in feeling – to imagine myself the age of my grandfather in my strongest memory of him. Walter Benjamin – who was not my grandfather – wrote that people went to the movies to learn how to cry;- or at least I have heard this spoken of. Learning from my grandfather, did not take place in a trip to the movies – although he did sit me down to watch a couple such as “Gunga Din,” “Mutiny On the Bounty,” and “Yankee Doodle Dandy” – but instead took place at a football game. Of course, there were no tears, only touchdowns

.               In 1988 the Bills opened the season against the Vikings with me sitting in the second deck next to my grandfather. Why? I’m unsure as these two tickets were my dad’s. The Bills had been awful my entire lifetime but following some dramatic managerial moves, the expectations for the team were high. At sometime during the game the Bills scored a touchdown to take control allowing the anticipation of the crowd to realize itself from only hopes. As the 77,000 people stood up to recognize this shift in spirit, I looked up towards my grandfather. He was yelling –“hey” “hey” “hey” – and clapping. I recognized him by his brush cut left over from his service in the Pacific during the war, the loose skin on his cheeks and throat from all the packs of Pall Malls, and the red on his face from the years of healthy drinking – Gennesse Cream Ale, 16oz glass “pounder” bottles, bought by the case; for those who may be close enough to Buffalo to identify a meaning in that mark. My memory of the football game proves to not hold up but this ecstatic moment for my grandfather is an image without a picture.

Photo: Forgotten Song Friday: Sad Edition –

            Two years later we hosted a party for the Bills first trip to the Super bowl. The Bills were heavily favored having won the semi-final game 51-3. Forty of us squeezed into our living room to watch the game on our twenty-five inch TV, which was large for the time. It was only eight years after we had our first color television. The game came down to the final play where we lined up for the winning kick only to watch the ball drift off wide of the upright. The opposing team, the Giants, threw their arms in the air and ran out onto the field.

My aunt ran out of the room. After we watched the celebration for a brief time we began to move around the house and found her in the front stairwell crying. Some attended to her while my grandfather pulled up a stool to the center island and everyone else gathered round for a final drink together. “What ifs” and “could have beens” were sorted through. It was a work night which kept things brief. There was a brand new episode of “Law and Order” on immediately following the game. And my aunt had won the pool, an uncomfortable $500.

I knew she had a flair for the melodramatic, but I sensed this to be beyond the reach of my emotional sensibilities at the time. I didn’t think of it this way then, I just felt it right to not huddle around her.

The Bills made three more runs each with the same final result. A year after the final one my grandfather passed away. There was no mention of the Bills – no official mention – at his funeral. My aunt cried but not like in the stairwell. Those were my grandfather’s tears. I didn’t know this then as I had not yet seen the movie.

             All this is a frame only to set what was in the window before me today. Buffalo’s hockey team, with zero championships in forty-two years of hoping, and off to its worst start to a season ever, fired its coach and general manager yesterday. Paul, twenty years older than me, who I’ve worked alongside of since 2001, has been distracted away from our businesses of late as a lump was found in his wife’s breast. It somewhat complicates things between us as his agreed upon responsibilities fail to be fulfilled. He pretends they are. He came to work today with a 9×11 sheet of paper adhered, with masking tape, to the back window of his truck. It read “Patty & Teddy” scribed on in lettering with a Sharpie marker, making reference to the new team president and coach. I poked some fun at him a bit but he firmly responded that the guy down the street had hung a big banner in the front window of his house and this morning he woke up to everyone in K-town – his neighborhood – having hung up their Sabre’s flags on their cars left over from the big playoff run in 2006.

            A common bumper sticker or T-shirt logo around town reads “Just one before I die.”

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