Construction Deconstructed

Construction Deconstructed

Construction Deconstructed

Slate's guide to consuming culture.
July 12 2010 10:27 AM

Construction Deconstructed

Small children are often preoccupied with the tools and methods of construction—hence (or because of?) the slew of children's books devoted to the topic. But as adults rushing around our particular corners of Busytown , most of us tend to think of large-scale construction sites as nuisances: We know they’re building something, we know it gets in our way, and we notice when it’s done. Maybe, especially if it’s a large public project, we complain about how it could take so long and cost so much . The Launch Box , a blog about the construction of New York City’s long-awaited 2 nd Avenue subway, has set out to document the evolution of the project in detail. Some posts are only for real public policy or engineering wonks—contract announcements, specs for water and gas mains—but the meat of the blog, and the fun part, comes from the fascinating onsite pictures. There are time-stop comparisons charting progress on the same Upper East Side site. Mysterious-looking machines are identified ( an electric shutoff valve , a saw to cut through the road ). Some posts even have the feel of a picture book, carefully explaining through a series of photographs the process by which construction workers accomplish certain tasks, like, say, hauling out the muck (a technical term!) . Your renewed sense of childlike wonder at all the intricacies of construction will have plenty of time to come to maturity: Phase One of the project won’t be complete until at least 2018.

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Noreen Malone is a senior editor at New York magazine.