What's up with Federal Plaza in NYC?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by asdf, Jun 18, 2004.

  1. asdf

    asdf Guest

    I was in NYC a few weeks ago, and walking around in Federal Plaza. There's
    that tall courthouse, and I tried to take a picture of it a few times. But
    every time I pulled out my camera, a security guard told me that taking
    pictures wasn't allowed there. And they've got several security booths set up
    in that area, so there's just about no area that can't be seen by a guard!
    Why don't they allow you to take pictures of public buildings there? Do they
    think I'm going to show my pics to Al Queda? Like you can't find pictures of
    the buildings on the 'net anyways. (And the security guards did nothing to
    stop the people on those open-top sightseeing buses from taking pictures as
    they drove by!)
    asdf, Jun 18, 2004
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  2. asdf

    R. Makul Guest

    For many years it has been illegal to take pictures of government
    buildings in other countries, particularly police-state type

    Since 9-11, the same types of prohibitions are being enforced in the

    You can draw your own inferences. Hope you weren't carrying a GPS.
    R. Makul, Jun 18, 2004
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  3. asdf

    Ryan Robbins Guest

    I haven't heard of any such restrictions. Even if there were such
    restrictions, they would be unconstitutional without question.
    This is funny, because I do a lot of night photography and sometimes I carry
    my GPS receiver to record where I took photos. No police car that has gone
    by me has so much as slowed down for a closer look at what I was doing.
    Ryan Robbins, Jun 18, 2004
  4. asdf

    Paul J Gans Guest

    I live in New York not far from Federal Plaza. The city has
    gotten a bit paranoid about terrorists. I think it is
    very overdone, but it is hard to argue with that hole
    in the ground a few blocks away.

    One hopes that in time we will relax some of the silly
    restrictions like this one when we realize that it is
    trivial to sneak a picture with for example, a cell phone
    camera or to take on with a digital camera while screened
    from the guards by a confederate or two.

    Crap like this (including the ban on taking photos on
    subway cars) only makes life difficult for honest folks.
    It does nothing to inhibit terrorists who will find a
    simple way to cheat if they want the picture.

    Just my opinion and worth what you paid for it.

    ----- Paul J. Gans
    Paul J Gans, Jun 18, 2004
  5. asdf

    Frank ess Guest

    I disagree: your opinion is likely correct, right, and righteous.

    The problem at one level is that lawmakers and law enforcers do not want
    to be perceived as doing nothing in response to significat events (of
    any kind), so they choose some relatively inocuous but visible aspect to
    manipulate. Voila! Reelection.

    Frank ess
    Frank ess, Jun 18, 2004
  6. asdf

    Paul H. Guest

    Two quotes from a founding father:

    "It is a universal truth that the loss of liberty at home is to be charged
    to the provisions against danger, real or pretended, from abroad."


    "The means of defense against foreign danger historically have become the
    instruments of tyranny at home."

    --James Madison

    I think that just about sums it up.

    I recently had to go to a local Superior Court for jury duty and made the
    mistake wearing my hiking boots with metal eyelets which, of course, caused
    the metal detector to go nuts. Fine-- I had to take of my shoes and run
    them through the x-ray machine along with my backpack. No problem, my socks
    were clean and didn't have any holes in them. The trouble is, had I been a
    suicide bomber, I could have just stepped through the courthouse door on the
    street side of the security devices, detonated my bomb and killed about 150
    people who were milling about in the lobby. Or three or four terrorists
    could have stepped in from the street, lobbed hand grenades or Sarin gas
    cannisters over the heads of the bored security crew and achieved the same

    Now none of this is giving anything away to terrorists who are a lot more
    clever than I am when it comes to figuring out how to kill people, but it
    does point up the real reason for such "security" measures: to make people
    feel better, to make them think the government has really done something to
    protect them; sadly, people are indeed that stupid and many even want to be
    fooled. That's OK, I suppose, but it means the rest of us are having to
    give up essential freedoms and are getting nothing in return for the loss.
    I'm also still trying to figure out how anyone makes sense of the refrain,
    "Quick, terrorists want to take away our freedom, so let's fight them by
    surrendering our freedom!"

    And it isn't George Bush or John Ashcroft or Director Tom-- had a Democratic
    administration been in power, the result would have been the same, only the
    names would have been changed to protect the bureaucrats. So for now I'll
    just keep taking pictures of ducks in the park until a terrorist straps a
    bomb on a duck's back and blows something up. Then I'll be arrested for my
    duck photos and sent to Guantanamo Bay, charged with aiding and abetting
    international terror. Quack.
    Paul H., Jun 18, 2004
  7. You sound quite pessimistic - but you're right :)
    Peter A. Stavrakoglou, Jun 18, 2004
  8. asdf

    Big Bill Guest

    I simply can't find any referrrences to photographing public buildings
    in the US Constitution, one way or the other.
    Could you provide a cite for this?
    Or at least a legal theory?
    Bill Funk
    Change "g" to "a"
    Big Bill, Jun 18, 2004
  9. I would suspect it comes under the 1st. It is a government prior
    restriction of communication absent a compelling state need.

    It is also really stupid. It is illegal to take a picture of the
    Brooklyn Bridge (or from the bridge, the reports have been unclear).
    Think of that? Somehow there is some special dangerous information I
    can get from a photo now that is not available to my eye or the tens
    of thousands of photos of the bridge.

    The MTA wants to make it illegal to take pictures in the subway
    system. This is also to stop terrorists. It will be a $20 fine. (I
    think $20 for a first.) I gather they imagine this scenario. I am a
    terrorist planning on blowing up Time Square. I need a photo of the 2
    train so I take my camera. But I suddenly realize that it might cost
    me $20 if I get caught. So I abandon the entire plan and take up dog

    I mean really. If I wanted to do this I could come up with hundreds of
    ways of getting what I want. It will not do a thing to any potential
    terrorist, it will just annoy the tourists. (Not that I have anything
    against annoying tourists.) Now if they made it a Class B felony
    (whatever that means, they use that kind of language on _Law and
    Order_ all the time and they all seem to understand) and put people
    away for years, then it could affect the plans. But not a $20 fine.
    Matt Silberstein, Jun 18, 2004
  10. asdf

    ESmith Guest

    It's really sad, but it can be summed up in 2 words Patriot Act.
    ESmith, Jun 18, 2004
  11. I'm not too familiar with the intricacies of the US constitution, but it
    seems unlikely that the US copyright act would be in conflict with it.
    Other legislation may (temporarily) prevail (e.g. Patriot Act).

    Bart van der Wolf, Jun 18, 2004
  12. asdf

    Al Dykes Guest

    The hqtrs for the FBI counterterrorism unit is there.

    I've been in Fed Plaza a couple of times to see someone in the SBA.
    Getting into the building is like a security check for an
    international plane flight. Once I went in with the usual crap in my
    shoulder bag and pockets. Everything went thru the xray and the
    security guy went nuts and proceeded to empty out my shoulder bag
    (books and papers). He finally came up with the spare stylus I carry
    for my palm pilot an was ready to prevent me from entering. It looked
    like a big nail on the scanner. I pointed to the identical stylus in
    my PP, which he had already waved thru. He probably passes a few
    hundred of those a day.
    Al Dykes, Jun 18, 2004
  13. asdf

    Ron Hunter Guest

    I rather suspect that if you stood down the street and photographed, say
    the FBI building, once or twice, nothing would be said. However, taking
    pictures of all the entrances, and the roads around it, and the roof,
    might just get someone a bit suspicious.
    Ron Hunter, Jun 18, 2004
  14. asdf

    JPS Guest

    In message <>,
    They don't allow you to point a camera in the direction of the
    buildings, if they see you. I took a picture of one of the Federal
    buildings looking east from Broadway just north of Chambers street in
    early 2002, and a van full of NYPD officers suddenly awoke (they were
    all sleeping when I first past them), and one got out to tell me that I
    can't take pictures of Federal buildings, as he rubbed his eyes and
    JPS, Jun 18, 2004
  15. [snip]
    I had two stores make similar objections recently. There is a
    difference between taking a picture and "casing the joint".

    (No, I was not casing the stores. I was taking a picture of an item to
    show my spouse. They objected to my taking pictures of their layout.)
    Matt Silberstein, Jun 18, 2004
  16. asdf

    Big Bill Guest

    "I would suspect" is a lot less certain than, "...they would be
    unconstitutional without question."
    I'm lookingh for some sort of support for saying that.
    I'm not saying whether I support or don't support such laws.
    I/m interested in the "unconstitutional without question" part.

    Bill Funk
    Change "g" to "a"
    Big Bill, Jun 18, 2004
  17. asdf

    Big Bill Guest

    Can you direct us to the part of that act which makes it illegal to
    take photos of government buildings?

    Bill Funk
    Change "g" to "a"
    Big Bill, Jun 18, 2004
  18. asdf

    pcd Guest

    At least donut pieces didn't fly out of his mouth.
    pcd, Jun 19, 2004
  19. asdf

    Ryan Robbins Guest

    The First Amendment.
    Ryan Robbins, Jun 19, 2004
  20. asdf

    Ryan Robbins Guest

    There is extensive case law that states that photographs enjoy the same
    protection as what we would call "normal" speech.
    Ryan Robbins, Jun 19, 2004
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