Thursday, November 29, 2007

Bound up

I snapped this photo on Monday evening at the intersection of Crosby and Grand Street. Even on a rainy night, when you pull yourself into your umbrella, these blocks feel wide. Long buildings anchor ample sidewalks which slope unevenly to the street, faking spaciousness.

In Greenwich Village, streets of the same size inspire intimacy, with trees and narrow townhouses, and trash cans crowding the sidewalks. Even in the midtown canyons, it can be easy to forget about the giants that tower overhead. Restaurants, delis, and glass lobbies reach out to the pedestrian.

On Crosby Street, nothing reaches out to you. If you want to find the lone bar on this block, you have to look hard. Back entrances shrug, as do the smoke-break employees. There are no skyscrapers, but the standoffish architecture wasn't built for pedestrians. The mottled pavement and absence of landscaping boil the city down to it's basic elements - humans surrounded on all sides by human creations.

Today, a film crew huddled on the same sidewalk seen above. On camera, a shabbily-dressed woman picked around some garbage cans. In the background, a truck idled in the middle of the sidewalk. In the Village, the same scene might come across as ironic; all of these lovely townhouses, and this woman stands out in the cold. Here, though, the street imparts no irony. It's the perfect place for an abandoned person.

Maybe that's what draws so many film crews to Crosby Street - and to SoHo in general. You might go elsewhere in search of human scale, but here it's just an intractable chunk of city.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

On the cobblestone trail

Now that we know where the manhole covers come from, I'd better find out about those cobblestones.

Just around the corner!

Things just around the corner:

- prosperity
- tacos
- furniture store
- the front of this building
- subway trains
- fedex
- future
- comfort

Thursday, November 15, 2007

November night

Tonight, zombies invaded from Prince Street (Crosby Street does not breed aggressors). They were invisible and caused minimal despair.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Not-so-late breaking quiet

Crosby Street has a dual identity, with residential and office space side-by-side. Of course, this is nothing new in New York; the same mixture exists all over Manhattan, feeding the city-that-never-sleeps cliché. Nighttime bustle reanimates the sidewalks as the workday dies away.

Crosby runs against that grain. Usually, it is serene after most of the workers go home. The residents flood their lofts and stay there, or they go elsewhere. No stoop sitting here, just the occasional fire escape cigarette. The effect is more peaceful than derelict - perhaps more from the pricey real estate than from the amiable surroundings.

Now, daylight savings stops and the temps drop and everything gets earlier faster. Maybe in summertime the street life will linger until 9 or 10. These days, the sidewalk folds up by 8, and one has to wait five minutes just to see a passing car.