A little over a year ago I found myself shocked at just how little I knew about my neighborhood. It wasn't uncommon to find myself on a street not far from my apartment that I had never walked down. I started to realize I had this frustration everywhere I went in the city. Now, New York City is arguably one of the densest urban spaces in the world – by practically every measure. But, the idea that I could be missing out on some amazing feature that sits just a few blocks away became really irritating. Sure, I could pick up a tourist guide (or even a Not For Tourists guide as the case may be), but cherry-picking streets, neighborhoods and locations is just not the way I want to experience New York. Luckily the cause of this density (and obscurity), the grid plan, also makes it incredibly easy to systematically browse the city street by street. The last thing I wanted would be to move away from New York at some point in the future and regret not seeing something or visiting somewhere. So my goal became pretty clear- start walking around! I grabbed my camera and off I went. Thus the idea for this site was born.
Now, while it may seem like the intended goal of NYC Grid is to walk every street block-by-block, it isn't. There are plenty of people who have done that (though, not necessarily under the premise of documentation...unless you count Google Street View)...but I don't think I have that in me. Especially since the scope of my project goes beyond the bounds of Manhattan – though it hasn't really gotten there yet. No, the goal here is discovery – to find something special (or not) about each street I visit...indeed, a block-by-block review of the city.
As of late what's begun to excite me more is the thought of how this archive of photos will age over time. Have you ever visited your childhood home, only to notice all the minor changes? It's like entering some strange dream. New York is like that, only on a massive scale and a smaller timeline. I'm very eager to see what it's like to revisit these photographs in 10 or 20 years.
So here I am, exactly 1 year, 260 blocks and 14,815 photos later- with hardly a dent made in the city, and no end in sight. I'm excited to see what I find next, and I hope you get a kick out of exploring the city along with me.
I took a few minutes to collect what I think are some of the most notable posts of the first year of NYC Grid...So here it is, the best New York has to offer (*that I've seen firsthand) enjoy:
- New York City : 1961 vs. 2009 - A departure from my normal posts, here I compared photos my grandfather shot in 1961 with their modern equivalents in 2009. This post, and its associated gallery are the most popular things on the site.
- 72nd St Between York Ave and 1st Ave - This was the first time I encountered the dreaded Duane Reade identity re-design. My angry design-driven rant was later picked up by a few blogs including the New York Times City Room.
- Hope St Between Keap St and Rodney St - I was really impressed with some of the street art in this area. The colors and energy were just fantastic.
- 42nd St Between 7th Ave and 8th Ave - My first encounter with Sad Panda!
- White St Between Broadway and Church St - I fell in love with the small alleyway that fed off this street. Looked like a movie set.
- 11th St Between 7th Ave and West 4th St - The unreal feeling you experience here when all the trees are blooming in the spring is unlike anything you can find in the city.
- 10th St Between 6th Ave and 5th Ave - Much like the previous post (11th St), it's the greenery that attracted me to this block, though it's practically all planted and groomed.
- Bond St Between Lafayette St and The Bowery - Interesting interplay of architecture and history.
- 42nd St Between Lexington Ave and Vanderbilt Ave - Sure, 42nd St is a heavily traveled thoroughfare, but it amazes me how quickly the crowds die off the further east you go. With little to see beyond 3rd Avenue (besides the U.N.), most tourists stop at Grand Central, or sometimes the Chrysler Building. As a result they can often miss beautiful gems like The Chanin Building or the Bowery Savings Bank.
- Madison Ave Between 27th St and 25th St - Generally, I'm anti-Madison Avenue. It bores me. But this stretch near Madison Square Park is an exception.
- Tudor City Place - Like I said before, most people ignore the eastern end of 42nd Street, and this is certainly true for this bizarre oasis that floats above.
- The High Line - Along with countless others, I found the new High Line park to be on of the best things to come out of the city in a long while. Of course, not everyone shares that opinion.
- Roosevelt Island : The Tram, Southtown, South Point Park, Northtown, Octagon Park & Lighthouse Park - As a former resident, it was a blast to dedicate an entire week of posts and photos to my old home. As far as I'm concerned the island is a must-visit for just about anyone.
- 51st St Between Lexington Ave and Park Ave - Not a thrilling block per-say, but the old GE Building is just too good to pass up.
- 32nd St Between 5th Ave and Broadway - About 20 times more interesting than Times Square.
- 40th St Between 8th Ave and 9th Ave - I hate this block.
- Gracie Square - An amazing, short block that culminates overlooking the East River, Roosevelt Island and Queens.
- North Moore St Between Hudson St and Varick St - I'm incredibly unfamiliar with TriBeCa, but this block felt so friendly, I immediately felt at home.
- 60th St Between 1st Ave and 2nd Ave - My favorite bridge in the city, by a long shot, is the Queensboro. At just under a mile long, I love the way it looks as it reaches out across the city. This is one of my favorite perspectives to see it from.
- 11th Ave Between 30th St and 33rd St - Going directly over the West Side Rail Yards, this is easily the most boring block I covered.
- 72nd St Between York Ave and FDR Dr - I didn't know what to expect walking down this way, but the result was nothing short of delightful.
- Newton Creek Nature Walk - Like Brooklyn's High Line...except it's not elevated and no one seems to go there (which may or may not make it superior).
- Hudson St Between Barrow St and Christopher St - This was a near-perfect day to walk around the West Village. The weather probably impacted my opinion of the block.
- 36th St Between 1st Ave and 2nd Ave - Like 11th Ave before it, this block is completely devoid of any buildings. However, unlike 11th Ave, trees park space and some surprising views make it a great place to walk around.
So there you have it- the best I was able to find in one solid year of walking around New York. If there's anything you'd like to recommend, please let me know!