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NYC Grid is a photo blog dedicated to exploring New York block-by-block and corner-by-corner. Each post covers a new street or feature with a focus on the mundane and ephemeral.


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5th St Between Bowery and 2nd Ave

Up until recently this street was just another in a series of nondescript blocks which feed from the Bowery deeper into the East Village. That, however, all changed when the 21-Story Cooper Square Hotel barged its way into the neighborhood. Seeming more at-home in iRobot than the East Village the hotel features a design which, unfortunately, looks like a sore thumb in this location (It's very thumb-like in shape). While the new Cooper Union building two blocks to the north seems to echo this architectural mentality, this one just doesn't feel as good.

The hotel seems unsure of its position in the neighborhood. On one hand, it features a large blank wall which has a rotating body of street art (currently Shepard Fairey)- which at least pays homage to the area's roots. However, the building seems to want to act as an oasis from the street - the very street it appeared to be celebrating. The arrangement of the hotel bar's patio is such that people living in the century-old apartment buildings behind it are now assuming the role of zoo animals: Put on display for the upper-class patrons of the Glass Thumb to gawk at. Perhaps worse than the gawking (they have blinds, dontcha know) is apparently the noise. After opening last summer a war of words, music and dirty laundry began - ending in no resolution as the weather began to chill.

The rest of the block is as one would expect: Quaint, chock-full of trees, and just a teeny bit dirty...but not too much. You can feel the community all around you. By the time you exit onto 2nd Avenue, it's as-if you just walked out of some secret neighborhood no one knows about. I'm rather certain that of the thousands of people who traverse this street every weekend as they make their way from the dive bars on 2nd Ave to the Cooper Square patio from hell, hardly any of them notice the humanity all around.

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Reader Comments (1)

Yea... I guess putting that sore thumb in there was chalked up to progress.

May 11, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterUnkle kidneystone

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