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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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Before & After - Orchard Street


The above photo is interactive. Drag the yellow handle in the middle to reveal more or less of the before or after image. Alternatively, you can simply click anywhere on the image to move the slider automatically.

When one talks about how neighborhoods have changed over the past 20 years, it usually comes with images of bulldozers and a large glass condo complete with CitiBank and 7-11 as the ground floor anchors. But these changes can be far more subtle. Take this block of Orchard Street for instance. When you look at it today, it looks as though little has changed in the past century, with no glass curtain walls or chain stores to be found. But when compared to the 1960's version, you can see a lot of the energy has just been drained from it. Sure, things look cleaner but all the street life that's been so important to these downtown neighborhoods over the decades has been completely stripped away. It seems there has been some attempt to retain the atmosphere of Orchard Street as this block is a designated pedestrian mall on Sundays.

Photo source: Tom Riggle, Flickr

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Reader Comments (1)

Looking at the 2013 photo, I would question if the time of day plays into the notion that this area is less energetic than before. Seeing Orchard on a Friday afternoon would possibly take some of the stark comparison out of this photo.

But I would probably agree with the author here that this area has seen itself lose the critical mass of people that used to swarm the fun, tacky stores that once lined the street The vendors too that spilled into the street and gave the whole area a kind of open air market feeling are for the most part gone, replaced and long forgotten.

December 23, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSteve J.

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