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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.



1st Ave Between 79th St and 77th St

In an attempt to get a different perspective on these streets, this week's posts all feature photos taken at night.

Walking down this stretch of 1st avenue at night is only marginally different than walking down it during the day. The number of shuttered storefronts is a depressing sign of the times, though I can't say it's all bad. It seems that most of these stores are not in any danger of being sniped off by a Duane Reade or any other large chain. And while this particular location lies dormant, Charlie Mom Chinese Cuisine has moved just a few blocks north.

With that being said, these two blocks do offer a nice variety – from toy stores, to home shops, to retaurants, to clubs. It's also nice to see that most of the block retains it's low-rise buildings, with only two or three high-rises in sight. And here's a ProTip for those of you wanting to use the CitiBank on 79th: The card reader is really far away from the ludiciously so.

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79th St Between East End Ave and York Ave

In an attempt to get a different perspective on these streets, this week's posts all feature photos taken at night.

This, the eastern-most point on 79th Street before the FDR, is exclusively a residential street. For me, the interesting thing is the dichotomy between the north side and the south side of the block. On one hand you have the City and Suburban Homes, built between 1898 and 1915, while on the other you have a collection of miscellaneous high-rise condos, all seemingly built in the last 30 years. It's an interesting comparison, because even though the C&S side could be considered tenements, the character and architectural beauty they offer is far greater than the fancier buildings right across the street. Granted, they're not the most stunning row of beige buildings ever, but the devil's in the details. I found it very interesting how as the block went on, each individual unit had slightly different construction and detailing from the last, though from afar they all seemed to exist as one body.

I should make it clear, I have no problem with newer construction, and there are plenty of new buildings that I really like. But in this particular case it seems to work at a disadvantage for the new ones.


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13th St Between 5th Ave and University Pl

Deeply entrenched within the combat zone between The New School and NYU the area between University Place and 5th Av provides a unique combination of store fronts, architecture, and construction. The middle of the block hold the New York Health and Racquet Club – the one often shown in Seinfeld. The rest of the street is a myriad of offerings ranging from residential enclaves to karaoke-laden sushi bars.

The west-most side is home to a seemingly abandoned (or long dormant) construction site. Being 5th Ave, this section feels a bit dead.  It isn't until you walk a bit towards University Pl that the character and excitement of the block comes out. 

Pieces of small street art abound throughout as old signs hang on walls. Of course, being so close to Union Square, one does run the risk of being eaten alive by massive crowds (especially on the eastern side of things), but it's still lightyears better than the mass of humans found just one block to the north.


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20th St Between 1st Ave and 2nd Ave

This is such a transitional street. On one end, I always feel like I'm just a few steps away from the Lower East Side, with it's endless bars, restaurants and hot spots; while simply walking down this street, one block west, I immediately get the feeling of old Gramercy Park. The tops of the Empire State Building and the Metropolitan Life building popping into view just add to the feeling of transition. 

The street itself has a lot of character. Layers of paint, old signs and murals are all around. The block is dominated by several schools and churches (and combinations of the two). The west side of the street is home to Peter's Field (which, despite the name, is lacking a lawn of any sort), which allows for some nice views north.

The area seems relatively untouched by new development, so there's plenty of old buildings to admire, though anyone looking for any sort of commercial presence best go elsewhere.


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13th St Between 4th Ave and 3rd Ave

We should all feel special today! We get to explore a street which branches off from the SHORTEST avenue (4th) in the borough. Being down here, just south of Union Square, this stretch of 13th St is full of character. Beginning on the west of the street (closest to Union Square and 4th Ave) the block is relatively common and barren - housing a Blimpie's and several Pepsi posters. But as one ventures more east-ward, towards the exciting land of 3rd avenue, the commercial and architectural offerings pick up – culminating with the big, painted dinosaur on 3rd and 13th. In between one will encounter large, abandoned buildings (perhaps an old stable), video game stores, antique dealers, flower shops, and of course plenty of NYU-based Public Safety Officers.

Everything from the buildings, trees, and chained-up bikes to the signs, fire houses, and Nitrogen-tanks make this a true New York street.


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1st Ave Between 16th St and 18th St

The last time I documented this area was way back during the first week of the site, when I covered 14th St and 15th St, so it was nice to come back and take a closer look at the 1st Avenue side of things.  This street is dominated by two things: One is the unavoidable Stuyvesant Town to the east and the other is the rounded corner building of Beth Israel Hospital to the west. Because of Stuy-town's 9-block coverage of 1st Avenue, the street here has a secondary north-bound lane which allows for easier access to the mega block and it's stores. 

I noticed as I approached 17th St, that this particular stretch was called Dvorak Pl which – after a little research – I found was named for Antonín Dvořák, a composer who lived here in the late 19th Century.

This area is just on the edge of the east village – it's not quite east or south enough. But there's still a good amount of character (in the form of tags, stickers and miscellaneous street art) to be found.


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