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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.

  

Entries in Chinatown (15)

Monday
Jan272014

Before & After - Mott Street & Bowery

before
after

The above photo is interactive. Drag the yellow handle in the middle to reveal more or less of the before or after image.

In the course of this Before & After project, I've had the opportunity to capture this section of Mott Street twice. The original post featured a "Before" photo dating all the way back to the turn of the last century. This most recent entry splits the difference; dating from the late 1960s. In the original post, I commented how little the street had changed in over 100 years, and this latest "Before" photo offers us the opportunity to observe the gradual evolution.

Previously I had posted a 3-era-view of City Hall that showed a similar evolution over 3 different decades.

Photo source: Tom Riggle, Flickr

Friday
Jan032014

Before & After - Orchard Street, Chinatown

before
after

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.

There used to be a time when phone booths offered a valuable utility to denizens of the city. Now, more often than not they're simply a vehicle for advertising, with the receiver covered in stickers reading "NO DIAL TONE". As these vestiges of a time past continue to die an incredibly undignified death, it's nice to look back at a time when they were not only thriving, but styled uniquely for the neighborhoods they were in.

Photo source: Tom Riggle, Flickr

Monday
Dec092013

Before & After - Orchard Street

before
after

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

Friday
Aug302013

Before & After - Mott Street

before
after

The above photo is interactive. Drag the yellow handle in the middle to reveal more or less of the before or after image.

For more than 100 years Mott Street has been the unofficial Main Street of New York's Chinatown. And based solely on these photos all that seems to have happened in those 100 years is the installation of a crosswalk light. Other than that, the block is startlingly unchanged. The majority of the buildings on the west side of the street remain with only a few new coats of paint and some new windows. Even the brand new stuff like the shiny Citibank building on the east side loosely mirrors the original building with its wrap-around signage.


Photo source:  Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

Friday
Aug162013

Before & After - Manhattan Bridge Archway & Colonnade

before
after

The above photo is interactive. Drag the yellow handle in the middle to reveal more or less of the before or after image.

Built a few years after the completion of the Manhattan Bridge, the arch and colonnade that sit majestically at the end of Canal Street represent a type of architecture the city rarely sees. The arch is part of the awkwardly-named City Beautiful movement in which structures were built "to create moral and civic virtue among urban populations". For many years during the 20th Century the structure was neglected and by the time restoration began in the 1990's, it was covered in decades of grime and graffiti. The arch was designated a landmark in 1975, much to the chagrin of traffic engineers who would have a much easier job moving cars on and off the span if it weren't for that giant stone wall in their way.


Photo source:  Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, Bain Collection.

Monday
Sep132010

Delancey St Between Chrystie St and Bowery

   

This is the very last block of Delancey before it transforms into the far smaller, and less note-worthy Kenmare Street. Home to the Bowery Ballroom and not much else, the neighborhood is very industrial, cold and unwelcoming.

Since Delancey is a direct route to the Williamsburg Bridge, there's always a painful amount of traffic to be had here. The narrowing of the block past Bowery doesn't help the situation at all. This block hasn't yet succumbed to the full force of redevelopment. Many of the buildings here are old, worn, and not too attractive. You can easily spot some of the larger skyscrapers from the Financial District peeking over the rooftops here, which act as a sort-of beacon.