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 site news (7)

Sunday
Nov282010

24,000 Photos Later, A Break

A collection of throw-away images I would take of the sidewalk to visually differentiate all the streets I would shoot at one time.

Over the previous 24 months I spent nearly every weekend walking around New York, camera in-hand, with the intention of documenting parts of the city I had never been to. The result has been this daily photo project; a project which has taken over my life in some manner nearly everyday since then.  Though many people assume I was out to walk the entire grid, or to shoot photos of every street, I never had that endgame in mind. No, it was far simpler: I just never wanted to move away from New York and feel like I wasted my time here. I also wanted to rid myself of the frustration of hearing about all these great neighborhoods and sights, though never taking the initiative to see them. And finally I wanted to share these experiences through photos. I've always loved the small things that people either don't see or don't even bother to notice. The ephemeral elements of everyday life which change so subtly over the decades, so that by the time we feel nostalgic for them, they've already been lost. So those were my goals.

In these two years I have managed to shoot over 24,000 photos of 515 blocks over the course of 90 weekends. All impressive numbers, if I do say so myself. But with thousands of blocks in Manhattan alone, it was obvious I was never going to achieve that mythical goal of photographing every street. I'm just one person, with one camera, traveling on-foot. It was just never going to happen. Even today, looking at my map of documented streets, it's amazing I've made it this far, but looking closer you can see how much more there is to do.

So it's with all that in mind that I've decided to stop posting new blocks on a daily basis.

NYC Grid will not be going away. But with the cold weather and shorter days upon us, I'd like to take the 10-or-so hours per week that I dedicate to this site and refocus them on other projects. The blog is not dead; far from it. I'll be keeping these photos and posts online, and may still contribute new ones from time to time. But the self-imposed deadlines related to posting a new block every weekday have become prohibitive.

I'd like to thank every person that ever visited the site. It's incredibly humbling to have people be even remotely interested in something you're passionate about. The thrill that, every week, thousands of people were reading my clumsily-written thoughts and looking at my hastily-shot photos has never worn off. The support and kind words I've received from countless individuals from all over the city, country and world are invaluable to me. I treasure every comment, every email and every reader. If you've been a daily visitor I encourage you to subscribe to the NYC Grid and NYC Grid Snippets RSS feeds to stay current with any sporadic updates I may post.

Previously: 260 Blocks Later (1 year anniversary)

Sunday
Jun132010

A Milestone & Some Changes

I started NYC Grid in November 2008 and at the time I don't think I could have foreseen the project continuing past a year let alone nearly two. In that time I've posted over 13,000 photos covering nearly every neighborhood in Manhattan and a few in Brooklyn. This Friday will mark the 400th block covered on the site and the ridiculousness of that number still hasn't quite sunk in yet. 

If you've visited before you may notice a few changes today – namely everything. When I first designed the blog, the focus (oddly enough) wasn't on the photography. It wasn't until a few weeks after the initial launch that I began to focus on the images rather than the words and the true voice of the blog was found. Unfortunately the old blog was narrow and less-than-ideal for showing nice, big photos of the city. A change was long overdue.

The new site is wider, brighter, simpler and designed to be a true photo blog. If everything goes smoothly, you'll see even more changes in the coming weeks. I hope everyone enjoys the new digs and as always, feel free to drop me a line.

Wednesday
Nov252009

260 Blocks Later...

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 year260 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:

 

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!

Sunday
May312009

Announcing NYC Grid Prints

I'm really pleased to announce the availability of NYC Grid Prints. A selection of the very best shots from the site that can now be purchased as beautiful Mpix prints from the NYC Grid Zenfolio Store. With sizes going all the way up to 24"x36", you'll be sure to find something to suit your tastes.

More information can be found here.

Sunday
Apr192009

To the masses...

I'd to thank everyone who visited, blogged, tweeted, shared and emailed Friday's post.  I'm humbled by the feedback, and I'm glad people enjoyed it as much as I did!  Regular postings will resume on Monday.

Tuesday
Jan202009

Documenting A Moment In New York

Now that I've been posting here for a few months I'd like to muse about the blog and why I do it for just a moment...

Part of me likes to think that there's a sense of urgency to this site; to know that visiting one street on a certain day will yield a completely different result than if I were to visit it just a month later. This seems particularly true in the tough economic climate that the city and country is enduring right now. To tell you the truth I'm not sure if it's simply that I'm paying attention more than I used to or if there is an actual shift going on, but the rise and fall of neighborhoods seems to be taking up an accelerated pace. And now my original goals for NYC Grid, which were simply to discover and explore - selfish goals admittedly - have since turned to a wider one: documentation.

I've mentioned here several times that I don't share the hopeless sense of loss that many other NY bloggers and writers express. I don't dislike modern architecture, I don't fear gentrification, I enjoy change and relish new ideas.  But I do feel there's something special about the time we're experiencing here. Once this time, this moment, has passed it will never return. Depending on the scope of "time" you wish to observe will determine how much change will have taken place. And that's the way it's always been. Every moment in time is special, and will never happen again. Heck, I often regret not being able to experience the city back in the 40's or 50's - but even if I did, would I have appreciated it?

While it may be unrealistic, and even a little ego-centric, I like to think that taking these photos and documenting the city like this is providing a glimpse into this moment for future generations. Granted, the landscape is now far more crowded than it was 60 years ago. Visual documentation is not the rarity it once was. Open Google Earth and you'll see New York in painful detail. Or simply go to Flickr and you can see practically every corner of New York. You could ask what makes my photos different from those? In terms of content, usually nothing. In fact, I'd be willing to bet a great deal of them are far more aesthetically pleasing than what I offer up here. No, what they lack is urgency - the loss of the mundane is perhaps the biggest thing I fear in this moment. When and if the Empire State Building is ever disassembled, perhaps to make room for a taller, "better" glass structure in 120 years, there will be no shortage of photos and videos to remind historians what made the building special. But what about the blue door on West 4th, the old sign on 79th, the curved wall on E10th. These are the things that may only be photographed once every few years, and sometimes only by mistake. Google Earth (and Street View) are stitch-ups....when you look at the city through those lenses, you're seeing it over the course of several years sometimes. I know we've all looked at our streets on those services only to see something's different or changed since those images were captured. While great, those are an approximation of the city.

I know this post sounds like something that belongs on Lost City, or Jeremiah's Vanishing New York -both fantastic sites. But I maintain that I'm not here to document what we're going to lose...Nor am I here to mourn what has been lost. This is not a news site, and I assume nothing about the future. I'm constantly amazed but what's weathered the decades around town, and I'm certain even more will amaze me in the years to come. So it's with that in mind that I go out and take these photos. If something is lost before I find it, then so be it.

This is simply a snapshot: New York as we live in it now.