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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 from January 24, 2010 - January 30, 2010


West Broadway Between Leonard St and Beach St

With the towering monuments of the financial district sinking into the background, and the yet-to-be-encountered shining obelisks of midtown just peeking over the horizon, the quiet and welcoming streets of TriBeCa sit in a time warp. Old wall advertisements cut through years of paint and neglect while local shops sit side-by-side with massive corporations. The amount of diversity and contrast you can see down here is inspiring and fascinating. While it may be known as an expensive and privileged part of town, the character that has been maintained on the streets is something all neighborhoods should strive for.

Sure, it may be all a facade, but that doesn't bother me. I tend to be a person who takes joy in how a street looks rather than what it offers. I may be in the minority as far as that goes. But a friendly, good-looking, character-filled block can go a long way to shaping how the surrounding neighborhoods turn out. Besides, it's always free to walk down a street- no matter how expensive the apartments or businesses may be. At least I can enjoy the public space.

Now, is this all a sign of gentrification? Possibly. I'm not smart enough or in an appropriate enough position to pass judgement on how those changes can affect a community. But be that as it may, if you were to offer me a choice between a block such as this or a purely anonymous one in the center of midtown, I'd take this one any day.


6th Ave Between West 3rd St and Bleecker St

South of 9th St, Sixth Avenue acts as a barrier of sorts, holding back the mess of streets that make up the West Village from interfering with the conformity of the grid. As you get closer to Houston, the avenue begins to lose this battle- as evidenced by Minetta Lane, which creates an extra mini block between Bleecker and MacDougal.

A series of open squares along this stretch creates for a wide open, yet hopelessly disorienting experience. Park space is a given as most of the buildings sit back on the side streets. This is one of the few places where 6th Avenue still retains some of the original signs from when it first became "Avenue of the Americas". A popular area to grab some food, it's generally not too crazy down here (that's reserved for West 4th, or further into Greenwich Village).


Houston St Between MacDougal St and Thompson St  

Lined with restaurants and places to shop, the western end of Houston St is a good deal different than its eastern counterpart. Gone are the bars and trendy clubs, instead you'll find churches, apartments and quiet(ish) side streets. Sure, there's still the bustle of Greenwhich village just a few blocks north, but compared to the inane noise of the LES/East Village, this is nothing.

The side streets that peek out into the middle of the busy intersections all seem very anonymous and similar. Houston is a massive street - complete with a middle island; something only a handful of other streets in Manhattan share (Park Ave, B'Way, and Delancey come to mind). All-in-all, this part of the block feels much more like a neighborhood, whereas a bit to the east it feels like a destination.


West 4th St Between Washington Square West and 6th Ave

A very typical block for this neighborhood, this is just one incarnation of West 4th, which does an incredible job of meandering it's way through the West Village (It ends up intersecting a handful of other streets). With a church, some restaurants and a lineup of apartments (which I would be willing to bet are owned by NYU), this is another fine example of a self-contained street.

The anchoring corners are both rather busy. With the south east side of Washington Square Park on the east and the bustling insanity of 6th Avenue and the A, B, C, D, E, F, & V trains on the west, you can feel a bit blocked in by humanity.


Hudson St Between Reade St and Harrison St

The confusing tangle of streets that makeup these few blocks create for some stunning framed view of the surrounding buildings. This stretch feels like classic New York - with a great combination of short & tall buildings, parks & corner stores, not to mention the unavoidable construction canopies. 

The pure eclecticism of architecture makes the block incredibly interesting to walk down. The textures and colors make for a really overwhelming experience.