Browse by...

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 September 26, 2010 - October 2, 2010


6th Avenue Between Lispenard St and Canal St


Canal Street has this gravitational pull which has the potential to suck all life from any surrounding area. While blocks like this suffer from a drought of things to do or see (save for a restaurant or business or two), Canal is positively overflowing with crap and people – causing a bottleneck that is almost impossible to escape from. I'll grant that this isn't aways true, and the sphere of influence is limited to only a few blocks, but it's a noticeable effect.

The neighborhood has some stunning old-world architecture which is being offset by a collection of very strange modern buildings. Personally I like this sort of dichotomy, but I can understand the cries of New Yorkers who lament to loss of previous marvels. 


Varick St Between Charlton St and W Houston St


Dominated by a series of very large buildings, these few blocks which straddle the border between the West Village and SoHo are surprisingly airy. One of the most striking structures is 180 Varick which takes up an entire block and sits across the street from the studios of WNYC. The building is also apparently very popular with design and architecture firms – housing no fewer than six different studios.

Sitting diagonally from 180 Varick is a very large government building which is home to services like Veterans Affairs, the US Passport Office and the neighborhood Post Office.


22nd St Between Park Ave and Lexington Ave

You know, with so many streets in Manhattan it doesn't surprise me that at least one of them is capable of hurling you an indeterminate number of years into the future. I'm not talking about some groundbreaking architecture, or example of municipal technology which exists here. No, I'm talking about the always-incredible School of the Future. Founded in 1990 (oddly enough, in the past) the institution is actually a very highly-regarded secondary school which is used as an example for others around the country. And why shouldn't it be? It consistently has 100% of its graduating class accepted to a college or university.

The School of Tomorrow (excuse me….the Future. Tomorrow would be too soon) actually has connections to two Silicon Valley companies: Apple and Microsoft. The school was originally started through funding presented by Apple and it is currently a mentor school for the Coalition of Essential Schools, which is in-turn funded by the Gates Foundation (which was founded by Bill Gates, former CEO of Microsoft). Is that an obscure enough connection? I believe it is.

The rest of the block is very typical for the Gramercy neighborhood in-which it lies. Many of the apartments have grand entrances and doormen who all like to give me funny looks as I snap my photos from across the street.


Greenwich St Between W Houston St and Leroy St


When I started to write this post, I struggled with how to name it. I know, all these titles are very formulaic, so there shouldn't be a question. Except that typically I tend to omit the "West" or "East" monikers on streets that aren't distinctly different from each other. For example West Broadway deserves having its directional preface since it's a completely different street from Broadway. However I would never write "East 23rd St" in a title since the surrounding cross streets would provide enough context to make the inclusion of "East" redundant. So why include the "W" for Houston here? Well it just feels so different! West of 6th Avenue Houston changes drastically into a narrow little one-way capillary – a stark change from the divided two-way monster it becomes later down the road. But enough about this post's title…

Feeling very similar to its neighbor, Washington Street, which I covered last year, these blocks are mostly industrial and unwelcoming. A few nice neighborhoods can be spotted down the side streets, but the overwhelming presence of UPS and FedEx, as well as several garages make this main drag just a little bit of a….drag. Regardless, it still manages to pickup some of the charm of the surrounding West Village thanks to the cobblestones and trees. If you can look beyond the industry that surrounds you, there's a slim chance you'll enjoy this block.


Dominick St Between Varick St and Hudson St


Who the hell has ever heard of Dominick Street? Only two blocks long and appearing to act mostly as a filler between 6th Avenue and the Holland Tunnel entrance. The only building of note down here would be the Trump SoHo hotel, which I seem remember from one of earlier seasons of The Apprentice. In terms of the amount of glass used, I would expect nothing less from Mr. Trump.

Regardless of Trump's presence, it's still pretty desolate around here. Halfway down the block I noticed some random poles in the middle of the sidewalk. It wasn't until I walked up to them that I realized they were there to protect the overpass above the Holland Tunnel entrance. Heavily fenced-off, the area above the tunnel appeared to be – at one point – accessible to walk around on. It's understandably blocked now. Across the street from this strange little area is a parking garage, which has brilliantly advertised the prices at its lot in NJ – visible only to the people driving into the tunnel.