Tuesday, February 24, 2009


#55, Broadway, NYC

There's something about wandering around the financial district -- those narrow, crooked streets, the towering skyscrapers, the sharp angles -- that makes me feel like I'm trapped in a kind of urban Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. It brings out a peculiar anxiety that I don't feel anywhere else in the city. It's exhilarating, it's nightmarish, it feels like being swallowed up by the great metropolis. Nothing in the wide avenues of uptown quite prepares you for the little rat's maze that awaits once you cross over into lower Manhattan. For me, the boundary is Fulton Street: everything above is run-of-the-mill mad Manhattan, everything beneath it is German Expressionism. It got me thinking about boundaries: where do you draw your own personal boundaries of the city? Which streets do you use to delineate changes in the landscape? Which pockets make you feel at home and in which ones will you always feel lost?


Ray Gunn said...

My southern boundary is Chambers Street. Despite having lived relatively nearby and having a friend live in the financial district for years, I also find that part of Manhattan labyrinthine and eerie. I never feel at ease north of 98th on the east or north of 125 on the west until I get to my own neighborhood. But the rest of the city is my playground.

yeddly - charmingly off-kilter and bewildering in the manner of people two generations ahead of or behind your own

Therese Cox said...

Yes, and Chambers Street also has those eerie eyes that follow you in the subway station. Creepy.

But I love the idea of the city being a playground. And just like you always had a favorite place on the playground as a kid (the monkey bars, the tunnel slide), you have favorites on the map.

Fulton's my boundary I think because of the old Strand Annex bookstore that used to be there. It's gone now, but the invisible boundary remains.

Julie said...

Invisible boundaries are the best as only the building can be demolished.

Garish number with what appears, at first glance, to be a hammer'n'sickle.

Must go. Big medical day today.