148th street


as some of you might know, i was born on 148th street in manhattan and i spent most of my life living in new york city.  a few years ago i upped sticks(i assume that’s a camping figure of speech.  i don’t know.)  and moved to los angeles.

now when i come back to my neighborhood(east village, lower east side) i stay in a hotel and walk around, marveling at the fact that the neighborhood i lived in and drank in and bottomed out in for 30 some-odd years is so different from what i’d known.

still the same, but different.  more different than the same, to be honest.  it’s still a fascinating place, and i’m still really happy to come back to nyc.  but it creates all sorts of cognitive, and vaguely existential, dissonance, being a tourist in the neighborhood i’d been living in and hanging out in since 1979…
today i walked around for about 5 minutes and took pictures of some of the buildings that didn’t exist a few years ago when i moved to l.a. and then i took a picture from my hotel window, realizing that about 75% of the buildings in the picture didn’t exist when i first moved to this neighborhood, full time, in 1989.

i guess one of my only architectural criticisms would be that most of these buildings could exist anywhere.  they’re nice glass and steel boxes, but they’re still glass and steel boxes.  new york, architecturally, always felt unique to me.

now, i say with some wistfulness, it’s uniqueness has waned a bit.  i still love new york, the city of my birth and the city where i lived for most of my life.  but as time passes and it becomes wealthier and more gentrified it starts to look a little bit more like any number of cities primarily populated by tall glass and steel boxes.

it’s still unique and remarkable.  but i do miss the days when everything about new york felt utterly unique, and when it was a dysfunctional world unto itself.  i guess as the dysfunction wanes it’s inevitably replaced with a quotidian functionality that’s a bit more conventional.