CONTENTS INTRODUCTION 12 CHAPTER 1 | To Astonish the World 22 A Panorama of Power Maria Popova 24 The View from 9th Avenue Bob Mankoff 46 CHAPTER 2 | A Beautiful Catastrophe 48 Mapping a Greater New York Zoe Mendelson 72 CHAPTER 3 | A Symphony of Conveyances 76 Mapping New York City, One Foot at a Time Becky Cooper 78 CHAPTER 4 | Finding Home 94 A Map, a Tonic, a Shower Curtain Sarah Boxer 118 CHAPTER 5 | Personal Geographies 122 Mapping the Martini Geoff Nicholson 124 Mapping the City’s Smellscapes Kate McLean 144 CHAPTER 6 | Nothing Never Happens 148 A New York Pictorial State of Mind Antonis Antoniou 150 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS 189 INDEX 190 9.
INTRODUCTION A t the beginning of his masterful, oft-quoted essay visited, and if pressed many could draw a mind’s-eye map Here Is New York, E. B. White creates a perfect of it—perhaps of Manhattan in profile, spiky with skyscrapers map. We can triangulate his location, the “I am and lit up like Times Square, or the entire city from above, here” dot he has pinned in midtown Manhattan (in today’s boroughs dotted with film crews capturing mad car chases precise terms, 40° 45´ 21.4˝ N 73° 58´ 56.8˝ W, or a room and NYPD teams investigating heinous crimes. The city is a in the Algonquin Hotel)—but White’s word map is about media celebrity, inviting our projections. When I first visited stories. It thrums with “the vibrations of great times and New York as a child, I was in for a surprise. Skyscrapers didn’t tall deeds, of queer people and events and undertakings.” cover all of Manhattan and the boroughs, and the Statue of It conveys the intensity of a colossal city and the passions Liberty wasn’t towering head and shoulders over them all.
A PANORAMA OF POWER Maria Popova A “ poem,” E. B. White wrote in his 1949 masterpiece will, he imprinted Gotham with his fiery fusion of idealism and Here Is New York, “compresses much in a small egotism. That his legacy should be celebrated by a miniature space and adds music, thus heightening its meaning. model of the city, Moses’s favorite toy, is only fitting. The city is like poetry.” Nothing compresses the city in order Perhaps most emblematic of all is how the Panorama to heighten its meaning more palpably than the Panorama was pitched at the 1964 World’s Fair, where it became a of the City of New York—an astonishing feat of architecture, favorite attraction as a kind of indoor helicopter tour of the urban planning, and craftsmanship, strangely poetic in its city, promising to provide a “god’s-eye view” of the urban eco- deliberate contrast of scale and significance. To look at it is to system. In a sense, visitors were invited to try on the view of see, perhaps for the first time, a singular city of ordered com- Moses, a self-anointed god who had drawn the master map plexity and elegant enormity, dynamic duality and paradox not only of the city’s infrastructure but also of its very charac- in action. ter and destiny—the craftsman of the grand stage onto which, Constructed by a team of more than one hundred in the immortal words of White, “enormous and violent and architectural model builders from Raymond Lester & wonderful events.are taking place every minute.” Associates over the course of three years, this elaborate microcosm reduces every hundred feet of cityscape to one inch of Formica panels and urethane foam. This conceptual Maria Popova is a reader and writer, and writes about compression cost $672,662.69 to construct in 1964—the what she reads on Brain Pickings (brainpickings.org), which equivalent of approximately $5 million today. But what makes is included in the Library of Congress archive of culturally the Panorama most striking is its affront to our sense of scale. valuable materials.
THE VIEW FROM 9TH AVENUE Bob Mankoff W hen I was asked to do an essay on this, Saul It seemed to be an unambiguous visualization of that old Steinberg’s most famous drawing, which then quote, “If you’re leaving New York, you ain’t going nowhere. ” became the most famous, most iconic cover Yes, it was gettable, and more than that, easily adaptable for the New Yorker of all time, one that has been rampantly and therefore adoptable, which is why so many other cities ripped off and pounded by piracy and imitation into a mis- knocked off the cover, to proclaim, however dubiously, under understood cliché of itself, I realized that though I had seen it their own local rubric, that they were the epicenter of exis- over and over over the years, I needed to look it over again. tence. As a born-and-bred New Yawker, my own take was I saw the New Yorker cover when it came out in 1976, similar, with the very implausibility implicit in the derivative and it wasn’t long before the magazine, in response to popu- covers’ claims, actually making my own native chauvinism lar demand, made it into a poster. And not long after that you seem reasonable in comparison. I mean Novosibirsk may be could find it on the walls of apartments and college dorms. a nice little city, but gimme a break. Soon it was pretty much everywhere, even if only as a local However, once you look at the drawing, and get the imitation—who knows, maybe even out there on the far right cover with its classic New Yorker, Rea Irvin font out of your horizon of the drawing, in Russia, perhaps there’s a yellowing mind, it’s clear that provincial pride, no matter how big and poster of “The View of the World from Novosibirsk.” self-important the province, is being satirized, not celebrated. At the time the image made its public debut, I was an To think that everything west of the Hudson is Nowheresville, aspiring New Yorker cartoonist, about a year and a half away full of nondescript nothings, is not to be an urbane New from publishing my first cartoon in the magazine, and Saul Yorker, but an urban bumpkin.
MAPPING A GREATER NEW YORK Zoe Mendelson M aps can be powerful tools for urban visionaries. by the city. He suggested filling in the entire East River, thus Planners dreaming of ambitious city makeovers connecting Manhattan to Brooklyn and Queens. He also turn maps of what is into maps of what might proposed creating a “New Manhattan” which would have be, and suddenly, grand feats of urban re-engineering seem extended the island far enough south to swallow Governors plausible. Take a map of New York City, for example: erase a Island and Liberty Island and reached toward Staten Island river here, dig a canal there, bring in a lot of dirt, and—voilá! and New Jersey. He intended to build new islands, subway Problem solved. The map has conjured up fresh real estate tunnels, forty miles of shipyards, dry docks, and coaling worth billions. stations for massive ships. He even envisioned a new Harlem The “problem” is Manhattan’s hunger for growth. Looking River, which would have flowed through Manhattan from at a map, a solution seems obvious: blue waterways between Hell’s Gate to the Hudson. In total, his plan would have added the island and the city’s other boroughs rematerialize as tan- fifty square miles of reclaimed land to the city.