City of Glass

This week’s ish of New York Magazine has a neat article by Justin Davidson; it consists of a meditation on NYC’s architecture boom and how it fits in the city’s history, complemented by 50 before-and-afters of recent buildings. I’m conflicted about some of his points, especially on the relationship of new buildings with their neighborhoods, and the “walking travelogue” aspect gets a bit precious, but I think it’s an awfully worthwhile article, with some good conversation about the nature of the city. Mr. Davidson cops to a certain sadness to all the buildings that are lost, but, also understands that freezing any one moment in time is impossible:

Intelligent preservation is precious, but nostalgia is cheap, and every era nurtures its own variety. Those late-nineteenth-century Upper West Siders who still thought of Broadway as the bucolic, elm-lined Bloomingdale Road of their youths resented the incursion of brownstones in the 1880s. Their children must have been horrified in turn when those same houses were wiped away by the now-classic apartment buildings that line West End Avenue. Bitterness springs eternal.

I suppose I’ll always have Ben Katchor‘s Julius Knipl comics to fall back on, for That New York that I’ve lost.

As a plus, the article also turned me on to Jeremiah’s Vanishing New York!

Oh, and the “history of Columbus Circle” sidebar sent me spiraling back to 1982 or thereabouts, when my dad took me to a gift trade show at the New York Coliseum for work. I hadn’t thought of that day in decades, and thinking about it now makes me a little sad, because of all the other memories locked away in time’s vanishing city.

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