As I mentioned back on this post, there was a great quote about New York City in “Girl in a Band,” the recently published memoir of Kim Gordon of Sonic Youth, that being the following…
"Any place I depended on once to be deserted now teems with bodies and long black cars and faraway accents all day, all night.”
It’s a line that practically leapt off the page at me when I read, as I’ve been thinking the same thing for eons.
There used to be vast swathes of Manhattan that were simply empty, quiet and desolate. It seems inconceivable today, but the Meatpacking District, SoHo, TriBeCa, Hell’s Kitchen and wide patches of the Lower East Side used to be whisper quiet and seem virtually uninhabited.
This is largely no longer the case today, of course (although, as I mentioned in this post, there is still a pervasive sense of desolation along the western edges of Hell's Kitchen). Being that there are no frontiers left on the island, and brand new development is everywhere, the days of finding a quiet patch of Manhattan concrete (for whatever reason, nefarious or otherwise) are gravely endangered. Once the rail yard project is completed, even those remaining areas in the far reaches of Hell's Kitchen will be teeming with people.
I’ve cited the photography of Gregoire Alessandrini here a number of times, but he’s recently updated his amazing photoblog, New York City 1990’s, with a great installment about stretches of the wild West side that used to seem entirely deserted. At the risk of belaboring the obvious, his images of these barren locations are in stark contrast to the reality of today.
Check more of them out here. Tell’em Flaming Pablum sent ya.