“Thinking about death clarifies your life.”
In early 2011, artist, designer, and TED Fellow Candy Chang covered an abandoned house in her New Orleans neighborhood in chalkboard paint and stenciled on it a grid of the deceptively simple unfinished sentence “Before I die I want to …,” which any passerby could complete with a piece of chalk and a personal aspiration. To Chang’s surprise, the wall was completely filled by the next day. Soon, the project took on a life of its own and was replicated in over 10 languages across more than thirty countries, giving voice to millions of such private yearnings – take a look here:
“I’d entered the city the way one enters any grand love affair: with no exit plan.”
Beloved women writers – including Cheryl Strayed, Roxane Gay, and Dani Shapiro – on loving and leaving New York.
A fascinating and revolutionary 1980 study of the social life of small urban spaces and what makes a joyful city.
“Attention is an intentional, unapologetic discriminator. It asks what is relevant right now, and gears us up to notice only that.”
The Art of Looking – what 11 experts, from an artist to a geologist to a dog, teach us about seeing our familiar city block with wide new eyes
10 favorite nonfiction books about NYC, from an illustrated tour to famous diaries to a natural history time machine:
“… unrefined, menacing to some, and occasionally violent, but full of the raw energy of day-to-day human existence.”
Fascinating anatomy of European street life in 1900:
“It is the other ordinary buildings, spilling with hectic daily life, that hold real New York life and passion.” All the buildings in New York, illustrated.
A hierarchy of New York’s cats from the father of literary journalism, with exclusive illustration.
A breathtaking time-capsule of this ageless, ever-changing city from pioneering photographer Berenice Abbott.
“City engineers have turned our downtowns into places that are easy to get to but not worth arriving at.”
City planner Jeff Speck, who spent four years leading the design division of the National Endowment for the Arts working directly with a couple hundred mayors to help solve their greatest city-planning challenges, turns a perceptive eye towards what makes a great city and how we might be able to harness the power of a conceptually simple, practically complex, immeasurably far-reaching solution in improving the fabric and experience of urban life.
“Visions of New York’s destruction resonated with some of the most longstanding themes in American history: the ambivalence toward cities, the troubled reaction to immigrants and racial diversity, the fear of technology’s impact, and the apocalyptic strain in American religious life. Furthermore, these visions of the city’s end have paralleled the city’s economic, political, racial, and physical transformations. Projections of the city’s end reflected and refracted the dominant social issues. Each era in New York’s modern history has produced its own apocalyptic imagery that explores, exploits, and seeks to resolve contemporary cultural tensions and fears.”
A fascinating visual history of 200 years of NYC’s destruction in fiction.
“The ivory tower of the artist may be the only stronghold left for human values, cultural treasures, man’s cult of beauty.”
“You cannot live without establishing an equilibrium between the inner and outer.”
Twenty of New York’s most celebrated writers on the magic of Central Park.
Photographer duo James and Karla Murray bring the lens of retrostalgia to New York City’s morphing landscape of mom-and-pop shops. For eight years, the Murrays shot the facades of hundred of stores, more than half of which are now gone.
From the retrotastic typographic signage to the beautiful vintage color schemes, these storefronts are priceless time-capsules of an era as faded as their paint coats, haunting ghosts caught in the machine of progress.