Neighborhoods like Greenwich Village, Chelsea, and the Bowery are remarkably low-rise until they suddenly run into the wall that is Midtown Manhattan. The new pencil towers under construction may look out of place, but at least they don’t block the views of nature to the north.
On this bright Sunday morning, I finally photographed the mighty Manhattan skyline from high above its (mostly) rectilinear grid. This is my favorite kind of photograph: The expanse of cloud-dappled space stretches all the way to tree-covered hills at the horizon and the cityscape seems to offer infinite detail down at the level of individual windows.
My favorite cities are those with borders artificially constrained by water (like San Francisco, Hong Kong, or Manhattan), usually leading to towering structures and high density. San Francisco’s situation was different for a long time; a subset of NIMBY residents (alongside an array of other economic factors) meant that this grid of smaller buildings persists, in spite of housing shortages and corresponding high housing prices. As this slowly changes and the city begins to warm to the idea of new development, this uniform grid of little buildings might someday shift.
I was told to go to the Seattle Public Library, and gaze into the eldritch angles of its geometry. I rather like the reflections on glass and water in this image, and I think the gridwork is quite cool; still, the idea of sneaking some kind of Lovecraftian building into the architectural melange of a city sounds like the plot of Ghostbusters. Excellent.