Filling In the Past

They’re filling in the West Side now. Every morning during the week, my wife and I awake to the cries of workmen high above our heads, putting the finishing touches on a glass tower that has already risen some 35 stories into the sky. It is one of two towers that will face each other across Broadway, a matched pair of condominiums roughly twice the height of any other building for nearly a mile around. The one around the corner from us has already topped off, and when I look up it doesn’t seem quite real to me; more like Read More

Mad in the Streets

Five or six years ago, in the middle of an August heat wave, my wife finally prevailed on me to get an air conditioner. I like the heat, and for years I was able to get through New York summers without even the help of a fan. But on this particular summer, the humidity was overwhelming. My resistance was overcome when, on a Saturday afternoon, we stepped outside into a city that looked like a set from some post-apocalypse movie. The air was filled with a fine, gritty, gray haze. The only people walking around were men with their shirts Read More

The Left-Behind Books

On Fridays the traffic to the Triborough Bridge backs all the way down to my Upper West Side neighborhood. All those S.U.V.’s and the occasional, top-down convertible, spinning Read More

Jitterbug Days

The first thing you notice about Harlem is how wide the sky is. For a longtime New Yorker, so used to being blinkered by ever more towers, the views along the grand avenues of Malcolm X, Read More

The Worst Ballpark In The World

I first saw Shea Stadium in the summer it opened,1964, when all the world was still young. My parents were taking me to visit the World’s Fair, which was just across the elevated line Read More

Take Him Out To the Ballgame

Six games. Seven days. “How can you stand going to that many games?” Ellen, my very reasonable wife, pointed out. “Don’t you get bored?” Read More

The Daily, Death-Defying Commute

The gruesome crash of the Staten Island ferry on Wednesday came as a shock. How could one of those lumbering ferry boats come to grief on a routine afternoon trip in a harbor that seems all but empty? But it was hardly unprecedented. As we tend to forget nowadays, New York was born a harbor town, and our waterways have historically been fraught with peril, even for commuters. The most spectacular maritime disaster was the fire on the General Slocum, which killed more New Yorkers than any catastrophe before 9/11 and which even changed the human geography of the city. Read More

On The Bowery

Lisa Phillips smiles affectionately at the pocket parking lot at 235 Bowery, situated at the end of Prince Street and sandwiched between a restaurant supply business and one of Manhattan’s last genuine flophouses. Read More

The History of Ash Heaps

When it comes to trash, New Yorkers are creatures of habit, and they like to bestir themselves as little as possible. To prove this, one need only leave a small pile of garbage out on some streetcorner. Read More