I had made a discovery; I had stumbled on a connection between myself and the shape and color of time in the streets of New York. Though I knew that brownstones were old-fashioned and had read scornful references to them in novels, it was just the thick, solid way in which they gripped to themselves some texture of the city’s past that now fascinated me. There was one brownstone on Macdougal Street I would stop and brood over for long periods every evening I went to the library for fresh books—waiting in front of it, studying every crease in the stone, as if I were planning its portrait. I had made a discovery: walking could take me back into the America of the nineteenth century."
Alfred Kazin, A Walker In The City (1951)
Many decades later. Sketch of Brooklyn brownstones by Claire Bonnor via The Boho Bandwagon from Boheem Design, a graphic design agency based in Sydney, Australia: "Ahhh, Brooklyn. Take me in. It's all too easy to whip out the digital camera to try to capture the charming streets of Park Slope. A few days ago I hopped aboard the F train with sketchbook, pen, coffee and bagel in-hand, and parked myself opposite a row of these quintessential Brooklyn abodes for about 2 hours."
On a related note, I recently contributed a piece to Essay Daily on Luc Sante's "My Lost City," one of my favorite essays about New York City:
Every generation, it seems, mourns the beauty of its surroundings, no matter how shabby or troubled, certain already of its vanishing to the next generation, which will continue the process of loss and discovery. Meanwhile, while recognizing with a twinge of pain our own, minor losses, we come closer to understanding the grand sweep of history and our small but essential place in it.
“My Lost City” is Luc Sante’s sobering tribute to a city he barely knew.