New York is an ever changing city. Amazing architecture covering every decade from the late 19th century onwards (and occasionally a little earlier) can be seen on every street and avenue. Building sites are also common, proving the pace of change isn’t slowing down. For architecture fans it is an absolute dream as the variety of styles and techniques is so concentrated on Manhattan. Some of the biggest leaps forward in construction have taken place on this island – as has rivalry to claim the title of world’s tallest building. Just read the story of the Chrysler building which secretly constructed a spire inside the building in order to pip 40 Wall street to the post. The Chrysler building was, itself, replaced as tallest building just 11 months later, by the Empire state building which still stands as one of the tallest in New York.
Reflections of New York
The contrast between old and new, as a result of all this frenetic construction, can be staggering and beautiful. Wonderful and intricate brickwork and molding contrast with glass and steel. The tinted glass of these newer creations creates my favourite thing to look out for around the city – the reflections. I adore the images of the older buildings reflected in the glossy windows of the newer, shinier ones. Fabulous abstract copies are created as the windows distort and confuse the reflection. The thousands of windows also add an unexpected benefit to New York’s often dark streets by reflecting sunlight across them. Buildings are so tall in this incredible city that some streets barely see sunlight. Fortunately windows will cast light across even North facing buildings creating strikingly beautiful patterns of dappled sunshine. The effect can be quite powerful, even over great distances. We live in an East facing apartment and yet we often get a beautiful sunset light flooding through our windows thanks to some impressive reflections from the upper East side about half a mile away!
It can sometimes be easy to keep your head down in a big city and not notice the beauty above you, so do make an effort to look out for reflections and reflected light. Walking around this amazing city, look up and appreciate the old reflected in the new. Make the most of events like Summer street (three Saturdays in August where traffic is banned from Park avenue) to walk around and properly appreciate some amazing architecture and take the time to reflect on over a century of change in this incredible city.