Walking in Manhattan

Strolling in New York City is a world tour. The street fairs of Spanish Harlem mesh into college town Columbia. Columbia gives way to the shabby chic of Harlem. A few blocks farther and I am drowned by the tourists of Times Square. Further still and I reach the bustle of Wall Street brokers. There could be no more fitting a place for the United Nations.
I stroll and try to identify the passing languages. Spanish in the outer boroughs. Polish in Greenpoint. Russian in Brighton Beach. Cantonese in Chinatown. French and German shoppers in SoHo.
Reading Here is New York by E.B. White, I realize how little New York has changed in the past seventy odd years. Sure, the streets, cars, and tenements are different. But the essential spirit of dynamic and diverse urbanism remains. Here is New York.
Click here to learn more about my New York walks. Or, browse the image collages below of photos and drawings. They are organized into ten urban “walks,” each day in a different Manhattan neighborhood.

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Day One: Chinatown and Lower Manhattan

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Lower Manhattan

City Hall Park and the Financial District

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Chinatown

View of Chinatown towards Lower Manhattan

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Day Two: SoHo

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Mercer Street

Mercer Street in SoHo

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Day Three: The East & West Villages

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Day Four: The High Line

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Day Five: Madison Square

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Day Six: Midtown

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Elderly African-American man approaches and extracts a crumpled and blurry image of a dollar sign from his bag.

Him: Hey, can you draw me some money bags.

Me: Sure.

Him: You know, it’s for my product. I’ll pay you well. What’s your name?

Me: Myles Zhang

Him: You Chinese? You parents from China?

Me: No, America.

Him: No, China…!

He walks off.

 

A Latin American immigrant drives up in Midtown in his pickup truck.

Him: How far is the Statue of Liberty from here?

Me: Oh… About seven miles.

 

Jurgen from Germany

Jurgen from Germany

A musician named Jurgen approaches and observes my painting of Grand Central Terminal.

Jurgen: You are an artist.

Me: No, that is a title I have yet to earn. Are you from Germany? You sound like the director Werner Herzog.

Jurgen: Herzog? Him? His films put me to sleep. [Jurgen shows me his noteboook.] If I lived in Nazi Germany, the Nazis would burn my work, maybe even me. My grandfather, he used to go to rallies to give the Nazi salute. I still don’t know why he did that. I don’t think he even knew.

 

Jihadist proclaims that "America will soon be destroyed by fire!"

Convert proclaims that “America will soon be destroyed by fire!”

Convert preaches the impending doom of America on Sixth Avenue and 34th Streets:

“The US government, they invented this virus that will kill off all the black people.”

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Day Seven: Central Park

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Day Eight: Riverside Drive

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Waterfront

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Day Nine: Morningside Heights

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Cathedrals of Industry

Cathedrals of Industry: Saint John the Divine and the 125th Street Viaduct

For more drawings of Saint John the Divine, click here.

For more artwork of Columbia University’s campus, click here.

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Day Ten: Harlem

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Golden Rectangles Superimposed

The composition of this watercolor is based on the spiraling arc of the Golden Rectangle.

The Viaduct

The 125th Street Viaduct

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New York City..

“The island of Manhattan is without any doubt the greatest human concentrate on earth,
the poem whose magic is comprehensible to millions of permanent residents
but whose full meaning will always remain elusive.”

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Here is New York by E.B. White

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