A Whirlwind of Change: the Essex Street Market and the Lower East Side

Rapid change seems to be factor in any highly populated area.  New York City’s tiny barrios, sections, and areas seem to especially prone to it.  For every stalwart surviving building or business, there are dozens of shiny new additions.  I don’t travel to the Lower East Side (located south of Houston Street, north of Canal Street and East of Broadway) often, but when I do, I am struck by its rate of change.

Every building is a potential canvas, every storefront a quick-change artist.  Old, grey housing blocks await demolition and already-planned replacements warm up in the wings.

Here are a few photos that I took on Open House New York Weekend (October 14-15) of the Essex Street Market and nearby streets.  There has been a market at 120 Essex Street for more than 100 years, but this too will change next year.  The market will move from its basic but cheery building to a new “mixed use” development around the corner.  I can only hope that it doesn’t lose its charm in the process.

The Essex Market


New Second Avenue Subway Stations Offer a Top Notch Art Experience for $2.75 or Less


A few of Vik Muniz’s “characters,” or people seen riding the subway, from actual photos


The dawn of a new year has brought considerable excitement to residents of Manhattan’s storied Upper East Side, to Q line subway  riders (myself included), to transit enthusiasts, and to admirers of public and contemporary art (me again!).

The multi-billion Second Avenue Subway project, decades in the making, opened with a bang on New Years Day 2017, debuting a reconfigured 63rd and Lexington Avenue Station, and three bright and spacious new stations at 72nd Street, 86th Street and 96th Street and Second Avenue, all serviced by the Q train.

It’s not often that we New Yorkers feel good about our subway stations, but what I saw blew me away.  I won’t go into great detail*, as much has already been written, but will share some images of the permanent art on display.

Over the last 20+ years, commissioned public art has become much more commonplace in the City’s transit hubs.  The art is usually added to rehabilitated stations.  This time, the art and the stations where designed with each other in mind and the result is stunning!


Sarah Sze’s monumental “Blueprint for a Landscape” at the 96th Street station


Some of the murals and mosaics can be viewed by simply entering the stations before one reaches the turnstiles, like this one, by Chuck Close.


To see all of the art work, one can pay only $2.75, ride up to 96th Street, and then visit each stop: 86th, 72nd and 63rd  on the way back downtown. There’s no need to pay $25 to visit a local art museum!

The slideshow below features images by Chuck Close at the 86th Street Station

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Kudos to all who worked to complete these stations.  They are worth a visit!

*For more on the history of the Second Avenue Subway: http://nyti.ms/2iGcmey