Exactly one year ago today, I was on Staten Island, re-walking the 25th and final route in a New York architectural walking guide I researched, photographed and wrote over the course of last summer. Just one short year later, City Walks Architecture: New York (Gelatobaby readers can use ARCH-NY for a 25% discount!) has appeared on my doorstep, thanks to my editor Christina Henry de Tessan and the wonderful folks at Chronicle Books. And what better place to unbox my baby than on that old, familiar friend…the sidewalk.
Yep, you heard me right, I said box. These are no ordinary walking tours. These come on beautifully-designed cards, perfect for plucking a few at a time and stashing in your sketchbook. And perfect, I might add for you non-natives, for not looking like a tourist.
25 tours start with the Brooklyn Bridge, winding up through the Federal buildings of Lower Manhattan all the way to the Art Moderne apartments of the Bronx, hitting many of my favorite NY buildings. Highlights include SoHo’s cast-iron beauties, the brand-new High Line, hotels in Times Square, sustainable skyscrapers, the UN, Rockefeller Center’s Art Deco, Midtown Modernism, decadent Upper West Side apartments, Central Park and the gorgeous streets of Harlem. Then we jump over to Queens and what remains of the World’s Fairs, down to Brooklyn’s brownstones, and ending of course at Staten Island, where you haven’t lived until you’ve seen those Victorians.
Each card opens to reveal directions that each begin and end at a subway station, and I tried my best to have most of the walks link together, so if you’re feeling ambitious you could walk all day. Each walk also includes a place to eat, snack or drink, and if you watch this space, I’ll also be posting all my ice cream and gelato finds from last summer—one for each walk—right here on this very blog.
And on the back are these extremely good-looking maps designed by John Spelman, which I assure you are very easy to read, even while walking. And did you notice the snappy, quite architectural box designed by Eloise Leigh? The nice illustration of the Empire State Building on the front is by Alex Palecko. And typefreaks will be happy to know that the guide is set in Scala.
I also took 16 of the photos found on the outside of the cards (you can see all my NY photos from last summer, organized by neighborhood). The rest were snapped with the awesome assistance of Chrys Wu and Sue Apfelbaum, and one by Peter Aaron (that Rose Reading Room in the New York Public Library is a tough one to capture).
Yes, I would say that City Walks Architecture: New York is probably the most important deck of cards you’ll read this year. It’s currently available for preorder, with a September 2 release date. I recommend getting at least three copies. You know, in case you lose a card or something.
Thank you to everyone who helped make this happen, and I hope to thank you in person very soon, along with anyone else who buys a copy: I’ll be coming to New York in the fall for a Week of Walks (which will also include talks, parties and gelatostops) to promote the book, so watch here for updates on that. In the meantime, you may want to invest in a good pair of shoes.