Saturday, April 17, 2010

Casa Puebla

I didn't put this in so much because of the image, but because of the halo-effect thing going on. Oh, if it were only framing something more interesting!

It's not an original project, as others have done it before me, and it doesn't even necessarily have anything to do with photography, though it will ultimately expand my photographic horizons. It's something I've actually thought about doing for a few years already, but now that I have more time on my hands, it's something I can finally undertake.

I'm going to walk every block of Manhattan.

According to the infallible internet, the first report of this being accomplished was in 1954. There are at least two blogs of people who did it in the 2000s. One did it in just TEN WEEKS (it was also a part of his weight loss regimen), and the other over a period of two years. Basically you buy a street map of Manhattan, and as you walk each street, you black out the streets with a marker until there's no more room ("When you're out of cards, you're done eating for the day!"). Now I've thought about certain different ways for me to approach this.

Since I've been living here for 18 years already (and hanging out, visiting, working in, for some time before), I know that there are certain neighborhoods that I have pretty well-covered. Though I don't want to just start blacking out streets I know I've walked on in my newly purchased spiral bound Hagstrom's 5 borough atlas. And no, I'm not going to be walking around over the city with a Sharpie and a big ass map. I'll be filling in my route after returning home. Besides, there are some neighborhoods I'm not looking forward to walking through, even in the daytime. Then again, it seems that white people have infected this entire island. I'll just walk with purpose, and hope people don't notice the white guy taking a picture of street signs at every intersection with a newly-purchased Lumix point and shoot digital camera.

I mean, you can say that you've walked every street while not having done it. You can just buy a map and fill in all the streets and say, "Yep, I did that!" But no. And of course, just because I'm taking pictures of street signs at each intersection doesn't mean I actually walked it. We're talking a leap of faith here. You're going to have to believe me on this. And I just realized something...

I was thinking that of course, I'll be going out on these jaunts with film cameras as well, but realize that if I should run out of film, that I'll have the Lumix to take pictures of things I might find interesting so I can come back and take a "proper" picture of it. It's when I type this I hear a voice saying, "So why not just take pictures with a digital camera and save yourself the trip?"

You see, this is exactly the sort of thing I'm trying to avoid. Yes, I know it's counter-productive, but then again, isn't film photography in general counter productive? An anachronism, even though digital images have yet to equal the quality of film? But anyway...

So yeah, this is my latest harebrained scheme. I've already filled in some of the streets in my neighborhood, since I couldn't wait to put Sharpie to Hagstrom. I like those black parallel lines corrupting the map, and bleeding through to the other side of the page, also a map (no kidding). Those back to back Manhattan pages are going to look pretty interesting at some point. Maybe as I progress with this thing, I'll start posting pictures. Yes. How exciting. Pictures of magic marker lines on a map with the guy posting them making claims that he actually walked those streets.

As for the already blacked out streets in my neighborhood, I'll be sure to take pictures of those intersections for the sake of the project, so they'll be "officially" part of the thing. But then there's also some other "rules" which I've heard bandied about.

I could have sworn that one of these people who did this said that they didn't take any subways, that the whole thing was done on foot. Now I don't think it's cheating if I take a subway up to Inwood and work my way down, as opposed to going up and down in the same day. Sure it's some nice exercise, but on the way down, there are those neighborhoods that I was referring to, and even as the longer days of summer are upon us, I'd just rather be closer to home when the sun goes down.


Okay...where was I. I think I said everything about this I could. That is, as much as I can say while listening to "Special Delivery" on Sirius/XM and watching a 20 inning baseball game at the same time.

So yeah. I think you get the idea.


  1. Whoops - tried to post a comment earlier, and then forgot to do the word verification. FAIL. Anyway, looking forward to seeing the results from this (plus, I'm a geek, so I'm also looking forward to the magic marker'd map pictures). And I definitely think subways should be allowed, if you're just moving from one neighborhood to the other in them, and not counting them as having navigated.

  2. I'll use the subway as long as there's a continuity. Like if I've already walked from my place to Times Square, but don't feel like re-walking up to 42nd street to head further uptown, then I'll take the subway to 42nd and go up from there.

    Unless of course it's a really nice day and feel like walking anyways.

    So yeah, I'll try to keep it all connected, like an etch a sketch, I suppose.