Village Gothic: The Allure of Downtown at Night (A Slideshow)
For reasons unclear to me, I was compelled to take a stroll through the West Village at dusk yesterday evening. Inspired by the atmospheric colors of the setting of the sun, I wandered west on W. 4th, turned south on the Avenue of the Americas, and then walked west on Barrow.
The streets were crowded with people enjoying one of summer's last weekend evenings, a free pass before any upcoming responsibilities associated with the arrival of Labor Day. Crossing Greenwich St., I was drawn still further to the west to watch the silver and blue waters of the Hudson River, the quickly moving white clouds in the luminous sky and the final orange burst of the setting of the sun.
For Victorian Gothic writers, the streets held great mysteries, especially at night. All sorts of potential transgressions are afoot. In the darkness, shapes are murkier, open to the imagination, and any clarity afforded by the daytime light is undermined. "He" could be a "she," and that would be interesting and okay, or what one thinks could be a dog might be a little pussy cat. A stranger one could deal with during the day presents a set of different possibilities at night. Even the buildings one takes for granted during the day, just familiar landmarks, take on new meaning after daylight. Nighttime affords the cloak of masking and the invitation to step over boundaries never contemplated during the day. For many urbanites, nighttime in New York is not a time, but a place, the last frontier where mystery is still possible.
Images by Walking Off the Big Apple from the evening of August 23, 2008.
For mobile phone viewers, see images here. Extra pictures for everyone at Flickr WOTBA.