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September 6, 2003

Testimonial. This probably belongs over in the sidelights, and I suspect I’ve linked to it before, but let me say anyway that Forgotten NY is one of my favorite web sites in all the world.

I’ve long fantasized about doing a coffee-table book called The Fringes of New York, to be made up of pictures and descriptions of all the weird, funky, haunted bits of New York City that don’t look remotely like Tourist Midtown. This site is better than my imagined book. [06:44 PM]

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Hard-Hitting Moderator: Teresa Nielsen Hayden.

Comments on Testimonial.:

biff3000 ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2003, 10:02 PM:

I've never been anywhere near New York, never much wanted to. A few years ago, however, I found Forgotten NY. Wow. For those of us in the provincial wastelands, New York seems like a soul-crushing megalopolis, but that website makes NY downright lovable. Now, I can't wait to visit! Zealously recommended.

Chris Quinones ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2003, 10:10 PM:

Oh. Wow.

The layout of the Modernist Subway page is a bit confusing, but still, I need a few days time to just live there. Talk about love at first sight!

Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2003, 11:11 PM:

I would like to better understand why anyone thinks NYC is a "soul-crushing megalopolis."

I mean, people have been moving to giant cities for several thousand years in order to expand their connections, their opportunities, their minds, their (dare I say it) souls. Are they all crazy or stupid? One ventures: not.

Avram ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2003, 01:15 AM:

Sure, but what sorts of stories do you expect to hear from the people who don't move to the big cities?

jane ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2003, 03:48 AM:

Or, one might add, cityborns (like me) who moved away on purpose.


Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2003, 07:41 AM:

Hey, I understand perfectly why people move away. I probably will eventually. What I don't get is the demonization.

Robert L ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2003, 08:22 AM:

If you ever decide to do that book let me knoe--as you know, I'm a former NYC taxi driver. There are vast areas of this city that most people who live here don't even know exist. Most New Yorkers who spend their whole lives never set foot in these parts of town, let alone get to know them. (And in many cases, why would they?)

Jo Walton ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2003, 08:26 AM:

I think a lot of people just feel intimidated by the scale.

However, if you really want soulless, try suburbs. There's a reason Levin set The Stepford Wives in a commuter suburb. I hated living in London, but I'd far rather live there than Woking or Stevenage.

Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2003, 10:20 AM:

The American Memory page at the Library of Congress has some additional material that makes good footnotes for some of the entries at Forgotten NYC. There's a two-part movie of a ride through a spanking new subway tunnel (1905) -- they sent two flat cars through, one with the camera, and one filled with lights. Also, they have silent movies of Coney Island rides and photos including a nifty panorama of Coney Island right after the Dreamland fire of 1911. You see people picking through the wreckage... and a booth selling them tickets to do so. There's more, including stereo views, but this linking is making me tired.

Alan Bostick ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2003, 12:12 PM:

Jo Walton: However, if you really want soulless, try suburbs. There's a reason Levin set The Stepford Wives in a commuter suburb. I hated living in London, but I'd far rather live there than Woking or Stevenage.

All I know about Woking is that it was the first town destroyed by Martians in The War of the Worlds. Do you suppose Wells was exacting revenge on the soulless suburbs even then?

Seth Ellis ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2003, 04:08 PM:

Strangely, Forgotten NY's bibliography doesn't list one of my favorite books of photography: Stanley Greenberg's Invisible New York: The Hidden Infrastructure of the City, a collection of photos of mostly-abandoned industrial spaces in and around the city. It's very beautiful.

Yonmei ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2003, 06:30 PM:

H. G. Wells grew up in Bromley. It was probably some subtle Bromley-Woking rivalry satisfied by alien destruction.

I've lived in a capital city 90% of my life: I love it, and were I to move away, I would want it to be to an equivalent city, one small enough to walk round in, with good public transport, several impressive hills, and a sufficient supply of bookshops, cinemas, theatres, and cafes.

I lived in Reading for over a year and Basingstoke for nearly a year, and both were terrible places - they had started out, many many years ago, as small market towns, but they'd sprawled into commuter suburbs, and had all the disadvantages of big city life and not one of the advantages.

I am a city person. People who think life is simpler in the country have never paid attention to reports of what it's actually like to live in a small village where everyone knows everyone else.

Besides, move away from broadband access? Bite your tongue!

Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2003, 07:01 PM:

Hey, I like Reading, Berks, but that may have something to do with the fact that we never go there except to visit Dave and Hazel Langford, two of the niftiest humans on the planet. I particularly like long lazy drinking afternoons in the pubs along the canal. What Dave offhandly calls the "old bits" and "ecclesiastical bits" are pretty good too.

Come to think of it, although on our first UK trip (1985) we landed at Stansted and proceeded directly into a terrifying 24-hour whirlwind of London pub outings and parties, Reading was our very next destination, and really the first British place we saw in an other than jet-lagged and mind-numbed state. So absolutely everything was interesting. Subsequent visits have no doubt been colored by this layer of good feeling. I imagine the effect doesn't quite transfer.

Kip W ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2003, 10:00 PM:

Looks like my links were temporary. They work a while, then they return error messages. To find the same things, go to http://memory.loc.gov and click on the "search" link. It helps to limit the search to motion pictures or photos. Then input "Coney Island" as your search string and off you go. Similarly, use "Subway" for the subway movie. I should know by now that these are like dream money: when the morning sun comes, it melts like empty foam. ("zer fliessts wie eitel Schaum")

It's worth looking for it, though.

Yonmei ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2003, 07:29 AM:

Dave and Hazel Langford are lovely people and I enjoyed visiting them too. But claiming that you like Reading when you've never lived there for months on end? That's like claiming to hate New York when you've visited it for five days once two years ago.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2003, 08:17 AM:

Er, you know, I do think I acknowledged the limitations of my perspective on the matter.

Jo Walton ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2003, 08:33 AM:

I've always hoped Wells was exacting revenge.

I wrote a poem about destroying Woking myself -- it's the kind of thing that just naturally comes to mind if you spend any time there. (Amusingly enough, I once had email from a total stranger, American, whose company wanted to transfer him to Woking, and who had declined their kind offer after an extensive web-search on the place turned up my poem! Who says art makes no difference.)