A Walk Along Library Way — Finding NYC

Pedestrians traveling 41st Street in Manhattan between Fifth Avenue and Park Avenue may notice special street signs if they pay close attention – that two-block stretch is known as Library Way. Embedded within the sidewalk at regular intervals you will find 96 unique bronze plaques. The plaques were designed by sculptor Gregg LeFevre, and each […]

The fabulous Library Way walking trail I fondly remember following along during a cold New York winter in 2010 as found at:  A Walk Along Library Way — Finding NYC

Benjamin’s Parisian Passages

I have a distant recollection of walking all the way from the Gare du Nord to lunch in the Café Marly by way of the nineteenth-century arcades so beloved of Walter Benjamin. I tried to reconstruct this journey in reverse, starting in the Galerie Vivienne not far from Adrien Gardère’s office:-

A fabulous piece of flânerie and visual tour of Benjamin’s Passages by Charles Robert Saumarez Smith via Passages — | Charles | Saumarez | Smith |

” …

The Arcades book [Das Passagen-Werk] was never intended to be an economic history (though part of its ambition was to act as a corrective to the entire discipline of economic history). An early sketch suggests something far more like his autobiographical work, A Berlin Childhood [:] “One knew of places in ancient Greece where the way led down into the underworld. Our waking existence likewise is a land which, at certain hidden points, leads down into the underworld – a land full of inconspicuous places from which dreams arise. All day long, suspecting nothing, we pass them by, but no sooner has sleep come than we are groping our way back to lose ourselves in the dark corridors. By day, the labyrinth of urban dwelling resembles consciousness; the arcades… issue unremarked on to the streets. At night, however, under the tenebrous mass of the houses, their denser darkness protrudes like a threat, and the nocturnal pedestrian hurries past – unless, that is, we have emboldened him to turn into a narrow lane.”

Two books served Benjamin as models: Louis Aragon’s A Paris Peasant, with its affectionate tribute to the Passage de L’Opéra, and Franz Hessel’s Strolling in Berlin, which focuses on the Kaisergalerie and its power to summon up the feel of a bygone era. In his book, Benjamin would try to capture the “phantasmagoric” experience of the Parisian wandering among displays of goods, an experience still recoverable in his own day, when “arcades dot the metropolitan landscape like caves containing the fossil remains of a vanished monster: the consumer of the pre-imperial era of capitalism, the last dinosaur of Europe”.

… “

An extract from JM Coetzee’s highly engaging essay on Walter Benjamin: ‘The man who went shopping for truth’ as found at:

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2001/jan/20/history.society as accessed 30 September 2017-09-30

 

Impossible City: New Orleans – Places Journal

Sometimes you see a picture and you can tell that something’s missing, but you don’t know what it is …

Or you could try to fill the emptiness with something you love, as I love Walker Percy’s renderings in The Moviegoer:

The street looks tremendous. People on the far side seem tiny and archaic, dwarfed by the great sky and the windy clouds like pedestrians in old prints.

Via: Impossible City: New Orleans — Places Journal