If you're going to conjure an image of New York, you typically begin with the skyline, with the spires of the Empire State and the Chrysler, and move on to the Brooklyn Bridge and the Statue of Liberty and maybe Grand Central or a yellow cab or the subway. Those images are metonymic stand-ins for New York, our conventional landmarks, celebrated all the time. But every New Yorker knows there is another category of landmark, those places where the city is truly lived: corner grocers and liquor stores and pharmacies, restaurants and bars and diners open until the wee small hours.
For more than a decade, James and Karla Murray have been documenting these places, because it is their nature to disappear. In 2008, they published Store Front, an elegy to those classic and sometimes taken-for-granted establishments that give the city its vitality. (I reviewed it in Print.) Their follow up to that is New York Night, which I described in this weekend's Times as "a neon-soaked celebration of the nocturnal institutions that keep the city that never sleeps awake, satiated, and comfortably numb."
There are so many old friends in this book, looking through it is like viewing a map of the geography of my life in the city. A slideshow with a few of my favorite places follows. What better way to bring in the new year than by thinking back on these places that have given us so many fond memories. And, one presumes, many more. Happy New Year!
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