New York is a brick and mason wall ghost town

The construction boom across the city has this upside: after an old building has been flattened by the wrecking ball, its faded outline remains behind for a little while, before something new and shiny covers it up.


These building phantoms give city streets an eerie vibe; they’re red brick and mason wall palimpsests of another New York. Look at the little chimneys that warmed what looks like a former Federal-style home on Bond Street?


In Downtown Brooklyn, traces of a two-story tenement on the right hint at what kind of residences lined the streets of the independent city in the 19th century.


On East 17th Street in is a reminder of what this Flatiron block looked like when it was all low-rises, not tall lofts.


This corner building in Chelsea must have cut a handsome, sturdy profile. The rooms of the second floor are still outlined too.


Back when Jane Street was just a tiny lane in the village of Greenwich, there was a little house under this steep little roof.

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5 Responses to “New York is a brick and mason wall ghost town”

  1. Audrey Burtrum-Stanley Says:

    Your use of this wonderful new-to-me word ‘PALEMPSESTS’ is a fine choice for the effect of seeing the old NYC revealed again. It reminds me of Lillian Hellman’s splendid, slender edition titled: ‘PENTIMENTO’. This is also like the effect shown when the outlines of an absent structure reappear. The opening lines of Hellman’s book read thus:

    “Old paint on a canvas, as it ages, sometimes becomes transparent. When that happens it is possible, in some pictures, to see the original lines: a tree will show through a woman’s dress, a child makes way for a dog, a large boat is no longer on an open sea. That is called ‘pentimento’ because the painter ‘repented,’ changed his mind. Perhaps it would be as well to say that the old conception, replaced by a later choice, is a way of seeing and then seeing again.”

    Even if you don’t agree with my additional concept — isn’t this a perfectly splendid paragraph — and you have two fresh words to consider adding within your next conversation!

    • ephemeralnewyork Says:

      Love it! I’m unfamiliar with the word, but I certainly know what she means. Transparency, original lines…very much like the outlines of old city buildings.

  2. Penelope Bianchi Says:


  3. wack60585 Says:

    Reblogged this on wack60585.

  4. New York is a brick and mason wall ghost town – Literature Bell Says:

    […] Source: New York is a brick and mason wall ghost town […]

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