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February 3, 2006

Tell Me What You See

[Reprint: Welcome any readers by way of NY Metro News! And special thanks to Paul Berger for a great little write up. Regular Friday post below this one.]

You are walking down the street in an urban industrial area and come upon this building. You know nothing about it (many of you know a lot about it, but try to suspend your knowledge for a sec and be creative).

What does it say to you? What do you see? What is your first thought about what it had once been and whom do you think once dwelled there?

This can be a realistic or imaginative answer. I'm just curious about how people perceive elements of their surroundings at first glance.

Posted by callalillie at February 3, 2006 6:24 AM | Inquiry


de-lurking week? who knew.

Posted by: tien at January 18, 2006 9:01 AM

i'd say it was an owner's home. the factory owner - at least i am assuming by your descrip that the factories around date to the same time as that house - which looks italianate, so it was probably built in the late nineteenth century. it seems very grand, despite its gloriously decrepit state. i bet it was home to a not-so-beneveolent manufacturing mogul.
can't wait to hear the real story.

Posted by: brandy at January 18, 2006 9:06 AM

My first thought is - Beautifuleerieforlorn!

My second thought is - what's on the inside?

My third thought is -why didn't I bring my camera?

Posted by: Dope on the Slope at January 18, 2006 9:23 AM

Miss Havisham's old house.

Posted by: Manuchao at January 18, 2006 9:25 AM

I'm so shallow....HAUNTED....I think that this is where the Gashlycrumb Tinies live.

Posted by: xath at January 18, 2006 9:38 AM

Seeing that house would stop me in my tracks. I would stand in front of it, imagining the people who used to live there. I would spend a moment mourning the decline of what you can tell used to be a lovely structure. Then I would remind myself that everything, even buildings, has a lifespan and resume walking.

Posted by: Marisa at January 18, 2006 10:02 AM

definitely haunted house. classically so.

Posted by: steve at January 18, 2006 10:16 AM

that this is where the Gashlycrumb Tinies live
I think that must be the place where Neville died of ennui.

Posted by: Dope on the Slope at January 18, 2006 10:35 AM

first thought: "hmm, i bet i can't even afford that."

Posted by: ChrisG at January 18, 2006 10:42 AM

My first thought was I wonder what the area looked like before the industrial buildings were built?

I imagine at one time there were other surrounding homes. Maybe this home's owner loved their house/area too much and opted not to sell when everyone else did to make way for the industrial buildings.

Posted by: Kris at January 18, 2006 11:02 AM

My first thought was I wonder what the area looked like before the industrial buildings were built? and then I thought of it's history and the stories it could tell.

I imagine at one time there were other surrounding homes. Maybe this home's owner loved their house/area too much and opted not to sell when everyone else did to make way for the industrial buildings.

Posted by: Kris at January 18, 2006 11:04 AM

I wonder about context -- what's across the street and in the surrounding space? (like...graveyard...or...starbucks?)

Posted by: yp at January 18, 2006 11:12 AM

I will delurk myself. :) I check out your blog everyday without fail. Your photography is wonderful and your perspective and stories are fantastic. You make me wish even more that I lived nearer to Manhattan (I live in the Midwest - St. Louis City).

When I look at the house I feel sadness, loss, and desecration. I see a home that was probably once grand and elegant and hope desperately that someone will buy it and rehab it to its original condition. It needs to be lived in, filled with people and love and laughter. It also reminds me too much of homes in my own neighborhood that need to be 'rescued' (I live in an 'up and coming' neighborhood in the city).

Tell us the real story of the building, please! :)

Posted by: Lily Bleu at January 18, 2006 11:41 AM

My first thought upon seeing this building is that I wonder who lived there and how long ago. When I start to think about who lived there and when I am drawn to the idea of a middle class family at the turn of the century, around 1904. It was a bustling little neighborhood, kids playing in the side yard, horses and carts going by and making deliveries. I also think what a beautiful house it would be if it was restored to its former glory to house maybe another turn of the century family, around 2006 or 2007.

Posted by: elise at January 18, 2006 11:44 AM

It says: "Come live here, hide your poker games and record collection inside me. I'll fool everyone who has not been invited into passing me by."

The people who lived there left. They weren't driven away, and didn't become destitute. Things changed and they moved on.

Posted by: lips at January 18, 2006 3:04 PM

I can imagine Emily Dickinson peering out of the top, watching the ivy climb the building. It feels like the lot around it is reclaiming the space for its own.

Posted by: Amy at January 18, 2006 3:35 PM

hi, i know this is super late timing, but if possible you should check out this class being given by the Municipal Art Society:

URBAN GENEALOGY: An Introduction to Researching Buildings in New York City

Four evening sessions: January 18 and 25, February 1 and 8, 6:00 � 7:30 p.m. Plus one weekday field trip from 9:00 � 11:00 a.m., on a date to be determined.


Posted by: ali at January 18, 2006 4:43 PM


Posted by: hadley at January 18, 2006 8:25 PM

This is a lovely home but, small---I think it's a son or daughter's home, built near the parent's home. The parent's are well off.
It might also be a caretaker's home, adjacent to a factory or business. All in all, it makes a statement that all who live here are somehow indirectly connected to wealth, if not directly.
Then abandoned because of industrial growth.

Posted by: Jane at January 19, 2006 8:10 AM

First thought: winter.

Posted by: venus de kilo at January 19, 2006 9:31 AM

i imagine a widow living there but i can not see that she was ever not a widow or not alone. you can hear it's music when you walk by- not happy but not scary either. just melancholy and quiet. someone loved that house so much that they still haven't left it and it is still breaking their heart.

Posted by: matilda at January 19, 2006 10:55 AM

somebody forgot to pay the gardener

Posted by: shelby888 at January 19, 2006 11:21 AM

I think "lips" above got it right for the most part. But then, I'm the man who knew too much!

Posted by: Mick Wagner at January 19, 2006 2:30 PM

I see a small family, headed by an eccentric. Maybe a collector or an artist.

Posted by: liz at January 19, 2006 4:21 PM

Haunted and doomed.
Then, old and faded wealth.

Posted by: Brooklyn Mama at January 19, 2006 9:11 PM

deserted, winter, old, dickens "bleak house", neglect, maysles "grey gardens", heirs, taxes, victorian, isolated.

Posted by: house at January 20, 2006 7:09 PM

First thought?

Boo Radley's house, from "To Kill A Mockingbird."

Posted by: Chookooloonks at January 21, 2006 11:35 PM

I'd think - wow, I'd love to live here. A little bit of paint, some gardening, this could be a great place - however I'm working on updating one very similar right now!

Posted by: Other Side of the World at January 24, 2006 3:25 PM

My first thought would be, "I saw that on a blog."

Posted by: ccs178 (Chris) at February 3, 2006 9:07 AM

I see a tragedy, and also an opportunity. It is lovely building fallen into disrepair, and that is a bummer. But there is an opportunity there too - it could be restored, renovated, and rejuvenated.

Or demolished, which would also be a bummer.

Posted by: Fuddster at February 3, 2006 9:53 AM

I'd think, a poet who never wrote any poetry once lived there. The poet died 5 years ago and the niece who inherited the home lives away in California and has been dreading making a decision about the home. But there is a book collection that still lives inside, climbing from floor to ceiling.

Posted by: alison at February 3, 2006 9:53 AM

A couple and their two children lived in that house many years ago. They were a happy family and spent there days playing music and discovering the world through books. Then the children became ill with TB, which was rife at the time. The children died and because of this their parents lost the beauty they once found in there lives. They let the house decay and died there many years later only days apart from each other. The house now mourns them, it stands beautifully forlorn waiting for the joy and beauty to be restored.

Posted by: Susan at February 3, 2006 3:37 PM

Someone lonely.

He lived there with his parents until they both died only a few short years before he did. In the years that followed his parents' deaths, he would peek out into the world outside, wishing so much to only have the confidence to go outside, the confidence that disappeared so fleetingly at his mother's funeral.

=/ it was short lived, i guess.

Posted by: Seton at February 4, 2006 8:51 PM

An old man lived there, had no family, no relatives, no one (his wife died, few years after they got married). He died, and nobody claimed the house. Time passed, and the trees and the brushwood took it.

Posted by: Lana at February 6, 2006 6:16 AM

sex Toy online

Posted by: sex toy at February 7, 2006 5:57 AM

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