North of 14th Street sits one of the most iconic and architecturally imposing private housing projects in New York City – Stuyvesant Town. Named after Peter Stuyvesant, the last Director-General of the Dutch colony of New Amsterdam, the complex opened its first building in 1947, as part of a larger post-war urban renewal plan. The estate is immense, stretching from 1st Avenue to Avenue C, and from 14th street to 20th street. 35 red brick apartment buildings house more than 8000 apartments, making this a sort of mini-city.
What is interesting about Stuyvesant Town was how “yuppie” it feels, despite the hideous, monotonous architecture, presenting a stark contrast to the depressed but colourful streetscapes just across the street. Through tree-lined sidewalks, young urban professionals in suits and office attire headed east, towards the 1st Avenue subway station, on their way to work. Many of them walked straight ahead determinedly, without ever turning their heads left, as if to say there, across the border of 14th Street, is another world altogether.
In this section – part II of the walk from Avenue C to 1st Avenue – I adopt a slightly idiosyncratic and tongue-in-cheek approach, juxtaposing scenes north and south of the 14th Street border, not in the order I walked by them, to highlight the differences financial, architectural, and inadvertently, ethnic between these two sides of the same coin.
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