Last week, I walked to the Village neighborhood in downtown Jersey City for the first time since the pandemic began in March. Although this slice of the city is only a twenty- or thirty-minute stroll from my home, I felt as if I was embarking upon a great quest or journey. During the past five plus months, I have left my immediate neighborhood no more than a half-dozen times. Since I don’t own a car, my few trips have been on foot.
While deep in my research at the New York Public Library on a undisclosed topic, I recently came across the 1923 edition of New York Walk Book, a hiking guide for the metropolitan area. The book provides itineraries, guides, and maps for both urban flaneurs and nature lovers. This wonderful volume inflamed my imagination.
While sitting outside a tiny coffee shop in the Upper West Side in Manhattan on a recent afternoon, I looked across the street and noticed the architectural details of a seemingly nondescript building (ground floor business with several stories of apartments). The building’s artistic flourishes surprised and delighted me.