Sunday, August 26, 2012

Washington Mews, between Fifth Ave and University Place, New York

Walking through Washington Mews offers an opportunity to forget where you are. Easy to miss, the experience has more the feeling of a surprising escape than of disorientation. Lined with cobblestone pavers and ringed by flower boxes and vines framing small windows on stucco walls, this odd little laneway obscured by the NYU campus has the character of a quiet Mediterranean village. The buildings on this street - early nineteenth century converted carriage houses and stables that recall what pre-1920s Madison Avenue once looked like - are remarkably small in sale compared to the massive blocks of apartment towers that dominate this neighborhood. In proportion to these low buildings, the cobblestone street is almost wide enough to have the feel of a long piazza. Though the buildings of Washington Mews have been altered over time to accommodate new uses, the remarkably unchanged scale of this inconspicuous street offers a rare glimpse back through time to how many of the city's side streets may have appeared before the age of the skyscraper. 

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