6sqft’s ongoing series The Urban Lens invites photographers to share work exploring a theme or a place within New York City. In this installment, Sam Golanski highlights New York’s unique narrow and corner buildings. Are you a photographer who’d like to see your work featured on The Urban Lens? Get in touch with us at [email protected].
6sqft recently featured Sam Golanki’s photography series “Park Avenue Doormen,” where he gave the men who safeguard the Upper East Side’s ritzy buildings a chance to step out from behind the velvet ropes and in front of the camera. He’s now taken a similar approach–albeit this time with buildings, not people–in his collection “Narrow and Corner Buildings.” Choosing to forego iconic structures like the Flatiron Building, Sam instead focuses on small structures off the beaten path that may otherwise be overlooked. “I realized the corner is the center of each block, a place for small businesses, barbershops, and coffee shops,” he said, explaining that he didn’t pre-plan the series, but rather was drawn to these unique structures while strolling the city.
Tell us a bit about the series; what drew you to corner buildings?
New York, with its very simple street and avenue layouts, creates a microcosm of local villages, and in such big city, corners play a very practical role. People also use corners as a meeting point, and taxi drivers can navigate more easily knowing [specific] corner. From a photographic perspective, each corner creates a separate patchwork of colors and structures, and this set gave me very different and unusual view of NYC.
They show great diversity and freedom in architectural planning, often not even intentionally. Some of the buildings I photographed are hard to place in the context of the rest, which made me think that in some cases they were just a side effect or leftovers from something previously demolished.
Signage plays a big role in the series; was that intentional?
It was partly intentional. I really like photographing old vintage signs, and corners are the perfect place to hang them. One of my favorite images in the series is where you actually see newspaper stands, a subway entrance, banners with TV shows, and yellow traffic lights–it’s a great example of a local NYC view and a great combination of colors.
Why did you choose to leave out the more iconic corner buildings like the Flatiron?
The way I work as a photographer, regardless of where I shoot, is to find something I don’t know yet and haven’t seen before. Iconic buildings are very well documented, so for me to waste film on them doesn’t make much of sense. My series is very fresh and unconventional; photography should be inventive and present things that are normally unnoticed.
Do you have a favorite corner building?
Yes, my favorite corner building from this series is the tire shop in Bushwick. This triangular building squeezed between two streets plays an important role in the local area; it’s visible from every angle and is in the middle of a busy road.
What about your favorite building in the city in general?
My favorite building in NYC is the Woolworth Building. When I stared up at it for the first time, I tried to guess when it was built. I thought maybe it was in the ’40s or ’50s, but when saw that it’s from 1910, I couldn’t believe how they managed to build such a tall building with such simple technology. The facade and tower look like a gigantic, extended palace. The view of it before other buildings went up around it must have been breathtaking.
- The Urban Lens: Sam Golanski gives Park Avenue doormen their moment in the spotlight
- The Urban Lens: Will Ellis explores the relics and ruins of Staten Island’s remote edges
- The Urban Lens: Nei Valente’s ‘Newsstands’ shows the changing face of media
All photographs © Sam Golanski
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