If Neighborhoods Were People


Lapham’s Quarterly recently posted a thought-provoking question on its Tumblr. (Yes, this highbrow journal does have a Tumblr.) “Every city has a sex and an age which have nothing to do with demography,” wrote the critic John Berger. Now, Lapham’s has invited readers to reblog their post and add a personification of a city. We heartily endorse their project, but since all New Yorkers are hyper-local types, we thought we’d apply Berger’s maxim to the neighborhoods we know best. Some of our ideas are literal, others are more impressionistic, and they’re all absolutely subjective. Play along and personify your city, town, or neighborhood in the comments.

Manhattan Lower East Side: Immigrant grandma, strong and full of stories, but weary from gentrification Little Italy: A tourist searching in the hot sun for an “authentic” Italian ice Chinatown: A kid playing basketball on a broken-down court in a public park East Village: Joey Ramone, reincarnated as a Japanese NYU student West Village: An aging but still distinguished, impeccably literary, gay man about town Chelsea: Well-muscled middle-aged man with designer shoes, on his way to a club with a one-word name Financial District: A slumped-over master (or mistress) of the universe, hair still thick with ash and hands that will never be clean Murray Hill: A girl who, within the last year or so, has spent a lot of time in frat houses and/or Irish pubs Midtown: A young man with slicked-back hair and a shirt made with synthetic fibers, looking to get laid Times Square: A grizzled 50-something, alcoholic porn addict, trying desperately to clean up his act Upper West Side: An ageless couple, perpetually watching Woody Allen or reading Philip Roth Upper East Side: A deeply tanned woman in a pink Chanel suit who is beginning to resemble her poodle Harlem: An unsung hero of jazz, playing a tiny, packed club at four in the morning

Brooklyn Park Slope: A sturdy mother in her late 30s, double-wide stroller and novel by a Jonathan in tow Prospect Heights: An affable five-year-old, trailed by a scruffy puppy Williamsburg: A wispy androgyne clad in plaid and neon Greenpoint: A proud Polish papa with a statement mustache Bushwick: A bright, young thing who’s just moved out from Michigan, collection of odd instruments in tow Carroll Gardens: A 30-something Italian butcher who’s taking over his dad’s shop and promoting it via Twitter Brooklyn Heights: An old-school patriarch in autumn Bed-Stuy: Biggie Smalls Sunset Park: A bowling champ who also makes a mean tortilla soup Brighton Beach: A grandmotherly woman who wears a fur coat but cooks so well you forgive her for it Coney Island: The freak from Shoot the Freak

Queens Long Island City: A paint-splattered art student and secret graffiti superstar Astoria: A young, Greek playboy, drinking a frappe at a café Forest Hills: The mother of the Bat Mitzvah girl, kvelling and making college plans Elmhurst: Movie theater ticket taker by day, Bollywood diva by night