The poetry of architectureSaturday evening after a hard day of spring cleaning, we took a stroll from our place at 4th Street and Broadway to the Hudson River, but this time, instead of turning southwest on Christopher Street for a short walk past theaters, bars and headshops, we continued on 4th Street where it jogs sharply northwest for a much longer walk past other micro ecologies. Busy little restaurants spilling onto the sidewalk, complicated nineteen-teens cornices on the four- and five-storey apartment buildings, little trees along the kerb. And, because it was our less accustomed route, it all seemed fresh. At the corner where 4th Street crosses 12th Street and Eighth Avenue -- the grid of Greenwich Village is skewed and overlaid against the grid of the rest of Manhattan -- I had to stop and marvel at the many textures of brick, idiosyncratic roof lines, varieties of shops and signage, and colors or the buildings and their roofs against the layers of pink and purple of the western sky. One step in any direction would thrust me into a different narrative of the multistoried city.
This morning then I was glad to have the leisure of this holiday to read Ciudades habladas, poems celebrating cities, especially the city of Buenos Aires, by Jorge Ramos -- that is, Jorge Ramos the Argentinean architect, not the Mexican anchor on Univisión or any of the other Jorge Ramoses you and I might know. More on these tomorrow. I want to quote some of the verses to you. They are as delightful as a walk through any grand city at dusk. And you know, poetry and architecture have this in common: they are both kinds of built environment.