In New York City, Windows Are the Windows on the Soul
A lot of us walk around with our eyes glued to our phones. But for the past three years, graphic designer Jose Guizar has wandered the streets of Manhattan looking up. He’s on the lookout for windows. About once a week, he picks one, renders it as a colorful illustration, and posts it to his website, Windows of New York. And while Guizar likes to call his creations “eye candy” (it’s true, they’re beautiful), they actually constitute a gorgeous—and growing—visual encyclopedia of the city’s architectural diversity.
Guizar moved to New York City four years ago from a town outside of Mexico City. He was immediately struck by the architecture. “I’d never lived anywhere where you have fire escapes on the front of buildings,” he says. “That was lovely.” But he was particularly taken with Manhattan’s windows, which, upon closer inspection, are more interesting than you might suspect.
Every neighborhood has a distinct architectural identity. The West Village is marked by classic frames and shutters. “I can go there, walk a few blocks and I’ve found a ton of windows that are cute,” he says. While the Lower East Side (his preferred spot for window watching) tends to skew weird. One of his favorites finds is a tiny window on Houston that’s flanked by molding two sizes too big. Guizar keenly nails the East Village windows filled with glowing “Psychic” signs and Gramercy Park’s tiny window boxes.
Guizar doesn’t spend all his time looking for windows. “I do my normal thing and whenever I spot one I really like, I just take a picture of it,” he says. He has an archive of nearly 1,000 photos that he’ll revisit when he needs inspiration. The drawings, which he creates in Illustrator, tend to be simplified versions of their real-life counterparts—clean lines, basic shapes, bright colors, some shadowing, just enough detail. He’s illustrated bay windows in the Bowery, sliding panes in SOHO, oval peepholes, hexagons, semi-circles, and at least a few neon signs. “I probably use neon pink more than other people would,” he says. “The visual culture of Mexico probably has something to do with it.”
Guizar hopes that someday people will look back at his blog as an architectural archive. “It’s kind of cool to think of it as a historical record,” he says. “Because who knows, in 50 years the Lower East Side could be all luxury condos.” Which would be a shame. We all need a reason to keep looking up.
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