Manhattan Sideways explores the treasures of the side streets and documents each and every place. From boutiques and bars, to food and furnishings, to galleries and gardens, the creator Betsy and her team pound the pavement and share their stories.
What began as a whimsical idea, criss-crossing the side streets of Manhattan, quickly developed into Manhattan Sideways. I intrepidly began to walk this walk, side-by-side, at times, with a friend or family member. I revisited each street via bicycle, car, or once again walking, as I realized how much a block can change hour-by-hour. Like the first scene of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, the opening of stores, the ebb and flow of people, and the ethnic aromas emanating from restaurant kitchens begin the daily life cycle of each side street. As the day progresses, the playgrounds fill with families, the bar and restaurant patrons spill out onto the sidewalk, and the streets take on a new dimension.
The Avenues – the major north to south thoroughfares of Manhattan – are well-covered by the media and well-traversed by shoppers and travelers. I wanted to get off the beaten path and explore the side streets. In fact, the development of Manhattan’s iconic grid, starting at 1st Street and continuing up to 155th Street, envisioned the side streets as being of greater importance than the avenues. The side streets were made more numerous and designed to provide easy access to Manhattan’s rivers for commerce and recreation. I wanted to rediscover this original intent for the grid. Therefore, I am literally walking side to side, east to west, beginning on 1st Street and wending my way north. My goal is to walk the numbered side streets and comprehensively document every commercial establishment, and other places of interest, with special feature write-ups along the way. I will not simply present the highlights of each street that one can access by reading newspapers, magazines and the Internet. Instead, I will include all that creates a neighborhood.
Having owned and operated a children’s bookstore for ten years, I am passionate about the need to recognize and promote small businesses. I have noticed that the side streets (with the exception of the two-way streets) are generally devoid of major retail stores and restaurant chains, which is part of what makes this project so satisfying. It is my hope to encourage people to search for places beyond the familiar ones on their own block or on those that they pass in their daily commute to work. With this in mind, I have created a website for native New Yorkers, transplants, and tourists alike. It is meant to be an entertaining, enticing and eclectic resource for anyone willing to venture out and truly discover the side streets of Manhattan.
To all the side street businesses: If you ever feel that we have misrepresented you in any way, please contact us. To our readers: We always welcome up-to-date information, so please feel free to contact us if you have anything that we might want to add.