One Man's Heroic Attempt to Draw All the Buildings in New York

Slate’s design blog.
Oct. 31 2013 11:30 AM

One Man's Heroic Attempt to Draw All the Buildings in New York

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210 10th Avenue in New York City.

Image courtesy James Gulliver Hancock

By far the best design podcast around—and one of the best podcasts, period—is Roman Mars’ 99% Invisible. On it he covers design questions large and small, from his fascination with rebar to the history of slot machines to the great Los Angeles Red Car conspiracy. Here at the Eye, we will be cross-posting his new episodes so you can check them out, and we’ll also host excerpts from his podcast’s terrific blog, which offers complementary visuals for each episode.

Starting in February 2014, he plans to take season 4 of the show weekly; you can support his Kickstarter campaign here.

His most recent show—about James Gulliver Hancock's attempt to draw all the buildings in New York City—can be played below. Or keep reading to learn more.

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I love those moments when you’re walking in your neighborhood and suddenly nothing is familiar. In a good way.

Sean Cole began seeing his neighborhood, actually the whole city of New York, with new eyes because of one artist who is trying to do nothing less than draw all the buildings in New York.

James Gulliver Hancock’s drawings are intricate, but still a little cartoony. Little squiggles and dots hover above the roofs, as though they’re saying “Look out!” or maybe “Ta-da!”

Cole became infected with Hancock’s worldview and began to appreciate all the tiny details the artist would highlight.

James Gulliver Hancock's drawing of this building in Greenpoint, 144 Franklin, is one that Sean has often seen in person:

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144 Franklin as seen by James Gulliver Hancock.

Image courtesy James Gulliver Hancock

In reality, it looks like this:

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144 Franklin in Greenpoint.

Photo courtesy Sean Cole

James recently published a book with the audacious title All The Buildings In New York (That I’ve Drawn So Far). Most of the buildings in the book are in Manhattan.

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640 Broadway in New York City.

Image courtesy James Gulliver Hancock

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33 Irvine Place in New York City.

Image courtesy James Gulliver Hancock

This episode was reported by public radio superstar Sean Cole—who, thanks to our Kickstarter supporters, is joining the 99% Invisible team.

To learn more about James Gulliver Hancock and see more images of his work, read the rest of the 99% Invisible post or listen to the show. 99% Invisible is distributed by PRX.