Invitation. In the fall of 2009 my works were displayed in “The Map as Art” group exhibition at the Christopher Henry Gallery in lower Manhattan. I went to Chris with an idea for an invitation. The gallery sits at a spot that signifies a watershed moment in urban development history and philosophy. The building would have been destroyed in the 1960’s, along with its surrounding neighborhoods (SoHo, Chinatown and Little Italy), for a Lower Manhattan Expressway (LME) planned by the dictatorial Robert Moses, New York City’s “Master-Builder.” In the first great outcry against subverting the fabric of the city’s neighborhoods, Jane Jacobs (the “housewife,” as Moses labeled her) became the unyielding marshal of the Downtown Citizens’ revolt and won the epic battle that was the beginning of the end for Moses’ unstoppable power and for the urban renewal policies of the 1950’s. I remembered that there was a set of ramps planned for Little Italy, and I was thrilled when I found out it was right on Elizabeth St.
I opened my restaurant in New York in 1985, in a neighborhood (The Meat Market) and on a street (Ganesevoort) that people had never heard of in far west Greenwich Village, near the piers of the Hudson River. Soon enough it became the in-spot. Everyone wanted to come, but no one could find it. In these pre-MapQuest days, customers clamored for a map-aid. I wasn’t sure I wanted us to be found. Tibor Kalman, an iconoclastic and renowned graphic artist, created the ads for the restaurant. His response was, “If they’re too lazy to find it, then fuck 'em!” As usual we brainstormed and agreed: “How about making a map that is completely wrong!” I had the perfect map waiting, San Francisco’s waterfront where Market St. hits the Embarcadero. Turn it upside down, and you get Manhattan’s Meat Market. Both had a slightly curved waterfront with scores of parallel piers jutting out, two clashing grids, smaller older blocks below both Market and 14th Streets, then newer, wider blocks above.