Janko Puls is a journalist and photographer--and also a reader of this blog. He recently published Point of View New York City, a guessing game of locations. Filled with photos of well-known city places, seen from unusual angles, the book challenges readers to test their knowledge of New York.
On Thursday, August 7, at 6:30pm, Janko will present the book, along with a slide-show, talk, and guessing game, at the Mid-Manhattan branch of the New York Public Library.
Q: What inspired you to do this book?
A: I moved here from Germany in 2006 as a journalist and, driven by curiosity, I wanted to get to know my new home, workplace, and playground. During many city walks with my wife, a born Manhattanite, she commented all the time, "This was here, and that was there." To my surprise, I started singing along with her lamentations within a few months.
Following blogs like yours and E.V. Grieve's raised my attention further to the rapid changes in the city. Seeing these losses happen firsthand sometimes really hurt, and following the blogs was at times too frustrating. I grew up in a city which was founded by the ancient Romans, and on my daily walk to school I passed buildings and city walls from the last 1200 years. So I am appalled and baffled to see how New York is neglecting and destroying so much of its own heritage without even blinking. Yes, great new things are created as well, and this relentless change is one of the huge driving forces of this city, but at times it feels that everything is about the money and not much else.
If the guessing game in the book helps raise attention to what we still have here and what we're losing, the better it is.
Q: What attracts you to little-known parts of the city?
Basically, my curiosity. Wherever I've lived so far, I've always wanted to get the full picture of a city. As a student in Berlin, I spent the first months after my moving there as a messenger to make sure I would see every corner of the city. That was a year before the wall came down, and after that there was so much more to discover.
Here in New York, I ride the MTA or my bicycle and then walk, walk, walk. It is probably impossible to get an all-encompassing knowledge of New York, but you can stretch far beyond your comfort zone.
Q: How has the book been received so far by readers?
A: All reactions have been positive so far. Some have asked already for a follow-up edition. Before I started putting the photos for the actual book together, I played the guessing game with friends and family to feel out what they would recognize. So it turned out to be a bit Manhattan-centric, but that's a beginning.
Many readers start rapidly flipping through the book, only to get stuck on some page, look up the location in the index and start reading the back stories. After three or four minutes, they usually look up smiling, and saying something like "Oh, that will take me a bit if time to see the whole book, but I am looking forward to it."
Q: What can people expect from the Aug 7 event at the NYPL?
A: I'll play the guessing game with you, for sure! I'd also like to introduce the underlying concept of "Point of View New York City" and its different functions--as a photo book, as an interactive game, as a very selective, very personal city guide. Last but not least, I'd like to try to inspire people to wander around with open eyes and to map their own city.
You can follow Janko and POV NYC on Facebook. Until August 7, you can find his photos of the city for sale at Bar & Lounge Verlaine, 110 Rivington St.