Explore: Where Downtown Collides

I was in Soho having lunch with some friends the other day - or at least I think I was. Technically, I'm pretty sure the restaurant we went to is in Soho, but it's right on the outskirts. Walk east, and you quickly find yourself in the Lower East Side, or Chinatown, or Little Italy, or Nolita, depending on how far east you go and whether you throw a couple of right or left turns in there as well. This is how downtown is. It has impervious borders, crooked streets, and fluid identities. To an uptown girl like me, used to the Manhattan grid, it's confusing and amazing. It's an ideal place to get lost.

With some time to kill after lunch I set out to do just that, for just long enough to work off my chicken prego sandwich and warm my frozen toes up slightly. I headed east, then north, then doubled back and found myself on a street I knew I had walked before, last time I wandered from Soho to Nolita for a dinner date. I was on Mott Street, right in the heart of Little Italy. Or possibly already in Nolita. I'm not entirely sure.

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Last time I wandered Mott Street I was in too much of a hurry to pay attention. This time I slowed down, and was very pleased I did. I came across this on my travels, you see.

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Behind a chain link fence lies this courtyard, full of sculptures and what look like bits of abandoned furniture. It just sits there, between the shops, and people walk past constantly and don't so much as glance in. There was nobody in there, and nobody who paid me the slightest bit of attention while I stared and took photos - even when I took off my gloves, which was a downright stupid thing to do. Worth it, though.

On the fence leading up to the courtyard was a picture drawn in plastic-y 'wool' (genuinely the best way I can describe it). I don't know what the picture is. Is it a potential tattoo idea? A gang symbol? A three-dimensional HTE - is it a downtown monogram? Does someone walk around with this on their shirt pockets?

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I googled, trying to work out exactly what goes on behind that fence, and for once came out of the internet knowing less than I did when I went in. This is the most useful result my in-depth internet research got me.

Huh? That's it? That's all you're giving me? Old School Courtyard and...blank?

This means that this post is the most information I can share with you fine people. It contains literally everything I know about the courtyard. Really, it can be summed up in a few words.

Isn't it cool?