« Faces of Terror and Death | Main | Archives | Snowfall »

My Time of Night

Unlike Sky Masterson, I’m not much of a night owl. I am a big fan of cities, though, and my favorite time to see a city is the middle of the night. I like the play of shadow and artificial light. I like seeing what spaces designed for lots of people look like when they're empty. I like the stillness. When you know a city's rhythms during the day, it's almost magical to see it at night. Sometimes it's not a good magic necessarily — sometimes it's like an evil curse of drunkards and litter — but it's usually quite lovely.

Through a wacky series of logistical mishaps, I went into London last night but my plans for lodging fell through and I found myself having to kill time until the morning train. (Of course, the joke was on me when I discovered that there are trains running all through the night.) I decided to take a late-night walking tour and look for interesting pictures to take and get a feeling for London's other side.

Desolate Street Even during the day London's curious, crazy-quilt layout of tiny streets, back alleys, mews, and side passages leads to a lot of serendipitous discoveries, and they're even more curious at night. Granted, I avoided the darker alleys and passageways, a little too haunted by visions of Dickensian ruffians in every shadow, but there was still plenty to see. For one thing, the main drags of Soho and the West End are filled with even more stumbling drunks than I’ve ever seen at the same hour in New York. And they all want curry or pasties! Since they mostly seem to stick close to places to get food, taxis, or night buses, though, the streets would be completely empty as soon I turned a corner. Places like Carnaby Street whose shops are thronged during the day were completely desolate. Empty little passages that just look grey during the day glisten a little under the lights at night. It's lovely.

Caranby Street

Inspired by the pictures I got, I put together a Flickr set of night photos from London, New York, Lisbon, and a couple of other places I’ve explored in the wee hours. Check out the dark side.

« Faces of Terror and Death | Main | Archives | Snowfall »
Powered by Movable Type 5.2.13Creative Commons License