Photographing New York: Cortlandt Alley

Cortlandt Alley, New York Photography

(This guide is part of The New York Photographer’s Travel Book, which is available as a free digital download.)

The percentage of movies and TV shows based in New York that start with criminals being chased down alleyways is abnormally high. This can be misleading since the city does not have many alleyways (the chases, maybe). The Commissioners Plan in 1811 led to the creation of New York’s grid system and was a dream for New York real estate professionals since it allowed for the maximum use of space for building.

However, one of the few Manhattan alleyways lies in Tribeca, about a block from Chinatown. This three-block alleyway looks like the New York of old, with dirt and graffiti everywhere. It is a popular place for photo shoots, television, and movies.
Two blocks in, on the corner of White Street and Cortlandt Alley is a plaque recognizing the location of the Mudd Club, a famous rock venue that existed during the height of punk rock from 1978 to 1983, frequented by Jean-Michel Basquiat, Lou Reed, Andy Warhol, and performed at by Frank Zappa, The Ramones, and The Talking Heads.

Walk down the final block of the alleyway, and make sure to peer into the glass windows of two shuttered gates. Here lies the MMuseumm, the smallest museum in New York, hidden in plain sight and host to a variety of unique art projects and random objects.

(This guide is part of The New York Photographer’s Travel Book, which is available as a free digital download.)