What inspired you to create this website or entity?
New York's side streets are home to a rich tapestry of small businesses, each one special, but together they are the fabric of our city. Manhattan Sideways (sideways.nyc) is a website devoted entirely to supporting and promoting these small businesses on the side streets - to give them the exposure that they do not always receive. My journey began as a whimsical idea and quickly became my passion project. Beginning on 1st Street - since 2011 - I have walked from the East River to the Hudson documenting each and every shop, boutique, restaurant, bar, garden, hotel, church, synagogue, gallery and so much more. This summer, 6 years later, I arrived at the pinnacle of my journey - 155th Street - where the original Manhattan Grid ended. After hundreds of miles walked and biked and thousands of businesses and places catalogued, I continue to be inspired by the stories and characters of the side streets, the small business and their owners who have stood the test of time, and the discovery of hidden gems, old and new, around every corner.
How does your website or entity represent or contribute to the local community or borough which you represent?
There are over 14,000 places on the Manhattan Sideways website, and more than 35,000 beautiful photographs. In addition to including all commercial establishments listed complete with phone number, web address, hours, date of founding, etc - fully searchable, categorized, and organized; visitors to the site can enjoy thoughtfully researched articles, original videos, and curated side street adventures. I am not a restaurant, art or fashion critic. I speak from my heart, telling the stories that the owners share with me - simply trying to advocate for these side street businesses in a positive, yet honest light. For these businesses, my site is free promotion. There are no ads and nothing is asked of the businesses in return for their listing or featured pieces. For visitors to our site, we provide an extensive resource of information and the stories of the people, places, and details of the side streets. In addition to my incessant walking, and documenting, I have curated several exhibits showcasing Manhattan Sideways photography. I have selected stunning photographs from the site that highlight the vibrant life of side street characters and commerce. With crowds of several hundred turning out for each opening event, and people passing through the doors on a regular basis to view the photography, owners of both the hosting venue and the featured photographs have been delighted with the exposure that they are receiving. It is my sincere hope that through art, I will continue to motivate people to explore the side streets and visit some of these wonderful places. I have had an extraordinary experience over the years, but it is the thousands of phenomenal New Yorkers I have met who have had the strongest impact on me. Although I have reached 155th Street, I continue to update the website regularly, revisiting every street time and time again. Sadly, I am witnessing shops in business for 50 to 100 years being forced to close their doors. Lately, I have also been finding that some small businesses are not even surviving a year on a side street. It is my dream to inspire and motivate New Yorkers, as well as out-of-towners, to help these small businesses thrive ? to have them find the amazing gems that are hidden on every single side street, as they are what makes, and has always made, Manhattan unique.