Julia Solis - 2006
People & Places
Do you have a favorite neighborhood?
I was afraid you were going to ask me that question. You mean to live in or to wander through?
I guess Red Hook. I do like it a lot.
Do you think Red Hook has remained fairly unchanged?
Well, not anymore with IKEA coming in and all that and a lot of construction. I think there is a lot going on, but it still has a lot of the original industrial buildings—but you have to go to the Bronx to find them in enough volume.
Any area of the Bronx?
The South Bronx
Describe what your ideal New York would look like in 10 to 15 years.
I would add a lot more theme parks and a lot more haunted houses in abandoned buildings. L.A. Cacophony used to do the Museum of Mental Decay for Halloween. But it doesn't have to be scary. It would just sort of be a fantasy environment so that every house you walked into could be decorated in some outlandish way according to whatever the owner felt like.
Do you have one area that you especially love?
The High Bridge [a vestige of the Croton Aqueduct that connects the Bronx with Manhattan].
Any tunnel you prefer exploring?
I really like the Pratt Institute tunnels. The person who is in charge of them, Conrad Milster, is just an angel.
How about a favorite park?
Hmm, park. I don't go to parks
Describe your perfect New York City day.
It would start off with climbing a Manhattan Bridge tower with some of my guys and having breakfast up there while watching the sun rise, then popping the hatch to the Second Avenue subway on the walkway below and staying down there until it was time to meet for a Chunk and Chengwin street event. This would be followed by a boat ride to Hoffman and Swinburne islands [located in Lower New York Bay near Staten Island], where we'd set up for a future scavenger hunt. We'd be dropped off at a construction site in Queens; we would enter the 63rd Street Tunnel and walk assorted underground passages all the way to Grand Central for oysters and martinis at the Oyster Bar. Over dinner, a group of Russian geotechnical engineers at the next table would invite us to stage an event inside abandoned tunnels in Moscow. Then one of us would suggest going somewhere no one had ever possibly considered and we'd be off doing that for the night.
Who would be included in your dream exploration team?
I'd love to explore the city with J.G. Ballard.
What New York historical figure do you admire?
Alfred Beach is a good candidate—he's someone who's been inspiring me for a long time. He's the one who built the subway tunnel in secret below Broadway.
Any favorite New York moments?
Watching one limo jump-start another in front of the Regency Hotel on Park Avenue.
I was thinking you must have a special shoe store you frequent since you do all of these explorations.
I do like Flirt in Brooklyn.
What bars do you go to?
I like dog-friendly bars. I like the Gate on Fifth Avenue in Brooklyn.
Insider tips for someone coming to the city?
I would suggest they walk across the Manhattan Bridge at night.
What would you say distinguishes us from other cities?
The amount of no-trespassing signs.
Imagine your ideal Brooklyn in 2020.
I am not sure how I would like it to change. I like it as it is. I like the space. I like that it's still dirty in parts. I still have crack whores on my stoop. It makes you remember that you are still in a real city.
If you could make a new subway line, where would it go?
From here to England!