Alan Wolfson’s Diorama of ’70s-Era Canal Street Is the Coolest Tiny Thing of the Day


Confession: We have a special love for dioramas, cross-sections, anything made miniature and realistic and perfect in its tininess, that you can gaze into and experience writ small. Hence, our excitement for this mini cross-section of a New York City Street (inspired by Canal Street in the 1970s) — including, oh yes, the subway! Alan Wolfson spent 18 months working on his creation, which consists of five major pieces built in one box, from street scene to inside the pizza place to subway entrance to subterranean levels. You can see it in person at the Museum of Arts & Design in an exhibit of “Optical Delusions and Small Realities” starting June 7.

Wolfson writes:

“I wanted to build a piece that resembled a core sample of a city street. As though you took a street, dug it up, and lifted it straight off the earth…

The street scene is not an exact representation of Canal Street, but rather a combination of existing and fabricated environments. The Canal Rubber store is modeled after the real thing — a landmark on Canal Street since 1954. The pizza place on the corner was inspired by one that existed on Eighth Ave. — I liked the signage. I decided to throw in the Chinese massage parlor both to give it a touch of Chinatown and also to spice it up a little. The other business establishments on the street were modeled to give the feeling of how Canal Street looked in the late 1970s.”

Here’s what the entire piece looks like.

Check out more photos here and here. So cool.

A Miniature Cross Section of a New York Street [Gizmodo]
Canal Street Cross-Section [BLDGBLOG]
Alan Wolfson Miniature Urban Sculptures []

This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on April 28, 2011

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