28 Comments
Feb 11, 2022Liked by Rob Walker

Your "fourth place" term brought back so many wonderful memories of visits to NYC. My daughter lived there for 4 years there and I visited her 3-4 times a year during that time frame. One of my fourth places was in the LES. I would go to Russ and Daughters for a bagel with a schmear, salmon, capers, and red onion, and then go to the sliver of a park right around the corner, sit on a bench, savor that bagel, and just take in the life that passed by and surrounded that little piece of land. My last trip to NYC was in 2019 and I'm going back in May. Can't wait for that bagel and to immerse myself in the city again!

The other day, I took a walk around my neighborhood after a significant snow. The city had been by to plow the roads, people had cleaned off their driveways and sidewalks, but it was still slippery. As I watched where my feet went, I noticed the different patterns from various tires, the snow blowers, the yak trax that people put on their shoes. Once I noticed one pattern, it turned into a game to see how many more I could find.

Really enjoyed this TAoN post...thank you!

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Feb 10, 2022Liked by Rob Walker

That's a great term "Fourth Place"!

Thanks for sharing the picture of "your" park. I have "my" ocean, some people call it The Atlantic. Guessing from the Daffodils blooming, you took it around the month of April. Spring, parks and flowers all go together nicely!

Noticed on one of the stone markers a large "N" and on another one an "E". North and East? Two more markers for South and West?

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❤️👀

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Feb 8, 2022Liked by Rob Walker

Just what I needed to read today. Thank you so much for sharing. And I'm looking forward to diving into some of those books on creativity.

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Feb 8, 2022Liked by Rob Walker

Thanks for the link to the obligatory note of hope..it was just what I needed today. Always find something of inspiration and fun in your newsletter.

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Feb 8, 2022Liked by Rob Walker

I loved the storm drain photos and the link to apophenia. Thanks.

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Feb 8, 2022Liked by Rob Walker

Hello. Recent subscriber and LOVE your newsletter. Today's post was really lovely. I'm curious where this little park is...

For a Dictionary of Missing Words suggestion, what's it called when your hair has looked terrible for days, so you make an appointment to get a haircut, and from that day forward, your hair looks amazing?

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Feb 8, 2022Liked by Rob Walker

Busy day and I almost skipped over the post. Glad I did not. It raised the question: why are there physical places, like a near-anonymous park, that instantly invite, while others, more stylized and complex, instead raise some wariness. This doesn't imply a lack of safety as much a feeling that the designer(s) wanted a particular reaction. The invitations come unexpectedly; a simple park bench sandwiched between buildings in DC; a hidden park outside DC--sit one way and see buildings; sit another and a copse of trees invites reflection. Thank you.

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Feb 8, 2022Liked by Rob Walker

I work for the NYC Parks Department and this post made my day! I think Shirley Dawson below might be onto something re the linear design of the High Line - when it's not crowded it's a fast way to travel up or down the west side, and it's plant nerd nirvana. But my favorite parks are also the less celebrated ones New Yorkers use as on-demand back yards or places to be alone together.

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Feb 8, 2022Liked by Rob Walker

I suggest that you categorize the High Line "Park" as something other than the community space you describe in this post. Certainly, HL has become a tourist attraction but I think it must be considered as a transportation corridor...a route to get from one place to another in a city that offered only hard surfaces for that need. To stroll to work among greenery, to take lunch to the nearest bench that happens to be along a narrow planted strip when time is short...just to walk a block and erase a little tension....these are needs filled by this imaginative use of what was once an abandoned, frayed thread of the City.

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Feb 8, 2022Liked by Rob Walker

My fourth place is the SFMOMA and what’s cool for me is that every time I go, it’s a little different and I’m a little different and every time, I find a different work of art that captures my attention. Some days it’s a color. Some days it’s not color. Some days it’s the idea. Some days it’s the stumbled-upon tour guide’s explanation. It’s the art. It’s the people watching—-patrons and the security guards. It’s the quiet and the sounds from some exhibits. It’s the cacophony of languages in a tourist location. It’s always glorious!

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I live in Aotearoa New Zealand. When you said 'park' the image I had in my head was of green grass, even though you posted a pic with no green grass to be seen. We have parks of grass here in Aotearoa. I never thought of parks being anything other than grass. Culture only gets noticed when contrasted with other cultures. Thanks for helping me notice another piece of Aotearoa white person culture.

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Feb 8, 2022Liked by Rob Walker

Even at my fittest, I am a middling runner who has to fight the urge to stop all the time. One time I was running a path that circles the Botanic Gardens in Melbourne, a distance of about 3.5 km, and I fell into pace with a man running just ahead of me at a speed that was challenging but do-able for me. I ran the whole circuit in an easy rhythm with this stranger, and it was the best run I've ever had. I regretted not saying anything to the guy. I had a thought that we should probably be married.

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Feb 8, 2022Liked by Rob Walker

Just finished listening to A Month in Siena by Hisham Matar. It’s a lovely meditation on noticing. I might read it in print next and listen again. So haunting.

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Love your links to getting through trying times and looking for hope.

In these crappiest of crappy times, I’m trying hard to cherish the tiny good things that happen daily. We don’t notice them as much as when all is relatively normal. Writing them down helps. Keep up the good work. Much appreciated. Patrick

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