New York City is magic.
That’s why we live in small spaces with large rent bills. That’s why we drag our laundry to the scale at the fluff and fold. That’s why we pay $7 for a loaf of bread at D’Agostino. We aren’t really paying for rent or laundry or bread. We’re paying for the magic.
On July 24, 2014, I discovered an out-of-print book published in 1982 called “Top of the City: New York’s Hidden Rooftop World” by Laura Rosen. When it arrived, I was fascinated by the skilled architectural photography depicting NYC roofline and rooftop details, and thrilled that the author carefully documented where the buildings are (were?) located so intrepid roof explorers can venture out and see for themselves. I read the text and studied the photos, and knew in my heart that this photographer/author loved NYC and would never leave. It was 32 years since the book was printed, but I had to find her.
I began with her publisher, tried Google, Linkedin and even askNYPL. I found out a few things about Ms. Rosen but I couldn’t find her. Then the magic happened.
I was invited by the Mid-Manhattan branch of the New York Public Library to give an “Author Talk,” my first-ever public speaking engagement. The room was filled to fire-code capacity and I had to speak into a microphone so the nearly 200 New Yorkers in attendance could hear me. Midway during my talk, I mentioned “Top of the City.”
“Does anyone know the book’s author, Laura Rosen?” I asked. “If so, please let her know I am dying to meet her!”
After the talk, I was approached by “Brian” who told me he has known Laura for 20 years. I gave him my phone number to pass along and went back to signing books without thinking much about it.
The VERY NEXT morning, I got a voice mail from Laura Rosen, and last week we met for lunch at Rosemary’s because the food is delicious AND it has a public-access rooftop farm.
I was right. Ms. Rosen never left NYC and says she never will. A few years ago, she retired from the MTA Bridges and Tunnels after two decades as their archivist. She spends much of her time making beautiful sketches and water colors of New York City interiors and exteriors. Perhaps best of all, she plans to attend my next “Author Talk” at the Jefferson Market Branch (Greenwich Village) of the NY Public Library on October 8 at 6:30 p.m.**
As I said, New York is magic.
** If you are in the NYC area, I hope you will also come to the Author Talk on Oct. 8. Post-talk, we’ll be going across the street to see the rooftop farm at Rosemary’s and to enjoy an extended Happy Hour with $4-6 beer and $7 wine options.