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Watch a Drawn Time-Lapse of Lower Manhattan Unfold Before Your Eyes

"Empire State of Pen," by Patrick Vale, captures the frenzied movements of creation.

The drawing time-lapse (drawn time-lapse?) is something to be awed and held in suspicion for its casual, near callous display of the talent and extensive effort behind the documented (i.e. finished) work.

The great effort involved–we’re talking hours, days, and even weeks here–is condensed beyond all decency, streamlined to create the pretty effect of the continuous line. In nearly all cases, such as in “Empire State of Pen” by Patrick Vale, the artist/draftsmen is reduced to his or her wrist, the moving, “thinking” hand that seemingly roves in aleatoric fashion, haphazardly planning its next move.

That isn’t to say that they’re not impressive–Vale’s “Empire” is an act of bravura, and as such, it’s exceedingly enjoyable to watch him map out the geography that unfolds south of the Empire State Building. He starts with the Flatiron district (just slightly south of the Architizer HQ!) before literally sweeping through Gramery, the Villages, Soho, and Chinatown, the latter barely registers, overwhelmed as it is by new construction in Lower Manhattan–most notably 1 World Trade Center which anchors the top half of the drawing to the preceding cityscape. In keeping with Vale’s other work, the line work is willfully scraggly, imperfect without being whimsical or cute. See more of Vale’s work at his website.


This post originally appeared on Architizer, an Atlantic partner site.

About the Author

  • A.J. Artemel is a second-year student at Yale School of Architecture. He holds a BS Arch and a Minor in Urban and Environmental Planning from the University of Virginia.