When I first arrived in Harlem, the fenced-off, overgrown empty lots here also attracted my eye… The empty lots… were a place for the eye to rest. This was not some romance for ruins. These blank, disavowed spaces had been labelled as blight, but they provided a visual and mental break from the clamor of the buildings and people. There was a hint of the horizon.
Here was solace from the crowded landscape – both the physical crowdedness of buildings and people and the crowd of stories and histories. A friend of mine describes certain cities as being full – too much has happened there, you cannot move… I suspect he’d say Harlem is another place that is too full – though its crowdedness and overpopulation have been discussed in other terms. In the empty lots, my mind escaped history.
–Sharifa Rhodes-Pitts, Harlem is Nowhere: A Journey to the Mecca of Black America