This Sculpture Visualizes Manhattan Through The Music That Shaped It

December 2, 2014 | Rhett Jones

Manhattan’s neighborhoods have long been shaped by the music its inhabitants create, and that element of history inspired designer John Davies to see what the topography of the island would look like if each neighborhood were represented by a song.

Using laser cut perspex, Davies chose an iconic song for each neighborhood and made a model of its sound waves. The Ramones’ “Blitzkrieg Bop”, for instance, represents the Lower East Side, where the punk founders used to rock CBGB. The Velvet Underground’s “Sunday Morning” stands in for Midtown East, the former home of Andy Warhol’s Factory. The Financial District is represented by … well nothing; get on it stock brokers!

Davies told The Creators Project that the project led him through a history of New York’s gentrification:

The Greenwich Village folk scene in places like Cafe Wha? and Cafe Au GoGo in the 60s move directly east into the East Village in the late 60’s…Early 70’s venues like the Fillmore East, famous for psychedelic rock move directly south. There, you have the start of the punk scene in places like CBGB’s in the Lower East Side that kicked off in the mid 70’s. The young creative generation moving round—suppose it would be somewhere in the depths of Brooklyn nowadays.

After finishing the sculpture, dubbed Soundscape, Davies has pressed the related songs onto transparent vinyl and put together a companion book that details his process of selection and construction of the map.

You can check out other design work by Davies, including many music related projects at his website here.

(Photos: John Davies)