New York City is the most photographed city in the world, at least according to one recent map of geolocated photos. Unsurprisingly, most people tend to document the same iconic views; Flickr hosts over 160,000 different shots of the Brooklyn Bridge alone. So for one Brooklyn born-and-raised photographer, the challenge was to find corners of city that typically get ignored.
“I like looking for the oddball stuff,” says David Mandl. “I’ve always been obsessed with Brooklyn, and I’ve always searched for the unknown parts of the borough.”
Mandl spent nearly two years painstaking searching Brooklyn for every street marked with a dead end sign. “I tend to be a little bit of collector,” he says. “Almost by definition any dead end is going to be some sort of weird edge, somewhere you’re not supposed to go. And the idea of making this sort of collection appealed to me.”
The project was made about a decade ago, in a pre-Google Street View era, so Mandl had to scout out potential locations on a paper map. “It was a lot of work, and really took a long time,” he says. “I’d go out and spend a day and maybe I’d get one or two shots, maybe I’d get none.”
It was a way for Mandl to keep exploring the wilder parts of Brooklyn in the same way that he did growing up. “It’s this child-like thrill,” he says. “When I was a kid we used to slip through alleyways and places where we weren’t supposed to go. … There’s just kind of this childlike fascination in finding things that you don’t normally see walking down the street every day.”
The result are photographs that aren’t necessarily recognizable as New York, even to New Yorkers. “I show some of these photos I’ve taken in pretty wild areas–places like Canarsie Park–and people say, wow, that’s Brooklyn?” Mandl says. “It’s hard to believe that there are corners that aren’t paved over.”