Alternate Geography– Series II, 2022, Complete Set of 10 Plates

Alternate Geography, by Edward Hsu, reflects on the undulating terrain of Manhattan’s northern edge, most commonly referred to today as Washington Heights. While this region is home to such a diverse population due to various waves of migration*, its topography formed natural borders, and, as such, inhabitants live with highly defined boundaries. Alternate Geography spatializes these boundaries, mapping the critical yet little known links between distinct enclaves in the region. The project consists of a book of plates featuring three series, each taking a distinctive formal approach to chart Uptown’s geography and its evolution.  

At the turn of the Twentieth century, the Interborough Rapid Transit Company was authorized to expand its operation into upper Manhattan. The undertaking proved to be challenging at the outset. Over time and buried largely beneath the region’s unique landscape, a new typology of spaces would emerge and a vast underground terrain would transform the way uptown’s geography would be experienced. 

Series II of Alternate Geography composes an inventory of color photographs documenting the region’s urban fabric and presents an array of above-and-below-ground landscapes to unearth animating yet often overlooked qualities of infrastructure. Ten plates in this series look to produce new readings that inform Uptown’s urban makeup, exploring planned developments’ imprint both on the land and the communities that inhabit it.

*From being nicknamed ‘Frankfurt-on-the-Hudson’ in the 1930s for its influx of Jews that fled Europe in the years leading up to World War II, the neighborhood’s current demographic make-up garners the name ‘Quisqueya Heights’ as home to the largest Dominican community in the nation. 

Unique, Signed
Series of ten 7 x 7” artworks in a 13 x 13” maple frames with UV/anti-glare glass


Edward Hsu is an architect based in New York City. Through predominantly spatial practices, his work interrogates symbiotic relationships between communities and the built environment. Alternate Geography began as a curiosity about Hsu’s uptown neighborhood. Over time, through many conversations, self-guided explorations, teaching, and generous grants by the New York Foundation for the Arts, New York State Council on the Arts, and the Architectural League, this research-based undertaking yielded a book of 30 plates that present a unique window into northern Manhattan’s complex make up. The output of this project reflects an evolving process that took place over the course of three years.


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