On Display

Friday, November 13, 2009

New York Times reporter Julie Scelfo, who wrote about New Yorkers’ window-gazing ways, explores the inevitable voyeurism/exhibitionism of city living and the relationships that sometimes result.

Tell us your window-watching story! What's the strangest thing you've ever seen through a window? Do you have an ongoing window-watching relationship with a stranger? Have you ever met your window-neighbor? Comment below!


Julie Scelfo

Comments [17]

Suzanne from Fort Greene

I don't wish to be a stormcloud amongst the whimsical observations, but I have a potentially helpful warning:
There has been a recent rash of burglaries in the Fort Greene area, with the thieves taking only laptop computers through windows, even those of second floors. According to the detectives, the band of theives strike where they can see the laptops from the I can only regret broadcasting the glow of my MacBook's Apple logo from my window!

Nov. 13 2009 12:07 PM
Shmuel from Brooklyn

I spent 5 years living the bohemian life in a loft in Bushwick on the corner of Hart and Wyckoff. For awhile we had someone we called The Masturbator living on the opposite corner. Whenever we had a party he would stand naked in his window with a desk lamp set up as a footlight and put on a show. As soon as people at the party started to notice and come to the window he would shut the light off for a few minutes. Then just as people got back to their conversations he would pop up again. He was always a big hit.

Nov. 13 2009 12:05 PM
kathleen pedersen from new jersey

Uptown Manhattan in the 1950's.
My mother would put a pillow on the window sill to get a better view of the people on their way to and from church or the subway. Sunday was especially fruitful as we could watch the new Sunday styles and make our comments. We usually stood a little back from the window on Sunday mornings - but we checked out each Mass and no new outfit was overlooked.

Nov. 13 2009 12:04 PM
Francyne from Pelham Bay Park, Bronx

We live on the first floor in a house with 5 big windows in the living room, overlooking the streets in front/on side of the house. I enjoy watching the people pass by. So does Molly Tan, our dog. When I tell people where I live, I've been frequently told "oh yeah, the house with the dog.

When coming home at night and viewing my gently lit living room/library, I get a little frisson of joy.

Nov. 13 2009 12:03 PM
Sandra from Astoria, Queens

I remember visiting my friend in Prague. In the apartment building across the street from his, there was an elderly woman who sat by her window most of the day looking out on the street rather morosely. Watching her watching out, it felt very sad and cinematic--I couldn't help thinking about all the history she must have seen from that window, from WWII to the Soviet invasion to the Velvet Revolution.

Nov. 13 2009 12:02 PM
Emily from manhattan

saw this little short film and your segment reminded me of it.

Nov. 13 2009 12:01 PM
Emily from manhattan

Saw this little short film...and it was the first thing I thought of when I heard this segment.

Nov. 13 2009 12:00 PM
Francyne from Pelham Bay Park, Bronx

We live on the first floor and have five windows in the living room/library. They overlook the street. I enjoy looking out, seeing people passing by on Schuyler Place.
So does our dog Molly Tan.

Several people have mentioned her when I tell them where I live. "oh yeah, the house with the dog".

When I come home at night and look in my window and see the stuff and the books gently lit, it gives me a little frisson of joy.

Nov. 13 2009 11:58 AM
Amy from Manhattan

Maybe a little trivial: My next-door neighbor's window is at an angle to my kitchen window. She's told me she often sees my cat on the windowsill, & every once in a while she sees my hand reach out to pet the cat. The other day she showed me a picture of my cat on the windowsill (no hand in the photo).

Nov. 13 2009 11:57 AM
gail Albert Halaban from NYC

As mentioned in Julie's article, I photograph people who look into their neighbor's windows. I collect these views. People can contact me if they have great views into neighbor's windows.

Nov. 13 2009 11:55 AM
Jen from Brooklyn

I went to see a play written by a neighbor that I wasn't really too close with. Watching the play I realized she heard a tremendous amount of my life over the 4 years that we lived in the same building. So much so that she used the drama of my life, relationships, family and work at home career as the plat line for her play. I cringe over and over!

Nov. 13 2009 11:54 AM
sean from brooklyn

A couple years ago a friend had a party in the village. The old man across the way noticed and decided to put on a show. A prostitute was called and all his curtains were raised and the performance started. CRAZY!!! Strangely enough the females at the party could not keep their eyes off them, where as the guys could not care at all.

Nov. 13 2009 11:54 AM
Chris from Cobble Hill

Of course there's a dark side to this kind of interest: I'm thinking of Cheever's "Enormous Radio."

Nov. 13 2009 11:53 AM
jj from

my story is too good to tell.

Nov. 13 2009 11:51 AM
T.B. from Riverdale

How about minding your own business? Or is that just a quaint notion in today's "look at me, me, me" Facebook, Twitter world?

In my old nabe, you'd get your eyes poked out if you were caught looking into people's windows. And, uh, isn't voyeurism considered creepy?!

God, I miss mean, dirty, old NYC.

Nov. 13 2009 11:39 AM
M.D. from Bed Stuy from Bed Stuy, Brooklyn

I live in Bed Stuy, and on the evening that Muammar al-Gaddafi gave his speech at the UN, I noticed a group of people meandering in a neighbor's backyard. A number of the men were wearing suits and bowties so I assumed that they were members of the Nation of Islam. As more people arrived, I called my roommate into my room to watch. We joked that it'd be crazy if Minister Louis Farrakhan arrived. It wasn't long before a large group of people walked up, and in the middle of this group was Minister Farrakhan who promptly gave a speech. My roommate has impeccable hearing so he was able to determine that Gaddafi's speech was one of the many topics Minister Farrakhan touched upon.

Nov. 13 2009 11:19 AM
Emily Slater from Manhattan

So funny that you are talking about window-gazing today. The ultimate expression of window-gazing, "Rear Window," was on TCM last night and I watched with my son, who absolutely loved it.

Nov. 13 2009 09:55 AM

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