Sunday Reading: Springtime in the City

They say that the onset of spring is a moment of promise, of renewal. If that is so, why am I thinking that the Yankees, having done nothing (absolutely nothing!) to get a decent shortstop or strengthen their starting rotation, have failed the promise of the new season? Well, maybe that’s just me. Despite it all (and that takes in a lot of territory), the season has its charms.

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This week, we’re bringing you a selection of pieces about springtime in the city. In “Spring Rain,” John Updike writes about the moments when New York comes alive after a seasonal downpour. (“The breeze caught its breath, the rain slackened, and the crowds that had been clustered in entranceways and under overhangs shattered and scattered like drying pods.”) In “Spring Fugue,” by Harold Brodkey, a man reflects on his experiences during a particularly eventful spring spent uptown. Rebecca Mead reports on the strangeness and abandon of spring break, and Colin Stokes provides a wheezy guide to allergy season. Finally, in “Stinkytown,” Nick Paumgarten describes the scent of Manhattan after the thaw. As an olfactory artist put it to Paumgarten, “I think of a city’s smell like a dialect. Every city in Belgium has a dialect—one dialect. But in New York you have a lot of dialects.”

David Remnick

Wet umbrellas, seen from above

The buildings there, steeped in humidity, seemed to be a print of their own images.

A flower and a New York City sunset

“My guess is that spring is a natural way of suggesting adolescence as something one should start to go through again.”

Spring breakers in front of a "Tequila" sign

How much spring break can anyone stand?

Illustration of weatherman in hazmat suit

A high-intensity type of pollen that is worsened by global warming and the resurgence of authoritarian neo-fascism will be noticeable today, and for all foreseeable days.


Post-thaw, olfactory New York springs to life.

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