Despite the destruction and loss Sandy created, there was something eerily beautiful about those rare, odd moments when we were able to walk through downtown Manhattan and witness what one of the most densely populated, high-tech cities in the world looked like without electricity. If you had the opportunity to watch the sun set from those unilluminated blocks, you know how lovely it was.
But even then, it was hard to see the stars, and the night sky was still awash in that slightly sickly haze of light pollution. Indeed, you had to be in NYC during the 2003 blackout to get anywhere near experiencing the city with nothing but the stars to light the streets. For a stunningly good approximation of what this town would be without all that wattage, though, artist Thierry Cohen offers his Darkened Cities series: A collection of digitally manipulated photos of major bergs free of artificial light and full of starry skies.
Using digitally darkened shots of Los Angeles, San Francisco, our own Ground Zero, and other cities superimposed on geographically accurate images of night sky, Cohen has created something wonderfully evocative — cities returned to some sort of natural beauty, metropolises envisioned as sleeping giants. Whether you look at these images as artificial forests, architectural graveyards, or something kinder and more beautiful, is up to you. We, however, like to imagine them as images of perfect nights for a moonlight stroll down the sidewalk.