NYU Alumni 

behind the scenes

In a culture where it’s especially fashionable to be “busy, busy, busy” with a nonstop personal life, it helps to have some grandiose markers to remind us that we’re inevitably part of something bigger. Two such events—this summer’s Olympic games in London and the upcoming U.S. elections—will help to make 2012 a year remembered for its collective moments of awe and evaluation, be it of great heights reached on the field or preposterous gaffes made into a microphone.

Similarly, the three features in this fall’s NYU Alumni Magazine offer a chance to put seismic cultural shifts into perspective while helping us to imagine our own place within them.

“Planet of the Apps” explores the ubiquity of mobile applications, and the way they’ve transformed our cell phones from a means of communication into vehicles for an entire lifestyle. The industry is also one of the few clear winners in a rather foggy economy. “Table for One” checks in on another phenomenon—the fact that 32 million Americans now live alone. As that number continues to rise, the article considers how we’ll have to accommodate this domestic revolution. Lastly, “Story of the Streets” remembers the bicentennial of the greatest change to hit New York since Henry Hudson first mapped the Narrows. The creation of Manhattan’s famed “grid” in 1811 dramatically altered the city forever, and a new book and exhibit help contextualize just how brazen a project it was.

While the grid has simplified how city slickers navigate New York, it seems we’re still always trying to find our footing as we stride faster and faster into the future. Hopefully stories like these help us take stock, personally and collectively, for a few moments, to stare at what’s happening and wonder what it’s all about.

—The NYU Alumni Magazine Team