Like many others, one of Gothamist's favorite books about turn-of-the-century New York City is The Alienist by Caleb Carr. A novel about finding a cruel serial killer, The Alienist also had wall-to-wall details about what life was like in the city, with a particular grittiness that escaped film depictions. And we always liked how Carr would discuss in interviews that while people fret and worry about New York being crime-ridden, the kinds of horrors happening during the turn-of-the-cenutry were even more depraved; of course, this started our Carr mini-obsession. So we were excited to see the NYT Home and Garden feature about Carr and his upstate NY house which had more details of Carr's youth in Manhattan:

He talks about his block, 14th Street between Second and Third.

"While we were there, it was named the single worst block for drugs and prostitution," he says. He laughs. "I saw my first person stabbed to death when I was 11, right across the street, over a drug deal. Friends was just two blocks away. The first thing the principal said was, 'Don't ever go to 14th Street.' I thought, I've got a problem."

Gothamist wonders what Carr thinks of the current state of 14th Street and thereabouts: The revamped Kiehl's, the Whole Foods and DSW, the gentrified East Village. The article also discusses the effects of being the son of Beat founder/catalyst Lucien Carr.

Carr has just written a new Sherlock Holmes book, The Italian Secretary by at the request of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's estate. And back in 1994, we were obsessed with thinking about who could play all the characters of The Alienist in the movie version (which will probably never happen).