The Sketchbooks of Peter Koval

My old cast-iron loft apartment I shared with a fantastic artist/painter, Adam Smith. They were days I truly consider timeless, even as the neighborhood changed. We had the top floor loft, on the fifth floor with roof access. A rarity nowadays.

After admiring one of photographer Peter Koval‘s Tribeca sketches on Twitter, I asked if he had others—and voilà. “I actually just wanted to stroll through the neighborhood,” he said, “but seeing how it changed—and the nostalgia of what I remembered—inspired me to record it.” To get the details, you’ll want to look at them full size (click to enlarge).

When did you live in Tribeca? Where do you live now? I lived in Tribeca from 1997 to 2001, I believe, up until 9/11. After that I moved to Brooklyn Heights.

What drew (pardon the pun) you to these particular places? Mostly from my memories of where I frequented or recall passing by daily. So many places popped up during those 10 years that I barely recognize some streets, and so many places disappeared. It seems much more intangible now.

How long do they take you to do? Each sketch takes me 20-45 minutes at the location, depending on how much time I have. Then it’s an hour or two of watercolor indoors someplace where I have a table.

Why do you include the temperature? Because I want to remember the feeling or quality of the environment when I sketched it. When I look back on a sketch that says 97 degrees, it brings back the feelings I had when I sketched it. I also believe it gives the sketch another level of observation for the viewer.

We used to go here in the mornings usually after a late night out. Breakfasts were cheap. It’s called the Square Diner, but it’s actually triangular.

I’ve always found the parking lifts fascinating. This is one at Worth and W. Broadway. I believe it’s Edison Parking. I find cars very challenging to sketch with the proper perspectives.

It was nice to see this place was still there. We used to go here during late nights.

The Liquor Store Bar on W. Broadway and White was a frequent evening spot for us. It used to be a great local bar (once an actual liquor store), and had a great local crowd. Everyone was familiar there. Now the sign remains, but it’s a J. Crew clothing store. Across the street was another bar called No Moore, and that’s gone. There were some strange times in the basement of that place. This sketch is a bit “heavy-handed” as I tried to do it quicker than normal, because I kept getting interrupted.

Often walked past this stretch of buildings on my way to Battery Park. Very windy and cold outside, but I was fortunate that there is a lot of repetition in the details which sped it up.

One of my favorite places to get a decent steak at midnight in Tribeca without pretension is a landmarked place called Walker’s Restaurant and Bar. Walker’s is on the corner of N. Moore and Varick and has been around for years. Great local crowd.

Update: Comments have been turned off due to spam. To have them turned back on, email



  1. Do you know if any of these sketches are for sale? They capture the feel fo the neighbor.

  2. I am very interested in these beautiful works

    is there a book in publication or a gallery in NY

    Thank you.

  3. @Mitchell and Rosalie: I asked Peter if he’d sell them, and he pointed out that because they’re in a sketchbook, he’d have to make prints. He said anyone interested could contact him (email for his address).

  4. Does he do commissions? His watercolors are great and I’d love one of my building.