Can anyone explain why literally everyone has a New York skyline canvas in their living room?
Bet you’ve never actually been to New York
There are certain items you will always find in student houses. A cactus, a lava lamp, a Muhammed Ali poster with the lines "float like a butterfly, sting like a bee". I appreciate these objects, they warm up the room, add character. What I cannot understand is why every student has a New York skyline canvas.
They look like Getty stock images. Like a post card from one of those tourist shops that sell "I love London" hoodies and fake Obey t-shirts. They make you feel like you're in a waiting room at a Travel Lodge. In short, they're truly awful.
Argos described its sepia tinged Empire State Building landscape as follows: "You don't like them apples? Well how about this big one? Showing the famous skyline of New York City at dawn, this canvas is perfect for those who appreciate a great view or have a passion for travel. Ideal for dark colour schemes or against a crisp white backdrop, it hangs easily by a wooden frame."
Interestingly, every NYC skyline canvas owner I spoke to had never actually been to New York. As Emily explained: "I do really want to go though." Perhaps the skyline provides #inspo. Fuelling dreams of storming through wall street in suits or hailing cabs on the way to see the latest Broadway play.
So why exactly has the skyline become such a staple in British homes? We spoke to ten students who have them on their walls and most pointed to the need to cover up grotty, beige walls. Jamie McLean has one over his bed in Warwick: "they’re a vibey way to cover up holes in the plastering of budget accommodation".
Yusef Kahn said something similar: "I guess it gives the room a Manhattan at night feel instead of cold and wet Cardiff student house. It brings some metropolitanism to the space."
Maybe the New York canvas' rise is down to their mass availability. Often people buy them from Matalan, Argos or Dunelm. Shops that are situated in big industrial parks where there's always a Vue Cinema and a Frankie and Benny's. The places you go to when you're returning to university in a few weeks and your parents take you for a "big shop". Susannah Griffin explained: "Mum and dad brought it from Dunelm to fill the wall up."
Jamie McLean of Warrick purchased his from the online shop All Posters. Whilst Emily Harrison of Southhampton University found her at the student union fair: "We wanted to jazz up the living room. They were in the 3 for £10 offer".
But perhaps it's down to landlords, often rental properties come with the skyline already installed, we spoke to David Morris who works in Leeds: "People have a much more positive reaction to a house when there's colour in the room and those New York pictures are pretty cheap." £17.99 from Argos to be exact.
But why specifically Manhattan Dave? Why not an autumnal park or an Amsterdam canal scene? "Never really thought about it to be honest, you can't really buy those can you?"
There are many theories behind the New York skyline canvas, but one things for sure, they will plague our existence so long as we live. Whether we them nailed to the wall of our future child's university living room or covered in dust at a car boot sale in Manchester.