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The Kid Should See This

Artist Stephen Wiltshire draws New York City from memory

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New York City is drawn from memory on a 19 foot (5.8 meter) long paper by Stephen Wiltshire, a British artist with autism. His incredible skill, drawing any city’s skyline from memory after observing it from above, takes him to cities all over the globe. From The New York TimesLike a Skyline Is Etched in His Head:

“I always memorize by helicopter,” he said on Tuesday, pausing from detailing the corners of a street on the Brooklyn side of the Williamsburg Bridge.

Mr. Wiltshire sees and draws. It is how he connects. Until age 5, he had never uttered a word. One day, his kindergarten class at a school for autistic children in London went on a field trip.

When they came back, he spoke.

“He said, ‘Paper,’ ” his sister, Annette Wiltshire, said. “The teacher asked him to say it again. He said it. Then they asked him to say something else, and he said, ‘Pen.’ ”

With pen and paper in hand, he drew what he had seen that day. In time, a clever teacher taught him the alphabet by associating each letter with a place he had drawn — “a” for Albert Hall, “b” for Buckingham Palace, and so on.

What did he use for “z”?

Mr. Wiltshire looked puzzled.

“Z — that’s the same as zed,” his sister interjected, pronouncing the letter the British way.

“Zed,” Mr. Wiltshire said. “That was the zoo.”

stephen wiltshire draws new york city from memory
Wiltshire was honored as a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) by Queen Elizabeth II for services to art in 2006. Read more about him and his work at stephenwiltshire.co.uk.

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