When illustrator James Gulliver Hancock moved to New York City in 2009, he began drawing the Big Apple’s buildings and cityscape as a means to become more familiar with the city. “Being an illustrator, drawing felt like the best way to do that,” he says. “By sitting in front of places I loved, I spent much more time getting to know the place and learning the details.” Four years later, he’s compiled his whimsical sketches into a new book, All the Buildings in New York, published by Rizzoli. From landmarks, such as the Empire State building to historic Brooklyn brownstones, Hancock’s book is, in his words, a love letter to New York. “Drawing things makes you pay attention to the world around you much differently,” he says. “You see the details that you normally pass by. By going to different parts of the city to draw I’ve leaned a lot about how it’s structured and how people live.” Herewith, a sampling of Hancock’s drawings.
The Big Apple Sketched: James Gulliver Hancock’s ‘All the Buildings in New York’
As the final piece of the spire was placed on One World Trade Center in New York City on May 10, TIME looks at the Big Apple's other iconic landmarks through one artist's whimsical sketches