I’ve always been fascinated by these tiny alleyways, but not known that they had a special name. In Britain, where they are common, they are called ginnels. They are pathways between rowhouses. According to Wikipedia it is “A narrow passageway or alley often between terraced houses.”  They are known as this especially in Yorkshire and Lancashire. A terraced house is defined as one that shares both side walls with other houses, which is “typical of Victorian and Edwardian housing in English cities”. 


To me, they look secret and mysterious. I’m not sure why I have such a fascination with empty spaces and absences. This is negative space, not positive.  It isn’t a destination, but a way to get to it.  But to me, it is intriguing as it is.

My Mom told me about playing in the one that was part of her building complex while she was growing up.  This was primarily when it rained.


They look forbidding and inviting all at the same time.  Do they lead to courtyards like this?



From an image search, I found several that aren’t enclosed on the top.  I don’t know if those are still considered ginnels, or if they are just alleys.  To me, they need to be enclosed to fit my idea of them, but then again I just learned this word.

(All photos are copyright of their respective owners and are used for educational purposes.)

Lewisburg alleyway

This alleyway is off the square in Lewisburg, TN. It was a dreary day in November, so I’ve improved the pictures a little to show some color. Overall it was pretty grey.

I’m not sure what it is about negative spaces that are so appealing to me these days. This particular day I explored three of them.

We surmise that this is a defunct ATM. There was a “People’s Bank” to the right, built in 1904.



The light has the number 10 on it.

I like that this office has its entrance on the alley, not the street.


Playing adventure video games makes me notice details. But then it also makes me want to take everything not nailed down too.

Cool old stairs seen through the glass side door of the newspaper office.

Notice the guy wires to the right. They are attached to the electrical pole.

A more realistic idea of the lighting that day. Ginkgo leaves everywhere, but I didn’t find the tree.

A reflection from the marble of the ATM