Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Crosstown Traffic

New York City residents have long enjoyed reputations as walkers and I’m happy member of that group. For the past two and a half years there was usually a trusted friend in either my pocket or my hand. That friend has transformed many Sunday walks into many DKos photo diaries. Time has caught up with my little friend in low light situations. Now I have a brand new friend to accompany on my village walks but I've gone over to the dark side. Hopefully this little fluff piece, the swan song for my Canon G-10, will serve as a proper send off to my favorite compact camera.

I just spent the previous week working my favorite job of the year. I was setting up the Music of Lindberg, Lunsqui and HK Gruber. Working in the Metropolitan Muesum is such a pleasure, all the players involved were great company and HK Gruber's Frankenstein!! was amazing. My favorite part was the fact that each rehearsal day either started or ended on the West Side and included a crosstown commute.

I'm not sure why New Yorkers love to walk so much. Often it's a social event. Walking two abreast seeing the sights, viewing the lights and hearing the sounds, there is always something interesting to discuss. Great joy can be found in the chance to look more closely at what is going on around you. Or as Henry David Thoreau put it "Me thinks that the moment my legs begin to move, my thoughts begin to flow."

New York walkers are quick. Even when you have no place to go, outside of the Times Square tourist blockade, the pace is always fast. Jaywalking is the only time pedestrian traffic gets anywhere near the dull pace of an automobile but even then there are airborne Pinkberries and cursing out Taxi drivers as opposed to the "Big Gulp" cup holder and talk radio. I think the best comparison between the urban hiker and the Chevy Suburban can be seen in texting. People almost always stop walking to play with their telephones.

Of course the sense that everything is just a few footsteps away contributes to New Yorkers' reputation as colorful hikers but the crosstown walk almost always seems like a necessity. Perhaps the highly efficient subway system has spoiled all of us going either uptown or downtown and when we need to go crosstown, it’s “feets don’t fail me now” time for an impatient population.

I don’t think it is really because the crosstown bus is so slow and I don’t think all of those commuters pouring out of Grand Central and the Port Authority with sneakers on the feet and high heels in the pocketbook are all about physical fitness. I think the reason we walk is because walking the streets of New York is such a visual treat.

Friday's crosstown walk, nothing spectacular, just a one hour tour with a camera that gave me over 100,000 photos, began at the Hudson River. Actually it began at Riverside Drive but I took a few steps to the left for a view of the blue sky horizon.

Paying my respects at the western end of 72nd Street. I wonder what Eleanor Roosevelt would think of the state of the nation today?

A little Manhattan trivia, the easternmost point of the island is the "FDR Drive." Since the westernmost point of 72nd Street is a statue of Eleanor Roosevelt facing east,

Do what you feel in your heart to be right - for you'll be criticized anyway. You'll be damned if you do, and damned if you don't.
- Eleanor Roosevelt

I like to think of this street, the same drive that has "The Angel of the Water" as a midpoint, I like to think of 72nd Street as a family portrait of Democratic values.

Looking back toward the western end of 72nd Street, the beginning of Riverside Park that is guarded by Eleanor Roosevelt and New Jersey in the distance.


Kiosk contrail.

The center of the square and Gray's Papaya. Actually two squares at the intersection of Broadway, 72nd Street and Amsterdam Avenue. To the north is Verdi Square and across the street is Sherman Square. Both were once known as by local drug users and dealers as "needle park."

WTF? The present Panic in Needle Park.

"They call him 'Tony Two Times' because he says everything twice 'Time to get the papers, get the papers.'"

Thus quotes the raven...

Fred Astaire to the left and the Bloomberg Lounge is on the right.

"Hey you guys feel like giving me a lift to the Metropolitan Museum?"

Well there is the Holiday spirit. Happy Chanukah.

The entrance to "The Dakota." This photo was actually taken on December Eight.

The 72nd Street entrance to Central Park, a study of glistening pavement.

First stop Strawberry Fields for a study of peace.

The stains in the mosaic tiles are from candle wax when the people gathered to remember John Lennon on December Eight.

The walk from Strawberry Fields down to the Lake.

Looking back at Strawberry Fields with the Dakota hidden in the trees.

If you are a tourist and having trouble keeping up with the New York walkers, we have options.

Or you could ride in style.

The Lake on a perfect Central Park day.

The Angel of the Water waiting for the fountain to flow again in the springtime.

But still watching out for the passers by on the Bethesda Terrace.

Time to veer north toward the Conservatory Water and the path to the museum.

The building to the right is Mary Tyler Moore’s home, also the home of the world’s most famous red-tailed hawks. look closely and you can almost make out the nest of Pale Male above the top center window.

The sky over the Conservatory Pond is starting to look interesting.Well okay I played around with it a bit,

Time to go to work but first a quick stop to see what Alice is up to.

Da Bears.

Art outside the museum.

And finally, work sweet work.

What do you think? Not to shabby for a one hour tour with a camera on its last leg.

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