Sunday, October 21, 2007

Slice of Life

This little park tucked into the triangle intersection of 14th street 9th Avenue essentially sums up what I love and hate about NYC. This totally awkward zone was not only redesigned to help traffic flow but the additional 20 feet leftover was turned into a little space for people to sit in despite the constant traffic around them. This intersection was always a site of mass chaos congestion. It was too big and it was not a straight 90 degree turn which I think threw people off. Cars had to veer left to make the diagonal onto Hudson and/or go left onto 14th street while there was a sliver of the lane that allowed cars to go uptown as well. In brief, I used to navigate this intersection on a daily basis when I rode by bike to work. If I timed it right with lights and cars I sailed on through and if I didn’t, I saw flashes of my life slide by on the back of bus that was narrowing in on me and the truck in front of me, while horns blared.

I have always liked the quirkiness of this intersection that allows for the mini westside flatiron building but I can’t say I liked enough to want to sit inside of it while I sipped my coffee and read the paper. Like the streets and sidewalks in New York aren’t busy enough, but the number of outdoor café’s continues to increase and people wait for a seat which serves massive bus fumes along with their steaks and beer. I am among them at times. Yesterday I sat outdoors for lunch and between the barking west village dog, the thumping trucks and the roar of the subway just below us, my friend and I were shouting at each other half the time. It is funny and it is sad. As New York becomes more and more user friendly, these little pockets of “outdoor space” keep appearing, but the reality of this space tucked in between uptown and downtown traffic is depressing to me as well. How sad that this is what we are left with. Thanks in part to the ridiculous surge of ugly high rise condos there are no more open spaces. Smoking may be illegal in every bar and restaurant but you can still get your carbon monoxide high at your local outdoor cafe. Bon appetit.

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