I have yet to regularly traverse beyond the perimeters surrounding The New School and NYU, between Union Square Park and Sixth Avenue, and E 16th and E 13th streets. (Though the recent weekend had me wandering much of SoHo for three days straight — another post to come, maybe, about this.)
The boundaries of this area are quite tiny in relation to all you have to offer a transplant wanting to learn all your secrets, but for the two months that I’ve graced this small area, traversing two of your subway lines regularly, and biking a monotonous route from Brooklyn, I’ve come to have some strong reactions towards you.
The people are both ugly and beautiful. But mostly, I find it unreal at times to find myself walking among what I’ve come to see as very health-conscious folks (or maybe it’s all that walking around they do?). It’s like the images of those magazines I don’t read IRL. When my sight line isn’t bombarded by art kids from Parsons, I observe and take mental notes on some fashion things to try for myself—separating the cosmopolitans of NYC from Middle America tourists.
The differences are pretty stark, and it’s an exercise in visual shock.
Your parks, or, in this case, Union Square Park (since I haven’t really been further than the New School and NYU campus areas), is a tranquil space, even when they’re packed. Usually inhabited by pitched tarps and tents filled with artisanal wares from local chefs, farmers, bakers, and the daily board games of chess, backgammon, etc., I usually forget that it’s a park. Although the concrete is nice for a slow navigation of the daily market, the lack of greenery is to be desired. The squirrels are fun to watch.
Oh, and the statue of our first president, George Washington, on a horse, is magnificent.
That art installation on 14th Street? Not so much.
Also, will there ever be a day when I won’t feel assaulted from your rotting smells? Just when I think I’ve gotten used to trash day, or after-rain sewage ponds, nope. I’m reminded of that which no person would want to think of: waste.
The putrid scent of rottenness, a reminder of the decaying of all things and the unsanitary nature that the city can be. Also the cigarette smells. Despite my revulsion when I smell such things, they remind me of home, getting caught up in a herd of smoking salary men in the wee-hours of the morning when trashmen traverse the streets and pick up leaking bags of waste.
That’s all I have for the moment. I look forward to finding out more of your mysteries in the coming months.