new york

A New York Decade in the Making: Juggling the changing city sidewalks

A New York Decade in the Making: Juggling the changing city sidewalks

 nyc steam vents

I have been at my current agency for ten years now. Happy anniversary to me, I suppose.   Ten years is a rather long time. I am not too sure people do anything anymore for ten years. What percentage of marriages last ten years nowadays? Shoot, nowadays a good 20% of people ages 25 and older have never been married.   When I first went out into the workforce, two years was considered a good enough amount of time to stay at a particular workplace. I suppose the television cast of Friends stayed at their workplace for ten years. Of course, they were paid a million dollars an episode to stay. Who wouldn’t stay at that rate? Seriously, though, how many television shows last ten years? I know Americans are unique in that way in that we prefer long-showing serialized experiences. Some of our soap operas have lasted 30 years. Imagine that phenomena happening anymore.

Yes, ten years is a long time in our collective experience. A decade! Does that count as a ring around the tree? This decade has been one of surprises. I don’t believe I could have seen it coming back then.

Ten years ago, I had just come back to my beloved New York. I lived near Ground Zero when it was still not so full. Now, you can barely move an inch without bumping into someone (namely a tourist) down there.   There were still many “mom and pop” (or boutique) stores New York.   Now SOHO is filled with big box stores. Gentrification has hit the beloved New York City of old very hard. How did that happen? Now there are mobile boutique stores in New York that follow the food truck model.   These mobile stores are definitely cute part of New York but odd. We now have bike racks everywhere in New York where people can rent a bike for a New York minute.   Thus, there are now more bikers around to run over those speed walking New Yorkers on the sidewalks as well as tourists.

The area near the grand Macy’s store has changed with areas sectioned off where no cars can get by. That is fabulous indeed. However, now cabs have to take often long-circuitous routes back downtown.   Further, now tourists can mill about even longer in that area. It has become that most New Yorkers (unless they live in Hell’s Kitchen) just don’t walk through the 34th to 42nd street area.   No more walking by the seedy storefronts. Now it’s all Disney-land like.

Oddly enough, the block on which my agency resides has pretty much stayed the same.   Every week there is a new film or television show filming on that block. We have gotten used to the trucks and tourists taking photos of the scene.   Every three months or so a new antiques store opens and then closes. The dog walkers keep walking the cutest dogs on by. Now, though, we have both the dogs and some individuals pooping on the sidewalk.   At least the dogs have someone picking up their dog poop.

This past decade, contrary to all my past experiences and beliefs about New York, there have been numerous odd weather phenomena. I always believed that New York, weather wise was perfect. It has all four seasons. It doesn’t have to worry about hurricanes, earthquakes, and tornados. Then, I experienced a pretty large earthquake that shook my book shelf to and fro. There was a superstorm named sandy that hit us hard.   I was displaced for 8 days. There was a small tornado that touched down in Brooklyn.   We even had snowtober for Halloween once. Global weirding has come to New York.

Speaking of weird. The park near my job now features installation art that changes every two months or so. It makes it an adventure to walk through the park.   Now, there is also no smoking allowed in the park. Sometimes the tourists don’t realize that rule and go ahead and light up to only have a snarky New Yorker chastise them. The tourists, though, still and can snap up photos of the fat squirrels that dare to climb onto people sitting on the park benches.

Despite all the changes that have occurred in New York, the squirrels stay the same. They are daring, cunning and cheeky. They don’t need post-it notes to find food.  Nice to know we still have the squirrels to keep us somewhat tethered to the past. Go cheeky squirrels!

9 replies »

  1. I dare say by the time I get to actually see New York, it may well be a mirror image of all other cities, such is the compulsion of humans to all want the same.
    Alas, I’m sure it still is a great place and provides much comfort to many. B


  2. New York City is a vibrant city – was, and will be. Change causes vibrancy, IMO. It has life which comes from the various peoples who inhabit the city. I think it’s wonderful. I’ll never forget the feeling for the city I had while I worked in Manhattan. So alive!


  3. Haven’t been to NYC since a Thanksgiving visit in 2006 with my daughters’ old Girl Scout troop just after we’d moved to TN. Most of the things you mentioned as new in 10 year were things I didn’t see so probably didn’t exist then. Gives me more reasons to go back sometime, I guess. BTW – Do you know the names of some of the shows/films that have used your office location? I’d love to see if I could get a feel for that locale from watching. What part of town is it?


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