Monday, September 19, 2011

Summer Fridays/Weekends 2011 - Summer Streets, Part 1

One of the more delightful NYC offerings that has gained in popularity in recent years is something called Summer Streets. For three Saturday mornings in August, Park Avenue, from 72nd Street south to the Brooklyn Bridge, is closed to vehicular traffic. Pedestrians, bikers, strollers, boarders, and wheelers of all shapes, sizes, and configurations are set loose to see the City from a different perspective.

I meant to go last year, so I marked my calendar to make sure I did it this time. I was especially motivated after walking down the middle of Lexington during the March for Babies. It really is a great way to see the City. For one reason or another, August slipped by and suddenly there was only one Saturday left! I made sure clear the calendar so there would be no excuses.

My idea was to get up and be in the City by 7:00 ish, so I could take the subway uptown and start at the beginning in the Park and head south, see Grand Central from the flyover, and the continue down and over the Brooklyn Bridge. I had invited R--- to go with me, and so compromised that we would meet at Grand Central at around 9:30 and head south. I figure some is better than none. I'll do half this year, and do more next year.

Unfortunately, as I got to Grand Central and checked my phone, R--- was just waking up! In Queens! Whoops. Time was a wasting. Summer Streets is only from 7:00 am to 1:00 pm. After a few texts back and forth, a new plan was in play. I would head out and she would keep me updated on her progress in rousting her roommate out of the bathroom, getting ready, and catching a subway to the City.

Honestly, that was okay with me. I walk fast and there was so much to see. I stuck to the sidewalks. The city streets were full of bikers, runners, and boarders. Pedestrians are in the way.

l-r: Looking north toward Grand Central, you can see the Met Life building; r: South scenes. Need motivation to keep exercising? H&M decided to give you some with a gigantic bikini-clad woman. (Gee thanks!)

l-r: The sign is misleading. Bikers on the left. RUNNERS on the right. The ennui from the patrons of Les Halles is palpable. I wonder what snark Anthony Bourdain would have to say about the views.

I also like meandering around semi-deserted City Streets on the weekends. With no hordes of workerbees or tourists around, you can scan your surroundings and discover vestiges of the City of the past. l-r: This sign is on the old New York Life Insurance Company building, which takes up a whole City block. The Interborough subway predates the current MTA system. r: I found the wizard of Park Avenue, on the old Schwarzenbach Building. Apparently, this is called the Silk Clock. He's amazing. Another reason to remember to look UP!

There were many rest-stops scheduled through out the route. If you decided to stop and rest for a bit, you could park your bike with the Bike Valet.

It was crazy near the Bike Valet. You had to keep your eyes open and alert to daredevil bike messengers zipping in to stop, but more alert for the weekend warriors who were out of practice in being polite to pedestrians.

l-r: Signs alerting residents to Summer Streets. r: I had to capture this Great Dane. It's not all hand-bag/designer drop-kick dogs in the City. Oh no. Occasionally you will see GIGANTIC dogs like Great Danes, Irish Wolfhounds, and Bernese Mountain Dogs roaming the streets. Who keeps a Great Dane in a New York apartment? This guy.

Before R--- realized it, I had managed to get to the Union Square Greenmarket. After taking in the views of the lovely flowers, I parked myself on a bench in the middle of the park to give my feet a rest and to rehydrate. It worked out perfectly, because R--- could take a subway and meet me there.

I also enjoyed the time spinning a yarn about the eye candy that decided to park within my line of vision. I sent this photo off to the blog Hot Guys Reading Books, because, well? Hello?! Plus, he distracted me from how much I really wanted this yarn but totally know I can't afford hand sheared, spun, and dyed skeins from probably organic sheep reared on an organic upstate farm.
R--- found me in the shade by the statue of Abraham Lincoln and we sent off south, looking up at the ever changing skyline.

l-r: R--- is not happy I took this photo, but it's really not about her. It's about the Bostonian infiltrating Pin-stripes territory who almost photo-bombed the snapshot. That is one brave Red Sox fan. Brave man, brave. Also brave? The Summer Streets volunteers who act as traffic cops with their tiny Stop/Go signs. I wonder how many of them almost got run over by the hard-core bikers or out-of-town delivery trucks?

Bikes of all shapes, sizes, hues, vintage, and um ... decoration.

l-r: I would like to note that the photo below left is not filled with professional models. Those are just extremely well-kitted New York children. Seriously, the kids have more style than I do. Who would have thought that this REI set-up would have been so timely? Good to review camping procedures and equipment at week before Hurricane Irene came bearing down on us. REI was out in full-force in SoHo. Apparently a new store is coming in soon, just in time for those kids who have been scaling the walls with boredom since school is out.

Look at the form on this kid.

As we wandered south, I was taking all kinds of photos, trying out various formats on the camera. I must have not flipped back from black/white for these, which is too bad. Gramps had form on his reclining bike, and the sandboxes were too cute down at the tip of the island near the courthouse steps made famous by many an episode of Law and Order.

Next stop? The Brooklyn Bridge!

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