Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Summer Weekends 2012: Scenes from Summer Streets

I really like participating in New York's Summer Streets. It's a great way to really see New York from another vantage point and get a new perspective on all kinds of New Yorkers.

This year, I walked a new portion of the stretch (96th to Union Square), and also walked southward while the other participants were moving northerly. Even though it was only a few hours into the morning, some "people" were already doggone tired.

I would just like to mention that these people walking their dog on the left here were actually NOT in the right lane. There are areas for those on foot, those slower on foot, and the wheeled crew. There were also designated rest areas, but the people above on the right had pooped out before they got there.

One of the rest stops just north of Grand Central on Park Avenue had people learning how to do Tai Chi, or hanging out for photo ops on the big inflated couch. Not pictured were the people taking advantage of the rest stop's proximity to a large church to run in, confess, take in a bit of inner peace, light a candle or two, or stay for mass.

One of the best parts of Summer Streets is being able to get up close and personal with Grand Central Terminal - going around the building on streets normally reserved for cars. On the left, the view as we enter the southbound stretch. On the right, looking back toward the Helmsley building. It was so much fun to "pull over," and take pictures of 43rd and 42nd streets looking West towards Times Square - but you did have to make sure a biker didn't take you out.
From this close, you can really make out the details of the Beaux Arts architecture on Grand Central - and note the GCT logo intertwined in the wrought-iron piece over the door.

The height and width of the windows is really amazing too. It's really almost too bad that the skyscrapers have surrounded and obscured the amount of light that streams into the center of the Terminal. Here's some perspective: cyclists, windows, and building

There was a lot of bird watching going on that morning. But it was so hot and hazy, you had to keep moving to get a breeze. Flying away from Grand Central ... to spots further south.

Near the 25th "rest stop" I came across these cuties checking out - Well, I'm almost as confused as they are by this rare bird. But, I have the Internet to tell me that he's the mascot for GreeNYC. I love their expressions.

I know I've mentioned before that I like to find little things that are interesting or amusing on my various perambulations around New York. Did you know that mid-town used to be the country? Apparently it was also the site of some Revolutionary War action - where the colonists and Royalists butted head over freedom (see what I did there?). Actually, the stags were on another building, but I can't remember where on my walk on Park they were.

Eventually I ended up at Union Square where interesting plaques like this one are walked over by millions of tourists and completely missed. Seriously, until I spotted this and then did research, I'm not sure even I knew that there are 22 set in the ground around the plaza. They are hard to spot, with the various Farmers Market stalls set up, and people running around to get seasonal produce. After a long hot walk, you get fixated on food - and all the varieties and colors.

I started thinking about making salsa, pico de gallo and gazpacho after seeing all these beauties. Instead I treated myself to a scone (I felt I deserved the carbs after that walk), ducked into the subway station and headed home for a long cold shower.

I only did one of the three Summer Streets this year, for all that I talked about doing other stretches of it to see lower Manhattan and the Brooklyn Bridge from another angle. However, due to the overwhelming success, the City is already planning the 2013 dates and I will be there -- with better sneakers!

Who wants to fly to New York to walk with me? Usually the first three Saturdays in August! Save the Dates.

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