Walkabout Manhattan

I had planned on going to the MOMA early Saturday morning, but it was a beautiful day and decided to go for a walk instead. Starting at the Broadway/Lafayette subway station — roundabout First Street, if all the streets had numbers instead of names, I meandered up Broadway and Park Avenue toward the museum.

For a student of both architecture and the human condition, I always find walking cities a restful and thought-provoking way to explore. The first you-ain’t-going-to-see-that-in-Rutland sight was a man in his 50s or 60s, dressed in a striped sailor shirt, a flat, woven hat, flip-flops and what looked like women’s utilitarian white panties, legs bare to the 45-degree weather, pedaling a lavender child’s bicycle, complete with pastel streamers on the handlebars, in aimless patterns up and down the street.

When I got to Union Square (14th and Park Ave.) I wandered into the Saturday morning farmers’ market, adding a touch of home to the day. Prices weren’t actually all that bad, although the selection is a lot smaller than in Rutland. But the basics remain: a row of tents against the wind and sun/rain/whatever, tables covered with produce, scales, cashboxes and smiles all around.

A little farther along at another little street market, I stumbled across a booth for Green Mountain Energy, which sounded like something I ought to know about. Turns out it’s got no connection to Vermont — it’s a way for New Yorkers (and residents of a handful of other cities) to support electricity generated by wind farms in Texas that dwarf anything Vermont would ever permit.

An aside — other than that chimerical appearance and the people I was in New York with, and for, the only Vermont connection I saw was a tap for Magic Hat No. 9 in the bar and grill we went to after the showing of Art Jones’ film on Friday night. Wanting to support Vermont but not wanting to snub our host, I very democratically had a pint of No. 9 and one of Brooklyn Lager over dinner.

By the time I got to 53rd and Fifth Ave. on Saturday morning, the lineup at MOMA was well down the block. While I was balancing the benefits of one of the world’s great museums vs. seeing more of one of the world’s great cities, the guy at the back of the line held up his cell phone and asked the attendant whether he could skip the line if he bought his tickets on the web and picked them up at the will-call booth. The answer was yes … I wonder how long before the line at the will-call booth is as long as the one in front of the museum.

I finally skipped the museum in favor of lounging in Central Park, people-watching in the sunshine, listening to the carriage drivers patter in seemingly every accent on the planet … so this is Central Park … it’s the most-visited park in the nation … where are you folks from … what brings you to the city … three hundred acres … on our left, you can see … .

Lunch was a bowl of bulgar and a salad, topped with chicken, tzatziki and feta cheese, at a shawarma/falafel joint on Seventh Ave., which required strenuously avoiding the seductive, carnivorous delights of the many delis on my random trail, then back to the park to kill a half-hour before I headed to the train.

On the way back to Penn Station, I wandered into Times Square, a place I just don’t get … it’s like a strip mall with tourists, gawking at the gawkers. Then the station, the train and home. One last thought … if the delegation ever does get the money to open the western rail corridor to Burlington, it will cut half an hour or more off of the last stretch of the ride, with the tracks able to support more than a jogging pace. But it will mean not seeing or hearing signs for a train to RUTLAND VT in Penn Station: a price of progress I think would be worth paying.


1 thought on “Walkabout Manhattan”

  1. That sounds like a wonderful day, wandering around the city. I’ve always wanted to do that. I love your posts. Keep them coming.


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