Posts Tagged ‘New York City’

Service of Keep off the Grass: Bryant Park & Bicycles in the Big Apple

Monday, July 8th, 2019

 

Photo: eventbrite.com

Bryant Park [photos above and to the right below] is one of my favorite places to roost at lunch in summer. There are kiosks selling food in the park and plenty of takeout places around it and the price is right when I bring the fixings from home. Sitting with a friend and a box lunch under one of many trees on a green folding chair with matching round table is heavenly. I pretend I’m in Paris.

I mentioned this to a pal who shared the following story. Her son had recently been in that park to grab a bite to eat. As he did so he laid his bike on the grass in the center of the park and, she texted, “Pretty soon a security guard came along and told him he had to remove his bike. My son protested citing a nearby couple with a giant stroller also on the grass. ‘A double standard’ said my son. The guard apologized and said that they can’t approach a family and ask them to remove a stroller [the size of a Smart Car]. But a single guy with a bike can be shooed away.” She ended with “It’s all about being PC I suppose.”

Photo: activerain.com

However, when it comes to this city, bicyclists are on the long end of the stick in most other ways. A community board just agreed to new protected bicycle lanes on Central Park West from 59th to 110th Street which will eliminate 400 parking spots–but the impact on residents is far more than the loss of parking. It has to do with pedestrian safety. As I’ve bemoaned countless times before, you walk at your own risk in this city if there are bikes around. I was almost smashed into by speeding bicycles two Saturdays ago during a mid afternoon walk from 39th Street and First Avenue to 23rd Street off 5th. One bike surprised me from behind on the sidewalk; the other paid no attention to the traffic light that was green in my direction and the rider, a woman, didn’t respond or apologize to my protest. She just kept going.

Central Park West Photo: nybits.com

Michael Riedel rides his bicycle to work. The WOR 710 morning radio show co-host said he got a $90 traffic ticket for hurtling through a red light and ever since has followed traffic rules. He agreed that many of his fellow bike riders are menaces because they ignore the laws.

Shouldn’t keep off the grass rules apply to all vehicles with wheels, bicycles and baby carriages alike? Similarly, shouldn’t bicyclists be held to the same standards as motor vehicle drivers when it comes to traffic laws? Before forcing citizens to pay exorbitant fees to park in garages or leave cars out of town shouldn’t the city first increase the capacity of its public transportation options? Do bicycles cause consternation where you live? Do you have favorite places to picnic where you live or work?

Photo: 123rf.com

Service of No Room at the Bar for Women: A New Kind of Discrimination

Monday, January 21st, 2019

Photo: grubstreet.com

I know men and women who, especially when eating alone, prefer sitting at the bar in a restaurant. Look at the images of comfortable seating that illustrate this post. Clementine Crawford, a well-travelled executive does and during many visits to the Big Apple she sat at the bar at her favorite watering hole: Restaurant Nello on Madison Avenue.

On her last stopover she was told to get up from the bar and to sit at a table. The bar was suddenly off limits to women alone at this Italian eatery–which  is no neighborhood pizzeria. Google touts it as a place “only for Jay Z or Russian billionaires,” which given its reputation for charging $275 for a plate of white truffle pasta is no surprise.

Photo: tastingtable.com

I read Stephanie Maida’s coverage of how this new rule was discovered. She highlighted Crawford’s experience from her essay, “The Night I was Mistaken for a Call Girl.” Quoting Crawford Maida wrote on guestofaguest.com: “‘I perched at my favorite seat at the bar and started to respond to all the emails that had arrived on the flight over,’ she explains. ‘A waiter approached – a familiar face, but oddly hesitant on this occasion. He advised – with evident embarrassment – that I was no longer permitted to eat at my usual spot and that I must now sit down at a table.'”

Men could eat alone at the bar Crawford observed on a second visit.

“Crawford learned ‘that the owner had ordered a crackdown on hookers’ and assumed management believed ‘upscale escorts working the bar lowered the tone of the place and would be less obvious if escorted behind a table.’”

Photo: Verbinet.com

Maida reported “She spoke to an owner, explained that she had been misidentified, and he responded ‘that he could run his business as he pleased, and that [she] was no longer welcome to eat at the bar, only at a table.’”

Having been evicted from my favorite perch I wouldn’t return to this place. This is New York City: We have 24,000 restaurants here, according to one estimate, and I’m sure a few would charge  hundreds of dollars for a plate of pasta to satisfy the insecure.

Restaurant Nello, with its bar rule, has propelled us back to the Victorian era. Was this a clumsy attempt by management to generate publicity? Do you like to eat at the bar? Why do people agree to subject themselves to such arrogance at any price? Have you heard of rules like this in other restaurants in this country?

Photo: lessings.com

Service of Neighborhood Characters

Monday, November 21st, 2016

Neighbor image for post 1 turned I’ve lived in Manhattan and Brooklyn much of my life and I’ve always noticed at least one mystery character in every neighborhood.

It’s no different today.

Nightly I walk home from the office on the west side of Second Avenue. There’s a stretch of restaurants with outdoor seating between 50th and 51st. All summer I noticed an elderly woman at the same spot, either working on a crossword puzzle or hunched over her mobile phone as she is in the photos above and below. There’s a drink on her table–maybe a cocktail–and a napkin on her lap. Perhaps she has already eaten or is waiting for her food as I’ve never seen a plate.

I noticed her because she was impeccably coiffed and expensively clad in a summer suit or dress with coordinated sweater, shoes and handbag–a different ensemble each time I saw her–and always alone. She was also much older than any of the diners around her.

Once I stopped to tell her I admired her fashion style and kept going. In summer, foot traffic is brisk on the slim slice of sidewalk that tables and chairs don’t hog. This doesn’t allow for hesitation by pedestrians rushing past in both directions.

It’s cold now but the outdoor tables were still in place last week and she was the only person at one of them in the lineup of restaurants one night. It gets dark early so she was sitting in obscurity, stooped over her phone, oblivious to passersby, honking and traffic. Her hair was windblown and instead of a drink, there was a coffee cup on the table.

I like to guess about neighborhood characters like this. Where does she live? What did she do for a living? Do her clothes fill all the rooms in her apartment or does she have many closets? It’s fun to make up positive stories.

Are there strangers who pique your curiosity in your neighborhood? Are they more obvious in a city as walking slows motion and better allows for observation than when you’re driving through town in a car?    Neighbor image for post 2 turned

Service of Visiting NYC in Summer

Thursday, July 3rd, 2014

NYC in summer

There are great things to do that don’t cost a fortune when you visit New York City at this time of year. Here are a few and some tips of what to watch out for.

UniqloCheck out free days/evenings at major museums like MoMA which has Uniqlo Friday nights or Brooklyn Museum’s Target free Saturdays once a month. [And visit Uniqlo on 5th Avenue and 53rd Street for fun clothes for women, men and children in a range of styles at moderate prices—downright inexpensive style if you catch a sale.]

Stroll Grand Central Station to see the remarkable architecture and on the ground floor a tourist information window with maps and useful free guides. There are plenty of shops—visit Cursive for gifts and cards—and kiosks with NYC-made merchandise as well as pricey food stalls upstairs and prepared takeout downstairs with plenty of seats. Mendy’s hotdogs are worth a detour.

Bryant Park ChairsThe price is right for a brownbag lunch in Bryant Park behind the 42nd Street Library. Find a chair and table under a tree, catch a breeze and watch the scene, a game of ping pong or bocce. A short stay is restorative.

Fruit stands all over the city sell cherries, raspberries, grapes, figs and more at amazing prices. If you’re near Union Square, drop in on Trader Joe’s wine shop on east 14th Street and the food store a few doors down for treats, serious food and polite service. If you want to stock up on a few cases of wine note that you can’t park for even a minute in front but ask a staffer to load your purchases on a hand truck. They’ll walk the cases to your vehicle.

As in all my favorite cities, walking is the best way to get around. New Yorkers can be testy when they can’t negotiate a cluster of people stopped in the middle of the sidewalk so best keep walking or go to the side to get your bearings or regroup. Read a map on the sidewalk and I bet someone will stop to guide you.

Staten Island ferry 2A ride on the Staten Island ferry is free; the view of lower Manhattan priceless.

Avoid taking rip off pedicabs. I’ve written about them and several times about the bicycle sharing program. I can’t recommend that tourists rent a bike unless they know the traffic rules and are used to riding in vehicular and foot traffic in a city packed with impatient residents.

NYC taxiTake care that your taxi is charging you the city rate. You’ll know if the meter is set at the higher suburban rate, wrote Rebecca Harshbarger in the New York Post, if you see a flashing “rate code 4” message on the TV screen in front of you. [I don’t recall ever seeing it.] She referenced a scandal four years ago when cabbies were caught stealing $millions by up charging the meter. Last year the Taxi and Limousine Commission [TLC] caught drivers overcharging 659 times vs. 2,000 the year before. “The agency uses a GPS-data algorithm that analyzes trip information to catch rogue drivers, who are then automatically hit with a summons,” wrote Harshbarger—a trend going in the right direction.

What are your must-visit places in NYC or best warnings for visitors and residents?

 nycfireworks

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