Posts Tagged ‘NYC MTA’

Service of Pride of Place: NYC My Hometown

Thursday, September 26th, 2019

View from my apartment

Considering I was born in NYC, have lived here most of my life and I love the place I’m surprised that in the 11 years I’ve written this blog the city hasn’t grabbed even more lines.

New York is like anything or anyone I love: it makes me burst with pride and yet it can irritate me as well.

I was giggling in a Seventh Avenue subway recently because of the conductor’s quirky comments. As he announced each stop he also identified a lineup of key landmarks–which is unusual–and his comments were clever and refreshing. When I got out at 72nd Street heading for the stairs, as the car with his cubby passed me, I gave him a thumbs up. He smiled in response and tooted his horn twice. Made my day.

On the other hand, I don’t always have such luck with the bus system. Astronomical waits on major arteries and avenues followed by a clump of busses is trying. [If you live and work as far east as I do, the walk to the subway–my usual transportation option–doesn’t always make sense especially if your destination is also way east.]

In addition, identifying where the bus stop is can be a challenge. Last weekend I watched a local bus sail by on Madison Avenue as I stood next to a bus shelter [photo right]. Guess the shelter at that spot was decorative and had nothing to do with a NYC bus.

Bryant Park

When the subway’s executives whine about lack of funds, it comes as a surprise to see a very long line outside a booth with two windows and mics and only one MTA worker in it–as at a crucial hub: Grand Central/42nd Street. I was in that line recently and a tourist, staying at the Roosevelt Hotel I learned as we chatted, asked me in her charming Scottish accent: “Why is there only one worker in that booth?”  Good question given that 98 percent in the line were buying MetroCards. The do-it-yourself kiosks had even longer lines. Me to the MTA: Consider adding a few more kiosks where people are spending money, OK?

I’ve bragged previously about Bryant Park where I love to eat lunch. Once needle park, today the space welcomes locals and tourists who bring food–or buy a snack at a local takeout. There are plenty of trees, tables and chairs and a brisk turnover so it’s easy to find a spot.

I have an argument with restaurants and small retail businesses located on avenues here. Dollars to donuts they don’t identify the cross streets on their websites and it drives me NUTS figuring it out. Shakespeare & Co. does it right. They are at 939 Lexington Avenue and on the web they add “between 68 and 69th Streets.”

What is it about your town or city–or about NYC–that you love and what exasperates you?

 

Bryant Park

Service of When Technology Lets You Down—Or Is It The People Running It?

Tuesday, May 30th, 2017

Playing Bus Catch

I was depending on a bus to get me inches from our apartment one Saturday morning. The stops for the so-called First Avenue and 42nd Street Limited aka express bus and the local are almost a block apart and neither are on 42nd. An electronic sign reporting the whereabouts of upcoming busses [photo above] stands between them.

I ran away from the local stop to read the sign. Great: The local bus I’d hoped for was two stops away. When I turned around to walk back, the local was just pulling out of the stop. I whirled around and just then the sign changed from “2” to “0” stops. I’d missed the bus. So what was the point of the electronic sign?

Guessing at Travel Schedules

A day later I was upstate heading into the Metro North Dover Plains station’s parking area half an hour early. Two busses were leaving and I waved at one of the drivers who didn’t stop. Without advance notice [the day before there was nothing online about busses replacing trains on Sunday], the RR line substituted a bus for the first lap of the trip to NYC.

So what, you say? This switch makes a big difference to riders: when the 12:37 train changes to a bus, departure is at 12:03. The next bus? Two hours later at 2:03 according to an MTA employee who saw me and my car and the busses and sat like a lump in a white sedan with MTA logo.

I jumped out of my car where I’d stopped it to wave down the bus driver and rushed over to him asking if he could stop the bus. He shrugged. He didn’t even say “I’m sorry.”

[One of the other passengers noted that the online info on Sunday, when the MTA got around to posting the change, reported a 2:06 bus departure. If you’re on the wrong side of the 2:03, three minutes matter.]

Missing Adult & Information

In the course of that weekend, I was driving through Dutchess, Putnam and Westchester counties, the Bronx and Manhattan as well as around Long Island. I saw the same electronic sign on all the highways asking drivers to look for a “missing adult in a black Honda.” On Saturday the license plate number given was longer than any I’d ever seen: Clearly a mistake. By Sunday this was fixed. What didn’t change was the “adult” reference. Were they looking for a man or woman?

Can you share examples of where technology—or the person operating it–has let you or someone else down?

Service of Leave it Alone, Already

Monday, July 11th, 2016

Waldorf Astoria

Waldorf Astoria

I thought, “Why did they have to pick on this house to ruin?” I’ve written before about the Brooklyn Heights house that had one thing going for it: All of the original plaster and woodwork were intact, which was unusual. We didn’t get the house but revisited it during a house tour. The new owners had stripped away every trace of original architectural element and transformed the 19th century brownstone into a 20th century monument to the innocuous and bland.

Wall Street Journal Urban Gardner columnist Ralph Gardner Jr. similarly mourned the news of the Waldorf Astoria’s conversion to condos and reminded us of the Plaza’s—that took the soul out of the place. In “Another Condo-Conversion Casualty The Waldorf Astoria is going the lamentable way of the Plaza,” he spells out his prediction.

He pointed out that Paris and London have their grand hotels and now New York no longer will have any. Like fortunate people of a certain age who grew up in NYC or visited, he reminisced about having lunch at the Plaza with his father when he was a child. I remember tea with my mother.

Vintage photo of Plaza Hotel. Photo: boweryboyshistory.com

Vintage photo of Plaza Hotel. Photo: boweryboyshistory.com

“These days the Plaza feels like the victim of some genteel version of a neutron bomb—the property remains intact but the people are largely missing.” Gardner wrote, and he asks: “Aren’t there enough shiny new billionaire condo developments rising along 57th Street and Central Park South to satisfy demand? Must we squander our inheritance?”

A few days before Gardner’s article, the New York Post covered the demise of the Campbell Apartment. In “Cocktail Shakeup at Grand Central Terminal,” Julia Marsh and Laura Italiano reported that the 1920s glam office-turned vintage bar–and Mark Grossich—lost the lease after 17 years. Grossich’s rent was $350,000/year and he offered $800,000 on a 10-year lease, but  Scott Gerber, who said he was approached by MTA advisors and didn’t seek out the property, will pay $1.1 million/year. Grossich said he’d counter offer on the highest bid plus 2.5 percent. He said the MTA told him: “They way overbid you. We can’t do that.”

The reporters wrote that last year “the MTA began aggressively overhauling Grand Central’s restaurants and bars hoping for higher rents and ever-more-high-end lease holders.”

Campbell Apartment. Photo: alamy.com

Campbell Apartment. Photo: alamy.com

After years of neglect, Grossich restored the space almost two decades ago. It had served for a while as a “pokey; a cell for all the wastrels and drifters that came through Grand Central.” He spent $millions. Marsh and Italiano described him as a “master of the timeless, intimate cocktail lounge, temples to single-malt scotch, fine cigars and tufted upholstery.”

The new lease holder “plans to modernize.” Marsh and Italiano described what Gerber—who runs “hip, jangly and galvanic lounges”—has in mind. It will be “something less Brooks Brothers, more limited edition sneakers and Gucci-T-shirts.” He caters to athletes, musicians and celebrities who don’t wear jackets. The space is landmarked, so he can’t touch the walls, ceiling or windows. “But he’s installing a costly new stone bar top, new bar and kitchen equipment, a new heating and air conditioning system.” He’ll add chandeliers, high-tech lighting and instead of big band tunes Gerber promises “eclectic music.”

Funny. Americans travel the world to visit and admire ancient ruins, churches, mosques, estates, chateaux and celebrated historic landmarks but they don’t seem to have the same sensibility about their own history. Increasingly the past is considered fuddy duddy and proponents are fatally old fashioned and terminally wrong. And there are fewer and fewer places for them to enjoy around here. Why is this? Will we eventually be sorry? Will you miss NYC’s last grand hotel? Does the city need yet another luxury condo?

Fendi leather Bugs, $1,000

Fendi leather Bugs, $1,000

 

Service of Questions

Monday, February 1st, 2016

questions 5

I have two questions that Google doesn’t answer and a third that you might not find on Google for good reason but it’s something you might like to know.

Henny Penny

I can’t remember ice falling from skyscrapers after a storm when I grew up in NYC but that might be because I didn’t live or go to school in neighborhoods with very high buildings. Or maybe I blocked it out.

Henny PennyMy question is: How come architects building structures in NYC today can’t come up with a way to stop this from happening? My office building had staff remove snow from the roof after the recent storm so nobody would get hurt. On the Sunday after 27-inches of snow fell on NYC we took a walk and were surprised by chunks of ice crashing on to sidewalks throughout midtown. This isn’t the first time yet many of the buildings we passed have been built in the last 10 years.

Partnerships

I [and thousands of others] had the looniest time getting on and off NYC busses three days after snowstorm Jonah. On Third Avenue between 43rd and 42nd Streets, ice several feet high lined the curb. Passengers jumped off the bus into deep slush and sloshed from 43rd  to 42nd in the street while oncoming traffic splashed them with icy mire. We couldn’t mount the sidewalk until we reached 42nd and turned the corner. It was as messy as it was dangerous.

Snow January 2016 004I was horrified on my walk home that night to see people with two choices to reach the steps of a bus. They could drench their feet to above their ankles in an icy soup or walk away from the bus, up the sidewalk to the corner and wobble through foot-high ice with a few footprints made by previous pedestrians and then quickly negotiate a tricky walk down the slippery street, in the dark, to the bus’s door. I realized what was happening when I approached the stop and saw an elderly woman, with a cane, who was attempting the latter option. Thankfully she’d made it by the time I got there.

Six days after the storm I came upon a dozen workers with shovels and a giant snowplow on a little used street. Most of the workers were hanging out [see photo below]. Clearly the city isn’t up to the task.

My question is: Why doesn’t the Metropolitan Transit Authority, with the city’s cooperation,** enroll the help of businesses or landlords to get them to clear/maintain three foot slits in snow/ice at bus stops that are in front of their property and keep it free of slush? **The city would compensate cooperating businesses through tax rebates.

Unintended Consequences

Santa gave my husband a Uniglo Heattech tee-shirt for Christmas to keep him warm. According to the Uniglo website, “The moisture-wicking fabric retains heat and also features anti-odor properties to keep you feeling fresh even when you sweat.”

Heattech T Shirt

Heattech T Shirt

But for him, Heattech, launched in Japan some 13 years ago, does something else that the company cannot promote on Google.

My husband suffers from a rash on his shoulders which itches all the time. A cream called Sarna works for about an hour but then the itching returns. However, when he wears his Heattech shirt, he doesn’t itch all day.

I read that the fabric also contains Camellia oil which according to an article on majoritymagazine.com, stays in the fabric up to 30 washes. This oil is said to help retain moisture. His dermatologist, who had not encountered Uniglo Heattech before, has suggested that if the textile retains moisture, that’s what alleviates the dry skin condition which causes the itch.

According to the magazine, “Due to Japan’s pharmaceutical laws, Unglo can’t officially claim that the presence of Camellia oil helps to retain moisture.” Uniglo probably can’t promote this wonderful health benefit here for the same reason: it would have to put the fabric through excruciating tests to prove and therefore promote such a claim.

Do you have questions that even Google hasn’t answered or surprise benefits of products you like?

NYC snow cleanup team.

NYC snow cleanup team.

 

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