Service of When You Weren’t Looking

June 7th, 2021

Categories: Change, Pandemic, Taxi

New plaza where Vanderbilt Avenue used to be.

If you plan to revisit the Big Apple for the first time since last year you may notice that your favorite watering holes or gift stores are gone. But you’ll see lots that’s new such as a range of creative to clumsy semi-permanent street and sidewalk restaurants and florist satellites. All through the pandemic florists started selling coffee and snacks eaten at  tables and chairs in front.

Last week I was surprised by a plaza where a street used to be on Vanderbilt Avenue off 42nd outside Grand Central Terminal [photos above and below]. Cars lose with this transformation: They can no longer turn right, uptown, on Vanderbilt. But it looks nice.

Speaking of change, there’s a distinct lack of bright yellow accents on the city landscape–hardly any cabs anymore. I’ve noticed it on my walks as well as from my apartment windows where I see several blocks south on First Avenue. Turns out my observations are accurate. In “Where Did All The Yellow Cabs Go?” on Jack Denton wrote “Two-thirds of our yellow street-hail cabs are gone.”

He reported “Before the pandemic, some 10,500 yellow cabs — about 80 percent of the total number of taxi medallions issued by the city — were in the streets each day. During the peak of lockdown, in April 2020, that number was 982.”  The number continues to be around 3,500 as it has been since last summer.

Denton quoted Steve Gounaris who owns a fleet of 180 who said: “‘How are you going to make a car payment, medallion payment, insurance, workers’ comp, labor — when you’re putting them out there for less than what it costs you?'” To avoid considerable fees for maintaining a license, “$9,600 in car insurance, $2,500 workman’s compensation insurance, $400 commercial motor-vehicle tax,” fleet owners “Put their medallions ‘in storage'” by giving them back to the Taxi & Limousine Commission.

When you’ve returned to a town or city you’ve been forced to ignore for a year, or in reconnoitering your neighborhood, what changes–good and bad–have taken place?

Plaza outside Grand Central Terminal.


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10 Responses to “Service of When You Weren’t Looking”

  1. Kathleen Said:

    What a great look of Vanderbilt Avenue outside GCT.
    And in an Uber trip from NYC to Bronxville a few months ago the driver noted the loss of yellow taxis. He said that Uber and Lyft have taken over the yellow taxis. In minutes Manhattan finds a clean car easily.

  2. ASK Said:

    Where are all the shoemakers? My local guy shut down; even the big Drago Shoe Repair in the Port Authority Bus Terminal is closed with no sign of reopening. A minor complaint, no doubt, but as someone who wears narrow-width shoes, I find them almost impossible to find in retail stores and prefer to repair what I have rather than toss them.

  3. Jeanne Byington Said:


    Just heard on this morning’s local radio news that there is a shortage of drivers so that you won’t be getting an uber anytime soon either. Drivers have had to find other work or are still on unemployment according to the newscaster. Not a good situation as offices begin to open up and with it the need for transport other than public that is iffy at best. Yesterday I’d hoped to bus it home in the heat. Standing in the sun waiting for one didn’t appeal so I walked in the shade, taking my time, from 57th downtown. As I reached 42nd Street, there were two Second Avenue buses. Not good. It’s not only a time thing but a crowded vehicle issue as more people crowd in.

  4. Jeanne Byington Said:


    There was a good shoemaker in my neighborhood who had a personal crisis and had to close down. He told me his father still has a shop in the east 60s. I THINK the name is Andrade. And last I looked, there’s one in Grand Central Terminal to the immediate left of the uptown entrance on Lexington Avenue. Good luck! Between sneakers, cheaply made shoes and exorbitant rents in addition to fewer people with the skill not sure we can expect a turnaround in the industry. Wonder if there are shoemakers to whom you can mail your shoes?

  5. lucrezia Said:

    No change of scenery here on the outside, but when the masks come off, familiar faces will be missing. The virus took off with several victims, and others were swept off by unrelated causes.

    Some say life is about change. There’s no winning that argument.

  6. Hussein Ahman-Uttah Said:

    You are right, it’s a desert out there! I called both the Yellow Camel Co and the Checker Camel Co and they said it is a problem with the drivers.

  7. Jeanne Byington Said:


    We can’t duck change and not all of it is good as you have poignantly illustrated. For those who have lost their businesses and all their savings it must feel like the end of the world. For those who have lost friends and loved ones it’s worse–there’s no second chance.

  8. Jeanne Byington Said:


    It’s scary. The city used to be a great place to grow old as there were so many transportation options at hand as compared to the burbs where if you don’t drive you’re stuck. There are often no buses or trains within walking distance in the country and if a person can’t walk, then what? Taxi service may not be available when you need it etc.

    The city makes a big mistake to ignore its transportation gaps and dangers. It had better address the subway attacks, increase bus service and provide enhancements to car and taxi services. If not it will adversely impact tourism, entertainment and retail businesses in addition to literally crippling those with disabilities who depend on cabs to get around.

  9. Deb Wright Said:

    Great question! I notice in my town of 40, 000 that many small businesses have closed. If I walk to the Metra train station, I notice less gardens being tended in the same houses that I have passed by for years. I always look for moss roses that someone plants around the stop sign; this year they were not there. I do notice that there are more dog owners since the pandemic; almost every house on my street owns one or more dogs. I think that is a positive during the pandemic and after. Dogs are great ice-breakers! And, people are out walking more.

  10. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I love dogs and stop myself from patting the ones I pass on the street and speak with the ones that share an elevator ride if the owner appears to appreciate the interaction. I can’t tell whether I have more canine neighbors than before. When I admire a pooch on the street for being adorable or especially well dressed some welcome my comments and thank and others ignore me. Perhaps I shouldn’t say anything but out come words.

    As for the flowers, perhaps people didn’t want to shop for plants and didn’t order any online; their incomes may have been reduced or they moved to be with relatives and weren’t around to plant in spring. I check out the gardens of buildings on my daily jaunts. Seeing the flowers cheers me.

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