Posts Tagged ‘Manhattan’

Service of Low and No Cost Giving in NYC

Monday, November 27th, 2023

We’re lucky in Manhattan because in addition to volunteering, there are countless ways to help others at little or no cost in time or treasure.

I pass by the UN and through Grand Central Terminal countless times a week where there are out of towners galore. If you want to make tourists happy, ask if you can take their pictures. They are easy to identify. There’s usually one taking a photo of a group or another person or trying to squeeze into the shot via selfie. I always take one showing the building or iconic symbol behind them such as the information clock in Grand Central and then a few closeups of the group. They are generally beaming, and I think they’d appreciate the capture of their joy. And I like to imagine, when they look at the picture, that they will think how friendly New Yorkers are.

Walking west on 39th Street the other day I saw a young man coming towards me carrying four paper shopping bags bulging with groceries. One ripped scattering his purchases all over the sidewalk. He scrambled to keep the other three upright as he lunged for his veggies, fruits and cartons. I was on my way to grocery shop and had an extra bag—from Home Depot—that I gave him. He said “thanks” and I walked on. [The bright orange bags weigh little, carry a lot and if you wear black, help drivers in cars, scooters and bicycles see you when you cross streets in the dark.]

People puzzling over their phones are often looking for a landmark, restaurant or store. It takes a second to stop and ask if you can direct them.

What other low and no cost ways do you help others?

Service of When You Weren’t Looking

Monday, June 7th, 2021

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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