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Sunday, May 19, 2024

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HomeColumnFirst Day of NYC's Phase 2 felt like a throwback to a Hot Summer Sunday in the...

First Day of NYC’s Phase 2 felt like a throwback to a Hot Summer Sunday in the 1970s

First Day of Phase 2 felt like a throwback to a Hot Summer NYC Sunday in the 1970s

A sign on a restaurant window.

Near the bottom of this page you’ll find a video taken during my drive through the city this day.
Below that, an image gallery of the day’s travels.

Walking through the streets of midtown felt exactly like the headline above. Homeless dotted the sidewalks along Times Square’s 42nd Street and some parts felt like the abandon of a time long gone had returned. Overturned news boxes, more vagrants, and the occasional passerby and boarded up storefront made me feel as if I’d just exited a time-warp.

Honestly though, the day felt the way I half expected Phase 1 to feel.

Two weeks earlier I was out and about and found very little that was new. It was just barely an improvement over the same sad emptiness I’d felt for weeks during all my previous outings. The MTA would brag about the big rise in ridership. You’d never have known it that day. Honestly, you still wouldn’t on this first day of Phase 2.

Yes, there were more people on the streets but the numbers were no indication that people were actually coming to the city to do anything important. If offices were opening then it wasn’t apparent. If stores were opening you still wouldn’t know it.

Empty train car on my way to midtown from 110th Street. Near empty platforms, near empty trains in both directions.

The only thing new were the tables and seats to be found outside restaurants. ‘and I had to go out of my way to find those. 8th Avenue from the 40s to the 50s had little going on, but there was clear sign along 9th that food service establishments were gearing up for a show!

Going into this, I was hesitant to accept that it would work. I imagined restaurants commandeering sidewalks leaving little room for their pathways. On the prior day we’d found ourselves strolling through the town of Pelham, NY which was already at Phase 2. A couple blocks within that town had so many tables and chairs on the sidewalk that pedestrians were forced to either take to the streets or cross to the other side’s sidewalk. But no, that wasn’t the case with what I’d seen in this part of Manhattan. That’s a good thing.

The only thing I’m concerned about are the tables being set up on the actual streets. I asked my other half to join me sometime in dining on the street. Thoughts of an automobile crashing into diners were spoken out and so, I was turned off now as well.

Outdoor seating on the street itself. Yikes!

I would have to come back in the evening for a better reflection of what’s really happening. ‘but then, one has to keep in mind how this phase should last only two weeks as long as the city’s health metrics stand up and the virus continues to be contained. After that, indoor dining (with limited capacity) would be allowed. I’m betting the Mayor’s merely hoping we make it through the next two weeks without incident. That’d explain his complacent approach to any related enforcement. Yes, he was asked about this recently and his response revolved around one word: “Trust.”

Getting on, I could’ve ventured further on foot but the temps had reached into the 90s and it was getting late. I needed to make time for a drive through the city from 110th Street where my car was parked.

BTW, up at 110th by the Harlem Meer things were pretty peaceful. Earlier in the afternoon, there were fewer folks there than I recall seeing in the past. My subway ride back up there during the hour was in an almost empty train car. Back at the Meer you could see many more bicyclists and runners  in Central Park, but again, no more than I recall ever seeing at this time.

Driving down through the city was peaceful enough. Oh yeah, there are heck of a lot more automobiles all over town. That IS one big difference and maybe, the ONLY big difference. There are those occasional pockets of emptiness one comes across but for the most part, the city’s overall traffic is much more active.

I found nothing surprising in my southbound ride. Even took a turn down Astor Place in the village. The restaurants along that street felt tight but manageable with tables here and there in a somewhat comfortable looking setup.

All and all, the city’s far from coming truly alive. As I mentioned in another posting, it may be awhile before people are out and about in full force. Heck, it may be awhile before folks are heading back to work, that is, IF they actually have any work to get back to.


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