New York Daily Photo Analytics

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Mary Celeste

I have been frequently asked by visitors, "where do you get gas in the city? - I don't see any gas stations." Or, "are there any supermarkets?"
Blinded by the oversaturation of stimuli and the plethora of all things manmade, the last thing noticed in the city are the mundane, particularly those places that provide basic services. But all the basic services do exist, tucked away here and there, perhaps in atypical and unlikely places. Laundry, dry cleaning, shoe repair, auto repair shops, street level doctors' offices, hardware, paint supplies, plumbing supplies, lumberyards, gas stations, supermarkets, schools and palygrounds. The number of many of these has declined substantially as the real estate market has heated up, but they all can still be found.
One of the most mysterious things to me is the public and private schools. Virtually invisible, yet there are 1,400 schools in the five boroughs.
And children need to play. Here, at one of the busiest intersections in Manhattan, Houston Street and 6th Avenue, we have the Playground of the Americas. But you never really notice it. In fact, I have walked by this playground for years and this is the first time I have really looked at it.
Due to my daily work schedule, I rarely see school children in action in the city, so schools and playgrounds are like the ghost ship Mary Celeste to me - cigarettes still burning in the ashtrays and food still cooking in the stove, but the crew and passengers have vanished ...

Note: The story of the Mary Celeste is a fascinating tale - see story here.

5 comments:

Terry B said...

Another great post. When I lived in St. Louis and a friend from New York would visit us, anytime we went to the supermarket, he would always tag along, fascinated by the sheer size of this store in the city. He said the produce department was larger than the entire market where he shopped in Manhattan. And you're right--all the services are there in New York. They're just tucked into every available space.

Roseville Pottery said...

A lot of the supermarkets are subterranean.. or mazelike with with small entrances hiding a larger store. Gas stations are vanishing quickly though- there's probably half as many below 96th st. as there were just 5 years ago (which is not many to begin with).

An Honest Man said...

Surely not ashtrays in a children's playground?

All right, I'll duck before I get hit!

marley said...

I think we all miss looking at the things we pass by on a daily basis.

Anonymous said...

Funny you should choose this playground to illustrate your point.

http://www.pbase.com/czsz/image/41853645

- Chauncey