In Back to Our Main Feature, I wrote that "the gifts nature bestows and the power she wields often feel secondary in a city like New York." Often, however, does not mean always, and even in the Big Apple, Mother Nature can show a dominant hand and deal a heavy blow - particularly, summer heat. As with other areas of the country, this summer has set all time records. Nothing is more oppressive than summer in the city - ambition to do anything withers in the blistering heat.
I had a friend that went to school in Miami, Florida. I asked how anyone could tolerate summers there. He assured me that no one spends time or walks outdoors - all human movement is from one air conditioned environment to another - car, store, home etc. The problem in New York City is that everything you do involves some walking. Even getting a taxi means standing in the street, sometimes with no success.
Subway platforms, although underground, offer no respite. They are subterranean infernos. The asphalt streets are like beds of lava, conducting heat to all who dare to stand on them. Tree shaded streets are few, and we walk in the shadows of buildings if the time of day is right.
Virtually everyone I have spoken to has had the same solution - stay in during the day, go out in the evening (if at all), and wait the heat wave out. Even in this fast paced city, where residents are undaunted by virtually anything, summer heat is suffocating and its effects visible everywhere and affecting virtually everything - shopping habits, work, and recreation.
For those who do not leave the city, heading for water is one solution, but New York City has few options. Sprinklers are sometimes mounted on fire hydrants for children. The beaches of Coney Island, Brighton Beach, Jacob Riis Park and Rockaway are popular. For those who do not live nearby, you could travel there, given that you are willing to make the long journey and be accompanied by (literally) a million other relief seekers. Buses are also available to places such as Jones Beach.
In Washington Square Park, the newly renovated fountain has been a water park both day and night for adults and children, with spectators sitting around the fountain's edge, watching the aquatic antics and cooled by overspray.
Lincoln Center's fountain (in today's photo) lures people in all year, and although immersion is not an option here, no matter how real or illusory its cooling effect is, at times like this, at least it's water...