West Harlem Piers Last Tuesday

Seagull sitting on a pylon at the West Harlem Piers

There’s a Fairways grocery right next to this pier, so when we go there to shop we like to walk out on the pier and look around for a while. The view is amazing! The Fairways there is pretty cool too, by the way. They have a huge room that is completely refrigerated. It’s odd because it’s like walking down a normal grocery store aisle, but there’s yogurt and butter sitting on the shelf.

Downtown-facing View from West Harlem Piers
Downtown-facing View from West Harlem Piers

Anyway, there’s a great view of the New Jersey side of the river from the pier. The view of downtown isn’t as good as what you see from Riverbank State Park on 138th – 137th Street, and it’s certainly not as good as the view from the middle of the George Washington Bridge, but it’s nice. The breeze is nice, especially on the pier over the water, and there are shaded benches to sit down on.

Chinese man flying a homemade kite.
Chinese man flying a homemade kite.

 

While we were there we saw two guys boxing. Some people were reading. Others were just passing through, like us. One really interesting old man was putting together a homemade kite using disposable wooden chopsticks (like from take-out) and a plastic take-out bag with the smiley face on it. It seemed to be working for him; he just couldn’t catch the breeze before we left to go to Fairways.

People sitting on the West Harlem Piers
People sitting on the West Harlem Piers

I love how the city is installing these small parks all along the waterfront. Last year this section was closed off. You see, it’s part of the Hudson River Greenway, a long running and biking track that will eventually encircle the entire island of Manhattan and link up with bridge paths leading to other cycling and running trails in other boroughs. I also thought the historical information presented on plaques mounted on the railing of the northern pier was a nice touch. It gives a brief history of the area and how it was used as a market. I didn’t really understand the short phrases on what looked like chopped up road signs in the greenery right across the street from Fairways though. There’s not enough context.

Seagull sitting on a pylon at the West Harlem Piers
Seagull sitting on a pylon at the West Harlem Piers

I’d really like to get bicycles for myself and my wife so we can spend an afternoon cycling around Manhattan, literally. Maybe next year. Summer is drawing to a close. We didn’t do as much as we wanted, but we did enough and we had fun, relaxed, and recharged.

Classes start again on Thursday. My first class of the semester is Friday, and then there’s a long weekend.

Burning Gas and Exploding Buildings in East Harlem

Smoke and Fire Coming From an Access Hole at 137 and Hamilton in Manhattan.

Yesterday, two buildings exploded in East Harlem because of a buildup of natural gas. I’m sure everyone is going to be trying their hardest to shift the blame onto someone else. Whoever winds up on the receiving end of that lawsuit is going to have a really bad day.

I feel bad for the families and friends of those who died and were badly injured in that explosion. I hope it doesn’t happen again, but I heard on NPR that the gas main by the building was installed in the 1880s and that’s not unique or unusual for this city. It’s like we’re sitting on a bomb that could go off at any moment as the infrastructure ages and fails.

Smoke and Fire Coming From an Access Hole at 137 and Hamilton in Manhattan.
Smoke and Fire Coming From an Access Hole at 137 and Hamilton in Manhattan.

When I was leaving City College yesterday evening, I saw smoke and fire coming out of an access hole in the road. The area was cordoned off with yellow tape and there were dozens of firemen and two trucks nearby.

Natural Gas Burning from an Access Cover in the Road in Manhattan

I stopped to watch for a while and took a short video. I can’t help but think it is somehow related to the buildings exploding across town, though I could be wrong. But, if those buildings exploded and burned then maybe the gas in the line caught fire also? The woman standing next to me was telling me that the lights in the school building there, P.S. 192, were flickering, so this fire was damaging the power lines as well.

Everything looked normal when I walked by today, though. I just hope the city does something to address the issue of aging gas pipes and starts taking complaints about smelling gas more seriously after this.

YougoHell

YougoHell
An old man holding a sign that reads “YougoHell”

Yesterday (Tuesday, December 12th), I was surprised to see this man standing on the corner of 137th Street and Hamilton Place in Harlem, Manhattan, just down the hill from the City College of New York CUNY and P.S. 325, a public elementary school.

When I walked up to the corner, a man standing by the vendor cart that’s usually there at the base of the hill selling drinks and snacks was screaming at this old guy, “No! You go to Hell!”  I couldn’t hear what the old man was saying clearly because I had headphones on, but I imagine he was saying, “No, you!” or something like that.  I don’t know if the guy was seriously offended by the old man’s sign, or if he was just doing it to agitate the old guy.

More than anything, I was wondering what happened that made this guy do this?  And who is his intended audience?  The only real foot traffic in the area that’s constant all day long is the flow of students to and from CCNY.  So, does he equate higher learning with sin?  And if he does, what higher learning it?  All of it, or just the social sciences and humanities?  And if he condemns all education, then … well, it would be ironic since he knows how to read and write, so I’m sure it’s something more specific than that.  It had to be personal though.  He wasn’t handing out literature like the religious dealers that peddle pamphlets using signs that threaten eternal torture.

He wasn’t there today.  At least, not when I walked through there.  I’d never seen him before, either.  I’m really not surprised.  This is New York City after all.  There’s always someone screaming about the apocalypse, screaming at someone, screaming at an imaginary person, etc. etc.  At least he had his pants on.