The office building I work in is at Bowling Green. According to the New York City Parks website, “Bowling Green is New York City’s oldest park. According to tradition, this spot served as the council ground for Native American tribes and was the site of the legendary sale of Manhattan to Peter Minuit in 1626.” So, the area is a popular tourist attraction. The Smithsonian’s Native American museum also faces this park.
The most popular attraction in the park seems to be the Charging Bull rather than the museum. Every day there are people crowding around this bronze statue to have their pictures taken with both its face and its balls. The balls seem to be more popular. I suppose that’s not surprising. The bull is supposed to represent the power and unpredictability of market forces and represents Wall Street and the Financial District.
This week I spotted a new arrival: a Christmas themed Winnie the Pooh and accompanying muscle, presumably to strong-arm tourists into giving up money after taking a photo with the costumed person. This is a pretty common thing in the Times Square area and became a point of public conversation during the debate over topless women posing for photos in Times Square in exchange for cash. I’d never seen them in the Bowling Green area, though, and after that one time I never saw them again. I wonder if they were driven out by the police, by crowds of tourists telling them to get out of the way so they could take photos with the Bull, or by the police, or some combination of those three?
Regardless, I’m glad to see those two assholes gone. The crowds of tourists around the office building can be aggravating, because they obviously aren’t in a hurry during my lunch break and they sometimes block the sidewalk, but it’s understandable and I can’t be mad at them for coming to this city and having a good time. These people that dress in costumes and strong-arm people into taking photos with them and giving them cash afterwards, though? They’re parasites and they’re disgusting. It’s better than outright robbery, but not by much. I hope they stay gone.
Another spot I enjoy walking to and in is Riverbank State Park. The park is an elevated, artificial park that is built onto the side of Manhattan island. To get to it, you have to walk over one of two bridges, or by walking up a few flights of stairs from the Hudson River Greenway below.
Riverbank Park has a pool, a track, tennis courts, indoor basketball courts, a roller skating rink, a restaurant and I think a cultural center. Kind of hard to believe it’s all built on an artificial, elevated platform.
Walking down there is about 2.25 miles. It’s a great place to stop, use the bathroom, and take in the sights before turning around and heading back home. I don’t know that I’d want to have a picnic there, though there are certainly facilities for it. I think Fort Tryon Park is a much nicer place to go for that. But, it would be a great place to sit down and read a book for a while. The breeze there is nice, since it’s over the water.
The acceptable areas for smoking just got a lot narrow, but I can’t really argue with this. I mean, I still smoke, though I’m planning on getting around to quitting sometime soon, but even so, I can’t be upset about this. People that don’t smoke have a right to not inhale second hand smoke. That’s the whole point of not smoking right? Still, it’s gonna be kind of sad that I can’t lean back on a park bench and enjoy a cigarette while watching all the people pass by anymore.
This reminds me of something I was told by a guy in Japan. I don’t remember who it was now, but he was saying that in Japan, they banned smoking outdoors, but not indoors. He said the reasoning is that it’s all about choice. If you’re a non-smoker, you can choose to not go into a smoking establishment, but you can’t choose to not walk outside. So, you ban smoking outdoors, but leave smoking indoors up to the establishment owner. To me, that makes a lot more sense.
Given the Japanese stance on smoking, it makes me wonder how much freedom and choice we really have in this country. Smoking isn’t illegal, but pretty soon it might be illegal to smoke anywhere. I remember hearing a story a few months ago about a housing development where people were complaining that they could smell the smoke from neighboring units. Would it be fair to ban smoking in an entire apartment building? I can imagine a no smoking policy for new tenants, but could you really ask people to move out if they don’t stop smoking?