My wife and I recently moved uptown to the Washington Heights area. I can’t tell you how great it is to be out of the Lower East Side. I’m sure that may sound odd, since the Lower East Side is the hip and happening place to be, but it’s also noisy as hell, full of drunks, and groceries are exceptionally overpriced. We have a nice quiet apartment on the back of a building now, it’s quiet outside after 10PM, and we have easy access to necessary stores and transportation.
Before moving up here, I’d never been to this neighborhood before. I was even surprised to see that Manhattan could have hills. I like it, though. The different elevations of the buildings adds a lot of character to the neighborhood. Speaking of character, the buildings in this part of the city are fascinating to look at, too. A lot of the stuff downtown is new construction. I prefer older architecture. I’m looking forward to taking some time later this summer to just walk around and take photos. That’s one of the things I love about New York City in general: there’s never a lack of things to do or see.
Anyway, these are some photos that I took with my iPhone a few days ago when my wife and I went on an impromptu stroll down Riverside Drive and some of the surrounding streets. Great view! I’m looking forward to going back when I have an actual camera with me.
While walking down Riverside Drive there, we ran into a guy who was sitting on the ledge. You can probably see him in the photo I took while still under the shade of the trees. As we walked by, I noticed him giving my wife the up-and-down so I said, “Hello there. How are you?” He looked at me and started screaming about CIA surveillance. He might not have made the connection, but even if he didn’t, he’s still a nut job. We moved along at a brisk pace.
New York City has always had homeless people. Ever since I can remember I’ve seen homeless people in the streets here in New York. They used to be a lot more obvious. You’d see them laid up in doorways or in front of store windows. Since then, the police have become more active in rounding them up and sending them to homeless shelters. I imagine the guy in the photo above, who was setting up a ‘home’ for himself in a parking lot is no longer there.
You might wonder why these people would choose to live on the street if there are shelters set up for them, but I’ve heard horror stories about these shelters. To start with, there are only so many beds available, so you have to be there early to claim one. You also can’t have anything with any value, because it’s common to be robbed in these shelters, or worse. I imagine the potential violence a person could be subjected to is much worse for homeless women. In a way, it’s safer for them to try to find a place in the streets to hole up for the night. Not that they’re immune to being robbed or abused in the street.
I can’t help but wonder how drastically the level of homelessness has increased given the current economic problems the country as a whole is facing.
I was sitting on that same second floor window where I saw the girl with the bag that said “Use Me” when I saw something else interesting. Does this count as child exploitation? Isn’t there a law against it? Maybe there isn’t. It seems like labor regulation is pretty loose in the Philippines, which can apparently have both its ups and downs.
This reminds me of something else I saw, where children were encouraged to buy tokens for the toy machines in a grocery store at the tobacco counter.