Monday, October 12, 2009


It's a bit chilly. In my warm purple T shirt, I look out the window early in the morning.

When you look out your window what do you see?, trees... your neighbor's early morning parked cars?

There are very few cars on the street below. I can see two, but there are probably a few more nearer the corner (my home is in the middle of the block).

The cars belong to the wealthy people who live in condominiums (million dollar renovated lofts in a half-dozen 10 storey commercial business buildings that have been converted into residential spaces). It's a trend that started about fifteen years ago.

I know about this because I was the first person who lived in a loft on this street (back in the days when it was illegal). Did I set an example that encouraged others? Perhaps, but probably it's because spacious apartments in New York were difficult to find (almost impossible these days), and people looking at the fifty-foot frontage of business buildings, started wondering what it would like to live there (same as I did, when I decided I needed a dance studio). Of course the rich guys and their lawyers have made the condos on my street legal.

Anyhow, the street is landmarked as the "Ladies Mile," which means you can't change the exterior color or design without a permit that's expensive, extremely difficult to obtain). We're on the fringe of the "Chelsea" section known for its fashionable restaurants and shops, smack dab in an M1-M3 zone. (That means NO PARKING. 8 a.m. till 6 p.m. If you get on ticket on my street, it's $70.)

Down on the street, I noticed ... golly, I didn't know what they were ... tall, solitary looking sort of shadowy figures -- head, squarish body, just standing there.

Are they the new parking meters? I'd passed a couple of them on the way to the corner mailbox. Chuckled because there are three parking lots in this block. The lot nearest our building charges $20 an hour for midday parking, $32 to park your car there from 9 to 6... The meters charged 25 cents for 6 minutes, or $2.50 for all day.

If you wanted to visit, have a cup of coffee, and see my paintings or my studio, you could park at a meter, if you can find a spot. During the day, the curb is lined the delivery trucks, school busses (eleven of them, 8 a.m till 3 p.m.), chauffeuring kids to the school that's four doors down from mine, and the nearest parking lot has its daily overflow of cars double-parked in the street.

Those solitary tall shapes ... In the grey morning they looked like men, guards watching over the empty streets, each far apart from the other lonely, silent, night-and-day watchmen -- seeing everything that goes on, passersby strolling, employees hurrying to work, rushing out for lunch. Do workers eat out anymore? ...sandwich $7, salad or fruit in a container-to-go costs $8, coffee $1.50 at the least expensive spot ... clerk, secretary, saleslady probably can't afford to eat out...

Wait, hold on now, is this a money report -- on how much the prices of things have changed, and keep going up? Mmm ... It's not just money ...

It the way of life -- what brings people peace and pleasure -- what they do -- that's what I'm seeing...

When you look out your window has your view changed like mine...

Those guys below, the watchmen -- do they see what I see, and wonder where the street will be, what it will look like in ten or twenty years... what they will be guarding?

1 comment:

Carola (haven't left yet) said...

I simply cannot imagine this transformation of your block. I cannot imagine that they would protect the building fronts like that. I remember when it was a block full of corrugated paper factories, and it was clogged with trucks.