What city walking experiences do you have in common with the writer? What in your experience is different from what he wrote about? What do you think of the power of serendipity to “expose our commonalities,” as he puts it?
One city walking experience I have in common with the author Cadogan of the article “Due North” is when I travel between boroughs. Since I currently live in Staten Island, but I usually commute the express bus to Manhattan and then I take the train to Brooklyn to get to City Tech. Staten island is a pretty sleepy place compared to Manhattan and Brooklyn. I enjoy living in a peaceful environment where you can generally find parking and don’t have to move car each day. Manhattan and Brooklyn is the place to find essential beauty of the architecture and culture. The only downsides are the overcrowded mass of people walking from one place to another and the transportation traffic. I don’t think my experience is different from what the author wrote. Cadogan observed different joys of different boroughs like me too. Overall these three boroughs might be different environments but as what Cadogan said, “serendipity to expose our commonalities”, people might share similar passion to their work and frustrations just in a different way.
Like Cadogan, I mostly travel between two boroughs, Queens and Manhattan. I like to travel and explore Manhattan leisurely. I love the city nightlife atmosphere, especially during the cold season and holidays. During walking long distances through the avenues, you notice all the other people doing the same thing as you, taking in the sights and exploring different shops with friends and family. When it comes to running errands, they’re mostly done in different parts of Queens, I would usually accompany my folks and we go to places like Astoria and Jackson Heights. Unlike Cadogan where he discovered the different enjoyments of both boroughs, I’m particularly not fond of Jackson Heights (37th avenue, 73rd and 74th street). It is heavily congested, the narrow streets are jam packed with people and pretty unsanitary. They are primarily occupied by Indians and Bengalis (I am also Bengali), most of them are rude and are not aware of their surroundings. The two streets are all about business and attracting customers, they are filled with Indian restaurants, giant grocery stores, Indian clothing stores, and Indian Jewelry stores. Pretty much everything the modern Indian/Bengali person needs, that’s why so many people flock to this area, especially my parents. I do believe it’s true that serendipity exposes our commonalities, In my case, there are many people that share the joys of exploring Manhattan, and many people that share the frustrations of traveling to Jackson Heights.
When I got my first internship with the MTA in summer 2018, I got myself reassigned to the Civil Engineering department because I did not like working in a Manhattan office cubical and filing MetroCard complaints. One of the assignments of the Civil Engineers was to inspect ongoing subway station repairs. This meant I got to travel around New York City.
The way this relates to Cadogan’s walking experiences is that I did experience some of the things he mentioned. When Hakim, the Civil Engineer in charge of the inspections, brought me and another intern to the 145th street station in Harlem, I heard music playing loudly from the apartments and saw how most people living there were dark-skinned. I also saw the wealthy Upper East Side and how the residents were rarely seen hanging outside.
Our walking experiences are not entirely the same, of course. When I walk in a different neighborhood, I do not talk to people there because I do not have any interest in doing so. Also, a part of my perspective on the neighborhood is influenced by what I see online. For instance, when I wanted to go to Apple’s 5th Avenue store after work, I looked up directions on Google Maps and recognized the high-end clothing brands nearby. I knew the streets would probably be filled because of that and the fact that Central Park is 5 minutes away.
I think it is a well-thought-out idea to describe the differences between the South Bronx and the Upper East Side. I can certainly see how people in the Upper East Side have wealth, but don’t or can’t spend their leisure time with their neighbors. As for the South Bronx, it may not be an attractive neighborhood in terms of cleanliness, but it is rich in the way that the community gets together to have fun.
Do people have a right to the city? Do longtime residents and businesses have a right to remain where they are? If so, how should local governments, urban planners, and other decision-makers ensure these rights are maintained?
I agree that people have the right to the city. I don’t believe it is right to push out old longtime residents from their homes and businesses to make way for a higher class community. Gentrification which was discussed in “My Brooklyn”, mostly hurts the communities of color and low income. As the government implements new zoning plans, wealthier people start to migrate to these communities. Landlords begin to raise the rents for their housing and businesses. And this greatly effects the longtime residents who have been there since the beginning, and can’t afford to stay there anymore. The small local businesses suffer because they are losing competition to the larger new businesses opening shop in their communities. These people have no choice but to protest and fight to stay in their communities and that is not how these people who started their lives in these communities should be treated. In order to maintain everyones rights to the city, the government should support and implement more benefits to the small local businesses such as tax breaks and government subsidies. The larger corporations that are being implemented in these communities should be taxed. In order to satisfy the people who claim that most of these communities are dangerous and that they would feel unsafe, there should be more police and security presence. The cultural aspect that has been developed throughout these communities should also be preserved and supported.