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I gotta say, walking is one of the most dreadful activities I can think of. I just don’t understand how people like it, however moving to New York city it became a necessary thing I had to do in order to move around for a while when I was younger. Around my neighborhood there hasn’t been many changes. I live in a residential building and the only changes I noticed are the growth of parking for the building residents and increase of traffic in the main streets. Since my building is adjacent to a major expressway, the vehicular circulation is always very busy while the pedestrian sidewalks are pretty empty. The area is calm asides from the constant car transit. Also at around 5-10 minute walk you will find yourself in a heavily pedestrian walkway since there are two different shopping malls around, which are busy for majority of the day. There are not enough food places or open areas, like parks around. The only open space available is a main courtyard and entertaining center with different amenities shared between all the residential building of my complex. My daily commute involves driving from home to school everyday which doesn’t really allow me to observe most of the changes around that you would appreciate by walking. I have only notice a big increase in traffic and the lack of parking around my neighborhood and school, because what two years ago would take 10 minutes now takes up to and hour to find parking. I would still rather drive to places and I mostly avoid walking to any places, or if it involves major walking I’ll just not go at all, but after reading ” Urban walking isn’t just good for the soul” it made me think perhaps I Should walk once in a while.
My daily morning commute is just what you would imagine of your everyday New Yorker. A half mile walk to the J train station at Marcy avenue to rub shoulders and sometimes literally fight to get onto the train with the thousands of people waiting as well to commute. In as much the commute is not as enjoyable as I would love it to be, I do pick up a lot of things while I work. In the 5 years that I have lived in the Jewish populated neighborhood of South Williamsburg in Brooklyn, a lot has changed. With the rise of Williamsburg in the real estate industry comes a lot of other changes, on broadway directly below the J train line, you have new Condos with a stretch of stores restaurants and cafes. In the early morning as I walk to the train, Bedford ave is quiet with the exception of a few cars going by and the follow commuters who are headed to the train with me. This changes once you hit broadway, it is a whole different atmosphere because unlike Bedford, Broadway is a commercial street and people are already packed up either at the McDonald’s, Dunkin Donuts or the food trucks getting their breakfast to get them started for the day
We can all agree on one thing; change is the only constant in life. Change can be scary, risky, unpredictable, uncontrollable, and unacceptable. This we can’t stop, what can we do about change then? Napoleon once said, “One must change one’s tactics every 10 years if one wishes to maintain one’s superiority.” In today’s society the pace of change is immensely faster, and it will only continue to accelerate. The question then becomes, how do we manage change and who has the right to make the decisions that cause these changes?
In the movies “My Brooklyn” and “Citizen Jane: Battle for the City”, the one constant was Change. In both movies, the decisions for the change in the area was made by high ranking bureaucrats and the civilians were left to deal with the effects of the change. They were collateral damages and the loss of their businesses and homes were looked on as acceptable losses for “the greater good”. Changes in cities shouldn’t always be about money, there are people who call cities their home and should at least be considered in some capacity while making these changes. As citizens and inhabitants of a city, we should have as much rights to the city as the decision makers because at the end of the day, without the people who make cities, there would not be any cities. We would just have a cluster of empty buildings.
The City is what it is because of the people who live in it