We live in New York one of the greatest cities in the world. We have Broadway, the Empire State building, Madison Square Garden and much more. There’s also crowded side walks, packed buses, subways and elevators you can’t walk down the block without smelling exhaust fumes. That’s one example of the multiple New Yorks Colson Whitehead talks about in “City Limits” it’s a New York we’ve all seen and experienced. So what’s the overlapping New York? Throughout all the madness we encounter in the concrete jungle there are peaceful places we can relax and catch our breath. One of those places is a park. A little bit of nature to counter the industrial. A calm and serene New York we can go to to get away from the chaotic one that is my juxtaposition.
Now my walk around City Tech didn’t take long and it wasn’t very far. To be honest I was tired from class and was just looking for someplace I could sit down and relax. First place I went to was Columbus park. It’s right around the corner from City Tech and besides I pass by it every day on my way to class so why not check it out right. Though it is called a park I didn’t get that easy going relaxing atmosphere I was looking for. So I kept on walking and found myself in Metro Tech Center while looking for some place to eat. It was pretty nice so I decided to stay a while relax. It was a really nice place somewhere you could sit down and unwind. There were plenty of people; joggers people from other near by colleges all just hanging out. They had these lawn chairs on a rocky, gravel like lawn. You could smell food from nearby fast food joints like five guys. You could hear and see the pigeons as they landed near your feet. You could also hear the sound of dogs barking as they were being walked by their owners. Even though it’s in the middle of a shopping center it still felt like a nice place to just go and chill out.
In comparison to the plaza we have the busy Jay st. located directly in front of it. Walking up Jay street you’ll probably see a few things. Cars pulling in and out of parking lots. All different kinds of people walking around. Some people in suites on their way to the court house. People on their way to or from class. People walking to their job or having a smoke. Some getting out of the train station. It’s just like any other street in New York you could probably see all the same things in Manhattan. This is the chaotic New York we’re all used to. Always got somewhere to be something to do not time to take it easy or smell the roses just going on with our seemingly endless list of to-dos. Granted we’re New Yorkers we live this everyday we’ve grown an immunity to it all. Even still sometimes we need a break of all the constant moving we do.
The juxtaposition of these two places is simply amazing. For instance you could have a guy who got out of class late who’s running to the subway to catch his train so he can make his way to work and just a few feet away from him you have some old friends sitting on a bench and catching up with each other and just enjoying the beautiful day. This example isn’t limited to Metro Tech Center. After you take a walk through Central Park and it’s seemingly vast ocean of trees and you step out into the street; your view changes from green grass to yellow taxis. People lounging around enjoying the day are replaced with executives on their way to a business meeting. I know comparing a tiny little plaza to the vast Central Park is a bit of a stretch but they both serve the same purpose; an island in a constantly moving see of people. The calm eye in the center of the storm that is daily life.
In Colson Whiteheads “City Limits” he talks about people “haunting the streets of his or her own New York”. Keeping that in mind I can’t help but wondering what used to be there before. Maybe an actual park used to be there and then they built the plaza on top of it. What stores used to be on Jay street before. How many people actually know what used to be there or even remember what was there. Who lost a part of their New York and how many new ones were formed? It really makes me curious. Who knows maybe in simpler times there were more places to catch your breath, maybe there has been and always will be on the go.
In all honesty not everyone has same the time to go out to the park or like to go. Maybe some people don’t like the outdoors or don’t have the time in their schedule, but we all have some place we go to at the end of the day we’re we catch our breath. Maybe it’s your bedroom, your backyard or porch swing ,but we all have some place in this concrete jungle were we can feel at ease. Everyone’s New York should have “park” a place where you’re at peace and away from the hectic day to day.
Whitehead,Colson. “City Limits”. The Colossus of New York