Archive for September, 2010

On Day 5 of New York City Week, I’m shifting my focus away from sidewalks and onto manhole covers. The quotidian manhole covers are those that show up over and over again across the city.  The rare manhole covers are either  hard to come across because there are few of them, or have been rendered unique through age, art, or setting.

NYC SEWER - an ubiquitous manhole cover




N.Y.C. SEWER -- MADE IN INDIA -- (Variation 2)


N.Y.C. SEWER -- MADE IN INDIA -- (Variation 3)






CON EDISON CO -- (concave)


CON EDISON CO -- (convex)


The same manhole cover, this time showing more of the beautiful original cobblestone on a street in the Meatpacking District


Looks like the elements have gotten the better of this manhole cover




a manhole cover in an advanced state of deterioration










CATSKILL WATER MANHOLE -- as in the Catskill Mountains in upstate New York, where NYC's drinking water originates


Art Deco style


More Art Deco


DPW in Art Deco style





GENERAL SEMINARY - in front of a theological seminary


Ending on a high note, mahole cover(s) as art


Walking around Broadway in SoHo, I kept coming across sidewalks studded with glass cubes and beads. The only other place I’ve seen this is in Seattle, where the glass cubes serve as a ceiling of sorts for an underground story beneath the sidewalk. I’m taking an educated guess here, but I’ll venture to say that the same is true on this section of Broadway. Does anyone know what lies beneath these sidewalks?



Mexican Day Parade

Posted: September 26, 2010 in sidewalks
Tags: ,

People generally use sidewalks to get from point A to point B, but sometimes the sidewalk itself is the destination. I was reminded of that when I stumbled upon the Mexican Day Parade in Manhattan on September 19th.  Thousands of people lined up along the sidewalks to watch the parade go by.   

Waiting for the parade to start.



Photo courtesy of V.


On a side street, parade participants are putting on their finishing touches. (Photo courtesy of V.)


Mr. and Mrs. Azteca (photo courtesy of V.)


On to Day 2 of New York City week. Today’s focus is the sidewalks of Chinatown. On a recent Saturday I found Chinatown to be bursting at the seams with pedestrians, vendors selling knock-off goods, and trash.

Some sidewalks along Canal Street were so full that a few people skipped the sidewalks altogether and walked on the street.

There were plenty of trash bins. But there were even plentier amounts of trash.

A night fruit market in Chinatown, bordering Little Italy (I think this was Mulberry Street). In the evening, there were far fewer pedestrians, especially once you are more than a few blocks away from the subway station.

Side-sidewalks in New York City

Posted: September 24, 2010 in sidewalks
Tags: ,

Today is the start of New York City week on this blog.  Normally a “week” of something starts on a Monday, but I’m running a bit behind.Today’s focus is what I’m dubbing “side-sidewalks.”  These are sidewalks that are built directly adjacent to other sidewalks. It’s hard to picture what this means without seeing it, so take a look at the photos below.

A side-sidewalk. On the right is a traditional sidewalk. On the left, directly adjacent to the sidewalk is a second sidewalk that was built over what used to be an entire block of curb-side parking spots.

The side-sidewalk is two steps higher. Underneath the steps is probably a stormwater drain.


The side-sidewalk offers plenty of seating options.


Behind where the cyclist is standing is a barrier to alert drivers that the lane ahead is a side-sidewalk, not a driving lane.

I took these photos in Lower Manhattan.

For me, the defining feature of San Francisco’s sidewalks is their steepness. It’s hard to walk anywhere in San Francisco without encountering a steeply sloping sidewalk (and street).  

Telegraph Hill




This manhole cover looks strikingly similar to the one above it--yet they are not identical. Can you spot the differences?




 The purple glass in this manhole cover reminds me of a sidewalk I saw in Seattle


Portuguese pavement usually consists of stylized patterns that look cool but don’t resemble anything in nature (or only have a vague resemblance). In Curitiba, I saw a rare example of a sidewalk inspired by nature.
The tree depicted in this Portuguese pavement is a type of pine that is native to Curitiba and its surrounding region. This distinctive pine has many names, including Pinheiro do Parana, Curi, Curiuva, Pinheiro-Araucaria, and Pinheiro Sao Jose.
An interesting side note is that the word “Curitiba”  is derived from the Tupi-Guarani indigenous words “curi” and “tiba.”  “Curi” means pine, and “tiba” means abundant, so Curitiba means a “place of abundant pines.”  The Tingui tribe of the Tupi-Guarani nation were the first settlers of this region of Brazil.