Monday Bulletin: Subway Elegy, Retail Vacancies, Mourning a Manhole Cover

July 19, 2021 Weather: Cloudy, with a high of 82 degrees.

Our calendar has lots of local events!

As New York returns, and the trains are running 24 hours a day again, let us pause to marvel at the convulsive wonder underneath our very feet,” writes David Margolick, in a New York Times essay inspired by a recent trip from the Upper West Side down to Chambers Street — and Wordsworth. “…just as I entered the old subway shelter on 72nd Street, the one with the elegant Dutch facade, the monitor over the turnstile reading “No. 3. New Lots Av” switched from solid chartreuse to pulsating amber: My train was pulling in. With that swift swipe New Yorkers have perfected and a burst down the stairs, I could make it.”

Manhattan retail vacancies have hit a record high, and, unfortunately, the Upper West Side is a major contributor, Crain’s reported. “Upper Madison Avenue had the most vacancies by a wide margin last quarter (55), followed by stretches of Broadway between Battery Park and Chambers Street (27) and from West 72nd Street to West 86th (25). The average asking rent fell to $615 per square foot, a 10.7% drop year over year and a 0.6% decline quarter over quarter, to hit the lowest mark in almost a decade. They fell most sharply on Spring Street in SoHo, going from $631 to $487 — a 22.9% decline.”

Reading about other people’s apartments can be fun, especially when they are apartments in which love flourished, such as that of the late Anne Meara and Jerry Stiller, on Riverside Drive between 83rd and 84th Streets. It is currently on the market, according to The New York Times. “‘It was our whole lives that happened there — everything from birthday parties, to Thanksgiving, Passover seders, and Christmas mornings and Hanukkah evenings,’ said Ben Stiller (their son), who has appeared in dozens of films, like ‘Night at the Museum,’ and is currently working on a documentary about his parents that will include his childhood home. ‘Living in the building was like a community of its own,’ he said.”

You probably don’t give much thought to manhole covers, unless they blow, but a woman discovered a pair of covers in Central Park at West 85th Street that she visited regularly for three years — until one was replaced. “I knew from the start that a manhole as old as this one (which was one of the oldest in the city, behind an 1862 cover also in Central Park) could not last forever,” she wrote in Untapped Cities. “I had braced myself for this day, and yet it was still a hard blow to see an unfamiliar face in place of the one I have known and loved.”

Finally, here are the first three winners of West Side Rag T-shirts for the most obvious and imaginative explanations for the footprints that appeared in wet cement on Columbus Avenue last week. Two more T-shirts are available. Read how to win one here.

 Leon says:

“Let me kick this off by ruling out the Riverside Park goats.”

Ed says:

“Or as Sherlock Holmes might say: “Come, Watson, come!” he cried. “The game is afoot. Not a word! Into your clothes and come!”

Matt G says:

“I’m positive it’s the same person that’s been trying to contact me about my vehicle’s extended warranty.”

NEWS | 22 comments | permalink
    1. Ben David says:

      “…let us pause to marvel at the convulsive wonder underneath our very feet.” Really? Why is The New York Times glorifying the NYC subway, instead of reporting that on Saturday morning at 11:00 am, a woman and her son were knocked down the stairs in an attempted robbery. The woman, an immigrant from Burma, is in critical condition with severe head injury. This is the reality of the new subway system and a city where “defund the police” is a rallying cry of political candidates.

      • Brandon says:

        Were you asleep earlier this month when the Democratic mayoral primary was won by a candidate who rejected “defund the police” talk?

      • EdNY says:

        I’ve lived in NYC my entire life and cannot recall a time when there was no crime in the subways or on the streets. But right now I’m happy to choose a positive point of view over a negative one.

      • Jen says:

        NYT didn’t provide true journalism for a long time now. It is a woke mouthpiece.

      • UWS_Dad says:

        Yes, this is the reality of our city with a defunded police department. Oh wait – the police budget was INCREASED by $122M in May and the police have NOT in fact been defunded.

        Blame shoddy police protection on the police never facing consequences for their incompetence, not for any fictional “defunding.”

    2. g says:

      on one foot! we’re looking for a monoped.

    3. Mark Moore says:

      Not to be pedantic about the story about the manhole cover, but sewers don’t deliver water, they take water away. Those manholes covers as they say are from the Croton Aqueduct, and you can find a few of them around the neighborhood. I wouldn’t be surprised if the one in question in Central Park at West 85th St was stolen, since it’s probably valuable, it would be easy to steal from that location and the chances of it having broken or failed at that location is kind of slim since there aren’t cars running over it every day.

      The buildings on the west side of Columbus from 89th up to 103rd all have the old aqueduct running under their backyards:

    4. S.L. says:

      There is a paywall on the NY Times article about the late Ben Stiller & Anne Meara’s apartment, but here is the link to see the listing and photos for free at the realtor’s website. The apartment is beautiful (118 Riverside Drive)

    5. Gerry vali says:

      Please do not use the term “manhole”. Use “utility hole” instead. I am surprised that in these “politically correct” times, “manhole” is still being used.

    6. Wokebroker says:

      Real estate is so woke with what was formerly the “master” bedroom now being called “primary”

      (insert eyeroll here)

      • Carlos says:

        Perhaps they will change the Les Miz song from “Master of the House” to “Primary of the House”

        I agree that it would be nice if people channeled their energies towards more useful endeavors.

    7. peter says:

      Manhattan retail vacancies hit a record high. This is the story people should be concerned with. Eventually the commercial properties drop in value and tax collections go down. less sales tax collected, less retail employment, more spots for homeless encampments etc. With the city facing multi billion dollar budget shorfalls in the near future this is a major problem. For all the talk of the city reopening if retail and conventions and office workers dont comeback neither does the city. Does anyone at city hall or in the city council even know about this? do they care?