Enlarging My Daily Edges

In City Form, New York City, A Sense of Place by Haley Gaston1 Comment

I always subconsciously felt limited by the edges of the East Village and Greenwich Village. For four years, I have lived in the East Village, and for four years I have gone to school in Greenwich Village. Everything I need and want I can find in these two neighborhoods. I know every path in the area like the back of my hand, spotted with both public and personal landmarks—the cube on Astor Place, Webster Hall, all of the boutiques on 9th street, the Muslim street stand on 11th street, the pedestrian bridges on 10th and 6th streets.

I made an effort to visit other parts of the city. I would wander around Bushwick, visit Prospect Park and Prospect Heights, eat in Williamsburg, and see the botanical gardens on Staten Island. Since these trips were out of my daily edge, they seemed like mini vacations rather than a part of my daily surrounding environment.

This all changed when I began to work in Midtown East. All of the sudden, my daily routine included a third neighborhood. Additionally, I not only had to learn a new neighborhood but also how to bike in NYC. Every morning began with me running around the East Village looking for a free and working Citi Bike. I memorized all of the locations of the bike docks near my apartment, and would run from one street to the next trying to snatch the last available bike. Once I got a bike, I would head to 1st Avenue, where there was one of the best bike paths in the city. I could always bike through red lights until I hit a red light at 23rd street, a major node. After passing through 23rd street, I would have to claim a steady hill until I reached an empty lot on the east side of the street, which was the landmark for the downhill. After a 30 second downhill, I would have to climb back up a hill to 42nd street, another major node. Once I got to 34th Street, the UN building to the East landmarked the beginning of another downhill. I would speed past all of the policemen and businessmen until 42nd Street, the last major node along my path. Passing through 42nd Street, I would begin my last ascent until I saw the large construction site at 52nd and 53rd Streets. Just past, I would cut left onto 55th street, and keep west until I hit 3rd Avenue. Navigating the bus lane in the right lane, I would hug the east side of 3rd Avenue until I hit 56th Street, and then would veer right where the Citi Bike dock was waiting.

Luckily in my 6 months of biking to and from Midtown East, I was only hit twice—once by a taxi and once by another biker.

My Bike Path


  1. Hi Haley,
    I can totally relate to your experience, and I actually think a lot of Manhattan residents might as well. I think there might be something to be said about a city form being too convenient. Perhaps that is why we easily find ourselves ‘stuck,’ so to speak, in only one or two areas of the city. I really like your sense of humor, by the way; your ending to this post was unexpected and made me chuckle. I also thought the way you specified so many streets helped to reflect just how well you know these areas of the city. Lastly, your post made me think about the ways in which each person experiences different ‘edges’ based on their daily practices–for example, you work in Midtown East; whereas, someone else might work in Brooklyn, so his/her methods of ‘reading’ the city may vary greatly from your own.

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