USA | NYC
 


Day 1307




at the Self-Transcendence 3100 Mile Race

Day 1307

Yuri arrives

July 29th, 2015



at the finish line of the Self-Transcendence 3100 Mile Race. He's the fourth person to finish the race this year, and is treated to the same victory songs and ambrosial cake as everyone else who completes the 5,649 laps of the block within the allotted 52 days. (The horn-like sounds you hear when people start cheering are made by guys blowing conch shells.)

Ashprihanal was the first to cross the finish line this year, and did so in record time: 40 days, 9 hours, 6 minutes, and 21 seconds, more than 23 hours faster than the previous record-holder.

Day 1307

Waiting for Yuri

July 29th, 2015



at the finish line of the Self-Transcendence 3100 Mile Race

Day 1307

Cutty’s Hair Studio

July 29th, 2015



Cutty's is where the late Knicks forward Anthony Mason went to get his cranial canvas carved by Freddy Avila, "the Rembrandt of Barbers".

Day 1307

Making the most of it

July 29th, 2015





This is an amazingly bountiful little yard: tall rows of corn, a couple of fruit trees, and all kinds of vines stretching around back. It was too dark to see the vines well, but here's what they looked like a year ago.

Day 1307


Day 1306

Godzilla Fan Parking Only

July 28th, 2015



I spotted this sign at LaGuardia Airport's Marine Air Terminal. Is the manager of airport operations a fan of Godzilla, or did a prankster co-worker put up the sign to prevent a Godzilla-hating manager from being able to park in his or her own spot?

Day 1272

The telltale streetlight

June 24th, 2015



You might assume that entering or leaving the largest city in the nation would always be an occasion worth noting, but local governments seem to think otherwise. Excluding highways, there are well over 100 streets that cross the land boundaries dividing NYC from Nassau and Westchester Counties, and it's only on a small number of those streets that you'll find any kind of sign acknowledging the border.

If you're on a major street, you might come across a "Welcome to" sign on the Nassau/Westchester side of the line, but the best you can hope for from NYC are signs telling you that it's illegal to turn right on red in the city and that the city speed limit is 25 MPH unless otherwise posted. It's only on the highways* that you'll encounter any explicit recognition of the fact that you're entering NYC, be it a typically formulaic "Welcome to" sign or an even more bare-bones affair simply stating the name of the borough you're crossing into. Brooklyn's "Welcome to" and "Leaving" signs actually have some character, but none of them are stationed at the city line, as you have to pass through Manhattan, Queens, or Staten Island to get to Brooklyn.

Even though the city boundary goes unmentioned on most streets that cross it, you can generally detect some subtle indications that you've entered a new municipality. There may be a change in the way the houses are numbered. Or you might notice a difference in the appearance of fire hydrants, manhole covers, or other elements of the streetscape. Most reliably, you can usually spot different styles of street signs (and often parking and traffic signs as well) on either side of the border.

In the case above, however, the street signs fail the test. I took this photo on Beach 2nd Street in Lawrence, Nassau County. The nearest intersection, Beach 2nd and Seagirt Avenue, is also in Lawrence, but it has NYC-style street signs rather than Lawrence-style signs. (Because of the area's odd geography, Beach 2nd and Seagirt Ave is an unusually isolated intersection. While the nearest intersection in NYC is one short block away at Beach 3rd and Seagirt Ave, you have to head south over the Atlantic Beach Bridge to reach the next street intersection in Nassau County, and you need to travel more than three-quarters of a mile north to find the closest street intersection in Lawrence.)

While the nearby street signs may be misleading, the photo above offers a convincing piece of evidence that we have in fact entered Nassau County: the street lamp, one of six such lamps installed here on Beach 2nd Street. You can find this style of lamp scattered around Nassau, from Port Washington to Westbury to elsewhere in Lawrence and beyond, but you'll never see it in NYC.

* One sort-of exception to the highways-only rule for NYC "Welcome to" signs: As you cross into Queens from North Valley Stream (Nassau County) on Elmont Road, you'll see a "Welcome to Rosedale" sign. But you would have to know Rosedale is an NYC neighborhood to know you were entering NYC. And the sign was not put up by the city government, but by the Rosedale Civic Association.

Day 1272

The creek and the castle

June 24th, 2015



Rising over the waters of Bridge Creek like a strong cell phone signal are the four interlocking towers of the former Roy Reuther Houses, now known as the Sand Castle, a 916-unit development built in the early 1970s by the United Auto Workers to house seniors. The complex still has a large number of elderly residents, many of whom were notoriously stranded in their upper-floor apartments without working elevators, heat, electricity, or water for nearly two weeks in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.

Day 1272

At the edge of NYC

June 24th, 2015



"Welcome to Nassau County, America's First Suburban County"

UPDATE (Oct. 20, 2016): In classic New York fashion, Edward P. Mangano, the Nassau County executive (the head of county government), has been indicted on multiple charges stemming from an alleged bribery and kickback scheme that stretches back to the beginning of his first term in 2010.



While we're on the subject of counties, let's look at some fun statistics. Nassau's estimated population (as of July 2015) is about 1.36 million, making it the 28th most populous county in the US. Listed below are the ten most populous counties in the nation, along with some other NYC-area counties. For your reference, NYC consists of Bronx, Kings (Brookyn), New York (Manhattan), Queens, and Richmond (Staten Island) Counties. Suffolk County borders Nassau on the east and is the easternmost county on Long Island, occupying two thirds of the island, meaning it's twice the size of Nassau, Kings, and Queens Counties (which make up the rest of Long Island) combined. There are two counties other than Nassau that border NYC on land: Westchester County, north of the Bronx, and Hudson County, New Jersey, which shares an unusual border (map) with New York County on Ellis Island.



US Counties and County Equivalents Ranked by Population
(July 2015 Census Bureau estimates)

1) Los Angeles County, CA — 10,170,292
2) Cook County, IL — 5,238,216
3) Harris County, TX — 4,538,028
4) Maricopa County, AZ — 4,167,947
5) San Diego County, CA — 3,299,521
6) Orange County, CA — 3,169,776
7) Miami-Dade County, FL — 2,693,117
8) Kings County, NY — 2,636,735
9) Dallas County, TX — 2,553,385
10) Riverside County, CA — 2,361,026
11) Queens County, NY — 2,339,150
20) New York County, NY — 1,644,518
24) Suffolk County, NY — 1,501,587
26) Bronx County, NY — 1,455,444
28) Nassau County, NY — 1,361,350
47) Westchester County, NY — 976,396
97) Hudson County, NJ — 674,836
144) Richmond County, NY — 474,558

You can see a full list here.



Now let's look at the nation's most densely populated counties and county equivalents.



US Counties and County Equivalents Ranked by Population Density
(Data from 2010 census; density given in people per square mile of land area)

1) New York County, NY — 69,468.4
2) Kings County, NY — 35,369.2
3) Bronx County, NY — 32,903.3
4) Queens County, NY — 20,553.6
5) San Francisco County, CA — 17,179.2
6) Hudson County, NJ — 13,731.4
7) Suffolk County, MA — 12,415.6
8) Philadelphia County, PA — 11,379.5
9) District of Columbia — 9,856.5
10) City of Alexandria, VA — 9,314.3
11) Richmond County, NY — 8,030.3
20) Nassau County, NY — 4,704.8
54) Westchester County, NY — 2,204.7
83) Suffolk County, NY — 1,637.4

The full list is here.

Day 1272




It's not entirely clear what information this old dinosaur is supposed to convey. Located on Seagirt Boulevard in Queens, it can't be a You're-Entering-Atlantic-Beach sign. You still have to drive another quarter-mile before you leave NYC, and then it's another quarter mile beyond that to reach the bridge that leads to Atlantic Beach.

There is a split in the road up ahead. By going right, you can take the Nassau Expressway south over the bridge to Atlantic Beach. Staying left puts you on the Nassau Expressway heading north, the way you'd go if you were trying to get to Manhattan. So perhaps the sign is simply informing drivers of two primary destinations that can be reached depending on which option they choose at the split. If that is the case, however, the sign would seem to be pretty worthless without any directional indications. (Drivers are not dependent on this sign for navigation; there are more modern signs located up ahead.)

Until relatively recently, there was another old sign of a similar size and structure located about 300 yards up the road. I don't know what it originally said; by 2010, there was a very faded wooden sign pointing the way to New York (meaning, presumably, Manhattan) that appeared to be nailed on top of the original sign. If you drive (or walk) by today, however, all you'll see remaining is a bent post that looks like it may have been hit by a car and decapitated.

Day 1272

No and No

June 24th, 2015



Prohibited activities at the Atlantic Beach Bridge

Day 1272

The beach and the bridge

June 24th, 2015



This little stretch of private beach (running about 100 feet along the shore to the left of the sign) at the southern end of Beach 3rd Street in Far Rockaway is owned by a neighborhood group called the Simis Beach Civic Association. Bordering Nassau County, it's the southeasternmost piece of dry land in NYC. (City property, however, extends another 400 feet or so out into the water from the mean high tide line. The roped-in swimming area above is actually public water.)

Standing in the background of this photo, on the Nassau County side of the border, is the Atlantic Beach Bridge, which opened to allow the sailboat at right to pass through. Completed in 1952, the bridge connects the Long Island mainland with the seaside village of Atlantic Beach. It's the only toll bridge, or toll facility of any kind, in Nassau and Suffolk counties (the non-NYC part of Long Island), and I believe it's one of only two toll facilities in the state that still have not installed an E-ZPass electronic collection system. (The other, the Thousand Islands Bridge, is currently working toward implementing E-ZPass.) The toll on the Atlantic Beach Bridge is $2 for a car; up until 1997, bikers and pedestrians were also charged to cross the bridge. Their toll? 5 cents!

The agency created to build and operate the bridge, the Nassau County Bridge Authority, is a notorious, self-perpetuating instrument of political patronage that is run "not as a business, but as a base to keep a relative handful of people in jobs that are largely make-work". A 1999 audit found that 71% of the toll revenue was being used to pay the salaries of the toll takers and the administrative staff; in other words, most of the toll collections are used to fund the collection of the tolls. (I think I'm starting to understand why the authority is not in favor of E-ZPass.)

The authority and the bridge toll were supposed to be eliminated once the bonds issued to fund construction of the bridge were paid off. And they have now been paid off — for more than 40 years. According to the former head of the Nassau County District Attorney's Special Investigations Bureau, the authority "only existed to make sure the money was paid back, but every time it was close to paying off its indebtedness, it would borrow more money".

You might think this situation would cause an outcry among the wealthy residents of Atlantic Beach, but many of them, who buy a yearly decal that lets them cross the bridge at a significantly reduced rate, are reportedly in favor of maintaining the toll. They feel that it makes their community more exclusive and serves as a deterrent against all the unsavory characters from the city who might otherwise come over and stink up the joint. From a 1996 NY Times article:

Some residents are said to make disparaging racial remarks about "those people" coming over the bridge. . . .

"We do not mind paying a reasonable toll," said Barry Ringelheim, president of the Atlantic Beach Estates Civic Association. "People feel it's a protection. God forbid somebody will come over to rob and have to go back over the bridge and be seen" by toll collectors.

Day 1272

Snazzy old sign

June 24th, 2015


Day 1272

A missing message

June 24th, 2015



"THAT THOSE WHO PERISHED SHALL NOT HAVE DIED IN VAIN"

So read the plaque that was formerly mounted on this monument, a war memorial erected by the local Jewish War Veterans post. I have no idea what happened to the plaque, but I do know that it was still in place less than three years ago. It's clearly visible in this Street View image from August 2012, and I'm fairly certain I can spot it from a distance in the center of this January 2013 image.