I drove into Manhattan twice this week--Wednesday and Friday--to bring books to The Strand. Having lived in this bustling city for 35 years, all the time observing the franetic street scene, I never would have imagined myself behind the wheel navigating Broadway from midtown through SoHo to the Financial District.
In a way, it's not as bad as it seems: When the streets are crammed with traffic it moves slowly and that makes it manageable. In another way--or two--it's just as bad as it seems. What I find the most difficult is learning the one-way streets, most especially in the Financial District: The tip of Manhattan. It's a labyrinth of narrow one-ways; streets criss-crossing in every direction. Some dead end and some leading to irreversable entrances. Oooooh. It took me over half an hour on Wednesday to figure out how to get to the entrance of the parking garage behind our building, and I almost managed to enter the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel in the process.
I finally made it but then had to figure out how the garage worked. It's all so new to me. Turns out to be a pretty streamlined and easy system within the garage. I patted myself on the back for having made it from my apartment in Brooklyn to this garage with a stop at The Strand.
And that brings me to the second 'seems as bad as it looks' aspect of driving in NYC: Parking. There is only one word for it: impossible. To drop the books off I had to stop the car--obviously--but the streets around The Strand are "no parking" and I was told by the store's personel that the police do ticket there. I am quite relieved and happy to say that I managed to "stand" at the curb on the side of The Strand for over an hour all told and didn't get ticketed. Whew. Just plain nerve racking!
My neighborhood (as do most in the city) imposes what's called "alternate side of the street" parking. This rigmarole is implemented so the street sweeping machines can pass both sides of the streets twice a week. I must make sure my car is not parked directly in front of my apartment on Mondays and Thursdays between 9:30am and 11:00am. I must also ensure it's not parked across the street on Tuesdays and Friday between those same hours. So you can imagine the constant shuffle of cars.
Lucky for me I'm home during the day when many are gone so I can usually find a good place out front. But on Wednesday when I drove into the city* and got home late it was really hard to find a parking place. It took me at least half an hour. Tonight, on the other hand, I got lucky and found a spot right around the corner. Every time I park it an inner voice whispers, "I hope it's still here in the morning."
I'll leave driving over the Williamsburg Bridge for another post. Suffice it to say that the speed limit of 30 is apparently just a suggestion and cars actually fly across. Something I knew from the occasional taxi ride home. All made worse by the narrow lanes.
I'm glad I didn't get a car any sooner. The thought of 2 more weeks of moving my car twice a week--at the minimum--is plenty. Can I image what it would have been like to own a car these past 35 years? Yes indeed. Insanity!
* When New Yorkers who live in Brooklyn, Queens, The Bronx, and Staten Island say they "... are going into the city" they mean they are going into Manhattan.