A few weeks ago some colleagues and I visited the Open House for our exclusive at 10 West Street in Battery Park City. My two downtown Sales Directors, Brennan Zahler and Camille Duvall, suggested that we Citibike down from our Tribeca office. I had not used the service before, and I was a bit apprehensive. But 15 minutes later, pedaling down the bike path amongst the beautiful plantings by the Hudson River, I was hooked. I signed up the next day!
Like being a pedestrian, biking around the city gives the rider a whole new appreciation of the city. As a chronic streetwalker I have always craned my neck to appreciate beautiful architectural details: the faces carved into the masonry at 1016 Fifth Avenue, the classical temples atop the towers of the San Remo, the wedding cake asymmetry towards the crown of the buildings rising in the 70s on Park Avenue. Now, as a biker, I am appreciating the topography of the city in a whole new way (although my legs may not always be appreciating it as much as I am!) Carnegie Hill really IS a hill. That plunge toward sea level between 93rd and 96th on West End is precipitous. And nowhere in the city is the topography more varied than Central Park.
My daily commute now takes me, by bike, from the station on 85th and Central Park West to the station at the Plaza. There is a station closer to my office, but commuters more prompt than I have already occupied all the available parking slots before I arrive, while at the Plaza they always make room. Once I enter the Park at 85th (and sometimes I am, at 9 AM, already too late to find a bike there) I do a quick uphill climb and then coast gloriously downhill until about 73rd Street, when I have to downshift into second gear and pump my way up the hill to the Sheep Meadow. Then it’s down again to 59th, then up again until I reach the exit ramp which takes me down from the heights where the snow leopards and red pandas dwell in the Central Park Zoo to street level at 60th and Fifth.
Although Central Park is a sculpted environment, the peaks and valleys, the enormous granite outcroppings, the ponds and waterfalls, remind the millions who use it every year that the city was once a natural environment. For the committed walker or biker, walking the island from South to North emphasizes that fact even more strongly: starting at sea level at the Battery, one ascends gradually to the pinnacle of Hudson Heights, 265 feet higher and the highest point in Manhattan.
One of the joys of our city is its encouragement of pedestrians and, more recently, riders. Each provides a way to escape the tyrannies of traffic while appreciating the beauties, both natural and man-made, which make New York unique. So here’s my advice: get out of the cab or the Uber. Walk around. Bike around. You see things in a whole new way.