13 June 2013

A Saturday Stroll

After running an errand in the West Village on Saturday, I decided to take my time and walk back home to Chelsea even though the sky was threatening rain. Here are a few of the things I saw along the way.

Heading down Christopher Street I spotted pops of colour—the window of the Greenwich Letterpress (one of my favourite places to buy cards) and a cheery yellow bike parked in front of the old Northern Dispensary. Founded in 1827, the Northern Dispensary treated the poor and infirm for more than a century (Edgar Allan Poe was a one-time patient). Yet since 1998 the building has remained empty, largely due to its restrictive deed that dictates it can only be used to treat the "worthy poor." A bit of irony as it sits in the centre of a neighbourhood that only the rich can afford.

I grabbed an ice coffee from Whynot Coffee and sat outside people watching (more like dog watching) and admiring the greenery on Gay Street (yes, that's its name)—the beautiful wisteria tree that has practically taken over a building and a small collection of plants on a nearby fire escape.

I next wandered over to the Jefferson Market Library to pick up a book. I love this branch of the New York Public Library with its Gothic design and grand size (the building is a former courthouse). I had just stepped outside when I noticed a protest going on across the street about Turkey. I'm not sure about the people in the penguin costumes but the crowd was large enough to warrant an accompanying string of police cars.

I went next door to the Jefferson Market Garden, which I've started to think of as my garden, to literary smell the roses that hung heavily over the garden walls and were in abundance inside (more on the garden in my next post). Suddenly the sun burst forth, turning the sky blue and flooding the garden with light.

After a long time in the garden and the heat, I turned back toward Chelsea, admiring a vintage ad painted on the side of a building along the way (love the old telephone exchange), before turning down West 11th Street. There I was greeted by the sight of some older men hanging out in plastic chairs in front of a barbershop. It reminded me of when I lived in the North End in Boston and the old people would park themselves in lawn chairs in front of the houses and shops once the temperature got above 60 degrees.

Further down the block there were some lovely old townhouses on one side of the street, like this one with its beautiful entrance, while across the way, where St. Vincent Hospital once stood, there was just a shell. The hospital that Edna St. Vincent Millay was named for and which once housed the largest AIDS clinic on the East Coast is gone, having gone bankrupt a few years ago. The plan is to build condos. Welcome to New York.

I had hit Chelsea and was just steps from home when I was greeted by two final sights of the day—a bicycle carrying a bundle of twigs and a sweet bunch of small pink roses. A nice way to end a stroll on a Saturday.

Photos by Michele. 

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