A Cracker Discovers Seward Park
The desire to avoid weekend tourists and shopping crowds plus a craving for a doughnut from The Doughnut Plant - you really should only eat one of these monsters, but I managed to snarf down two - sent me fleeing from the East Village to Essex and Grand Street on Saturday. What a great idea. After fighting packs of brunching hipsters, we finally crossed Delancey and made our way to what seemed like a flashback to mid-80's East Village. Still a little derelict, lots of Chinese general stores, groceries, and restaurants, some beautifully empty lots, and just local folks out doing their errands and Jewish families going to temple. There was definitely some gentrifyin' goin' on but nothing like the blocks north of this area. A pack of high school boys even called out, "Cracker!" at me which warmed my soul and quickened my step a little. No, really, I was honestly glad to hear it - it seemed like the old days. After my coconut cream donuts and a fifty cent (only 50 cents!) bottle of Poland Spring (Good Lord, I guess I am a cracker), we explored the far east area of Chinatown and fell in love with it. It just seemed authentic. The towering housing complexes aren't exactly architectural treasures, but the old row houses and winding side streets in that area are. This is the neighborhood that has the city's oldest electric lamp post still in operation - stuff like that thrills me (a love of historical trivia is unquestionable proof of my crackerness). I then walked to Seward Park which is the run down anchor for the area and it looked a little like late 80's pre-renovation Tompkins Square which made it more appealing. After picking up a Villager newspaper, I learned there is a public discussion and 'visionary' movement on what to do with the adjoining large tract of leveled property called SPURA - Seward Park Urban Renewal Area. I say leave it alone. Let it be vacant, but that's not possible of course. These seminars are sponsored by one of my favorite organizations, Place Matters, which is associated with the Municipal Arts Society. Check them out too.