Walk #4

4 August 2004
7:54 pm to 8:54 pm
Heads: 52
Tails: 49
Intersections: 69
Ending point: 1 North End Avenue
Latitude/longitude: 40:42:52.409N/74:00:58.536W
Distance from home: 0.2848 miles
Literature received: none
Coin: Texas quarter (2004 D)

A phony terror alert was in full swing, so as I walked through the financial district early on a Friday evening, there were more cops than other people: Next to the World Trade Center site, I saw a homeless woman sitting on the sidewalk, with her black-and-red cowboy boots beside her.

I wandered around southern Tribeca, and over to City Hall Park, and then back west to West Street. I jogged up north a few blocks, and then crossed the road, passed Stuyvesant High School, came back towards the glowing purple lights of the movie theater, and around in circles for a while on a traffic island. And then I headed into Battery Park City just as a free Ohio Players concert ended, disgorging crowds, many of whom clustered around the band’s trailer, hoping for autographs.

I passed through the darkening park, watching other people enjoy the summer heat, and stopped just outside the New York Mercantile Exchange. It was a pleasant summer night: a flock of Rollerbladers came whizzing by. I took a picture of the door of the Exchange, and then one of a bicycle rack just outside. A security guard came out and told me, reasonably politely, that I wasn’t allowed to take pictures of the building, and that I would have to erase those two shots or he’d have to call over the cops. I didn’t want to make a scene, so I deleted the pictures from my camera. We agreed that I’d be fine taking other pictures in the area, so long as I didn’t take a picture of the building itself.

I then took a picture of the lane north, towards the hunger memorial. A different security guard promptly materialized, telling me I wasn’t allowed to take pictures. I pointed out I wasn’t photographing the building, but he wasn’t happy that I was taking a picture of the lane. I asked if it would be okay if I took pictures of the water and the Winter Garden, and he grudgingly agreed.

I took some more photos for five minutes or so, at which point a third security guard appeared. The policy now, apparently, was no pictures at all. I went home, wondering how my neighborhood had become top-secret. When did I start living in Area 51? As I walked home, it began to rain.