Sunday, 12 January 2014

Fifth Avenue

Fifth Avenue is very flash and fancy pants.  

It is a major thoroughfare in the centre of Manhattan and serves as the dividing line for housenumbering and west-east streets in Manhattan. It separates, for example, East 59th Street from West 59th Street. From this zero point for street addresses, numbers increase in both directions as one moves away from Fifth Avenue.

Fifth Avenue is often referred to as the most expensive street in the world. This, of course depends on the economy, but it certainly has some ritzy stores and the American Planning Association who are all about encouraging communities to flourish, put Fifth Avenue at the top of the list in 2012 for Great Places to Visit. It is THE street to visit in America. No pressure, Fifth Avenue.

So. I have walked down The Street. It is partly wasted on me. I am not a shopper. So, while I got a certain thrill from seeing such legendary stores as Bloomingdales and Saks Fifth Avenue, I didn't really want to go inside and peruse their wares. I know. Sorry.

There is also a stretch of Fifth Avenue referred to as Museum Mile. From 82nd to 105th Streets on the Upper East Side, there is a dense cultural richness, should you have the time and inclination, waiting for you.

I did not go to Museums (except for the Tenement (Immigration) Museum which I loved) or Art Galleries while I was in New York. You may well shake your heads at me and chastise me for my lack of culture. But I just was not in a space where I wanted to stand in long ticket queues and then be trapped into having to invest the required amount of time it takes to appreciate art and history and culture. Don't get me wrong, I do enjoy art and culture. But I had the impression that I would miss out on New York if I was indoors looking at things. The thing I loved the most...or, one of the things I loved most about New York, was the walking around and taking it all in, the stumbling on things, places, people.

This did also happen on Fifth Avenue. I absolutely appreciated being taken to the Rockefeller Centre at night and loved the way it was lit up and seeing the ice skating rink at its base.

And I also loved the Flatiron building which is all the way down by Union Square. In 1902 when it was built, the Flatiron building was one of the tallest skyscrapers in New York. It is still a functioning office building.

So, perhaps Fifth Avenue was wasted on me. And perhaps it was not. I loved it just for it being itself and not for what it gave me in terms of possessions and edification.

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