The Mayor's latest initiative is taking shape on Broadway between Times Square and Herald Square. Two lanes have been cordoned off on the east side of the street and paved with what looks like birdseed; a green lane along the curb is supposed to be for bicycles. Yesterday the orange cones and barrels that temporarily separated vehicular traffic from this pedestrian sanctuary were being herded onto corners and replaced along the Great White Way with giant planters. A man with a hose hooked up to a fire hydrant was soaking the new plantings, and other men were busy securing shiny new blue benches to the pavement. A few people perched on the benches, their backs to traffic, pecking on sandwiches. A woman sat on the curb, painting her toenails.
I confess, I am dubious about this project. The other night, I had to take a cab to get downtown fast from the office and was irritated when my cab was stuck in the two narrow lanes of traffic remaining on Broadway. It was hot yesterday, the sun beating down on the bottom of the canyon, and you would not have caught me sitting out there, even under an umbrella, unless they were serving free beer. The Mayor's path leads directly to Macy's. I had a coupon for fifteen percent off anything I wanted at Macy's, but I couldn't think of anything I wanted. If the Mayor has visions of changing New York on the scale of Robert Moses, this is a very small start. He has cut a wider swath for jaywalkers.
But the Mayor's Broadway Promenade was upstaged by the Mayor himself yesterday when he described, in Las Vegas, his vision of windmills on top of skyscrapers and out at sea, generating power for the city. There is a tendency to think the Mayor is nuts. Doesn't windpower depend on wind? And isn't wind inconstant? Then again windmills would bring New Amsterdam back to its Dutch origins. The wind farms would be off the coast of Brooklyn and Queens—Breezy Point will be up in arms—but supposedly they could be far enough offshore to be invisible to a person who is near-sighted.
Let us be kind and say that this new scheme of the Mayor's is nothing if not quixotic and wish him luck.