Thursday, September 29, 2011

Manhattan: Urban Living

What's it like to live in a  big city, one with relatively small land space but millions of residents? Where does everyone live? How do urban dwellers go about their daily lives? 

It may surprise you to learn that big cities are usually "greener" than the suburbs or rural areas. A Manhattan resident's carbon footprint is 30% smaller than the average American. Why is this so? Because fewer people own cars so most residents walk, bike, or take mass transportation to work. And they live in large apartment buildings that require less energy to heat or cool. Consider the photographs below. What aspects of urban living do you see?

In the first seven photographs you can see large buildings that contain apartments. Many have store fronts on the first level. Look for the fire escapes. Why are these important? Would you like to live in a big city in an apartment? What would be the advantages?

Does this market look like the place where you buy your groceries? How is it the same? How is it different? Many markets dot Manhattan neighborhood streets. There also are street vendors that sell fresh fruits and vegetables from their carts.


In warm weather restaurants have outside seating or set up temporary places to eat. Where can you eat outside where you live?

Churches and houses of worship of all religions and denominations can be found around Manhattan. Many of them are old. You will notice that there is extremely limited parking. How do parishioners get to this church? How do people in your area get to church?

Sometimes, old buildings are used for new purposes. Once, this large structure housed a bank. Now it is home to a drug store. What buildings where you live are now used for things other than their original intent?

There are thousands of taxis in Manhattan. Are there taxis where you live? How common are they? Is there any kind of mass transportation available? With our highways becoming more and more crowded, and exhaust from vehicles polluting our air, perhaps it is time for mass transportation to again become common.

Manhattan Streets are usually crowded. It is common to see people walking their dogs or out for a stroll. Some parks have special sections for dogs to run and play. If you live in a big city and rely on mass transportation, you get a lot of exercise walking from your bus or subway stop to wherever you are going.

Restaurants abound in Manhattan. While there are some chains, most are locally owned and many serve ethnic foods. What locally owned restaurants serve your area? What kinds of foods are served in your local restaurants?

This school is located in the downtown area. Where do you think the children play at recess?

One advantage of living in Manhattan is the availability of goods. Anything you want to buy can be found. These store fronts also have apartments above them. 

Living in Manhattan is exceptionally expensive. A tiny studio apartment (basically one room) can cost $2,000 per month in rent. Luxury apartments can cost millions. The tops of many apartment buildings have trees and gardens on the roofs. Often, you can see the trees from the street level.

In Manhattan, space is at a premium, which is why buildings have many stories. Skyscrapers are extremely tall buildings; the first ones had only ten to twenty stories and were built in the late 1800s. What inventions do you think led to the building of higher and high skyscrapers? Did you guess steel structures, elevators, central heating, and electrical plumbing pumps?

Street performers are common in the city. This man was tapping out rhythms on the railing using drum sticks.

Even though residents of Manhattan live in apartment buildings, they also enjoy visiting parks. There are a multitude of parks that provide space for people to relax and enjoy sitting on benches to read, talk to friends, or eat lunch. The parks are a nice place to take a break.  

Washington Square Park is a well known park in the Greenwich Village section of Manhattan. Washington Arch (above) and the large fountain (below) are two of the prominent features of this park. On a sunny day the park is filled with people enjoying the green space. For whom do you think this park was named?

On the pavement in Washington Square Park someone stenciled the sign below. It is true that homeless people often make the parks their homes. But many of the parks close before midnight. Where do you think the homeless people go when the parks are not open? How hard would it be to be homeless? Many people think homeless people are lazy, but it takes a lot of work to survive if you are homeless.

This aerial view of Central Park helps you see just how small Manhattan is and how much space was set aside in the park for everyone to enjoy.

Do you recognize this red tailed hawk? He is famous. His name is Pale Male and his mate is called Lola. New Yorkers care very much about him. Pale Male has been in the news for the past several years. Here you see him taking a twig to his nest that is located high on the side of a Manhattan building. What else can you find out about Pale Male?

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