Shopping bag art displayed in a window in Chelsea

Walking, unquestionably, helped ground me in the first phase of this transition from my prior 35 years residing in Brooklyn to being a new resident of Manhattan. During those first few weeks, and even now as I am approaching the 2nd month mark, I am walking to most places.  My most ambitious walk so far has been back from my new apartment on the Upper West Side, after a meeting with the contractor, to my temporary digs in Murray Hill.

My most memorable walk occurred one morning as I went to the F train station adjacent to Bryant Park, on 42nd Street, and discovered “Library Way”, one block between Madison and Fifth Avenues.  On that block, unremarkable in any way for land use, which consists of the usual New York City gritty mix of delis, manicure shops, entrances to worn mid-block commercial office buildings and the like, are these miraculous bronze plaques set into the sidewalk.  The plaques, about 30″ x 40″ in size and spaced approximately every 8′ or so, offer inspirational quotes about reading, writing and literature from notable writers.

The plaques are not in pristine condition.  Thousands and thousands of feet have walked over them, and even stopping to photograph them can be dangerous in the steady stream of pedestrian traffic on a typical rush hour morning in Midtown.  Some old gum, now black, even soils one of the bronze doilies in the Dickinson quote. However, by the end of that one block walk, which, not coincidentally, terminates in front of the main branch of the New York Public Library across Fifth Avenue, the plaques had worked their magic and I felt almost buoyant.  It was one of those experiences that affirmed my determination to treat this entire experience as one great adventure, filled with possible discoveries at every turn.

Bronze sidewalk plaque with Emily Dickinson quote