Don’t sleep here

Makeshift bed at construction site.

The area above Madison Square Park in Manhattan is in a condo- building frenzy. Of course all of Manhattan (and Brooklyn and Queens) is in a condo-building frenzy. But above Madison Square Park there is a particularly feverish keenness to the activity, as the glamor of the Flatiron District moves north to a zone that was formerly best known for its gaudy wig and cheap lingerie wholesalers.

The richie rich are buying, and who can blame them? Proximity to Madison Square Park and the chic shops south of 23rd Street makes for an elegance that is almost Parisian—or at least suggests the possibility of such a way of life.

Huge signs affixed to newly rising high-rises and condo converted prewar office buildings trumpet the glory of living here. But there are other signs, as well.

Barely noticed in the builders’ gold rush, the poorest poor, pushed off the benches of Madison Square Park, take shelter in the very construction sites that signify their doom. When this building is finished, the rich will sleep here. ‘Til then, it’s the poor who do so. And what do they dream?


[tags]americandream, housing, homeless, homelessness, shelter, cities, urbanism, newyork, newyorkcity, NYC, boom, highrises, condos, condosandcoops, nest, citythatneversleeps[/tags]

14 thoughts on “Don’t sleep here

  1. A month ago, I ran into a guy passing out religious tracts and such outside a strip mall.

    His front tooth was missing.

    He told me had had been a crack cocaine dealer and a pimp and lost his family as a result. Next he mentioned the turning point and the recent benefits.

    For the first time in years, he’s visited with his children.

    “Can you put a price tag on that?” I asked.

    We both tried to keep from crying visibly.

    Maybe some of the folks who find the spray-painted walls comforting, remember their childhood lullaby’s or the ones they sang to their own kids and dream of better days.

  2. I have a love affair with NYC. What I like is the diversity of its people. My heart skips a beat when I hop off the GWB @178th. I take the long way in just for the flavor. I can’t help thinking that despite how rich Manhattan is they are a bit poorer whithout considering the entire population of that island. BTW I love the pics.

  3. Love the pics. I’ve seen this epidemic all over in California. The rich buy up everything, and those who aren’t rich, like me, can’t afford to buy at all.

  4. We are first-time home buyers. Even if you can clear the hurdle of high prices and a high down payment, it is very hard to get a mortgage now. Almost every day I run to the bank or to my accountant to get a different kind of report some new potential lender requires.

    The mortgage industry is collapsing because of the housing crisis in most of the country; but housing prices are booming _here_. Middle class would-be homeowners are caught in the crosshairs. As for teachers, cops, and firefighters, they’ve already been priced out. There is a real potential for this to become an island of the rich and the very poor.

    I’ve been re-reading A Tale of Two Cities and I don’t think it ends that well.

  5. I’ve been there! In NYC that is, and have done charity outreaches with Heart & Soul on Coney Island to help the homeless. I’ve traveled to many major cities and the plight is frequently the same. Unless we truly learn to love our neighbor, the root of the matter will never be eradicated. Thanks for the post!

  6. Thanks for this post. I kind of wish that some of the people sleeping there could be included in this conversation. Unfortunately, this blogging thing is a privilege. I don’t know if you’re a religious man, but a wise Jewish sage named Jesus has a story about a rich man tearing down his already big grain houses to build larger ones on top of them, only to die in the process of building. Another wise sage says that “the stomachs of the poor are the blessed storehouses.” No matter your “beliefs,” I think these words of wisdom are a testimony to the disparaging gap developing where the middle class now stands. We do no good by gentrifying our cities and pushing the poorest of the poor out to the streets and to other neighborhoods. The problem is still a problem no matter how hidden it is from the rich. Thanks for using some of your influence with this post!

  7. Homelessness is an enormous tragedy. They are often very valuable people who became homeless as a result of the ill-fated situation. Of course there are also people who are homeless by choice. Let us remember that it may happen to each of us therefore let us not be blind to them. Greetings.

  8. As long as one has enough money, everything is all right.
    It only remains to hope, that the destiny of the homelessness remains saved to one.

  9. Three beggars sit in New York. First writes on its broken sheet metal cup begging, and after one day, he has 10 dollar. Second writes on its cup, and after one day, he has 10,000 dollar. One wanted to even also take it to the NASDAQ. Third writes on its sheet metal cup. IBM and HP sent your vices-president to him, in order to discuss a strategic alliance, offered to it free hardware and professional consultation and Larry Ellison announced on CNBC, that e-beg works to 95% with ORACLE technology. And Cisco announced, that as well as the complete e-beg data traffic runs over their equipment…

  10. Homeless people do not fit into the picture of a society, for which city centers are re-designed to leisure facilities and window blind landscapes. City centres are considered as visiting card of the cities, which are coined/shaped with priority by the interests of the retail trade, and which wishes itself above all the unimpaired consumption retail trade. This trend can be observed also at many stations, which became after the structural alteration measures of the last years shopping centres with rail connection. Fact is however, that homeless people need the public. Public means also protection from force. Who lives in hiding places, is unprotected.

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