On the heels of my recent car-free post, I’ve been reading lately about how the multi-story, suburban style parking structure at the East River Plaza in Harlem is shockingly empty. Now, the shock is on the part of the builder and owner of said parking lot, not of average New Yorkers, I’m sure. East River Plaza is a new-ish shopping center in East Harlem and I’ve been going to the Costco there for about a year, since I started needing large quantities of baking supplies. For a while, Costco was the only tenant but since this was designated as the landing spot of Manhattan’s first Target, I figured I’d be going there long into the future.
Well, to make a long story short, it’s a pain and a half to get there for those of us on the Upper West Side, because anything that involves a crosstown bus in Harlem will inevitably take years off your life. Years spent on that bus. Or waiting for that bus. Or waiting to get on that bus. But it is the only game in town as far as bulk groceries, so I do what I have to do. Today, I headed over there primarily to try the new Target but also picked up a few things at the Costco. In the future, when I need something from Target, I’ll be going back to the one in the Bronx which is a direct shot by subway. Target has a temporary shuttle (it goes till 8/22, a month after they opened) to hype the place but it only took me 1/3 of the way across 116th street, whereupon I waited 20 minutes for a bus, which is crazy in New York, sorry.
But while I was there, I checked out the parking lot which was indeed mostly empty while both Target and Costco were quite busy (there are other stores, Best Buy, Marshall’s, Petco…. I don’t know if they’re all open yet as they were on higher floors and I don’t care about any of them). If you’re wondering, Big Box Stores who insisted on the parking garage, how people are shopping, let me describe the following sights which I witnessed today to you:
- The family filling a little red wagon covered in a blanket.
- The lady walking down 117th Street with a ham under her arm.
- The shuttle, chock full of downtown types.
- The woman looking over the average supermarket size carts at Target in wonder, who said to me, “look how huge these are! They really want you to shop, don’t they?” (hint, if your customer is a person who has never seen a regular grocery cart before, she does not have a car.)
- The large family with each member carrying one bag.
- The innumerable little hand carts.
This all leads me to my letter:
I have a great idea for all those empty parking spots in your big ugly structure! Why not fill them with shuttles which will ferry us sans-automobiles across 116th St. to all our respective subway lines? It can be every 15 or 20 minutes; I realize 116th is crowded as it is. Then, at night, they can have that whole parking garage to themselves.
You may also want to think about selling little red wagons.
As for you, lady with ham, I’ll see you on the shuttle.