I tried a month of New York Living and I will not shut up about it.
It made me appreciate New Haven, which I wrote about. But it also made me realize New Haven, being a much smaller city, also lacks so many of the things that make a larger city special.
Well, we should steal those things. The ones that make sense, anyway. We probably won’t be able to open as many milk-based bars or American History Museums.
Hot Dog Vendors in the Park
You can only spend so much time in a park before you need a hot dog. That’s what scientists are saying.
Sooner or later, you’ll want an ice cold beverage or some kind of snack. It doesn’t have to be anything obtrusive. Allow a few hot dot/drink vendors to setup in Edgewood Park, East Rock Park, the Green. People are way more likely to stick around for a little while if they can get a snack or a drink. People forget to pack stuff.
I always make fun of my friend Monica for over-preparing, but she always has snacks. Well, the rest of us just want some snacks. Seems like an easy win for the city, people spend a few bucks, eat a hot dog, look at a few trees, everybody wins.
Imagine yourself walking on a gorgeous spring day in New Haven. The cherry blossoms are blooming. Yale’s gothic architecture towers above you, the smell of local restaurants waft through the air. It’s almost perfect.
Except you have to pee.
But what are your options? You could use a Port-a-Pottie on the Green, which is a great spot for realizing that losing your sense of smell to COVID is not entirely terrible.
Larger parks in New York City all have public restrooms. Someone works there. It’s clean. People can use it. It’s great.
Instead of going home, you use the facilities and keep walking around and spending money. Bam, I’m an economist.
How much could a bathroom possibly cost to put in, like a million bucks? Come on. That’s like 1% of a school. Let’s do this.
It is so goddamned ridiculous that New Haven’s most valuable, ocean-front-ish property is a giant highway interchange.
But you know what? The west side of Manhattan has the West Side Highway and they still had the decency to give everyone nice running tracks and piers with bars and cute little parks which jut out from the walkway.
Listen. Food Truck Paradise was… an idea. And it’s absolutely a great way to concentrate discarded trash in a nice, convenient area for everyone to look at together.
But we can do better. This all needs to be built out. Build out some wood piers for walking, put out vendor places to bid, some cool little waterfront dining options.
Maybe enforce some parking laws and noise ordinances, who knows, the sky’s the limit.
The Empire State Building
What if we stole… the most famous building in the world. Okay, hear me out.
We gather a ragtag bunch of con-artists, safe-crackers, ballet dancers, and hackers.
Obviously, they all have to be incredible looking.
And we steal the Empire State Building.
We’ll just tell them this is another, different building, and we haven’t seen their building but we heard New Jersey was doing some shady shit.
Bring Back Bike Share
In early 2020, with COVID looming, New Haven’s bike share company suspended service indefinitely.
After all, what could be more dangerous than people riding their bike outside.
In fact, the implementation of New Haven’s bike share was… spotty, to be generous. The app was difficult to use. The company put ugly McDonald’s mini-billboards in a variety of neighborhoods. The whole thing was kind of a disaster. New Haven-style, if you will.
Well it’s almost 2022, and still no bike share. Even though CitiBike in New York is enjoying record numbers, we’re just sitting here using our legs like neanderthals.
Of course, Yale has a bike share. And what could be more New Haven than a transportation service exclusively for Yale affiliates and nobody else. Free shuttles and bike share for them, and for us… well, I’m sure the bus will eventually come.
Let’s get it together, New Haven.
We aren’t going to compete with New York or Boston or even DC or Philadelphia.
But we can still do better. We can be a city that instead of people saying, “Oh, this city is a bit more fun than I thought,” they’ll say, “Oh, New Haven is significantly more fun than I thought and also it was really nice that I was able to find a bathroom and hot dog.”
Just promise me you’ll name one of the bathroom stalls after Between Two Rocks.