19 September 2019

Their Side Of The Tracks

Most days, my commute takes me along an industrial stretch of East 141st Street that dead-ends at Park Avenue.

It is not, however, the Park Avenue that comes to most people's minds:  the one lined by canopied buildings to which well-dressed residents are escorted from taxis or limousines by white-gloved concierges.  Rather, it is the Park Avenue bound by the Metro North commuter railroad tracks after it crosses the Harlem River from Manhattan into the Bronx.

As I pedaled down 141st Street, I saw, those bicycles parked by the railroad tracks.

That, in itself, was unusual, as the few bikes one sees in the area are locked to light poles or sign posts.  But, in a move so cinematic it couldn't have been scripted, I turned to my right and saw this:

Those young men are living in that tent, by the tracks, and use the bikes to get around--just three blocks from the college.  At the end of a street where construction materials and chicken tenders are made.  Next to the tracks where trains, at that very moment, were ferrying commuters from Greenwich and Rye and Mount Kisco to Grand Central Station, where they would board subways and hail taxis to the places where they work and get paid.

Most likely, none of the passengers saw the bikes, the tent--or the men who ride those bikes in search of food and bottles, cans and other castoffs to sell.


  1. Like a scene out of Neil Gaiman's "Neverwhere"- the invisible homeless.

  2. I pass scenes like this all the time in New Orleans. People set up tents under the interstates. Some live from bikes and seem to work but are but live rough. They are not that invisible.

  3. On my commute I pass under a viaduct. In the structuraral hollows underneath there is piece of plywood cut to fit one of the squares. Behind that plywood lives a human being. He's been there for years. 200 yards down the trail I pass behind a lovely row of $400K houses. I wonder if they know of their neighbor?