The last summer in the City
Thursday, August 01, 2019
This is the last summer of the Fuchsias in the City. This city, anyway. Yes, we're leaving Manhattan! And not just to another outer borough. Or Long Island, or up the Hudson, or even across the river to the former Garden State, New Jersey. This move's serious and bi-coastal. The Fuchsias in the City are moving to the City of Fuchsias, Portland, Oregon. OK. It's really nicknamed the City of Roses but, as everyone knows, I look at the world through fuchsia-colored glasses and not rose-colored ones. Did you know that the International Rose Test Garden in Portland's Washington Park actually has a fuchsia display garden at its side? Yup. The City of Fuchsias.
It's both a bit melancholy and exhilarating to be moving. This garden's been in progress for a couple of decades. It's time for some change. The neighborhood's been changing around it, anyway. Developers have been slowly strip-mining Yorkville for ever more high-rise hamster habitats to satisfy the real estate market for luxury apartment boxes so luxurious they have four walls and a ceiling. The pace has picked up recently with the opening of the Q-Train extension on Second Avenue. There are literally dozens of construction sites within a several block radius.
Change is inevitable. But this is the kind of change that sterilizes the streetscape. Dead lobbies face the sidewalk. Small businesses disappear with each new erection. This isn't real city life. Unless your idea of an urban New York is leaving your hermetically sealed building for one of a dozen Starbucks within a ten-minute walk or yet another salon to have your toes done. I won't even mention the number of local bank branches and chain pharmacies now at my beck and call. It's very un-urban, un-New York. Especially for Yorkville.
There was an omen. The real, direct frustration to the changing face of Yorkville was two-and-a-half years ago. After Christmas, I came home to a lovely present at the end of the block as yet two more of the last four remaining historic five-floor walkups on East End Avenue were being demolished. Ugh oh. Now what? The local Beastly School for Girls had apparently gotten permission for a new building on East End. Otherwise they would have had to move to the suburbs where limos fear to tread. Heaven forbid.
There's already an unfortunately tall, 42-story building next door at the other corner. It was negligently allowed in the Seventies when buying air-rights was the excuse for excessive height in vulnerable neighborhoods. It casts a very long shadow as the sun passes behind it. There's another of later vintage on the opposite corner. It does the same. So, slowly, ever so slowly next door, up goes a new, exclusive ten-story hulk, three times the height of the old buildings, with an expansive tombstone of a backside punctured in a couple of places by a window and crowned with a two-story gymnasium. And there goes stolen more of the sunshine that brightened the fuchsias in the morning. And me.
It's all for the good. On the brighter side, great opportunities suddenly presented themselves from a distance. The Pacific Northwest came knocking and we took up it's kind offer of refuge. I'll be closing the gate on this garden at the end of September. I'll both miss and won't miss my 1/94th of an acre in Manhattan. (That's 1/226th of a hectare, for you metric speakers.) Honestly, I can use some more space inside as well. And something more than two windows. I'm not even going to start fantasizing about the little greenhouse of my dreams. [Right. I am.] It's always hard to leave a garden and a city you've tended for this long. It's happening fast, though. There's nothing other than a temporary base-station at the other end of the trail to Oregon so far but I'll be looking for a new garden with a house in it. I have no idea what it'll be or what form it'll take. That's an exciting anticipation. And I am getting a bit teary-eyed thinking about being able to grow tomatoes again.
More soon. Do keep tabs on me on Twitter ➤ @Fuchsiarius as the story develops. Or ➤ Instagram.