I had an unexpected opportunity to walk around NYC last Friday when I visited Ecostore’s launch at Duane Reade. I lived in and around NYC for the last thirty years and honestly, I never paid attention to what the big deal was about my city. I mean, why would people be jealous that I lived in NY? OK, so we have theaters, museums, restaurants, shopping, landmarks, and millions of eclectic mix of charming and generous people. Don’t all cities have them? I think so.
Well, I don’t know the reasons why people get jealous but I’ll tell you the reason why I might just consider retiring in NYC. I was struck by a new sense of awe last Friday when it suddenly dawned on me how eco friendly Manhattan really is. Do you know how many people were walking, taking the train, riding the bus, and cycling through the busy streets? I think I saw at least a million.
Seriously, read the following crazy statistics about Manhattan.
|47.0 million||visitors to NYC in 2008|
|301 square miles||area of Manhattan|
|843 acres||area of Central Park|
|3,879||miles of bus routes|
|371.77 million||total number of bus riders in 2006|
|660||miles of subway tracks|
|4.9 million||average weekday riders 2006|
|1.5 billion||yearly riders 2006|
While these numbers may seem uninteresting, I was more impressed with what the numbers translate to – that NYC is a densely populated but the most eco-friendly city in the US. That’s right. You read correctly.
When I lived in NYC, I walked everywhere. When I was impatient waiting for the subway, I’d walk twelve blocks without a thought. I’d take the bus because it was a nice day and I didn’t want to go underground to use the subway. And I lived a block away from the lush greens of Central Park where I can run, play frisbee, and listen to the New York Philharmonic Orchestra play, for free, under the stars.
So I can see why NYC is considered to be the most eco-friendly city in the US. Read Treehugger’s reasons why. Specifically….
1. The average Manhattan resident consumes just 90 gallons of gasoline per year – not the norm in the rest of the country since the 1020’s.
2. New Yorkers consume far less electricity than everyone else in the United States: 4,700 kWh per year versus 11,000 kWh on average in the rest of the country.
3. NYC accounts for nearly one-third of all public transit miles traveled in the US. 82% of Manhattan residents travel to work by public transit, bicycle, or foot — ten times the rate for the rest of the nation, eight times that of Los Angeles and sixteen times that of Atlanta.
4. The Big Apple boasts the lowest rate of automobile ownership in the nation: 54% of households in the city as a whole don’t own a car, with 77% of Manhattanites car-less.
5. New Yorkers have the smallest carbon footprint in the nation — 7.1 metric tons versus about 20 metric tons average for the nation, with Manhattanites have even lower than the city as a whole.
I was very pleased to read this on Treehugger as I, personally, know how easy it is to get around the city without a car and in fact, the public transportation system is one of the best in the country, if not the best. No wonder the “No Impact Man” Colin Beaven could live without using electricity or gas; he lives in Manhattan! I don’t know if he could have pulled it off if he lived anywhere else.
I admit, I have been to some of the loveliest and eco-friendliest parts of Manhattan and I didn’t even realize it in the past or I took it for granted, to say the least. I recently posted about the High Line Park opening when I couldn’t even go up to the Park because of the long lines.
I’ve shopped at the outdoor Union Street Farmers Market downtown, the indoor Chelsea Market by the Meat Packing District on the Westside, and the Grand Central Market inside the Grand Central Terminal. These are just three out of more than twenty farmer’s markets that feed the city.
Then, there is the Pedestrian Mall in Midtown, a Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s newest experiment in his effort to reduce traffic congestion in Midtown where several blocks of Broadway from Times Square and Herald Square is closed for vehicle traffic. The plan by Mayor Bloomberg is to change the way the city thinks of its streets, making them more friendly to pedestrians and cyclists and away from the dominance of the automobiles. I had lunch on one of those tables last Friday.
And who can forget the Central Park – 843 acres of green oasis amidst the concrete jungle. It is a carefully planned park managed by Central Park Conservancy that carefully oversees planning, managing, and maintaining this behemoth of green lush, with a zoo, ice skating rinks, a swimming pool, lakes, a theater, a reservoir, open meadows, and playgrounds and much more for New Yorkers to enjoy. I spent some memorable summers with friends, picnicking while listening to the NY Philharmonic on the Great Lawn.
So, I can see now why people are jealous that I live in NY. But don’t be too jealous. Like, me, I’m sure you didn’t realize how great your city is too.