As I prepare this week's report in midtown Manhattan an uneasiness still lingers in the air as news spreads of a big explosion at approx 9:30am (EST) this morning further uptown in East Harlem on 116th St and Park Ave. with details slowly trickling in: the latest being that two women are dead, seventeen injured, and 20 missing, with the cause of the explosion of the two residential buildings been a gas leak. But before that news was released people here were feeling most uneasy. Even thirteen years later, ever-anxious New Yorkers automatically slip into that nervous 9/11 mental mode when anything vaguely resembling the WTC attacks occur - especially an out of the blue explosion with heavy smoke billowing high into the Manhattan skyline and viewable even two miles away. As one witness, Samuel Paul, told CBS News in a report little earlier this morning, "The smoke started to rise. It looked like something fell because it wasn't like a fire. It just looked like debris smoke, similar to 9/11." As of publishing this Amoeblog all the latest news reports indicate that the blast was the result of a gas leak. Thoughts/prayers go out to those victims of this explosion that no doubt you will learn more about care of national news reports continue throughout the day.
Meanwhile a newly released national report on public transit habits of Americans shows that New Yorkers, already known for taking public transit more than other cities due to the fact that is mostly impractical and very costly to own a car if you live in the city here, have increased their public transit usage. NYC subway ridership increased by 4.2% between 2012 and 2013 and local transit usage experts here predict that this upward trend of increased usage will continue in through the rest of 2014. The MTA cites reasons for improved subway (and bus) ridership as being due to a decrease in crimes on the subways and an increase in young (IE so called "millennials") ridership who tend to shun car ownership. Add to this the increase in popularity of Zip Car and other short term car rentals in NYC (note: whose prices have risen substantially due to demand) and the overwhelming popularity of the NYC bike share program CitiBike. Note that CitiBike operators recently made a statement that, due to the high costs of operating the bike share system, that they may increase the membership costs. Not yet one year old CitiBike's current fees are approximately $100 a year (a good deal!) and $10 a day. Another local transit report, one from NYU's Rudin Center for Transportation, indicates that those CitiBike racks/parking stations close to subway stops tend to get the most usage for New Yorkers completing a trip's "last mile." Makes sense. That same study center at NYU also recently launched a NYC Mobility Factbook website to explain "how people move in, through and out of New York City" with the site conveying, for each of NYC’s 28 modes, precise usage patterns and trends that should be of interest to those living in or visiting NYC.
Ellie Goulding, pictured above at Amoeba Hollywood during an October 2012 in-store set, will be performing at the Theater at Madison Square Garden (MSG) tonight and tomorrow (March 12th & 13th). Tickets to see the award winning British songstress are at a relatively reasonable price of $29.50 to $45 price tag. 8pm show. Tix and more info here. Another popular female singer, New Zealand's teen singing sensation Lorde, will be in town tonight when she'll perform at Roseland Ballroom. 7pm show. Tix $42.50 - $55. Tix/more info. Talented Connecticut rapper Apathy will be at the Studio at Webster Hall on Friday night on a diverse bill that also includes punk rock bandD.R.I. (Dirty Rotten Imbeciles). 7pm show. 19+ $20 tickets. More info here.
Woody Guthrie is the source of inspiration for the excellent (and free) new art installation in Madison Square Park by Brooklyn based, Chilean artist Iván Navarro. Named after Guthrie's famous song his installation This Land Is Your Land consists of three separate water towers that you can walk underneath and look up at the optical illusion created by the artist with neon lights and mirrors that give the impression the approx 5 foot tall towers go on for 100 feet or more. Upon closer inspection, when I stopped by last eve (the first nice weather day in New York in months), myself and other visitors noticed that the neon lights spelled out words like "ME" and "WE" (depending on how you look at it) while another (see pic left I took) looks like a long ladder that stretches to infinity. I also noticed speakers inbuilt into the towers but no sound was emitting when I stopped by. According to the placard beside the installation the towers are meant to hold special meaning to those, like the immigrant artist, have immigrated to the US and hence the title of the exhibit after the famed patriotic folk song by Woody Guthrie - "This Land Is Your Land." The installation will remain on display in the Flatiron District park through April 13th. More info here.