Standing there, as if he owned the corner, one lone crew member stood idly by talking on the phone as his fellow contractors dealt with the new mess they were creating right behind him. This drawing was done about two weeks ago, right after the work switched to the east side of Second Avenue. It has been interesting to watch the process start all over. Work seems more efficient for some reason, maybe having learned to deal with everyone and thing they are disrupting in a better way. I can’t count the number of times I watched a pedestrian walk right into the work zone without paying one bit of attention, or blatantly walking around the barricade as if they were sure to be safe anywhere they walked.
About a week ago I received an email from a man named Ben who runs the blog The Launch Box. Ben has been taking photos of the construction since it started as well as becoming a helping hand to the local groups that have formed to deal with the mess the construction has left. He has captured a great account of the whole process, from the first signs announcing the changes that were coming to the latest accident that happened at this same location a week after I drew at the spot. I first found Ben’s blog several months back when I was searching around for info on the project but lost track of it. By coincidence our paths cross again, this time he finding me, as the whole process starts up all over on the other side of 97th street. I find it strange that as I draw the process again on the east side of the street I am being reminded of the details I forgot about from the months of work that have already taken place on the west side. Then on Saturday of last week I was reminded of all the little changes that happened from the very beginning as I went through The Launch Box.
I told Ben this post would go up last week, but as has been the case, work and other projects have just prevented that from happening. I did get out and draw this past week, which I will post in a few days, but in the meantime this is one of the latest two drawings that I have ready to go. Ben and I have our eyes out for each other, I being the more obvious one to spot since not too many people just plop down or find the nearest ledge to set up a pad and draw the surrounding scene. I am sure one of these days a stranger will tap me on the shoulder and start talking, as has happened just about each time I get out there. But this time the conversation will already have started and we can share our experiences of Life on Second.
For those curious, the launch box is what this whole construction site is for. It is here, between 95th and 91st streets, that a huge hole in the ground is being created to lower the mammoth machine that will dig the tunnel for the new T Line. In order to create the box, all utilities, water, sewage and so on have to be diverted away from the center of the street, closer to the buildings. A far cry from the past labors to build many of the existing subways in New York City, where deep trenches were dug along the entire route, tracks laid in and the whole thing covered over when it was done.