In Closing

6 September 2010, 9:15 PM – Lower East Side, NY

“An opportunity to step back and reflect on common space in the city.”

After just almost two months, we’ve come full circle. Summer, and with it, the Key to the City project has come to an end. While summer is still officially two weeks longer, it’s been long over here on the Lower East Side, as the fall term of freshman year began over a week ago.

I didn’t go to all the sites for the ‘special prize’, like some did (of course, going to all the sites was impossible due to the closure of the Metropolitan Museum’s lock, but that point was moot anyway), nor did I go on any dates involving the Key, like others (though I did get to spend time with friends while on the journey). But from the 14 locks (3 in Brooklyn, 2 in the Bronx, 6 in Manhattan, and 3 in Queens – sorry, Staten Island) I visited and opened, I learned a bit along the way:

  • I learned that it’s a good thing I never had to discuss Louis Armstrong being nude;
  • That mint chocolate chip and cherry is in fact a great mix for a milkshake;
  • That libraries are awesomer when there are cans of Hammerhead Shark inside;
  • That Joyce Dinkins liked to greet Gracie Mansion tours, and that Mayor/Usurper of the Public Will Bloomberg’s a putz for not living in such a beautiful home;
  • That phallic symbols are everywhere;
  • That Little Caesar’s still makes great pizza (at least when based on nostalgia);
  • That the work of Yoko Ono still annoys me (shocker);
  • That every scrap of history in New York always comes back to Alexander Hamilton;
  • That Andy Warhol was probably first popular in Europe, then in the States, and that hidden doors are freakin’ awesome;
  • That blowing bubbles is fun;
  • That I’m still afraid of bridges;
  • That Tortilleria Nixtamal makes, without question, the best tacos in New York;
  • That regular people should not run light-posts;
  • And that ancestry isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be.

Yet, looking at the experience as a whole, there’s one more thing I learned: culture should be for the entirety of the city, not just a select few. Everyone should get to see these pieces of New York, not just those that hold a special Medeco key. While the goal of this exhibition was to unite, it merely divided even further.

I give Key to the City credit for one thing, though: it gave me reason to visit places in my own backyard that I never would have. I wouldn’t even think about going to the Bronx to see community gardens, or to Forest Hills for old-fashioned milkshakes. Sure, most of the places in Manhattan I had been to before (the George Washington Bridge and Gracie Mansion being the lone exceptions), but the visits allowed for new experiences. The Key unlocked the City, certainly, but shouldn’t have it been open already?

Revisit the sites along the journey by clicking the links above.

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