It was a rainy Sunday afternoon. I left my house on 174th St and Linden Blvd and walked to the intersection of 115th Ave and Merrick Blvd to go to Rite Aid. My trip to Rite Aid was of the usual sort, just to get some lip balm and Dr. Bronner’s Castille Soap, but then I realized I should observe the area. Maybe I’ll find something that I hadn’t noticed before? So, I stood there on Merrick Blvd in my rain coat with my notebook in my handbook, jotting down what I saw.
The most visible was a boulevard with cars traveling both ways, two lanes on each side walk. The road, which is usually laden with traffic on the weeknights and Saturdays, was light on Sunday. Most of the cars were going to and from church with an occasional MTA bus passing by. There wasn’t any foot traffic either- most of which were people walking to their cars from church or people getting off the bus to walk home. The dominican hair salon nearby was filled with people and the Cheung Hing, the local Chinese food store, was empty. The owner and his wife were sitting down playing with their kids. It was a Sunday afternoon in a heavily West-Indian neighborhood, people are cooking their own food tonight.
The eyes on the street were shut. Barely anyone was out of their house, nor does the design of the community promote that because of the absence of benches on Merrick Blvd. Am I safe with the lack of eyes on the street? I felt safe- it was a Sunday afternoon where people are at church after all. I did not see any of my community staples either, but it still felt like a neighborhood. I said hello to Cheung Hing’s owner and good afternoon to the old Jamaican ladies walking from church and it nice knowing that even though I don’t know their names, I trusted them with my safety on the street. Maybe this was Jacobs’ vision.