People Hanging Out At Union Square

Union Square Park in Manhattan, New York City.

There’s almost always something going on at Union Square, and even when there isn’t, there are still crowds of people there.  The warmer the weather gets, the more people there are.  I imagine quite a few of them are NYU students from the nearby dorms, but there were also people hanging out on the grass, having lunch, reading, or just talking to friends on the benches.

Union Square Park in Manhattan, New York City.

Union Square Park in Manhattan, New York City.

Then, of course, there are tons of people passing through to get to the stores around the Square, and to get to the subway entrances scattered around the area.  Union Square is one of the major subway stations in New York City.

Subway entrance at Union Square, Manhattan, New York City.

I like to walk through the park just to see what kind of people are there.  You never know what you might come across in New York City, after all.

Barnes & Noble at Union Square, Manhattan, New York City.

Three of my favorite stores are situated alongside Union Square: Best Buy, Barnes & Noble and Petco.  I can spend hours just browsing in those stores, especially Barnes & Noble.  Barnes & Noble is like a museum of words.  I could spend a whole weekend just browsing the shelves.  It helps that they have a coffee shop inside (which is a bit expensive, but we can’t have everything right?) and they don’t run around throwing you out if you’ve been hanging around too long.

‘Green’ markets and holiday markets are regularly held in Union Square.  I’m looking forward to finding time to explore one.  I go through there every day, and I’ve seen them quite often, but I’ve never had time to just stop and look.

Donation Point For Japan in Union Square (Manhattan) Today

New York Japanese-American Lions Club in Union Square requesting donations for Japan.

Earlier today, on my way to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, I saw members of the New York Japanese-American Lions Club in Union Square, asking for donations for relief efforts in Japan.  I made a donation myself, directly to the Japanese Red Cross through Google’s Crisis Response page.  Even so, I found myself wanting to donate more, but I had just gone to the bank and only had big bills on me.  I know that sounds cheap, but I have a budget I have to follow too, so I don’t wind up looking for handouts.  I wish I had more to give, but it’s encouraging that companies and prominent individuals are also giving donations to Japan.

New York Japanese-American Lions Club in Union Square requesting donations for Japan.

I saw a Tweet a few days ago that was reminding people to not forget that the tsunami in 2005 (?) killed about 230,000 people.  I wonder why it is that this earthquake and tsunami in Japan is eliciting such a greater response?  Or am I misremembering what happened in 2005?  I might have missed the outreach efforts.  I spent part of that year in Kuwait and the rest of it in Singapore and I just don’t remember it being reported on much.  I had actually forgotten about it until I went to Phuket in Thailand with my wife and saw a memorial there for the people who had died on that beach in that tsunami.  Is it because Japan is important economically?  Is it because it’s a world power?  Or is it because of the character and history of the people?  Personally, I’ve always been fascinated with Japanese history, the ancient history more than the recent history, and I do enjoy Japanese anime and I’ve been toying with learning Japanese for some time.

New York Japanese-American Lions Club in Union Square requesting donations for Japan.

Anyway, if you haven’t taken the time to donate money to the relief efforts in Japan, there are still plenty of ways to get it done.  They’re a wholly deserving people in a time of great need.

The Tokyo Circus in Lower East Manhattan

Tokyo Circus in Union Square Station, Manhattan, New York City.

On my way home from class tonight, I passed through Union Square station, and I happened to hear some really funky music playing.  There was a crowd so I stopped to see what was going on and saw this wildly dressed group of Asian people dancing around and having a good time.  I won’t lie.  My first thought was, “WTF Asian people.  Ha ha ha!”  They’re obviously slightly off center from normal, but they were holding signs that say “Be Yourself” and “Your smile is beautiful”.  It’s an encouraging, positive message, and I felt it was worth a dollar in the hat they had sitting on the floor.

When I got home, I took a look at the photos I’d taken and noticed a web address on the sign the guy on the right was holding that led to a site that identifies them as “Tokyo Circus”.  It has an ad that says they performed at a local bar on the 26th.  I guess they’re still hanging around to raise funds.  Maybe their performance wasn’t as profitable as they’d hoped.  This sort of thing seems a little out there, even for NYC.

After looking at some of the … unusual… videos they have displayed on their site, like the ones below, it makes me wonder just what my dollar is going to support, but at least it’s entertaining!

A Wall Covered With Names of the Dead in Union Square Station, New York City

Each tile on this Union Square station wall has the name of a person who died on September 11th, 2001 on it.

You may have never noticed this, but there’s a wall in Union Square station where each tile has the name of a dead person on it.  If you enter the station near Food Emporium on the corner of 14th St and 4th Ave, you have to angle off to your right after passing through the turn-styles and then head towards the N, Q, and R trains.  As you walk down the long passageway to those train lines, on the left hand side you’ll notice the tiles with the names on them.  In the photo above I was heading in the opposite direction, coming from the Q and heading towards the station exit.

Name stickers placed on tiles in Union Square station, each of a person who died on September 11th, 2001.

I somehow doubt this was done by the city, since the names are simply on stickers.  Still, it was a great effort on someone’s part to help keep the events of September 11th, 2001 in the public consciousness.  Union Square is a major station and sees a lot of foot traffic every day, which could potentially give these stickers a lot of exposure.

One of the stickers on the tiles in Union Square station, showing the name of a person who died on September 11th, 2001.

I have yet to visit the site of the former World Trade Center since I returned to New York City last September.  I suppose I should make it a point to head down there and see what sort of progress they’ve made in rebuilding the area.  The last time I was there, in May of 2008, it looked like this:

The site of the former World Trade Center, New York City, May of 2008.