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Or more to the point, good luck crossing.
Work on the East side of Second Avenue went much smoother and was completed more quickly than that on the West side of the avenue the many months before. It may be in part to increased efficiency from all that the Skanska crew learned, less work on utilities or pure luck, but by mid-summer the work was complete and was moved back to the west side again. My favorite corner, where Nick’s sits on 94th and 2nd Ave., was home to a rather extensive dig along the building foundations. It was interesting to see some of the brick work that lies below the street level. The age of the buildings really shows through when you see how they roughed in brick below ground. Actually, just the fact that they used brick for the foundations and not concrete like they do now was an unusual and historic site. Nick’s kind of got the raw end of the deal in terms of the construction and the digging on that corner. Not only have they lost their outdoor seating area which brings in quite a bit of money during the nice weather, but the set up during the east side construction made the restaurant look as if they were serving inside a prison. It became a running joke with the guys inside that I had to find my way through the maze of fences just to get my pizza. One day I looked down and one of the contractors must have tried to help out, spraying “Nick’s” and the address on the road about 20 feet from the door with arrows leading patrons on their way. Oddly enough, the noise level inside wasn’t bad at all. Minus the late evening view of contractors walking back and forth outside the window, you wouldn’t know it was even going on most nights.
On the May afternoon I drew these two illustrations, crossing the block was a bit tricky. East to west the crosswalk was blocked by the backhoes bringing in dirt from a pile on Second Avenue and north to south the front end loader stopped pedestrians as it scooped dirt from another pile on 94th. The guys in the ditch felt more like gravediggers than construction men. I kept feeling like if the lone guy who was orchestrating the loads from both directions looked away the two in the ditch would permanently be a part of the new T Line. With every load they got a little higher and finally walked right out of the hole, after burying the new pipes below the surface. I can only assume that the next few days would find a similar process happening in front of Nick’s as they reworked the utilities in that trench and filled it in.
And just for the record, Nick’s is what makes the corner my favorite. It has been our kitchen away from home when we don’t feel like cooking. For a nice stretch of time we ate there 2-3 times a week when life got too busy to cook. I find it odd to think that in 10-15 years I may be exiting a subway station and walking right across the street to Nick’s, having come from as far south as Wall Street without ever having to travel too far to catch a ride uptown.