In defense of Eighth Avenue and 35th Street

In defense of Eighth Avenue and 35th Street

Some say New York City has gotten too clean.

They protest the new, gleaming skyscrapers. They bemoan the lack of affordable housing and continued gentrification of previously undesirable neighborhoods. They mourn the city that once was.

And certainly, at least on the surface, NYC seems to be increasingly livable for just one population — the very rich.

There’s evidence to back up these fears.

But in one tiny pocket of midtown, remnants of old New York City still exist. And while the spotlight only shines on this darker corner of the bright city when crime catches our attention, it is worth visiting and appreciating.

Gunfire erupted at 35th Street and Eighth Avenue on Monday, resulting from an altercation involving drugs at the McDonald’s nearby, police said. In May, just two blocks up Eighth Avenue, an emotionally-disturbed man lunged at a police officer with a hammer and was shot by another. Both incidents have brought comparisons of the area with New York City’s bad-old days.

Crime is an ongoing issue here, despite the proximity to tourist-filled Times Square, and yes that’s a problem. But take a step back and appreciate why a little grit can do you good.

The joys of Eighth Avenue from 34th Street to 40th Street are many. From discount shopping to cheap lunch to wigs, you can get almost anything here. It’s nothing fancy, but there are options.

And then there’s just the feeling on the street. Dirty blocks, uneven pavement and clients coming and going from a nearby methadone clinic are just a part of life. The offices of amNewYork are also just around the corner.

The entire city can’t gleam, and that’s OK.

Georgia Kral