Running in Manhattan

Running – on foot and without a watch – is to travel by the most beautiful and sustainable means of transportation that, for now, has yet to find a rival. Every step sculpts the journey, gives it shape and live by accomplishing something unique each time.

Whether it is a familiar or new route, there is one trait that unites them: these emotions that are ignited every time you tighten the laces of your shoes and set off. You are running no matter if it is thousands of miles or in front of your house. The virtues of gestures and actions.

So here is the tourist in Manhattan who becomes a runner, thus is integrated into the fabric of the city and is no longer just brushed by its icons.

As you do every day, you put on your shoes, adjust them, thinking that before long they will accompany your steps on new, unfamiliar paths, which welcome you and are ready to become yours.

And so it is that, almost without realizing it, after a few minutes in the elevator you have a sidewalk under your feet. In the blink of an eye, you find yourself scampering through the sudden barrier of faces overflowing with fatigue and hope, who in patient silence in front of the convent of St. Francis. They wait their turn for a shower or a cup of milk, after another night spent in the hope of receiving this prize that sees no winner.

A moment goes by and the corner of your eye has already caught a limousine with tinted windows speeding by. And so, as your footsteps continue to shape the journey, your romantic chill sends a mute wish to the anonymous faces; perhaps the mysterious passenger has started their stay in NY from that very row, which by now behind you, you hope has made their wish for a fantastic future their own…

But already lined up in front is an army that, having just landed at Penn Station, is ready to march, when the traffic light wills it, to offices made of rings, shouts and numbers.

Strangled by haste, the proud commuters are clinging to their paper cups, which they ask to accompany them to the office desk: like a motherly hand with a warm reassuring touch, as it once did to the school bench, with the promise of homecoming.

Shortly after, the horizon of New Jersey lights up from Hudson Yards; there, where the origami cut out by Italian hands sprouts. This is the gleaming testimony to the ever-changing spaces and volumes of architecture that make the city an eternally changing creature, capable of capturing time by making it its own.

A living creature, and like an immense musical instrument it is capable of playing with noises, running them through the streets or forcing them upward; until they are molded into unique sounds.  From the High Line you listen to its music. You feel its breath so close from where you brush the life of the city, running above it.

The High Line – this short stretch that is made on purpose for your run. It guides you safely along encounters, faces and legs of the city, in short it makes you feel at home.

Back down, you leave behind the remnants of a harbor, that too a place of travel; but immediately Greenwich Village embraces you: you are between the pages of a book, an ancient or perhaps modern book, but one that thinks ancient. Scents of coffee seem to waft in the air, and the need for a comfortable armchair and a good read as you run between trees. Between the branches appears the warm architecture that is made to creating the sense of village.

From Tenth Street, Broadway, stretching long southward, lights a horizon from where ancient Dutchmen seem to call you to a new world.  But you go on, you don’t ignore it, you put it off, you know it’s not time, you know it’s the dawn you wait for and hope it will come. Perhaps it is fatigue that creates strange ideas! Better to continue your journey.

Following the literal order of the East Village amuses you and accompanies you to the East River, from where you resume your way north. You follow the river, which is made of sounds, smells and changing scenery created by boats, and bridges that sturdy and safe face and cross the river as if to dominate it.

You decide to re-enter the city to begin, as in naval battle, to play with the Cartesian combinations between streets and avenues. Jumping from number to number, from corner to corner, you draw the broken line of an imaginative staircase that, surprisingly, leads you to brush the Flat Iron Building and then to be caught in a bright advertisement backed up there by a patient skyscraper on Park Avenue. But lo and behold you have concluded for today your round, your round in Manhattan, as fatigue and satisfaction remind you that even today your steps have carved the journey.

Author: Leonardo Matteucci, July 2022

On the East River

Images of the running trip

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