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In Riverside Park just north of the Boat Basin, a pair of red-tailed hawks have made a nest in a London planetree. I chatted with a woman who told me that this is the same pair who had built a nest last spring and hatched several chicks. Unfortunately, the nest fell from the tree before the chicks could fly, killing the chicks. There are three chicks this year, although I saw just two plus the adults plus dinner.

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The bushy-tailed hawk…

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…on closer inspection

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is turning its prey to prepare to eat it.

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Meanwhile, the squirrel in the foreground flees.

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A chick waits or its dinner.

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A shop on Lafayette St.

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One on Broome

Union Square Virgin Megastore – closing.

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The city calls them “newsracks” and offers a detailed Q&A on the nyc.gov website. I call them grubby plastic ad dispensers that block the sidewalks and are eyesores that harrass pedestrians and people could trip on them and die, especially if you’re a hapless victim in a movie chase scene. Then, you’re really toast.

Anyway, here’s the city’s definition which differs slightly from mine:

Q: What is a newsrack?
A: A newsrack is defined as “any self-service or coin-operated box, container or other dispenser installed, used or maintained for the display, sale or distribution of newspapers or other written matter to the general public.” A “Single Rack” is a newsrack offering a single publication. A “Multirack” is a newsrack designed to hold two or more publications.

Pictured below, several newsracks at Amsterdam and 79th have banded together to either (you decide):

a) provide the public much needed information.

b) swarm pedestrians to create confusion and infuse questionable decision-making.

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Question: Are newsracks the mechanisms for advertising delivery I claim they are, or do they represent our first amendment rights in action? Whatever they are, they really annoy me.

Q: How many newsracks can be at a particular location?
A: There is no limit to the number of newsracks that can be placed on the sidewalk as long as each rack is in compliance with all other regulations.

Awhile ago a friend asked Manhattan Motion why their inanimate plastic dance sales containers appeared in multiples of two and three, like chained robots begging passersby to please, oh please, learn to dance already. As if three boxes would be thrice alluring. They/It replied: “They are less likely to be moved by pedestrians & sanitation workers to “illegal” spots on the street. The city of NY requires box owners to comply or get a $500.00 fine.” In other words, you can chain them together to form an impenetrable blockade like some football metaphor.

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So can anyone place one of these boxes on the sidewalk? The answer seems to be yes. The city does have rules and regulations governing the placement of street boxes, and as long as some basic parameters are met, the sidewalks are yours. If you’re really curious about the regulations, you can read the rules online.

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May 2009
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