Thursday, April 3, 2008

Flower District

Throughout the lower half of Manhattan, roughly below 42nd Street, there are numerous "districts" that are known for their concentrations of shops and vendors selling similar wares. There's the wholesale district, theater district,flower district, fashion district, fur district, a couple of streets that sell more restaurant equipment than one could ever imagine, and even a pickle district, although that's been reduced to just a few businesses now. Walk in the East Village and the Lower East Side and one will suddenly enter blocks of shops selling nothing but bolts of fabric, shoes, store fixtures, lighting fixtures, or sewing equipment. Many of them aren't even open to the general public; they're wholesale outlets only.

I often walk home from my office, a trek that takes me through the wholesale and flower districts, an area between 5th and 7th avenues that roughly encompasses the streets above 23rd and below 34th. The blocks crammed with wholesale shops present a rather depressing picture: dirty storefronts hawking cheap watches, perfumes, children's clothes, gaudy jewelry, and a sea of handbags and luggage. Unopened boxes and crates often line the sidewalks, waiting to be unloaded or carted away. One also usually sees clumps of men arguing over a deal in a dozen languages. For the uninitiated, it's a riot of sound and color. The tour buses should drive down some of these blocks to give visitors a sense of the "real" New York.

My favorite route, however, takes me through the flower district, the sidewalks lined with flowers, trees, pots, topiaries, shrubs, and orchids. Nearly all of these shops sell to the wholesale market and it's fun to watch the buyers for flower shops picking over the flats of flowers. In some blocks there's barely a path down the sidewalk and one must be vigilant to avoid getting doused by someone hosing down the plants. I took these shots earlier this week while walking my usual route along 28th Street.




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5 comments:

One Wink at a Time said...

I'm glad I stopped over. It's gloomy and chilly here and I'm literally aching for Spring. It was glorious to see these beautiful flowers. Thanks :-)

jblack designs said...

Lovely lovely lovely.

BooCat said...

My number is up this weekend for Flower Guild duty in our parish. Our selection here is rather limited, whatever the local supermarkets have supplemented with shrubs and, if we are lucky, some blooming things in our churchyard. What we wouldn't all give to be able to make our selections in the NYC Flower District? It simply staggers the mind. Your photographs are inspiring, BrianC.

Isabel said...

Love the photos. I always enjoyed the flower district especially during early morning, when the city is still waking up and the flowers are crish and so alive.
Ages ago, I used to buy flowers there with my best friend with whom I had an antiques/flower/decoration shop in NJ. I miss those mornings.

Kitty said...

I LOVE the flower district, which has really shrunk to nothing.

I always have the same feeling of discovery every time I walk through. How can you not? It's an intense little enclave of beauty in the midst of a shabby neighborhood. It's so fun to pop into each store and browse around.

Your photos make me want to revisit, Brian!