March (Parking) Madness: The Manhattan Borough Final Pits Midtown vs. Uptown

We’re down to the borough finals round — and this is the third battle of four. On Wednesday, we kicked off with The Bronx final pitting the 43rd Precinct against the 47th, which was a nail biter!. And on Thursday, we had our Brooklyn borough final — and polls are open until tonight at midnight. In this Manhattan battle, we’ll keep the voting going until Monday at noon. So vote at the bottom of this story.

The contest so far. Click to enlarge.
The contest so far. Click to enlarge.

In today’s Manhattan borough final, both precincts respect their neighbors somewhat more than many of their fellow station houses in other boroughs (looking at you, Brooklyn), but they still have their fair share of bad behavior.

Midtown South bested its Midtown North competitor in an epic showdown over which precinct was more chaotic in the already chaotic nabe.

The 26th Precinct uptown came out on top in its battle against the Ninth Precinct in the East Village in a relatively tame matchup.

But which NYPD outpost has what it takes to advance to take on the Bronx borough champions in the Western Regional? Let’s find out:

Midtown South

The Midtown South Precinct station house. Photo: Kevin Duggan

This precinct, just a stone’s throw from Penn Station, continued its spree of illegal parking and dangerous driving that gave it an edge over Midtown North two weeks ago.

Cops under the leadership of Deputy Inspector Aaron Edwards drive into one of the densest neighborhoods in the country to the W. 35th Street station house, even though it could hardly be more easily positioned to take public transit via its many nearby subway lines or the LIRR for officers living out in the burbs.

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Instead, the Boys and Girls in Blue drive around recklessly and hog the scarce sidewalk space on the block, while using placards and other paraphernalia to store their vehicles illegally rather than pay for parking in one of the area’s many garages.

The Finest’s behavior is in stark contrast to residents of local Community Board 4, where 85 percent of households don’t own a car, but suffer the third worst air pollution in the city, the fourth-highest traffic volumes, and the slowest bus speeds.

Combat parking on the precinct’s home block between Eighth and Ninth avenues narrows the sidewalks to just wide enough for one person to squeeze past another.

Midtown pedestrians feel the squeeze. Photo: Kevin Duggan
Midtown pedestrians feel the squeeze. Photo: Kevin Duggan

Cars with NYPD placards are also parked in truck loading zones and directly next to hydrants, some of them with scratched off or partially obstructed license plates, which suggests its time for some criminal mischief.

Around the corner on Ninth Avenue, the officers have thankfully kept the bike lane clear, but they are parked in commercial and metered spots.

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On both corridors there are large parking garages, but why use those when you can leave your car out for free?

Streetsblog sampled just a few cars that were egregiously parked or had defaced plates, and found some real charmers:

  • A driver with badly scratched off plates and parked in front of hydrant was still caught speeding 11 times
  • Parked in a bus spot on Ninth Avenue, this jerk has broken five red lights, caught speeding twice, and accumulated 20 parking violations 
  • Another bus stop blocker logged 11 speeding tickets, three red lights, and blocked the bus lanes on W. 34th Streets not far from the precinct
  • This driver displaying a thin blue line sticker on the car’s gas tank lid had a damaged plate, but still racked up $1,330 in fines, including for breaking through a pair of red lights, two speeding tickets, blocking a bus lane on W. 125th Street, and 15 parking tickets
  • Taping over part of this cars plate  didn’t hide that it caught four speeding tickets. Oh and the Dodge Ram was also parked in a truck loading zone

But will it be enough? Let’s find out:

26th Precinct (West Harlem)

The 26th's station house on W. 126th Street. Photo: Kevin Duggan
The 26th’s station house is on W. 126th Street. Photo: Kevin Duggan

Commanding Officer Captain Jose Taveras lets his officers occupy the block of W. 126th Street between the dangerous roadways of Broadway and Amsterdam Avenue.

Like their Midtown challengers, the 26th’s cops disrespect their Harlem neighbors by blocking the sidewalks with angle parking, as well as dumping their vehicles and and a crash wreck without regard for local quality of life.

At the corner of Amsterdam Avenue, a mangled car greets residents:

Welcome to the 26th Precinct. Photo: Kevin Duggan
Welcome to the 26th Precinct. Photo: Kevin Duggan

Further down the quiet block, cars back up onto the sidewalk, with their exhausts facing a playground, a church, and a refugee shelter across the street.

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Drivers also dump their vehicles in the crosswalk in front of a city run health center on the corner of Old Broadway, forcing people to walk on the street to cross it.

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There are again ample subway lines crossing the area nearby, negating the need for most people to drive into work. Nearly 80 percent of households in local Community Board 9 don’t own a car, but the area suffers the ninth-highest traffic volumes of all 59 boards.

These three badly parked drivers had terrible records to match:

So it’s time to vote! Polls are open until Monday at noon. Tell your friends!

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