Monday, September 7, 2009

The Top Ten Uses of Construction Scaffolding

Because New York City is a city on the move, there tends to be a lot of construction going on. And where there is a lot of construction, there is also a lot of scaffolding. Sometimes it seems whole blocks are darkened for months extending to years by these heavy, elaborate wooden and steel platforms that provide construction workers with the footing they need to do their work. Scaffolding is always a blight on any neighborhood. It looks unsightly and often appears unstable, and sometimes just walking under it you can't help wondering if you are taking your life in your hands. Just the other day in Brooklyn, the scaffolding that was being used to restore a six-story building collapsed killing a 42-year old man. When scaffolding is finally removed from a place where it has sat for a long time, that area seems transformed, suddenly becoming airy, infused with light, revealing details from buildings that have remained hidden for a very long time. The whole block looks different, almost as if it has been liberated from an unfairly prolonged imprisonment.

Having said all that about scaffolding, I feel the need to reiterate that scaffolding is first of all a sign of a city's vitality, that renovations are afoot and the basic infrastructure of the city is being reborn. But more than that, the scaffolding itself, while often annoying, has valuable temporary uses too. Herewith are the 10 top ways to make use of construction scaffolding:

10. When you want to light a cigarette, it provides shelter from the wind.
9. You meet fascinating people huddled underneath the scaffolding trying to light cigarettes together.
8. It's a great place for the homeless to camp out for a while.
7. On a bright sunny day, scaffolding allows you to rest your eyes.
6. If you're handing out leaflets (which it turns out is the job category for 34% of all New Yorkers), the area underneath the scaffolding is a great place to do it.
5. If you had to leave early without getting your morning workout, you can always do a few chin-ups on one of the handy crossbars of the scaffolding that you're passing.
4. If the scaffolding is dense enough, it's a little like walking through a tunnel, making it a good place to sing your favorite song out loud.
3. If you lose your bearings, scaffolding offers a kind of resting place to look at a map and reorient yourself.
2. Scaffolding is no place, which from a zen perspective can provide valuable enlightenment.

And the number one way to make good use of construction scaffolding:

1. When it's raining in torrents, scaffolding is a Godsend!

1 comment:

  1. 'In restauro' is the phrase that always comes to my mind when I see scaffolding. I first heard it in Italy about 10 yrs ago when our travels seemed to encounter a large number of monuments draped in plastic over scaffolds erected for preservation activities. I like the phrase because it implies just what you suggest, Third, that things are being restored to their most vital and exciting, the hallmark of a vibrant city. In restauro also sets me thinking about food and its recuperative powers for obvious reasons and brings me to an eleventh thing you might do under the scaffold, eat the snack you forgot you had placed in the pocket of your jacket the last time you wore it while deciding where to have lunch.