Americans have always had a love affair with their cars, and it’s easy to see why. Cars represent the ultimate form of personal freedom – the ability to escape down that open road.
Life going nowhere in your one-horse town?
Then hop in your Ford and get the heck out of Dodge.
Your car can take you from Days of Thunder to Talladega Nights. You can get Fast and Furious on your Cannonball Run and be Gone in 60 Seconds.
But what if you’re not stuck in a small town? What if you already live in the greatest city in the world and already have the freedom to do anything, find anything, be anything?
New Yorkers don’t dream about escaping down some dusty interstate highway. Our fantasy is to hang a SORRY, WE’RE CLOSED sign over the city and kick everyone else out for a while.
I don’t want to leave New York.
I just want private outdoor space that I don’t have to share with anyone else.
I want a terrace.
Yes, It’s THAT Important
Picture this – there are 1.63 million people crammed onto the tiny island of Manhattan, where I live. This comes out to 70,826 people living in each square mile, easily making it the most densely populated city in the US. That number almost triples during the day with commuters and tourists.
Once I step outside my apartment, I’m never alone.
There are always lines, always crowds, always someone looking at you, standing next to you, or accidentally bumping into you because they’re staring at their phones. It’s always noisy and it’s always Showtime! There’s nowhere to go for peace and quiet and fresh air.
Now do you understand the importance of a terrace?
Now do you understand why the New York Times ran an article with the title Terrace For Sale. Includes Condo.?
Here’s how crazy people get about their terraces: this past year a real estate developer ordered life-sized fiberglass renditions of safari animals – giraffes, elephants, zebras – and placed them on the terrace of his new condos as a PR stunt.
The animals did their job – they generated press and delivered a message that was about as subtle as a herd of rhinos. This wasn’t just another luxury high rise. This was a luxury high rise with enough terrace space to store your pet giraffe! (The giraffe, incidentally, clocked in at 18 and a half feet tall when mounted on it’s temporary pedestal.)
My Long Road to Terrace Town
My last apartment was a south-facing walk-up with thick burglar bars on the windows. It was, like my best cultural references, a throwback to the 80s – a time when someone might actually scale 6 stories up a fire escape and break into your apartment to steal your Walkman.
This was a starter apartment, and it was a great home for the first half of my adult life. But as I progressed in my career, I started dreaming about an upgrade.
My next apartment had to be pet friendly. It had to have a doorman (my days having my packages stolen out of the vestibule were over). Perhaps most importantly, it had to have a terrace. This was a non-negotiable. Give me a really nice cardboard box with a terrace and I’d make it work.
Well, I’m happy to report that I finally got my wish.
It’s the size of a large kiddie pool, oddly angular, and looks like it hasn’t been used since the Dinkins administration.
But it’s a terrace, which means it’s perfect.
Finally, an outdoor space that I don’t have to share with anyone!
And I know just what I’m going to do with it….
I always wanted a garden and spring is almost here. Now is the time, and my new terrace is the place.
Spread the word – I’m throwing a plant party and everyone’s invited! Cacti, Conifers, Angiosperms, come one, come all. There’s no dress code and the bouncer lets everyone in.
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Before I’m able to transform this drab concrete slab into my own little piece of Eden – vibrant and full of living color – there are some tough questions I’ll need to answer:
Which plants and flowers are best for this environment?
Can I regulate sun, shade, wind, and water to help them thrive?
Is there room for a plant wall?
What about fresh veggies?
Does a palm tree violate the rules of the building?
And most importantly….
Can I fit my giraffe?