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Working at Stoplight Level In New York City

Until now, I have always worked in offices high above the street with dramatic views of the New York City skyline.

My new office is in SoHo, on the second floor of a19th-century cast-iron building. It has wooden floors, a stamped-tin ceiling, and fluted cast-iron columns with Corinthian capitals to support the floors. The old radiators announce the arrival of heat with loud clanging.

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The glory of the office is its windows, each about 10 feet high. Daylight pours in. The original glass of one window is wrinkled; the view seen is as through the eyes of an Impressionist painter.

Being on the second floor allows me, for the first time, to join in the life of the street. I enjoy looking up from the papers on my desk to gaze at the lively scene below.

Each morning, a man across the street unloads a truck to display his wares on the sidewalk. Today it is mannequins, mirrors, and chandeliers. I take a keen interest in the progress of his business and announce to my office colleagues when a mannequin is sold, pointing to customers carrying away their unwieldy purchases.

Just below our floor, two banners wave in the winter wind, one announcing an art gallery, the other a furniture atelier. The traffic light on the corner of Broom and Green Streets is level with my window. I experience the constant rhythm of changing lights: green to yellow to red to green. Tourists wander about, looking at buildings and consulting their maps of the city. A stranger, seeing me at the window, waves to me from the sidewalk. This is unheard of in New York City! I wave back.

A crowd lines up a few doors away for a sample sale by a well-known clothing designer. From our windows I see actors being filmed. Glaziers and painters are hard at work; a new store is opening across the street.

Our windows have wide ledges. Purchasing flowers for a window box has given me great satisfaction. This is the closest this city dweller has come to having a garden. When I stand on the street corner outside and look up at my office, how proud I am to be bringing, in a small way, a touch of nature's bright colors to the gritty streets of SoHo. I look forward to the return of warm weather when I will replenish the window box with flowers.

This is the city where I was born and raised and have always lived. In my new office, I have come to feel even closer to my city.


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