Wall of Newspaper Boxes Takes Over W. 23rd Street After Obama Visit

By Mathew Katz on May 15, 2012 3:42pm 

Hundreds of newspaper boxes were moved from Seventh Avenue to West 23rd Street for Obama's visit.
Hundreds of newspaper boxes were moved from Seventh Avenue to West 23rd Street for Obama's visit.
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Jonathan Finn

CHELSEA — Call it the Great Wall of Boxes.

President Barack Obama's whirlwind tour through New York on Monday may have caused huge snarls on the city's streets, but it also caused another kind of traffic jam — a massive line of more than 100 newspaper boxes along West 23rd Street.

On Monday morning, police crews removed more than 100 bins for security purposes from several blocks along Seventh Avenue — the path Obama took to a campaign fundraiser that day at the Rubin Museum of Art at 17th Street and Seventh Avenue.

On Monday night, the boxes reappeared in a massive lineup along one block on 23rd Street between Eighth and Ninth Avenues.

Groups of five or more bright-yellow Gotham Writer's Workshop boxes sat on one end of the block, while Village Voice boxes stood together of groups of two or three.

The boxes' arrival at their new home was met with frustration from those working on 23rd Street.

"It's been causing problems," said Criff McLeary, a truck driver who delivers on the street.

"I can't get in anywhere. I've got to hop over this [stuff]."

But the relocation came as a relief to one group of Chelsea residents who had railed against the clusters of ill-kempt or abandoned newspaper boxes in their previous location along Seventh Avenue, on the grounds that they block sidewalks, and take away from the beauty of surrounding buildings and gardens.

"It's really nice, really refreshing," said resident Jonathan Finn, who came across an NYPD truck taking the boxes away from Seventh Avenue at 11 a.m. on Monday.

"Now when you're walking down the street, you can actually see those beautiful new landscaped islands."

Jill Colstein, 21, said she didn't care about the newspaper boxes when they were on Seventh Avenue — but she was frustrated that the NYPD left up barricades along the avenue long after they were needed.

"I don't really care about newspaper boxes, to tell the truth," said Colstein, who was out for a rainy-day run Tuesday.

"These gates, they're getting in the way. They're keeping me from crossing the street."

Dianna Maeurer, who has long campaigned against the blocks of boxes cluttering up the sidewalk, said that their mass migration proves that the city can clean them up if it wants to.

"If they can move them now, that shows that the city has the ability to move them anytime or remove them if they're abandoned," she said.

The Department of Transportation did not have an immediate comment.

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