If you walk up Elizabeth Street early in the morning, you’ll pass this tidy but odd-looking area along a blank stretch of wall beneath an awning.
It’s decorated with what looks to be children’s artwork from the local Chinese school.
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What are these pieces of street furniture? You can see, neatly arranged, a found Ikea coffee table, a piece of veneered particle board propped against the wall, and what appears to be a purpose-built cabinet. Next to that, a 2×4 that has been encased in a bucket of concrete.
What this actually is, is an outdoor cobbling station run by a man who looks to be in his eighties. Each morning he sets up a transparent plastic tarp to provide some respite from the cold. The 2×4 in a bucket serves as one of the support columns, but the impromptu tent is not tall enough to stand up under. He slides the low “counter” out to act as his workbench and sits or crouches behind it, using a wooden tray to hold his tools next to him. Each evening he breaks everything down and puts it like you see it in the first photo.
I’m sorry I couldn’t get a better photo than this, but I feel funny sticking my camera in people’s faces when they’re working. So I had to shoot this from across the street.
When I observed the man more closely, I was intrigued to see that he was fixing a brightly-colored Nike running sneaker. I didn’t realize those could be repaired and had expected to see him working on proper shoes. So if you have a busted pair of kicks, bring them to Elizabeth Street just north of Grand Street and you can see the workstation in action.