PARKING MADNESS 2021: An Upper Manhattan Battle of Two Heavyweights

30 v 34th montage

This is one of two first-round battles we present today. To see today’s other contest — a central Brooklyn slugfest — click here.

Here's your bracket!
Here’s your bracket!

The cops who patrol Upper Manhattan pretty much treat the streets as their property when it comes to stashing their personal and department vehicles — as you can see from our face-off between the 30th Precinct, in the historic central Harlem neighborhood of Hamilton Heights, and the 34th Precinct, on Broadway in the heart of Washington Heights.

Both precincts demonstrate an utter disregard for their neighborhoods, turning what could be vibrant, people-oriented streets into car sewers.

The 30th (located at 451 W. 151st St.) encompasses not only Hamilton Heights (where you can visit the mansion of our Federalist founding father) but also Sugar Hill (whose brownstones fostered the “sweet life” of the Harlem Renaissance). The 34th (at 4295 Broadway) holds Washington Heights (site of Fort Washington, the Revolutionary War redoubt) and the verdant streets of Inwood, with its several parks. 

So you’d think that the precincts would want to contribute to the “neighborhood beautiful” gestalt by cleaning up their acts, parking-wise. But, no, it’s the same old ugliness and danger. It’s as if they expect residents will tolerate any kind of parking depredations on the part of the cops, no questions asked. That kind of privilege is par for the course when you’re “New York’s Finest” after all — fewer than half of whose members live in the five boroughs they’re sworn to patrol. When they drive in to work from Rockland every day in a huge SUV, whaddawegonnadoabouddit? (Hint: Ban the practice by requiring officers to live in town.)

But enough sociological bellyaching. This contest seeks to determine which is the most egregious space-hog precinct in our Upper Manhattan bracket, so let’s get to it:

30th Precinct (Hamilton Heights)

Commanding officer Capt. Jonathan Korabel evidently sees the precinct’s block between Amsterdam and St. Nicholas avenues as the station house’s exclusive parking lot. Metal barricades of the kind that sprang up around precincts all over town during the Black Lives matter demonstrations of last summer, along with a sawhorse, block egress from the east, effectively telling anyone who wants to use the street: Don’t come here!

A barricade blocks of W. 151st Street to create a "cordon sanitaire" for the 30th Precinct Photo: Eve Kessler
A barricade blocks of W. 151st Street to create a “cordon sanitaire” for the 30th Precinct Photo: Eve Kessler

Police vehicles — both department cruisers and vans and the private cars of officers — occupy most sidewalk space on the block and even clog the middle of the street toward the block’s barricaded end.

Here’s a view of the whole street, taken from the west:

The length of 151st Street in Hamilton Heights, looking east, shows a sewer of police vehicles. The 30th precinct is the yellowish brick building on the left. Photo: Eve Kessler
The length of W. 151st Street in Hamilton Heights, looking east, shows a sewer of police vehicles. The 30th Precinct station house itself is the yellowish brick building on the left toward the back of the photo. Photo: Eve Kessler

A couple of the parking plays on the part of the 30th are especially egregious, however.

In front of the station house — where, for example, if you are a friendly, community-policing-style operation you’d want residents to have easy access to your premises, so they could report crimes or otherwise interact with officers, right? — police cruisers block the sidewalk. Guess if you’re disabled or pushing a stroller your precinct doesn’t want to see you! Your safety? Not Korabel’s priority! (And why should it be? You want to come to this precinct? Drive like everyone else!)

Try using the sidewalk in front of the 30th precinct. You can't unless you are a police SUV. Photo: Eve Kessler
Try using the sidewalk in front of the 30th precinct. You can’t unless you are a police SUV. Photo: Eve Kessler

Then there is the complete blockage, on both sides of the street, of the school crossing on 151st Street by parked police and police-adjacent cars. (There are at least three schools in the area, including Thurgood Marshall Academy Lower School at 276 W. 151st St., P.S./I.S. 210 Twentyfirst Century Academy for Community Leadership at 501 W. 152nd St., and P.S. 380 at 508 W. 153 St.)

A school crossing on W. 151st St. blocked on both sides by police cars. Photo: Eve Kessler
A school crossing on W. 151st St. blocked on both sides by police cars. Photo: Eve Kessler

The crossing leads to the Carmansville Playground, the sidewalk by which is, of course, commandeered as a police parking lot. We guess the Department of Transportation is OK with this scheme, because the sidewalk sports yellow lines demarcating the parking spaces. Or did the cops paint the lines themselves? Whichever. Shame!

Police cars completely hem in the sidewalk next to Carmansville Playground, rendering it useless for pedestrians. Photo: Eve Kessler
Police cars completely hem in the sidewalk next to Carmansville Playground, rendering it useless for pedestrians. Photo: Eve Kessler

Nice work, officers! That’s how you win a Parking Madness bracket, that’s for sure. Or is it…?

34th Precinct (Washington Heights)

By the measure of sheer volume of its space hoggery, the 34th Precinct, commanded by Deputy Inspector Peter Andrea, might take the prize in Manhattan entire. Not only do police cars litter the sidewalk in front of the station house, which is on Broadway at 183rd Street, they take up big chunks of sidewalk real estate across Broadway and all the sidewalk space on both sides on the block of 183rd Street between Broadway and Wadsworth Avenue — even though the precinct has a parking lot next to the station house. That’s not great for pedestrians trying to get to the Social Security office at 4941 Broadway, directly across from the precinct, for example.

For the 34th, it doesn’t matter. The precinct — patrolling an area with a pronounced drag-racing problem that it doesn’t seem to be able to get a handle on, despite all its blue-and-white horsepower — is all about cars, cars, cars.

So what does it look like? Below, for your delectation, please find shots of the sidewalks on both sides of W. 183rd Street, looking east from Broadway.

The sidewalk of the north side of 183rd Street, across the street from the 34th Precinct on Broadway, covered with police officers' vehicles, mostly private ones. Photo: Eve Kessler
The sidewalk of the north side of 183rd Street, across the street from the 34th Precinct on Broadway, covered with police officers’ vehicles, mostly private ones. Photo: Eve Kessler
The sidewalk on the south side of 183rd Street, similarly car choked. Photo: Eve Kessler
The sidewalk on the south side of 183rd Street, similarly car choked. Photo: Eve Kessler

Of course, with so many officers’ cars taking up so much space, the precinct’s motorists could not help but violate a few parking regulations. So, for example, fire hydrants like the one below do not get any clearance. (When parking is at stake, why would any copper worry if a local building were to burn?)

Fire hydrant equals parking space for the 34th Precinct, safety be damned! Photo: Eve Kessler
Fire hydrant equals parking space for the 34th Precinct, safety be damned! Photo: Eve Kessler

Also, the clearance requirements of bus stops mean nothing to the officers of the 34th. The stop in the photo below services the Bx7 and the M100 bus. If you and I blocked it with a vehicle, we would be ticketed, for sure. But not here in Cop Land.

The officers of the 34th Precinct think nothing of inconveniencing bus riders and MTA bus drivers with the careless and illegal way they park their vehicles. Photo: Eve Kessler
The officers of the 34th Precinct think nothing of inconveniencing bus riders and MTA bus drivers with the careless and illegal way they park their vehicles. Note that the car is a BMW, which some know is a cop favorite. Photo: Eve Kessler

Finally, we wanted to show you just how far the 34th thinks its sovereignty extends on the station house side of Broadway (the west side): all the way to the corner of 184th Street.

Cars parked on the sidewalk on on the west side of Broadway next to the 34th Precinct. Photo: Eve Kessler
Cars parked on the sidewalk on on the west side of Broadway next to the 34th Precinct. Photo: Eve Kessler

In short, both precincts are bad neighbors.

BUT WHICH ONE IS WORSE?:

So, which precinct is worse?

  • The 34th (Washington Heights)? (53%, 178 Votes)
  • The 30th (Hamilton Heights)? (47%, 156 Votes)

Total Voters: 334

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