For the Wayfarer, Finding Your Way with the WalkNYC Kiosks

What is that tall flat silver metal object that has suddenly appeared near my subway stop? It wasn't there last week, was it?

A WalkNYC kiosk on Broadway in Inwood, facing north
It looks like that black monolith in the movie 2001:A SPACE ODYSSEY (1968), the one that appears at the dawn of time prompting primates to learn how to use tools, that was "deliberately buried" in the lunar crater, and last and awesomely, at the foot of HAL-survivor Dave Bowman's bed while he's orbiting Jupiter. 

Waiting for the BxM1 bus in Inwood, a few neighbors approached the new thing timidly and studied it for signs, as maybe it would impart similar evolutionary lessons.

This monolith-shaped kiosk appears to have a walking map. And another one, slightly different, appears on the other side, too. Ah, that's for the other direction.

Indeed, the monolith is less extraterrestrial sign than signage from the city. The kiosk is one of many erected by the NYC Department of Transportation, in partnership with the MTA, as part of the WalkNYC Wayfinding System.

Each side points the way ahead, so walk around and you'll see a reoriented map pointing in the other direction. The WalkNYC markers are rather clever that way. The city has been gradually rolling out the new signs after a successful pilot project.

The kiosk shown here is placed on the SW corner of Broadway and W. 207th St, way up in northern Manhattan. The last stop of the A train is here.  

A WalkNYC kiosk on Broadway in Inwood, facing south
The maps include walking distances, public spaces, parks, landmarks, popular destinations, facilities, schools, and public transportation. The estimations for walking times are fairly accurate. Also helpful is the smaller map that indicates the context of the neighborhood within the larger geographical picture.   

It's easy to get turned around in New York City. Exiting the subway, you may choose a NW or SE corner exit, for example, but after climbing the stairs and arriving on an unfamiliar street corner, you may not know where you are. You just stop in your tracks, hoping to recognize just one blessed building or landmark that would help guide you in the right direction. And so you give up, walking until you've realized you've walked in the wrong direction.

The signs do impart an evolutionary lesson. We are evolving as upright humanoids with abilities to walk instead of drive.

While exploring a new neighborhood, keep your eye out for the new signs.

More about NYC DOT WalkNYC here.

The WalkNYC kiosk from 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY.

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