New York City's Lesser-Known Fixtures

They’re not quite tourist attractions, but they’re definitely part of the landscape.

Some people just stick out. There’s nothing really notable about some of these people, but if you live in or visit New York City, I’m 90% sure you’ll know at least one if not two of these people by description. These characters aren’t labeled as neatly as the naked cowboy, but they’re definitely identifiable.

  1. The bucket drummer (and his wife)
    Usually hanging in Union Square, this guy bangs on buckets loudly. A woman, enamored with his skills, joined him, married him, and now buckets along side. So the story goes.
  2. That big homeless guy
    I see this guy everywhere. He wears a brown sweatshirt with blue sweatpants, usually carrying something in a hurry. He’s a white guy, black hair, looks a little like a rounder Richard Kind. Really nice guy. Often seen scurrying around midtown. 
  3. The Central Park dancing boxing man
    Take the 60th and 5th ave entrance to the Central Park Loop. Just before the merge, you’ll see an old-school boxer — often with cape — throwing punches or doing warmups. Sometimes, he swings to rocky-style music. Usually seen on weekends.
  4. The Kokyu-playing old man on the BDFV line
    He reminds me that I’m on the west side. He sells CDs last time I checked. 
  5. The pouting homeless couple
    Always in midtown east, between 45th and madison to 60th and lexington. They sit next to each other, put their heads together, and have a cardboard sign that begs for dollars. Sometimes, their sign rests on a paint can. I think they’re full of shit.
  6. Greenway trombonist
    For those who frequent the west-side greenway, north to the George Washington Bridge*, every weekend a shirtless man plays his trombone. He’s actually quite good, but I’ve only heard a few notes as I’m usually flying by on my two-cycle.
  7. Vegetable cutter
    Upper east side man in a suit cuts fresh vegetables for you. It’s a bit bizarre.
  8. The breakdancing troupe
    Usually performing around Bryant Park and Times Square, these guys breakdance. Watch your belongings! Pickpockets tend to follow these guys around and steal tourists wallets. As such, there’s usually a cop standing nearby. 
  9. The drawing War Veteran
    Sits near 19th and Park Avenue South, this man draws. His art is mediocre, but his heart is pure gold.
  10. Tarzan
    Frequenting Union Square, this guy’s Tarzan for the 21st century. He must work in construction or something. 

Someone should start a repository for these people. Perhaps that someone is me.

*I don’t know if anyone else has noticed, but that area near the GWB never lacks someone sitting there or hanging around. I wonder if it’s undercover surveillance.

1 comments
Marina Martin
Marina Martin

How about the older African-American man in the long black leather jacket who rides the 1 constantly and, while ON the train, insists he only needs 19 cents to ride the train?

I always called him the 1/9 man ... even though the 9 doesn't run anymore, "the 1 man" doesn't have the same ring to it.