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Hot In The City: Manhattan Neighborhood Takes To Streets


If you looked at a weather map today, you saw a whole lot of red. Temperatures are in the upper 90s across the country and states in New England and the mid-Atlantic are sweltering in record-high temperatures. In New York City, parks are keeping public fountains running a little longer and gates opened a little later. Sarah Gonzales of member station WNYC spent an evening in the Inwood neighborhood on the northern tip of Manhattan to see how residents are coping.

SARAH GONZALEZ, BYLINE: Everyone at the playground at Inwood Hill Park in Manhattan is here for the same reason.


GONZALEZ: Five-year-old Javier Cazares is soaking wet, running in and out of a fountain, several holes in the ground that shoot nice, cold water, more than a story high onto a concrete slab. Eight-year-old Christopher Herrera says he demanded his parents bring him here.

CHRISTOPHER HERRERA: Well, it's hot, and then I need to go to the water.

GONZALEZ: You need to go to the water?

HERRERA: Yeah. When it's summer, I need to go to the park.

GONZALEZ: Even after the sun goes down, it's still 95 degrees. And usually, Herrera doesn't get the chance to play in the water this late in the day.

HERRERA: It was - in the nighttime, then the water just gets - it closes. Then no one can play with the water. Yeah. Not fun.

GONZALEZ: The New York City Department of Parks and Recreation has decided to extend the fun. It's making an exception to its practice of closing the parks down at dusk, and it's keeping the fountains running well into the night, which is the perfect time to be outdoors, says parent Ursula Chanse, who made a beeline for the fountain.

URSULA CHANSE: So I actually jumped in first.


GONZALEZ: You jumped in before your son?



GONZALEZ: At 10 o'clock in Inwood, the water is still spraying, and it seems the entire neighborhood is out: sitting on turned-over trash cans on the sidewalk, playing chess, catching fireflies, listening to music. At the basketball courts near the water fountain, a handful of guys in their mid-20s are sitting on royal blue foldout chairs with their shirts off and bottles of Coors Light in their hands.

MARCOS LIRIANO: Just hanging out, drinking some beers.

GONZALEZ: Marcos Liriano says he and his friends will stay pretty late at the park in the summer.

LIRIANO: I'll play a little basketball myself.

GONZALEZ: And before they leave, he says they'll all go cool down at the water fountain where parent Veronica Miller is holding her daughter Eva while they play in the water.

VERONICA MILLER: I think we're lucky that they keep the water on, and during 95 degrees outside, it's such a, you know, like a little oasis.

GONZALEZ: But the cool water is drawing in unwelcome visitors. The mosquitoes are fierce. Are you not getting attacked by mosquitos? Because I am.

MILLER: Yes, it's really buggy and especially after the sun is down. Yes, we are.


MILLER: And we didn't bring any bug spray with us, so, yes, yeah.

GONZALEZ: But she says the bug bites are totally worth it.

MILLER: Yeah, you want to be in the water one way or another.


GONZALEZ: Completely sweaty and covered in mosquito bites, I take her advice. I'm getting in.

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD #1: This water is so cold.

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD #2: This water is so cold.

GONZALEZ: But it feels so good. For NPR News, I'm Sarah Gonzalez in New York. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Sarah Gonzalez is the multimedia education reporter for WLRN's StateImpact Florida project. She comes from NPR in D.C. where she was a national desk reporter, web and show producer as an NPR Kroc Fellow. The San Diego native has worked as a reporter and producer for KPBS in San Diego and KALW in San Francisco, covering under-reported issues like youth violence, food insecurity and public education. Her work has been awarded an SPJ Sigma Delta Chi and regional Edward R. Murrow awards. She graduated from Mills College in 2009 with a bachelorâ
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