“It’s so hot,” said one Harlemite as he strolled down 137th Street, sweat pouring down his brow. Luckily for him, he had stumbled upon the Salvation Army Cooling Center located at 540 Lenox AVe.
This center was established in July to help residents suffering from the brutal and unforgiving heat wave currently hitting New York. The installation offers two large containers filled with cold water for tired, heat-stricken passers-by while making room in their lobby for respite in an air-conditioned room. Locals say this small feat goes a long way.
“It is very important to have cooling stations. It’s hotter than ever, it’s weird. I was born and raised here. It’s hard because I have COPD,” Ronald Smalls told amNewYork Metro.
The afternoon quickly saw individuals lining up to sample the ice cold water and even returning for a few seconds. For Lt. Neekenson Fils-Aime of the Salvation Army, it’s all part of the broader service the organization provides, especially when considering the health of the most vulnerable residents like the elderly.
“Well, our job here is to really meet people’s needs, whatever those needs are. They might be thirsty and all, so we provide water outside so they can just get a little water and then go on their way, and sometimes we usually have people who have been walking for a while, they want somewhere to rest, a little time. So we provide chairs in the halls. They can sit down for a few minutes and then they can go on with their day,” Fils-Aime said. “Just a little from a cup of water can go a long way.”
Fils-Aime also pointed out that the cooling center and the lunch they provide would not be possible without the volunteers, whom he hopes more people will donate their time to.
For those trying to beat the heat in Midtown Manhattan, families and tourists visited Rockefeller Center’s latest art installation that serves as an interactive water fountain where water shoots up from the ground like sprinklers on a playground The installation, “Changing Spaces” by Jeppe Hein, has been open since June 22, allowing New Yorkers to stop at this iconic spot to cool off on hot summer days until September 9.
Holly Sokoloff took her kids around town for a walk through Midtown; however, since the heat in the concrete jungle started to sizzle, she decided to check out Rockefeller Center’s interactive water fountain.
“What a great surprise! Our kids had a great time splashing around in the water after a hot day. It was such a New York moment for us to find a fountain at the Rock Center. They won’t even be bothered by the return to our hotel in spongy shoes,” Sokoloff said.
For 10-year-old Mason and Gavin, the art installation wasn’t just about getting soaked, but a chance to use their imaginations to play fun games in the water.
“I think it’s really fun!” My favorite part is running through all the water spots and pretending it was on a track,” Mason said.
“I like that you can just get wet and play in it. Plus you can pretend it’s like a spy game and the water is lasers or lava,” Gavin added.