Where in NYC is this thing?
April 18, 2015 6:22 PM   Subscribe

I'm trying to track down a very unusual gate on a NYC sidewalk. (A friend posted a photo of it on Facebook, challenging us to find it ourselves — she won't give us any clues.) It's a brown, cast-iron gate, with a thick circle in the middle, and there are 11 single-dial combination locks (which look like this) irregularly spaced inside the circle.

Unfortunately, I'm not allowed to post the photo here, and a reverse image search didn't turn up any similar photos. Googling a description isn't working.

It's tagged on Facebook as "near New York, NY," so I assume it's in Manhattan, probably on a minor east-west street. And I know it's in NYC.

The big circle is a gear-like shape, kind of like this (but with more space in the middle).

The loop-shaped things sticking out of the knobs (the part you insert and take out to lock and unlock the lock) seem to be rusty and cleverly turned into part of the gate; so, inside the big brown circle, there are a lot of little loop-shaped things. Straight and curvy pieces of metal are sticking out of the big circle, so it looks kind of like an artist's representation of the sun.

3 knobs in a row are near the top, angling down toward the right. In the middle are 5 knobs in a row (not in a straight line), and the other 3 knobs are below those.

Inside the gate are some stairs (which go up toward the left side of the photo). There's nothing unusual about the other sides of the gate.

There seems to be a parking lot in the middle of the block. Further down the block, there's a green awning with white script lettering, which extends onto the sidewalk. The awning is blurry and mostly obscured, but I think it has a number (maybe 32 or _32), and then "East" — so I'm thinking this is somewhere east of 5th Avenue (although I'm not certain — I could be reading it wrong). Closer to the gate, there's something sticking out of a building that looks like the Target logo except with a black-and-white drawing instead of a red dot in the middle (I have no idea what it's a picture of — looks almost like crumpled paper or a fist).

If you could just tell me what block it's on, that'd be great — then I can go find it in person.
posted by John Cohen to Grab Bag (25 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: (To clarify, the thing that looks like the Target logo isn't on a normal, rectangular sign — it's a weird circular thing with a bold red outline.)
posted by John Cohen at 6:24 PM on April 18, 2015

Pomander Walk says my source
posted by bq at 6:43 PM on April 18, 2015

When found please post pictures.
posted by fluffy battle kitten at 7:22 PM on April 18, 2015 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: Wait, I don't think it's Pomander Walk. I've walked by there many times — it's a pedestrian "street." The photo shows cars parked on the street right by the gate.
posted by John Cohen at 7:24 PM on April 18, 2015

Just to be clear, this is something like Gramercy Park, only with combination locks instead of keys? And somehow more secret?
posted by trip and a half at 7:32 PM on April 18, 2015

Response by poster: The combination locks are purely a design element in a sculpture built into a gate. They aren't functional.
posted by John Cohen at 7:37 PM on April 18, 2015 [1 favorite]

I used to live next to Pomander Walk and that doesn't sound at all like it. Definitely no padlocks on the gate, and no parking lot.
posted by Mchelly at 8:22 PM on April 18, 2015

Seems like something these guys might know something about...
posted by blaneyphoto at 8:42 PM on April 18, 2015

To confirm, it's on a sidewalk, not a vertical gate?
posted by bedhead at 9:31 PM on April 18, 2015

Response by poster: This is a standard cast-iron gate around a set of stairs leading to a building, just like you see all over the place in NYC — except one side of the gate has a weird decorative arrangement of combination locks built into it.
posted by John Cohen at 9:56 PM on April 18, 2015

Response by poster: Well, I guess I've stumped AskMetafilter. If you had ever noticed this gate before, you would know it's the one I'm describing.
posted by John Cohen at 6:53 AM on April 19, 2015

is it greenwich locksmiths? they have lots of keys and locks making up decorative elements on their storefront.


chair made of keys

not sure if they have a gate w/ locks on it though. it's really hard to understand what you are describing without a picture :(
posted by cristinacristinacristina at 7:48 AM on April 19, 2015

sorry my post is a repeat of blaneyphoto's post, didn't realize til i clicked the link!
posted by cristinacristinacristina at 7:49 AM on April 19, 2015

Response by poster: I'm not making a general request for things in NYC where locks or keys have been used as design elements. I'm asking for something that exists at one specific location somewhere in NYC.

Again, it's like a normal gate around steps — the same kind of thing you're likely to see at any random apartment building in Manhattan.

But this one is unusual because one side of the gate has exactly 11 combination locks that look exactly like this built into it around a circular part of the gate.

I think I've described it pretty clearly. Other things which don't fit that exact description are not the thing I'm looking for.
posted by John Cohen at 9:08 AM on April 19, 2015

Since your friend posted the photo to Facebook, perhaps you would have more luck here if you shared the photo with us (reupload to imgur or something similar).
posted by telegraph at 9:37 AM on April 19, 2015

Is this it?
posted by moonmilk at 11:46 AM on April 19, 2015 [6 favorites]

Same on instagram and twitter if you'd rather contact the photographer that way
posted by moonmilk at 11:54 AM on April 19, 2015

Figuring every little hint helps, that partially visible sign on the right side of that picture looks like a Health Department A-grade rating, so this may be in front of a restaurant?
posted by davidjmcgee at 12:40 PM on April 19, 2015

Response by poster: Is this it?

Yes! Thank you! So, it's in Chelsea, but does anyone know which block?
posted by John Cohen at 3:19 PM on April 19, 2015

If I were you I'd try "walking" the streets of Chelsea via Google maps street view until you spot something you recognize.
posted by MsMolly at 3:30 PM on April 19, 2015

This Tumblr post says it's at 33rd and 3rd.
posted by davidjmcgee at 4:00 PM on April 19, 2015

Best answer: Got it. Outside Middle Branch on 33rd.
posted by davidjmcgee at 4:09 PM on April 19, 2015 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Yes! That is the exactly right answer. Thank you, davidjmcgee and moonmilk!
posted by John Cohen at 4:19 PM on April 19, 2015 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: So I was right that it's on a minor east-west street, east of 5th Avenue (not in Chelsea).
posted by John Cohen at 4:28 PM on April 19, 2015

This is the front of the restaurant on Google StreetView and this is the side angle view and zoomed in side angle view. Would have been hard to see just through using streetview!
posted by barnone at 7:27 PM on April 19, 2015 [1 favorite]

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