street fights

How Big Should an Umbrella Be?

Photo: Hector Retamal/AFP via Getty Images

As yesterday’s fall rains washed away our sins, NY1 morning-news fixture Pat Kiernan was looking for a fight. “Reminder: no one should have an umbrella this big on crowded NYC sidewalks,” he tweeted with a photo of a person holding a “big” umbrella.

It’s an age-old question, old as the rains themselves: How big is too big of an umbrella in New York City? The replies to Kiernan’s tweet were largely supportive: “Umbrellas should be banned on sidewalks,” one person wrote. Another went even further, arguing that no one should have an umbrella “in NYC.”

Among my colleagues, reactions were mixed. City editor Chris Bonanos identified as “Team Kiernan,” a sentiment that was echoed by senior editor Katie McDonough, who said, “Pat Kiernan was rude to me on a sidewalk once, but I still agree with him.” (When I followed up about this, she told me that she had walked past Kiernan on Sixth Avenue and muttered out loud, in what she described as “awe”: “Pat Kiernan.” Kiernan then, she claimed, gave her a dirty look. If you have a story about running into Kiernan on the street, please reach out.) Zach Schiffman, social-media editor, disagreed with the umbrella haters, noting that “the sidewalk doesn’t look that crowded.” Kim Vesey, Curbed’s real-estate reporter, later suggested that perhaps this was the only umbrella the woman had, and shouldn’t we be more forgiving of that kind of situation?

As for me? I disagree with Kiernan. Umbrellas are an incredible invention — they’ve essentially had the same design for the past 4,000 years, and holding one is a celebration of human ingenuity. The umbrella in question is not even that big. Curbed staff all agreed with Kiernan’s secondary take, which was that “wider sidewalks and less car storage on Bedford” would resolve the issue nicely. Peace, at last!

What do you think? Fight with us, and Pat Kiernan, in the comments below.

How Big Should an Umbrella Be?