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Stairs are typically used to link two levels of a structure vertically. That is, they allow a person to ascend from a lower level to a higher level or descend from a higher level to a lower level. This has long been the common understanding of stairs. It is precisely because I know how stairs are most commonly used that I was surprised to find in Columbia Street Waterfront District – a quaint Brooklyn neighborhood – a portable set of three wooden steps taking one from the sidewalk into the side of a building – i.e., nowhere.

A portable 3-step wooden stair case on the sidewalk facing a wall in Columbia Street Waterfront District in Brooklyn
The stairs in Columbia Street Waterfront District – edited for publication by Victor V. Gurbo

I took this stair photo with my BlackBerry Classic at 4:45 PM on June 7, 2020. What is the meaning of these portable stairs to nowhere? I assume that they were used to reach something in some place other than where I found them, but I recall finding no evidence of what that was. Furthermore, that the left side of the wooden stairs was being propped up with a small concrete square suggests that they were askew without some support. Perhaps the small wooden stairs had been rendered useless by heavy-use or a design flaw, and were now part of a sort of makeshift art instillation – standing in front of the colorful wall you see in the picture.

We may never solve the mystery of the misplaced stairs, but I recall a certain pigeon in our archive who would have found these stairs useful for procuring a snack.