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Colorful leaves with the trees that line Poyntz Avenue west of Martin Luther King Jr. Drive on Tuesday afternoon. Manhattan is in the middle of its autumn transition.

It’s not that I’ve made an exhaustive survey, but I’m going out on a limb and proclaiming Poyntz Avenue the prettiest street in America right now.

By right now, I mean today, and maybe for the next couple of days. That’s it.

Oh, and by “Poyntz,” I mean the section from about 18th Street to Sunset Avenue.

The trees are exploding with color all along that stretch, which is where the street rises from the flat of downtown up the hill to Manhattan High. There are deep reds, bright yellows, some browns and tans, and some spectacular yellow-red mixes. Maples, most spectacularly.

I don’t know enough about the exact conditions that lead to such spectacular colors along that stretch of road. In general I know that colors have to do with moisture and light. What I know for sure is that this moment passes by quickly.

That stretch is also pretty in the neon green of early spring, and it’s nice during the peak of summer. You can walk along the sidewalk under the leafy canopy, shaded nearly the entire way. Big, stately trees. In winter, it feels like giant skeletons.

But it’s right now when they’re the best. This very moment. The transitory nature of it, of course, makes it particularly sweet.

I might be biased, given that I’ve driven up and down that stretch of road thousands of times, starting in high school. I just drove it again, a few minutes before I sat down to write this. I hesitated to do so, since I feel like it’s my own little secret treasure. But that’s a selfish instinct, and sharing beauty can never be bad.

So drive through there, if you get a chance. Glance up. Ride a bike. Even better, walk, and stop and look around. But you’d better hurry. Like our lives, one minute they’re here, next minute they’re gone.

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