If you’ve known me long enough, you also know that I rarely use words like “always” and “never”. They’ve burned me so many times over the years. I’ve come to realize that circumstances change, and my opinions may need to change as well. It’s with that context that I say I’ll always love New York City.
I grew up in Westchester County, a short train ride from the city. As a family, we would drive down to Manhattan seldomly, maybe once or twice a year. We rarely took the train when I was younger. A trip to New York City was usually centered around some activity kids would find boring. My mother loved to shop for jewelry. She also had a doctor or two in the city. Our reward for boredom was usually dinner at an Italian restaurant in Little Italy, Puglia. We would stand in line outside waiting to sit at one of the basic picnic tables inside to enjoy a plate of pasta, some singing and, if we were lucky, a walk down the street afterwards to buy Italian cookies.
I recently had a 1-day trip to NYC. If memory serves me correctly, it was only my second time in 2023 that I was in New York. Everything about this trip emphasized my opinion that, at the same time NYC is constantly remaking itself, it’s essentially staying the same.
LaGuardia Airport, long a blight on the city, is now a wonderful gateway. While it’s a true pleasure to arrive at, the ride in a cab or Uber awaits most people, with few viable public transportation options.
As the car I’m riding in exits the tunnel in Manhattan I can feel the heartbeat of the city around me. Pedestrians bustle on the sidewalks alongside the car and cluster around crosswalks. When the traffic signal favors them, many dart out as quickly as possible, only to be slowed by the next throng of traffic.
It’s a mile from my hotel to the bar where I’m meeting friends with drinks. In NYC at rush hour, it’s less than 10 minutes quicker to hop in a cab, assuming nothing goes wrong.
I decided to walk uptown. It was a cool, breezy night and my path took me right through Times Square. The sea of humanity in Times Square is so dynamic. Listen closely and you can hear people speaking in a variety of languages. Street performers bark at people passing by.
The city is alive! There’s so much to take in. The sights, sounds and smells can overwhelm a newcomer. But, New York City has never intimidated me, even on my worst days there (watching a friend get mugged).
I’ve seen New York at its lowest, shortly after 9/11. It felt so quiet, so vulnerable. 9/11 left deep scars on NYC. Those scars have become part of the tapestry weaved across Manhattan, an ugly part of history but a realization that the city can and would rebuild.
Quiet coffee shops, bustling museums, the subway rushing under your feet as you walk the city. The Statue of Liberty, One World Trade Center, the High Line, Yankee Stadium. The list of what New York has to offer is seemingly endless.
New York City welcomes you with incredible culture and cuisine. My brief night in NYC this week started with a pint at an Irish pub that has been around for decades. It ended shortly after midnight after glasses of champagne and pretzels hanging from umbrellas at a party in a cosmopolitan venue overlooking the Intrepid.
As the night came to an end for me, it continued for the rest of my group. “Come out for one more drink” they pleaded. I politely declined. They ventured on without me. After all, the city never sleeps.
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