New York, New York. So nice they named it twice. Or something like that. If I had to make a list of my top five cities in the world, New York City would definitely be on it. I’ve been there three times and I still I know whenever I get the opportunity I will be back. I’d love to be able to teleport over there today and just spend a few hours wandering!
What is it about New York that captures the imagination of so many people? Perhaps it’s due to growing up watching so many American movies and television shows, so that the first time you walk the streets of New York it all just feels so familiar. Or perhaps it’s the fact that in this one city you can find pretty much anything and everything from around the world whether art, music, food, people, or ideas. Maybe it’s that every second person on the street is also a tourist and so it feels like you are all figuring this place out together. And that it’s big enough to allow everyone to discover their own ‘secret’ favourite places.
What do I love about New York?
This could be a long list!
Concerts in Central Park in the summer, snow in Central Park in the winter, incredibly talented buskers using the acoustics of Central Park’s tunnels. The fact that Grand Central Station really is quite grand and the fact that you really can choose to pay whatever you wish to visit the world’s most incredible Museums. Ice skating at Rockefeller Center (yes I did!), the view from the Empire State Building by day or by night, walking across the Brooklyn Bridge. The quirky pop-up shops and amazing desserts at Chelsea Market, the public library reading room, catching the subway, the Macy’s Christmas window displays.
The flat iron building, the story of the Chrysler building, and queuing up for tickets to that night’s shows on Broadway. Watching people people-watching in Times Square, the brand new Ground Zero memorial and the old St Paul’s Chapel right next door. Pizza in Little Italy, BBQ in Little Korea, dumplings in Little Thailand and curries in Little India. The scorched stone statue from Hiroshima in the UN building and touring the places where the world’s leaders meet. Catching the Staten Island ferry and going past Lady Liberty, the place in Wall Street where George Washington became the first US President. Being the only person walking the High Line and looking down at the frenetic pace of the city below.
What did I learn from the people of New York?
That is quite a bit harder to answer. I’m not sure how many true locals I’ve met there. I’ve run into what feels like the cast of characters from a stereotypical New York sit-com including the taxi driver with pearls of wisdom to share, the concierge who assures you he can get special deals for the right price, and the café waitress who can’t quite understand an Australian accent. New York is brimming with life of all kinds and yet it often feels like most of the people are visitors there to observe rather than participate. I visited an amazing church with an incredible gospel choir but even there I still felt a little bit like a spectator watching a show.
I’ve often wondered what it would be like to live in Manhattan for a while. I imagine those who live there have a very different perspective. But I hope they cannot help but see in their city a microcosm of a world in which there is incredible diversity and beauty, and that sometimes it’s worth slowing down just to sit and watch it all go by for awhile. That’s not something I often take the time to do when I’m in my home city, but maybe I’ll find at least a few minutes where I am today to do the same.