To be a New Yorker you have to be many things all at once. You have to be tough, street smart, aware of what is going on around you without looking like you are, and most importantly be able to walk and talk at the same time. When you are a native New Yorker you do not question what it takes you just do it. It is only once you are grown that you are able to look back and see what your experiences have given you.
Recently I was talking to a friend and we were venting about living in New York City. Though we are both born and bred here that doesn’t mean it is all sunshine and rainbows. Commuting on the trains and buses is no picnic. Getting a cab especially in bad weather or rush hour is nearly impossible. Thank God for Uber or no one would be able to leave their house, especially us bridge and tunnel people.
New York City is a crazy expensive place to live and always has been. Nowadays they are building condos by the truckload but I don’t know who is going to live in them. I haven’t heard anything selling for less than two million dollars and when you look at rentals you need seven people to share a studio apartment if you would like to live in a decent neighborhood, key word being live.
Now if I had two million dollars honey I would like to think I would live someplace more glamorous. There are days where I wish I were living in Chicago or Paris. In those cities you see beauty everywhere; in the architecture, when dealing with the locals, in the feeling you get being out and about. Those cities I love breathe new life into my soul while I am there and I often come home rather hard on my own city although truth be told on some level I do ache to have a permanent place where my family was established.
See that is the thing about New York. It can rough you up, spit you out, but then it has pity on you. You realize like Taylor Swift sings “its been waiting for you”. You can love who you wish, when you wish, where you wish. It is the art and cultural center of the world and I can see life altering theater and concerts without having to plan my vacations around it. That is just my everyday life as a New Yorker and because of that I am one lucky broad.
It all boils down to this: in New York City you are surrounded by literally millions of people. BUT there is a simultaneous anonymity about walking around this city. You can get lost in your own thoughts walking down the block, which happens to me constantly. You can cry, scream, talk to yourself and no one will be the wiser. I take great solace in this.
New York City is a place where the strong survive because we have always had to face one struggle or another. Thus as New Yorkers we take the bad things that happen to us in stride as best we can. After the recent act of terrorism in Chelsea, the Huffington Post (link below) had this to say in one of their articles.
“A lot comes down to perspective: If you already think New York is dangerous, an act of violence could solidify your opinion. If you think New York is relatively safe, you’re more likely to continue to enjoy your life with a renewed awareness of your surroundings.”
Like most things I think the truth lies somewhere in the middle. Life is filled with many grey areas.
There is no other city as great as New York; it is also an exhausting way of life. But we are always hardest on the ones we love the most. New York City and I have our days but we are in this for the long haul.
Serendipitous as it was, as I was thinking about writing this blog weeks ago I began to notice many others were contemplating what makes New Yorkers, well New Yorkers.
One of my favorite publications, Time Out New York, had a list of the ultimate faux pas in this fair city of mine.
These four are the ones I related to the most.
· Encourage dancers on a crowded train,
· Suggest Times Square as a fun spot to meet for dinner,
· Wait for the walk sign to cross an empty street, and
· Confuse the Manhattan Bridge and Brooklyn Bridge.
I could wax poetically about any of these but I will refrain. If I had to pick, gun to my head, I would say giving money or attention to ANYONE while you are on mass transit is a mistake. No one needs to see where you keep your money or how much you have on you. A more native approach is to pretend you don’t see them or hear them. I usually keep my music low so I can pay attention to my surroundings while using the ear buds as my cover. This goes for any homeless people you see on the train. That might sound mean but safety comes first. Any fellow Dateline fans will know exactly what I mean. If you always assume there is a threat you will be better prepared when/if it arrives. This is how a New Yorker thinks.
I know this seems like a long list of grievances for a city that I supposedly love and am loyal to but they are just the facts. New Yorkers, especially this one, are known for telling the truth no matter how hard it may be to handle. For if I can’t be honest about a city that is part of my DNA what would that say about the rest of my rhetoric?
My life as a New Yorker gave me the foundation to appreciate the beauty of other places and people. I now sit back and reflect how grateful I am to be in this city with all of its freedoms and privileges. It has made me the world traveler I am with all the confidence and education I need to enter any brave new world.
On a lighter note I thought I would share some interesting stories about the most famous streets of New York City, providing one for each borough to be fair.
The NYC Go website where I found these is listed below. Be sure to check it out for many more cool facts.
- “Fruit Streets” (i.e. Pineapple), Brooklyn- One theory is that they originated from Miss Middagh in the nineteenth century who decided that street names shouldn’t only reflect the wealthy family of the times.
- Victory Boulevard, Staten Island- This street runs alongside Richmond Turnpike, which was originally noted as the best way to get from N.Y.C. to Philly. It got its current name after we won WWI.
- Arthur Avenue, Bronx- Is infamous for is Italian American cuisine. The name Arthur actually refers to someone that is not of that heritage though but rather our twenty-first President Chester Arthur.
- Madison, Park, and Lexington Avenues, Manhattan- These three central avenues are the only ones with names on the East Side.
- Madison Avenue is named for our fourth President James Madison.
- Lexington Avenue is so called in honor of the Battle of Lexington that began the Revolutionary War.
- Park Avenue a.k.a. Fourth Avenue began as the route of the Harlem Railroad. When the tracks were no longer in use and covered up with greenery, Fourth Avenue became known as Park Avenue.
- Steinway Street, Queens- Is so named for the celebrated family and their legacy of world-renowned pianos. The patriarch, William Steinway founded a resort on land that is now LaGuardia Airport and had previously been employed digging subway tunnels.
Wow two main avenues were named for past Presidents. I pass by and walk along these streets often and had no clue about any of their origins.
I love that new information revitalizes my fascination with my New York City.
And just like that our dance begins again.
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