New York – Part 2
The majority of my time in New York I found myself having a love/hate relationship with the place. Not because it wasn’t everything I thought it would be, but because the way things are portrayed in books, magazines, tv and even studying America at University, things were never as glorified or idyllic as you would expect. There were no white picket fences, and couples don’t spontaneously meet on the subway and fall in love in a matter of seconds – in fact, being able to move on the subway was a challenge in itself.
We the British see London as our version of New York, but even London doesn’t compare in scale. When viewing the city from the observation decks of both the Empire State Building and Rockefeller Centre’s Top of the Rock, you realise just how insane the landscape of Manhattan and it’s surrounding boroughs of Brooklyn, Queen’s, the Bronx etc are. There is no space in the city to build – you have no option but to build upwards rather than the outwards we are accustomed to here. So many buildings have such height on them that you need a deep tissue massage on your neck by the end of the day because you spend so much time looking upwards. Being able to look down on the city from the observation decks makes you feel on top of the world and almost away from everything which I thought was incredible. But what was so overwhelming was even at 872 feet off the ground you could hear sirens, car horns and the general hustle and bustle of this alive city. The sounds were never ending. As peaceful as it was up in the clouds taking in the panoramic views, there was always that reminder that the city that never sleeps was just below you. Insane.
New York is the city that never sleeps for a reason. We took in an evening performance of the Phantom of the Opera at the Majestic theatre in Times Square and, the best part for me, took in a Yankees game in the Bronx. The atmosphere for both was incredible – so many people, the queues, the camaraderie of the crowds, the support and love that the native New Yorkers have for their city was simply mind-blowing. When doing things in the city in the evening you get to take in the full landscape. All lit up and the skyline completely changes and looks so different to how it did during the day from the observation decks. The beauty of New York is that there are so many angles to view the city from and taking in the Brooklyn Bridge and that side of the skyline in the evening was a definite highlight. It was a shame that the World Trade Centre memorial lights only come on once a year, but that’s just a reason to go back another time to capture it on film.
There were so many things we explored from the museums, to the zoo, Broadway, and a day trip out of state up to New Haven to visit Yale University campus. Taking the train out of the city again changes the landscape and you begin to see the picturesque epitome of American life when you see the suburbs. The white picket fences exist, there were back gardens, albeit rare, but one thing that stood out most was that even in the suburbs houses had American flags hanging in their gardens in the same way the Financial District had them on display.
Everyone is so proud to be American and it’s easy to understand why. They are rich in history and culture in ways that we British aren’t, but at the same time the visit made me realise that New York as a city isn’t somewhere I’d want to live for more than a year or two – it’s not a family place and family is what I’m all about. Experiencing the whole city with your best friend though made it feel like a home away from home for the duration of the trip. It was an incredible 10 days and I’ll never truly be able to put it into words everything that was experienced but it was by far the most rewarding, humbling, and enjoyable time of my life. Cheers to exploring more of such a large country and going back to New York some day to finish off the things I never got to do.