Because of the subway in New York being something of an anthropological gallery. You can see Russian ladies wearing their Russian hats, with hollow cheeks and blue eyes, the Japanese wearing surgical masks, Mexican girls with dark locks, the Jewish wearing their brimless hats, African Americans wearing hoods and the unidentified people with something that looks like a ninja mask… (yes… this has been the coldest winter in the US). That is why there are 44 languages spoken in the US (actually 800!), so it is understandable that the USA does not have an official language.
All sorts of things happen in subway, keeping in mind that every New Yorker spends on average 40 minutes in the subway daily riding from home to work and other way round. They have to do something with their time. They usually put on make-up, sleep, talk on their phones, play the diamond game on their iPhones, read comparative biscuit analysis in a magazine dedicated to healthy eating, or a Bible. There are some that sing and then ask for tips, but they are very well-behaved. They shake hands with the commuters and high-five them, apologizing to anyone who did not enjoy their singing. They usually sing something like “Stand by me” and similar songs. How can you not like that? After that I heard that subway “singers” had to go through a strict audition in order to be able to sing in the subway, and that some of them even performed in Carnegie Hall. Something else wonderful about New York subway is that it runs 24h a day 365/366 days a week just like the Apple store on 5th Avenue, that was closed for only two days because of the hurricane Sandy.
Because there are about 40 theatres in several streets on Broadway. The big ones, and a bunch of smaller ones called off-Broadway. And even more smaller ones called off-off-Broadway. And some micro theatres that you enter directly from the street through some steep steps, they do not even have a hallway. All in all, there are more than 400 theatres. Then again, in some theatres, there are people with at least 5 talents- they can dance, sing, jump, act, play an instrument, drive a scooter and many other things simultaneously, all live and perfectly executed. They are paid about 1,422 dollars per week, but I would pay them even more than that.
Because every moment you feel like you are in a movie, since in the last hundred years there have been 20,000 movies filmed in New York City. It’s true that these are not my favourite movies, but still the feeling is amazing when you see places you were only able to see in the movies before.
Then, there is Times Square. I don’t know about you, but I was never spellbound by the bright advertisements and naked cowboys, but you will always look up and be in awe of a huge screen as big as the 10-storey building and a model’s huge leg towering over you from an enormous screen. Or seeing an M&M shining candy as big as the UFO, 161 megawatts are needed for the ads to be that bright. I do not really understand how that works, but someone calculated all that and it turns out that such an amount of the current is enough to light up 161,000 households.
Because there are street food vendors: Mexicans, Vietnamese, Senegalese, Brazilian, Chinese… If you feel like eating lamb with rice in midnight, you have to wait 15 minutes to get some on 52nd and 6th Avenue, because there is always a line at the Egyptian’s. You are able to eat whatever you want for 6 dollars, any cuisine you can think of.
Anyway, you often feel like you are travelling around the world when you are in New York City. It’s enough to go from Harlem, where you can see a half-naked Afroamerican working out in the street in the freezing cold, to Queens, where you can eat the best “burek”, through Little Italy and Chinatown (the biggest Chinese community in the West).
Because New York has Brooklyn, and that is really important. Brooklyn is wonderful, among other things because you can be an intruder on a casual Sunday church gathering where gospel is sung. These chubby African American girls really let go and improvise, and swing and it is such an amazing experience that it gives you goosebumps, you may even cry even though you are not religious in the least- it’s enough to be an emotional person. Brooklyn did not want to “unite” with the rest of New York, and if that hadn’t happened Brookly would today be the third biggest city in the USA. In 1989 it became one of the 5 boroughs of New York. And people living in Brooklyn regret that, because it has ever since remained in Manhattan’s shadow, but unfairly. There are about 700 institutions in the field of art and culture, beautiful brownstones and an amazing Brooklyn Bridge, an arthitectual miracle at the time, with invaluable and free view of Manhattan. People in Brooklyn are very young- 34 years old on average. There are a bunch of galleries, flee markets, and you can feel the artistic spirit of writers and artists and Merilyn Monroe. A lot of things have been invented in Brooklyn, just like the gospel I already mentioned. Air conditioning, and a teddy bear in one of the candy shops. Permission for it to be called “teddy” came straight from the then president of the USA Theodore Roosevelt.
In addition, I do love curvy romantic corners, but there is something about New York streets and avenues that always meet at a perfect angle. Firstly, you can always go straight, that is the only way. No weaving. Secondly, you are in one of the biggest cities in the world, so you really have to be bad at reading maps in order to get lost here. It is very simple and practical. Even though it did not seem like that when the urban planner at the end of the 18th century was smoothly rejected by the City Council. Several years later, the idea was accepted and a special commision was formed in order to execute the plan by leveling the hills and making the yards smaller which its residents did not like. That part of the city is today called “downtown”. That is how the Manhattan grid came to existence. Although everyone asked themselves why would anyone want to live in 51st street where the rent today equals at least 3,500 dollars for a tiny apartment.
I love New York because of its department stores. Department stores! Can you imagine? When was the last time you bought something in a department store? I am not a shopaholic, with the exception of flee markets, but going to these department stores reminded me of the wonderful 80’s and my childhood and the excitement about going to the department store. There you go, New York is still full of the real department stores, that even have 8 storeys.
And I love NYC because it looks like a city of happiness and future, at least if you try. It is a place where people fly or sail to, see the Statue of Liberty and believe that they will find a life better than the one they left behind. It is nothing like Europe. It does not seem pretentious like Paris and London. It did not seem like that to me, at all. It seemed like it accepted anyone, which is probably true, since more than half of its residents were not born in NYC, they came from somewhere else. The people we see in subway are the people I could not stop looking at and wonder where they came from, why they were there in that subway, because of which I love New York City.
Written by: Nataša Gološin
Taken from: Klub putnika
This post is also available in: RS