Monday, March 04, 2013

New York City: The Quintessential American City

New York City is the city of all cities in the United States. With over 18 million people in the metropolitan area, it makes the second largest city in the United States look quaint: Los Angeles has 6 million fewer people in its metro area and less than half the density of NYC (27,000 people per square mile vs. 8,000 people per square mile for LA). Everything is New York. It is a microcosm of everything that can be found in America, complete with the highs and lows, and is often the only piece of America that visitors from other countries see of the United States.

The irony of New York being portrayed as quintessential American is that it is completely unique in the nation. The highs and lows that are genuine clash together with a ferocity that isn't found in other parts of the country. The American-ness of New York clashes with the international nature of the city and the availability of things like Parisian macarons and transplanted immigrant communities from every part of the globe. The city's ability to metabolize the energy of the people that come to the city is not found at the same level elsewhere in the United States.

As it was put to me by a person on the bus, "You don't leave New York. New York chews you up and spits you out."

This is my third or fourth time in New York and this time I felt far more comfortable than the previous trips. I had a better understanding of how to get around and what to go see. I had already visited the major sights on previous visits, which meant that I was mainly here to start seeing the small things and revisiting a few key places, like Times Square above.

Another reason that I felt more at ease this time around is that the City of New York has been rethinking how people get around. Bike and pedestrian infrastructure is being prioritized and as a pedestrian, it is getting more and more comfortable to walk around. The city has been reallocating street right of way to pedestrian/public space with great effect. Three blocks of Broadway in Times Square was vacated for pedestrian use and is more lively now than ever. More of the space is usable and there is more activity. It is a better experience from start to finish.

There are great things happening in New York right now and generally the city is becoming a more livable place. Maybe I'll have to give being NewYorkFlyerGuy a try for awhile sometime in the future.

In the mean time, in my next post we'll visit some of the awesome places in New York to get some delicious treats. Empire Cake. Laduree. Milk & Cookies. Big Gay Ice Cream. Top of the Standard. Join me then!

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