It is said that New York City has a certain unusual quality about it. New York can either devastate an individual or raise their level of play, their desire or purpose in some exciting way. As they say, if you can make it there, you can make it anywhere… or, you can leave with your tail between your legs.
As a native New Yorker, born in East Harlem, I know it to be unique, and I must say that it deserves the attention it gets as one of the world’s most spectacular cities for all the following reasons.
It is a fact that New York City is the commercial center of the United States, as well as the heart of American advertising, fashion, publishing, and radio television broadcasting. It is the distillation of industry, trade, communication, entertainment, sports and arts, and boasts a generous representation of diverse ethnic groups and faith. Simply put, it’s the melting pot that America is renowned for. It has a positive effect on the creative abilities of its inhabitants. I want to mention that the Five main Boroughs that comprise and add to the fame of the city of New York are Manhattan, Brooklyn, The Bronx, Queens and Staten Island. Each borough merits recognition for its magnificent landmarks, treasured historical sites, rich history and accomplishments. Yes, this diversity and non-stop electric action is what New York City is all about, and where millions visit each year to observe the riches and results of people’s creative power.
As for the inhabitants and non-inhabitants of this enormous metropolis known as the “Big Apple”, there are several groups of people: First, we have the native New Yorker. These are the individuals whose birthplace is New York City. Regardless to wherever they should go, there will always be some emotional attachment to their roots. Secondly, we have the outsiders born elsewhere who seem to gravitate to the big city They establish residency with zeal, whether it is for the numerous opportunities presented by the city, or simply because they feel lucky to live near others of their own kind. The adventurous, productive type. Thirdly, let us not forget, the millions of frustrated commuters that travel round trip to get to and work in the city. Finally, with all the attractions and entertainment that the city offers, there is the never-ending flow of millions of day-trippers and out of town tourists.
Though New York City may have a lot of positive characteristics, there is also a strong negative side to living in a metropolis of this magnitude. As the city becomes progressively more crowded, there is a greater concern, irritability and outright hostility caused by the fact that the city is clogged with people. It is almost impossible to find an empty taxi, parking spot, or even a seat on the bus or train. This has hardened New Yorkers.
People brand New Yorkers as offensive because of their out spoken qualities. To some effect, it may be true, but to present all New Yorkers as crude is a misstatement. There is a significant number of civil and sophisticated New Yorkers. However, we do have some people that speak their minds when annoyed, not all, but some. But let’s not forget the tremendous sense of humor that characterizes most New Yorkers. Colloquialisms form part of their everyday life, which can be also interpreted as rudeness, such as: “That one could grow potatoes with those dirty ears; ” “Why don’t you take a long walk off a short pier; ” “Hey, don’t spit in the air, it might fall on your nose;” “Don’t let your mouth run off ’til your brain’s in gear;” “Oy Vey! With those bags, she needs a couple of pairs of shoes;” “He couldn’t make a noun and a verb agree even if his life depended on it;” “I hope she lives to a 150 and looks it,” and so on and so forth.
Some individuals have been ridiculed for their unique ‘Noo Yawker’ accent. Here are some examples: “Gedoutahea, yer puddin me on!” “Yeah, I kum fum Noo Yawk.” “Would ja ged a grip!” ” Did’ju or did’ja,” “Would’ju or would’ja,” “Soopah (Super),” “Fur sure I’m ohn the fawth floor,” “Wawda “(water), “I’ll have a tooner samwidge,” (tuna sandwich), ” I wud be da foist to tell you if my brudda was na here,” “Fugheddaboudit! I ain’t saying nuttin,” and, ” My mudda and fodda are goin downashaw ohn Lawnguylund.”
Accustomed to social, political and economic upheavals, crime, overcrowding, deterioration of neighborhoods, intolerable housing, extortionate rents and high taxes, native New Yorkers accept the turbulence that is associated with daily life as a normal and inevitable way of life. However, it still doesn’t stop them from openly vocalizing their frustrations and tensions with expressions such as: “The apartments are so expensive, unless you live in a rat infested roach hotel,” “Those pushcart peddlers will rob you blind, selling hot merchandise no less,” “There’s no place to park unless you pile the cars on top of each other,” “Oy Vey! Some of the neighborhoods look like a war zone,” “I’ve got gates on my windows and three locks on my door, doesn’t that tell you something?” “I hate the summer, smells like last year’s garbage is still out there………” and so on and so forth.
Yet, in spite of all the discomforts, horrible tragedies and miseries, miraculously, most of those who crowd the city streets choose to stay. New York, New York, undeniably It’s one helluva town.
For the millions of commuters, who travel daily to access business and investment opportunities, rush hour is a frightening scenario, as key roadways and bridges are jam-packed with cars, trucks, motorcycles and buses inching their way through bumper to bumper traffic. The overwhelming congestion of vehicles and passengers is everywhere. An aggravating hour or two spent traveling to one place in just one borough is quite common. Let’s not forget to mention the subway. Train after train rumble and shake their way into the station, to be welcomed by an interminable barrier of commuters waiting, lined up on the platform. The crush of commuters all make a mad dash to the train, pushing and elbowing along the way. After a few seconds, the train doors slam shut, leaving the unlucky ones behind. Some frustrated passengers fly to push the doors open j-u-s-t far enough to wriggle their way inside before the train begins to move, hoping their arm, leg, pocket-book or brief case does not remain caught outside. If the train is a local, it will continue to stop and pick up more passengers along the way, thus intensifying the unbearable crowding. Ill-humored standing passengers are crushed together like sardines in a tin can with no room to fall if the train should grind to a stop.
This situation exists year round as New Yorkers and tourists swarm about, seeking out beaches, parks and other recreational areas looking for a way to unwind from the hurry-scurry of the week. Here and there, stranded motorists along the highway stand besides their cars in the sweltering, dizzying heat, worsening the weekend obstruction of thrill seekers. Once the transfer of the vehicles takes place, desperate motorists fly away frantically searching for a gas station, only to find themselves once again trapped in an enormous column of 50 to 100 cars inching their way to the pumps, hoping that the gas would not run out.
New York, New York is one helluva town. Hundreds of thousands of neighborhoods only a few blocks long and a couple of blocks wide, teeming with large selections of stores and shops functioning independently. Despite their public awareness of the American traditions, multi-ethnic groups continue to practice within their neighborhoods, their own traditions, customs, religious festivities and cuisines. The obvious presence of this difference is what makes America’s town so extraordinary. Whether one lives in the neighborhoods of Park Slope, Jewish Lower East Side, Greenwich Village, Italian Harlem, Chinatown, El Barrio, Little Italy or Yorktown, life-long relationships are continually formed. So strong is this value of the neighborhood that many families, as well as their descendants, spend their entire lives living within its confines?
If one wishes to obtain entertainment, there is always something to do.
It is home to an awesome collection of large and small museums, primarily devoted to the arts and natural history. For example, because the Metropolitan Museum of Art is so widespread and visual, one should plan to spend a whole day there. As for burning off some of that accumulated energy pent up from your work week or satisfying your taste buds, there are plenty of bars, dance clubs and restaurants one can go to at all hours of the day and night. New York, New York is “A City that Never Sleeps.” It is a place where history and the present diverge. Historians and experienced lecturers of leading walking tours take local residents and visitors alike along on exciting and unforgettable strolls through the Big Apple’s ethnic neighborhoods, places of history, tradition and craftsmanship, creating lasting memories of an astonishing past.
Speaking about unforgettable memories; this reminds me of my visit several years ago to Manhattan’s theater district, which is the most famous theater district in the world. I went to attend a matinee of “Hairspray”. Seeing that I had arrived too early, I decided to take a walk through the district to familiarize myself once again with everything. There were the usual starry-eyed young aspiring actors, dancers and singers, portfolio in hand, swarming the area hastening to attend auditions in hopes of securing fame and fortune. The transportation situation remained unchanged. Cars continued to force their way through the streets aggressively, without giving any thought to pedestrians or other vehicles. I wanted desperately to cross the avenue, but with the congestion of traffic and chaos of horns honking, brakes screeching, hostile pedestrians screaming and waving their fists only added to my state of confusion. After living several years in the suburbs of New Jersey, unaccustomed to this never ending hustle and bustle of people and vehicles, I decided to return to the theater to wait in line. Suddenly from out of nowhere, a strong singing voice accompanied by musical instruments penetrated the air. How exciting, a free presentation was being given by striking amateur sidewalk entertainers, displaying their musical talents for meager donations. Once inside the theater, my attention was riveted to the stage throughout the entire performance of “Hairspray” as I absorbed the elements of music, drama, and dance, working together as a whole in artistic creativity. This first viewing of a live Broadway musical became a memorable experience for me. There were so many people, I assumed that all the other on and off Broadway theaters were discharging at the same time. Like a swarm of bees, the famished theater-goers, including yours truly, rushed about here, there, everywhere, in search of the nearest restaurant. Satisfied with my steaming cup of coffee, delicious hamburger with onions and a portion of New York cheesecake, I reluctantly returned to New Jersey, promising myself to another exciting trip to my hometown.
All this and much more continue to add to the colorful, exciting atmosphere of the Big Apple. So if, one asks me if I am pleased to have been a New Yorker? With pride, I would answer: “You Betcha!” Undeniably, “It’s one helluva town.”