New York City, located on the east coast of the United States, is one of the country’s oldest cities. However, in comparison to older European towns, it is a toddler in terms of age.
The roadways are significantly more straight and broad than those in London or Paris, indicating a more recent design and construction over a shorter period of time.
Manhattan is known for its hundreds of skyscrapers and broad, lengthy, and parallel streets, which is what most people think of when they hear “New York.” However, some of the antique gems lying beneath that concrete jungle skyline may surprise some.
It wasn’t my first visit to New York, far from it. I’d been there many times before, so I didn’t feel like a tourist the last time I was there. I didn’t feel compelled to go to any of the tourist traps or perform any of the touristic activities.
When I planned to traverse the entire length of Manhattan on foot, from the Bronx to the financial district at the southern tip, everyone thought I was insane. They were absolutely correct. It was the midst of summer, and it was a particularly hot summer. I’d been out in the sun for an hour and had just just arrived in the Columbia University neighborhood, where I decided to relax for a coffee and regain my composure.
After a few sips of coffee and a bite of a nice American donut, I said to myself, “I think it’d be best to accomplish this in two parts.”
University campuses are my favorite places to visit. They’re the same all around the planet. Something about all of the bright young minds makes me happy. Also, as someone who spent an exceptionally long time pursuing a variety of degrees at several universities, it always brings back a lot of memories.
Furthermore, the best cafes in each city or town are almost always located near educational institutions. I suppose they already have a customer.
I spent some more time in Harlem, which is by far my favorite neighborhood in New York. I could spend all of my time in Harlem as a fan of classical American music and not travel anywhere else. You might be surprised to realize how much Harlem has influenced the music we listen to now in many regions of the world. In that regard, it’s comparable to New Orleans.
The fantasy-loving part of me secretly wanted to run into Luke Cage at some time.
New York is similar to London in terms of being loud and cosmopolitan, but everything is more extreme in NYC. One such example is Central Park. It’s similar to our own Hyde Park in that it’s a vast park in the heart of a busy city. It’s different, though, in terms of how abruptly the vibe shifts when you enter from the city’s concrete core.
To many people, Central Park represents a variety of things. To some, it’s a haven of serenity, with its own ecosystem of ponds, lakes, reservoirs, and grasslands. Others see it as a recreational area with sports fields and arenas. To some, it’s a haven for criminals and covert operations.
Central Park offers a wonderful view of the city, which I highly suggest. You only get a glimpse of one side of the city, the eastern and south-eastern ends, but it’s a stunning vista. As you look from south to north, you can discern the city’s age.
I also suggest finding a relatively peaceful location in the park and simply listening to the city. It has the appearance of a living entity. New York has a distinct sound of its own.
Between Central Park Way and Fifth Avenue, I continued traversing the park from one side to the other in a strange zig-zag manner. I made the decision not to travel too far east or west. At this point, I realized that doing what I truly intended to do, which was to walk down every street, way, and avenue in Manhattan, would take about a month.
At this time, I had come to the conclusion that less was more. I slowed down and soaked in the scenery, especially on the park’s west side. On that side, I grew quite fascinated in the architecture. You can see the numerous eras of Manhattan’s development if you look closely. In general, older structures were lower and more European in style, constructed of stone and mortar. There are even several structures in the 19th-century Romanesque Revival style.
Architects of the time created buildings to look like constructions from the 11th and 12th centuries. They were, in a sense, fake vintage at the time. This is why many structures in Europe and abroad appear to be much older than they actually are, and appear to have magically survived the centuries when they aren’t.
It’s the same with Renaissance-era European sculptures modeled after ancient Greco-Roman art, giving the impression that modern Plato sculptures are in excellent shape when the genuine ones are either missing or in considerably poorer condition than you might think.
Most people believe that the popular, perfect sculptures of King David date from ancient times, akin to the Alexander The Great statue in Istanbul. It isn’t the case. It was created in the early 16th century by the artist Michaelanglo. It’s almost two thousand years old!
Another example is London’s Tower Bridge, which many people believe is as old as the Tower of London. It isn’t the case. It was designed to look old in order to blend in with the surroundings. You see what I mean.
The epic digression has come to an end.
By the end of the first day, I’d decided that this would be a three-day event rather than a two-day affair. I needed more time in New York to be a non-tourist. I had to snap photos in addition to soaking up the atmosphere and all the changes that had occurred since my last visit.
I also wasn’t expecting to run across Luke Cage at that time, so I’d have settled with Spiderman, Jessica Jones, Dare Devil, or even Danny Rand (the Iron Fist)… or any member of the Hand for that matter. I’d be happy to meet the Yardies, Triads, Mafia, or anyone else.
Unfortunately, I did come into the overly vigilant and ever-present NYPD. I was collecting my breath and re-orienting myself in what appeared to be a posher-than-average portion of the island when I found myself standing beside a grass in the shade. I believe I was in Hell’s Kitchen at the time. Two police officers approached me and yelled some nonsensical demands at me.
”Excuse me, I beg your pardon? “Excuse me, could you repeat that?” My “British” accent, I honestly believe, saved the day. When the officers heard my voice, they moved from a hand-on-hip posse to a more friendlier one. Was I about to get shot because I was allegedly standing on private property? What an odd country.
Another feature of New York is its diversity. Everyone is constantly tense. London is tense as well, but we’re cranky rather than on the verge of striking someone in the face. Or, in the worst-case scenario, shooting them in the face.
I was acutely aware that there were people strolling about with firearms, both concealed and not. MacDonalds security was armed to the teeth. The ladies in uniform at the mall reception were putting on a show. I got the idea that everyone had something to prove and was just waiting for the right moment to do so. That may or may not have been the case, but that was my perception.
On the second day, I did a lot of walking. I walked through Soho, Chinatown, and some run-down areas with a lot of homeless people. It reminded me of some of East London’s crack addict-infested neighborhoods. I arrived at another university campus and the massive Google building right next to it, where things turned incredibly hipster, just like East London.
My indication to stop for a coffee was the Google building, college students, and sudden splash of hipster colors. Because it was so hot, I also had some frozen yoghurt. There were two severely armed officers inside. I considered approaching them, but decided against it. It would have been the ideal occasion to crack an ironic joke with the officers in London, who wouldn’t be armed to the teeth. It didn’t seem like a good idea in New York.
I took a quick left through City Hall Park to get to Brooklyn Bridge after stopping for a few minutes viewing the financial area from afar. The plan was to return on the third day to see Wall Street and the rest of the island. The idea for day two was to take the Brooklyn Bridge to Brooklyn and then the Manhattan Bridge back to Manhattan.
By the way, unless you have my level of endurance and leg-pain tolerance, I don’t encourage this, especially in the heat.
Because of the different work projects taking place on the Brooklyn Bridge, getting on it was a little difficult. It’s always a beautiful sight once you’re up there. On Brooklyn Bridge, there are two categories of people: New Yorkers wanting to get to or from Brooklyn, and tourists getting in their way.
In that gruff industrial kind of manner, the Brooklyn Bridge is absolutely gorgeous. It’s a technical marvel and the more appealing of the two. The Manhattan Bridge is more functional and utilitarian.
I just had an hour to tour the Manhattan-facing portion of Brooklyn before returning to catch my train back. I’m not familiar with Brooklyn, but it appears to be one of those locations that was once something and is now something else. The place and the people I saw there are in sharp contrast, if that makes any sense.
I decided I’d had enough of walking ridiculously great distances and took the Metro to some of my stations on the third day. I arrived at Penn Station and then took the subway to the Staten Island Ferry.
Staten Island had never piqued my curiosity or piqued my want to see it. I only rode the ferry since it is one of the greatest ways to see the Statue of Liberty, and it is also free!
You don’t get a nice view of the statue from Liberty Island. Yes, you can touch her and climb to the top, but because I wasn’t really a tourist, I was quite content with my cup of coffee on the ferry while taking in some of the most incredible sights that many people overlook when visiting New York.
The view from the ferry of south Manhattan, New Jersey, and Queens is spectacular.
I strongly advise you to take advantage of the free boat ride. If you want to catch the returning ferry, you normally have approximately five minutes to run across to the other side. Alternatively, you can wait half an hour for the next one, which happens every half hour. If you’re interested, you can also go exploring on Staten Island, but I didn’t.
The rest of the day was spent at the financial area, specifically Wall Street and the World Trade Center. New York’s “The City” and “Canary Wharf” are equivalent to “The City” and “Canary Wharf” in London.
Wall Street is a dump, which is astonishing given the amount of money that passes through it. I think it’s because it’s an older section of town, so there’s a lot of wear and tear compared to the new gleaming WTC.
My experience visiting the World Trace Centre deserved to be its own blog article. It wasn’t the first time I’d been back since the twin towers fell, but it was the first time I’d seen the completed reconstruction. What a spectacle, and what a fitting memorial to those who perished there.
If you’re ever in New York, I strongly advise you to pay it a visit.
I spent the rest of my stay in New York, on Long Island, near the water, outside of Manhattan. That was a very different experience and a pleasant change from the frantic energy of the Big Apple, but I greatly enjoyed my time in New York without being a tourist.
Like many legendary cities, I believe most visitors visiting New York for the first time will be disappointed. There have been just too many brilliant films created, classic images taken, best-selling books written, and super heroes based in New York City to expect anything less than a spectacular experience. The Big Apple, on the other hand, is just another American concrete jungle with people going about their everyday lives.
Allowing time to enjoy the city is essential, in my opinion. You must first adjust to the pace of things and the people’s attitudes. You must understand that the people are a part of the city and, as such, are a reflection of the atmosphere. Then you’ll realize that you have to be that way in order to survive there.
You may need to match their intensity level in order to avoid getting in their way, which may be tough for someone from a less frenetic city like London. Yes, London is far less frantic. Having said that, I believe New York has something for everyone. Once you’ve visited all of Manhattan’s attractions and don’t like the noise, you can always go to Lo
You may need to match their intensity level in order to avoid getting in their way, which may be tough for someone from a less frenetic city like London. Yes, London is far less frantic. Having said that, I believe New York has something for everyone. If you don’t enjoy the noise, you can always go to Long Island or one of the quieter boroughs after seeing all the sights in Manhattan.
Thank you for taking the time to read this.