What Makes New Yorkers Love New York?

An off-topic post.

My wife and I are visiting New York in the next little while, and contemplating a potential move there in a year. I’ve only been to NY once, and it was quite short.

Since visiting as a tourist is quite different from living there, my question is this: What do locals do in New York that makes them love New York?

Convince me.

14 Replies to “What Makes New Yorkers Love New York?”

  1. Nitsav,
    I lived in NY for five years, my wife for ten, and we’re moving back in a week. (Actually, quick disclaimer: I always lived on the Upper West Side, so what I know tends to be biased toward that area. Upper East Siders and others may have different answers.) Short answer: get away from Times Square. Check out Riverside Park, check out the parts of Central Park north of about 72nd, check out the restaurants you run into walking around the Upper West Side.

    Actually, feel free to email me; my answer would be different if you have or don’t have kids, if they’re young like mine or older, if you like food or you like shows or you like dance or you like music (summers in New York are full of free concerts and dance performances and theater performances) or you like museums (it’s expensive, but the MoMA is a must-see; less expensive and equally great is the Frick).

  2. I love getting on the subway in the mornings, listening to my iPod sitting next to people of all flavors, also listening to their iPods. I love looking towards Manhattan, knowing that I work there. I love both being at the center of the greatest city in the world, and also the ability to be totally anonymous and unknown.

    I am everybody and I am nobody in New York.

    I love that here people are free to do what they want, to live as they want to live, to be what they want to be. I love that, at my fingertips, there is always something I can do with my family in the city. There is always a large variety of great restaurants to choose from, so you could go a whole year, eating out every weekend, and not go to the same restaurant but still get excellent food. I love that there are a bazillion options for my daughter’s wellbeing and education as she grows up. If she wants to be an actress, there are excellent schools for that, right here in the city. If she wants to learn music. The best schools are right here. Science? Best schools are right here. My wife and I chose to live on the beach. Every Saturday we go to the beach and relax. You get the best of all worlds, the busyness of Manhattan and the relaxation of Long Island. I love that I am in an environment where I can teach my daughter about the whole world right in her city, where she can see diversity for herself and not be frightened off by any culture. I love that the temple is a mere subway ride away. I can go as often as I want just after work if I desired. I love that New York City is the safest large metropolis in the country. I believe the last numbers I saw were that there were 500 homicides in the city. For a city the size of New York, that is a paltry number. Also, the violence in New York rarely affects strangers. In other words, the violence tends to be among people who know each other. Rare are the murders of strangers, people who do not know the culprits. It really is a safe city. I also love that New Yorkers are actually quite polite and friendly. Sure, they won’t often say hi to you as you walk down Broadway, but really, who wants to say hi to thousands of people walking past them? I’ve never been blown off, however, when I ask someone for a quick assistance.

    I think that me and my wife will live in New York City to the end of our days.

  3. What they said above.

    1) Let me reiterate the food thing. You will never have access to a greater selection of amazing food than in New York. Ever.
    2) Community. I guess it depends on where you live but I love the community of my neighborhood in Park Slope in Brooklyn.
    3) Speaking of Brooklyn, Brooklyn. Perfect suburb to Manhattan. Just as good or better food. Incredible 19th century architecture. Green, leafy streets. Wonderful shops, restaurants, clubs, etc. And Prospect Park.
    4) Speaking of Prospect Park, Prospect Park. It’s not the tourist park of Central Park so it’s all locals from the community hanging out and it’s wonderful. And huge. And Gorgeous. And wonderful.
    5) The Church. My favorite ward ever. I’ve never been in a more accepting, loving ward. Also, my beard, colored shirts and seven-years-married-without-children has never once been brought up by leadership or in a judgemental way by any single person.
    6) Diversity.
    7) This was alluded to by the other posters but the fact that if you ever want to just get out and do something there is always something to do. Even if it just means walking accross the Brooklyn Bridge or whatever. But it’s nice to know that if I want to take my wife out I have myriads of options (there is always some kind of show going on whether it’s ballet, opera, dance, a play, off-Broadway, some Indie event, etc.)
    8) The feeling of superiority by saying you live in New York. It does wonders for your self-esteem to be able to look down on all the silly suburbanites with their yards and cars and carpet and clean streets and closet space. Such FOOLS!

  4. Thanks for these comments. Keep’em coming. I was under the impression that whole wards from NY were in the bloggernaccle, so there have to be more of you.

  5. Nitsy, NY is cool if you like big cities (I assume you’re talking about the city, not the state as a whole). I’m not a city dude, and I have to say that in NY, you can have it all. I lived upstate NY as a kid for a few years and absolutely adored it. The woods are thick, the thunderstorms are loud, the insects aren’t too bad, and the sky at night is breathtaking. So even if you’re an outdoorsman, and you live in the city, it’s a few hours drive upstate and you’ll forget you’re next to one of the world’s most bustling metropoli. I think the Appalachian Trail actually makes an appearance on the west side.

  6. I have a class to teach and then a plane to catch, so I can’t respond to any more comments soon, but keep them coming please.

  7. The good:

    -The food. Not just restaurants. The grocery stores. The cheese shops. There’s nothing like it.

    -The resources. Columbia and NYU.

    -Cool old buildings; old churches; architecture; 500 year old streets.

    -You’re one plane flight away from _anywhere_. Everyone flies to NYC.

    -You can get pretty much anything you need even if it’s 2 a.m.

    -Fun street fairs.

    -Really cool wards, with people like Richard Bushman in them.

    -Cool parks for the kids.

    -No car.

    The bad:

    -No big supermarkets. This is cute in a lot of ways; but sometimes it takes forever to figure out which little grocery or hardware store carries the item you want.

    -The city is kinda dirty. Dirty, salty snowy slush really sucks.

    -JFK airport is evil.

    -No yard, unless you can shell out big bucks, or unless you live in an outer borough. This can become a big deal if you’ve got kids. The park is _not_ an adequate substitute (though it’s not a bad substitute, either).

    -It’s really, really expensive to live in the city. You’re buying in a market that’s skewed by the presence of Goldman Sachs bankers (lots!) who make 20m a year.

    -No car.

  8. Kaimi,
    The supermarkets (at least in Manhattan) have improved since you left. (I don’t know about the other boroughs, except that a huge Fairway just opened in Brooklyn). In Manhattan, there are some big supermarkets with all of your standard processed goods, and pretty bad, but edible, produce. Last I lived there, there was a Gristedes (think Ralphs, maybe) around the corner when we ran out of milk or eggs or needed an onion for a recipe. There was also a Food Emporium a couple blocks away (think Albertsons). All sorts of bodegas with overpriced stuff. I always took the subway to Fairway for my main shopping, which is quirky, but you get used to it. And in the last two or three years, a huge Whole Foods and a couple smaller Whole Foods have opened. I rarely bought there in New York, but it’s been as lifesaver in Virginia. (Kaimi, even the Columbia area has a Food Emporium or something like it now, and I think they just reopened a new, improved West Side Market, but it would have been within the year I’ve been gone, so I’m not sure). There’s also a Trader Joes in Union Square.

    You mostly aren’t going to get the wide aisles you’re probably used to (or at least the I was), but it’s not that hard to grocery shop, at least on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. Plus, a lot of places deliver. Plus everyone I know uses FreshDirect, an online grocery delivery (I’ve never used it, but it seems to work really well: you pick like a 2-hour window when they’ll deliver, iirc). Or you can do like we did: learn to cook like New Yorkers, using the stuff they have in the stores you like.

  9. Sam,

    I don’t know if there is a Waldbaum’s in Manhattan, but out here in Far Rockaway, that’s your best bet, a great full supermarket. The outer boroughs, having a bit more space, allows for larger stores, so you can actually find, for example, Wal-Mart, Stop and Shop, etc. If you live in upper Manhattan, just go across the border into the Bronx and you’ll find a large Target.

  10. I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m currently in New York. But I can have something up in 24 hours or so (battery almost dead now) for Dave’s FPR fix…

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