This is Manhattan, from the ‘outside': a massive block of skyscrapers.
Within that massive block there is one man playing his saxophone. Sound waves echoing between the skyscrapers. Some people pass by, throwing him some money. He smiles.
When you have never visited New York before, you dream of a different world by just mentioning its name. A world that never sleeps. A world so vibrant it might catch you like a whirlpool. And you know, New York is all that.
The city lives, but in a friendly way. There is more personality within these massive blocks of concrete than you might think. A man playing his old saxophone, people actively engaging in a conversation with you because they are really interested, a smile from that lady lying on the grass in Central Park, others always welcoming you wherever you enter.
Bury your head
You can spend the whole day with your head buried in the travel guide book and looking up towards those monolithic skyscrapers. But that way you would miss a lot in New York. New York is home to millions of different people. Walking around, you are one of them: a truly gigantic mix of cultures, backgrounds and futures. You feel you are part of the universe.
New York is a city where you can sense people’s lives out on the street. I caught many personal conversations by just walking the streets (I now know all about Julies divorce, Stan moving to the West coast and Melissa’s relationship with her parents…sorry guys). We experienced New York in May 2011 when the weather was great and people used every park and lawn to enjoy the outdoors. They don’t mind others eavesdropping. I believe because all New Yorkers live in the same world, their world.
You have a serious problem if you want to grasp and understand what the city is all about. You alone cannot (or it might take longer than your short visit). New York is not from you, it’s from everybody. The collective makes New York the place that so many have been and are dreaming about.
Next stop: the hidden perspective
Different cultures, backgrounds and futures. Uptown or downtown, underground is where they all meet. I love the subway. Did I mention I love the subway? To me the subway is not just an underground, it’s the life underneath. The hidden perspective. Here you can watch people thinking about where they came from and where they are heading. The subway are the veins of the body called NYC, life depends on it.
In a certain way the subway is like time travel: every subway station you come out of in New York will throw you in a different world. You walk up the steps and look up. Sometimes the sun blinds you and you have to wait a couple of seconds before the world around you becomes clear.
Soho, Hell’s Kitchen, Harlem, the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, Greenwich village and I can go on and on. Names carrying a special culture, different backgrounds and expectations of the future.
Enjoy my New York blog post series!
This is the start of a series about New York City. My second article will show you how your kids can enjoy New York to the fullest! That part will be full of practical tips and sights you should not miss out on. We talked to our kids about diversity where New York City is a crossroad of our multicultural world. That story is about Ellis Island, Ground Zero, Brooklyn, giant toy stores and the lights of Times Square.
My third post will be a photography post about New York City in 3D. Call it 3 Dimensions or Diversities. It will be fun where I will summarize the different angles through which you can view the Big Apple.
Disclaimer: these views on New York City are from an European perspective where Kings and Queens rule and soccer is a way of life. LOL. Have fun!