What's so great about New York, anyway?

There’s been a rash of NY threads lately in IMHO, so if you’re tired of the subject, I understand. But anyway, most New Yorkers are adamant that their city is the greatest city in the world, and if you ask them why, they’ll say, “Because New has the best this, the biggest that, the thing people come from all over the world to see!” All right, so noted, but I want somebody to tell me why they love New York in a personal sense, not just because “We have the best museums in the world, that parenthetically I never visit.” And I’m offering bonus points if you can cite things that are unique to New York.

Much of what I love in New York is unique to New York. There’s only one Empire State Building, for instance, and one Statue of Liberty. Only one Chyrsler Building or Radio City Music Hall. Broadway (there’s theater all over, but only one Broadway). The Brooklyn Bridge. Battery Park (I especially like the Sailor’s Memorial).

I wish I could get there more often.

What’s great about New York is that it somehow manages to be bigger than everything in it put together. The whole is always greater than the sum of the parts.

But what does that mean, exactly? I mean, for you individually.

BROADWAY! And many, many other cultural and recreational events.

The ability to bounce back from whatever life dishes out is essential to NYC. Particularly in the past four years.

In short, there’s so much opportunity for everything.

Except good cheap Mexican food. Try to find huevos rancheros for breakfast in Manhattan.

Anyway I came here with minimal job skills and a resume full of dead-end jobs and was able to find interesting, meaningful work and embarked on the career I have now. I met my wife here too. We’ve had a great time here the past 14 years. The city’s been good for me.

Culture, culture, culture.

This weekend I bought Bollywood DVDs and had semosas in Jackson Heights, spanish food in Elmhurst, bagels and knishes in Forest Hills, and chinese food in Flushing. Plus I got to walk in a big park near a (man made, iirc) lake and visit an historical fairground. And this is just one small part of one borough.

NYC is culturally diverse, but many of the diverse areas are condensed, if that makes sense. So you have Chinatown, Little Italy, Little Korea, Spanish Harlem, etc etc. So you really don’t have to settle for “watered down” culture like Americanized chinese food if you don’t want. And the areas are close to each other to easily explore many each trip.

Plus all of the beautiful parks and free events that go with them, not to mention the metric loads of museums - including the largest museum in the western hemisphere.

Arguably, NYC is America’s center of finance (Wall Street), fashion (Madison Ave), theatre (Broadway), art (aforementioned museums), sports and more. While I don’t partake in the finance and can’t afford the fashion, I try to get as much art, sports and theatre as I can.

The city’s been good to me in other less popular ways - as a railfan, the subways are a unique experience. And architecture, lots of great old and new building around. Nothing beats walking around with an SLR and being the only person looking up. You’d be surprised how much people miss by not looking up. I can go to most places in the city with a lifelong dweller and point up to show them a building they’ve never really appreciated before. Just ask my SO.

I have done a fair amount of world travelling, and have lived in quite a few major cities.

Nothing compares to New York City.

It is the best of everything…(although it does get tedious to hear New Yorkers remind you of it constantly).

If I had a job that paid me about $200,000 year, I would move back in a megasecond. NYC is great, but pretty crappy if you are poor.

I cannot list all the great things about NYC in one post, but if I were to fly back tomorrow, my first day:
Cheap breakfast at one of those cheap breakfast places on every corner, then off by foot window shopping and browsing and people watching, either on the Upper West Side, or down Broadway, or through Little Italy, or across the street in Chinatown, or through SoHo and then up to the Village, stop in a bar or two…or maybe go up to Chelsea…stopping at a good deli for lunch, and then finding a little restaurant for dinner and then try to get some good tickets at TKTS or if not, get tickets for some obscure off-off-Broadway show and then afterwards hit a club that has a piano and listen to the locals get up and sing. Drink too much than get in a cab and go home and get ready for day two.

I don’t have to have a car. Sure, I do have a car, and I even drive to work, but I can get to work if the car breaks down. I can buy just about anything I need within walking distance of my house. My kids are able to be independent even though they are too young to drive, and my grandfather remained indepndent after he could no longer safely drive.

New York is everything I love about cities in one location. (Whereas Phoenix, last time I was there, seems to have surpassed LA as everything I don’t like about cities in one location.) Museums, theater, movies, restaurants – culture, in other words. Plus you don’t need a car to get around.

And it’s not that other cities don’t have any of those things. It’s that New York has more of them. I mean, I live in Seattle, and I love Seattle. Seattle’s got some very good museums, some good theater, a decent selection of first-run movies, and a few excellent restaurants. But New York has, in general, everything Seattle has, but gobs and gobs more.

It’s everything that’s great about a city, plus with a long tail.

It’s not that there’s MoMA. It’s that there’s MoMA and the Met and the Guggenheim and the Museum of Sex and the Museum of Chinese in the Americas and

It’s not that they get first-run movies. It’s that they get first-run movies, and first-run foreign films, and first-run art movies, and more archival movie showings than just about anywhere.

That said, I can’t claim that NYC is the best city in the world – I haven’t traveled enough. But it’s my favorite city that I’ve been in, including Seattle (home) and London (also large and cosmopolitan).

That’s why you come to Queens :slight_smile:

I was born and raised in NYC. I’d go back in a heartbeat except for two things: it’s too cold in the winter, and it’s way too expensive to live there anymore.But let me give you one more reason to love the city from a unique perspective. I drove a taxi in NY for 10 years and can tell you that, unlike LA, celebrities often travel the way non-celebrities do. In LA, everyone has a car or travels by limo. In NY, it’s not unusual to find someone famous on a corner hailing a taxi. A few I had the pleasure of driving: [ul]
[li]Meat Loaf[/li][li]Karen Allen[/li][li]Liza Minnelli[/li][li]Morley Safer, Ed Bradley and Mike Wallace (separately)[/li][li]Mick Jagger[/li][li]Andy Warhol (twice!)[/li][li]Wilt Chamberlain[/li][/ul] The only famous people I ever met outside of NY were Don King and Rev. Al Sharpton at a Fatburger in Hollywood.

In addition to everything that’s been said (which I wholeheartedly agree with) let me add a personal reflection:

About 6 months ago I went with my ex to see an avante-garde music/film in Brooklyn called Decasia in a wharehouse-turned-performance-space. The film was projected onto 3 different screens arranged in a triangle with the audience in the center. The score was performed live by a 55 piece orchestra with the players arranged on 2 tiers behind the 3 screens. The place was packed shoulder to shoulder that night, and presumable the other 3 nights as well. The shoulder adjacent to my shoulder in the crowd was Jim Thurwell, my ex’s single favorite musician in the world, and someone who has since made it onto my radar as one of the great contemporary composers anywhere today.

The point, which I contemplated at the time, is that I can’t imagine very many other cities in the world that could pull off such an event, even to fill the place to 50% capacity, let alone sell out 4 nights. I loved being in a place where such interesting art/music/film is so widely appreciated. And on top of that, the great artists/musicians etc. are right there in the community with you, and it’s really not all that big 'o deal because there’s just so many of them.

Add to that that 7 blocks from where I live is a street with such genres of food as: French, Caribbean, Peruvian, Thai, Italian, Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, Korean, BBQ, and any number of food fusions you can imagine, and that’s just what i can recall off the top of my head.

There’s always a new cool bar, or store to discover. A few weeks ago I happened on a store that had at least two or three hundred different types of chocolate bars, and as many beers and cheeses.

There’s just no end to the amount of things you can say about NY and I’ve never experienced any place like it personally.

Yikes! That one fact alone sounds like it would cancel out a lot of the good things about New York.

Interrobang, you make good points. I begin to see what the attraction is, if you’re the kind of person who really likes to have these cultural resources at your fingertips. I just wonder how many New Yorkers really take advantage. What I’m getting at is that the things that make New York great and the things that people love about New York are two different things. We hear a lot about former, and not a whole lot about the latter, but people tend to confuse the two.

Damn it, I want people to tell me that they love the smell of the Hudson River in the morning!

Well I don’t make 200k a year and I seem to do OK.

I also visit the museums.

Basically, New York is a lot like Jazz.

If you have to ask, you’ll never understand.

Of course, it’s also an absurd exageration. I got by just fine on less than $36,000 a year just a few years ago. Of course, I was content to live in a tiny (but brand new) studio in Flushing, and I don’t have a family to support.

Let me tell you why I, personally, love New York. I am a fat guy. I like to eat. Within two blocks of my apartment in Astoria, there are:

A nice diner,
A (real) chinese place,
A cheap Italian place,
An expensive Italian place,
Two Greek places,
A pizzeria,
A sushi place,
A greasy diner,
Two coffee shops,
A (real) Mexican place,
Two bodegas,
A halal street meat vendor,
A bagel store (which also sells miscellaneous other breakfast items)
A bakery,
A supermarket,
And Mickey D’s.

I probably missed some.

Despite the population density of the city, a lot of people fail to realize that New York neighborhoods are often quite close-knit. The street meat guy, the bagel guy, and the waitresses in the nice diner all know my regular orders, for example. The hardware store guy (A real hardware store, BTW, not a Home Depot.) keeps a tab for me. To the penny, in his head.

In the summers I can go up to the roof and watch the sunsets as the trains go by.

As an amateur photographer, I have an endless supply of subject matter at my fingertips.

As a rail nut, I have the New York subway system, which is the largest such system in the world when measured by track mileage, and is fun as hell. I have lived in New York for years and I’ve perhaps ridden 25% of it.

Further, I have the Long Island Rail Road, Metro-North Railroad, New Jersey Transit, PATH, SIRT and Amtrak to take me out of the city when I want to go. A 40 minute ride on the train gets me to wilderness hiking trails or my mom’s house in the boonies.

My commute into Manhattan is shorter than the average American commute, and I’m doing it in a train instead of a car so I can read a book along the way.

I like both Hollywood tripe and indie pretension, and I can go and see both at the same multiplex on a whim.

I have my choice of four professional baseball teams, and I can openly declare that American football is the stupidest, most irritating game ever devised without fear of ostracization.

I can get as drunk as I want and not worry about getting home because the subway drivers are sober (usually) and they work 24/7.

From my office I have a southern view of two rivers and three bridges.

I can wear my fedora in the winter and not be stared at.

In the summer I can take the subway to the beach. I can take the free bus to Atlantic City or Six Flags. If I feel like it, I can take a rickshaw accross Times Square.

So, yeah. New York is the bomb.

Heh, Astoria’s great.

I have to admit; except for one thing (see below) I don’t see how any of the stated advantages of New York are any different from Toronto. You’d think New Yorkers actually believed it was the only place in the world you can get different kinds of food or see a lot of museums. Maybe they do believe that.

But there is one thing about New York…

… The architecture. My, my. In that regard, it really is a fabulous place. It’s one of the early homes of the skyscraper, and the variety and scope of architecture is really wonderful. I just love the buildings and the skyline. In Toronto, or in most other big North American cities, virtually all the tall buildings are modern, and they’re mostly really boring. In New York, they’re all different.

Oh, and you can visit the real life Soup Nazi, if he’s still there - it’s been awhile. The soup is excellent. He’s really an asshole.

nitpick: A megasecond is like two weeks.

I love to visit there but I’m ready to leave after a week. It’s just so much stuff, available at all times in such a small area. The food is amazing. There is always stuff going on. I’d never live there but I can easily see why people love it so much…and why others hate it.


Noise. People. Pollution. Noise. Miles of concrete. $100 theater tickets. People. Tiny apartments that cost $8,000,000 a month to rent. Tiny parks filled with people count as green space (yes, Central Park is a tiny park. That’s why they don’t call it Central Forest.)

Not all of America is in love with NYC. Out here in Fly Over Land about the only things we get out of NYC are TV show settings. Most of the time… GASP… the rest of America doesn’t even think about NYC!

I couldn’t help it. It was too much of a love fest.

What? You mean I can just ignore the thread? Some of you people have the willpower to do that? Do you give lessons?