Few places have as high of a profile as New York City. Few places inspire as much thought and discussion, and, in North America, there are few places that are portrayed as frequently in popular culture. New York is one of those places that everybody has a reaction to. Some are in awe of it, see it as some kind of magical place where excitement looms around every corner and dreams come true every day. Some see it as intimidating. Others resent the influence it has on our culture.
At 8.5 Million, New York is by far the largest City in the United States of America. This is less than 3 percent of the National Population, but it’s influence expands far beyond its borders. Every day, millions of Americans living nowhere near New York read two major New York publications, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. Across the country people look to New York for the latest in business, music, fashion trends, musicals, and more. And, one would be hard pressed to find anyone in North America that does not recognize Time Square at first glance.
Countless shows and movies are set in New York. At Washington Square Park, it is easy to imagine running into Billy on The Street, the cast of Impractical Jokers, or one of the many other shows that often uses this park as a backdrop for crazy antics.
At Rockefeller Plaza, I imagine being in the cast of 30 Rock, or one of the shows that is actually filmed here.
Yet, what I actually encounter here at Rockefeller Plaza is people in suits waiting in line for a salad, and tourists paying far too much money to skate on an ice rink that is far smaller than one would expect.
Day to day life here appears to be some kind of a tradeoff. There are tons of fun places to go, and things to do! I was only in New York for several days, and this was two weeks ago (I am behind on blogs- life gets in the way sometimes), but I am still thinking of all of the great food I had while here.
It must be amazing to have access to the best of pretty much everything the world has to offer right outside your door.
What intimidates me most about the idea of living in New York City (I say idea because I have no specific plans to move) is the work culture. While the experience one has in any job is more related to the particular industry and particular organization in which they chose to work, geographic location does seem to play a part, and, from what I hear, employers in New York expect a lot from their employees. I actually imagine working at a major corporation in New York City as all of the things I hate about the standard working environment; strict hierarchy, lack of caring, people stepping all over each other, feeling disconnected and like just a cog in a machine, dialed up to 11.
Yet, as I walked around New York City, I realized the first thing I would miss is the friendliness. I do not live in the Midwest or the South, the parts of the country known as being the friendliest of all. But, in Colorado, I feel as if I can smile at strangers, and even strike up conversations with random people as I walk around my neighborhood, go to the store, or go about my life in any other normal way. Here, not so much.
What would the average American feel if they were to move to New York City? What would I feel? Would I fall in love with the cultural institutions, concerts, shows, restaurants, and bars open until 6? Or would I see a City full of people who appear to have had the life sucked out of them by their professions, hurrying from meeting to meeting, yet accomplishing nothing.
New York, despite being like no other palce on this continent, is a city of contrasts. Here, in this City, at any given time, there are people having their lives made, and people having their lives ruined! The City is congested. Yet, one can get around the city quite quickly via subway.
It makes every other system of public transit I have ever ridden (with the possible exception of Washington D.C.) seem slow and frustrating.
I walk down 14th Street. The sidewalks are just as crowded as I remember them. People are as eager to shove those who dare to walk slowly out of the way. It is the fast paced, driven New York of every stereotype.
For blocks, the only vegetation one can see is roped off to avoid overuse and destruction. Yet, a few blocks away, one can find a quiet street, and almost find tranquility.
In summary, in New York I feel both at home and in a foreign country at the same time. With how similar it is to the rest of the county in some respects, and how different it is in other respects, I imagine many Americans would feel the same way. I guess that is why some people would love to call this place home, while others would be frightened by the very idea of it.