New York – Bright Lights, Big City (Part 1 of 2)

Of all of the cities in this series, my feelings about New York have seen the greatest tranformation.

As a kid, my impression of New York was it’s caracature. Obnoxious people with accents always yelling at each other with their own bravado. My impression of New York was similar to the view that many people from rural areas have of the big city. Dirty, loud, congested, frantic, and rude. As I stated before, we were the second city and I grew up with a bit of a chip on my shoulder that my city was not getting as much attention as the big apple on the tree. I had no desire to see the city much less live there.

In high school and college, that impression softened. Shows like “Seinfeld”, “Friends”, “Mad About You”, and “Will & Grace” all created a tinge of interest in what all the hubbub was about. What was the allure of a place where people paid high rent for miniature apartments? Not everyone was loud, obnoxious, and rude. It was about the same time I started really enjoying the city I lived in. I loved moving through the crowds of people. I enjoyed taking public transportation. The semi-orderly chaos of people going in all directions. Though the idea of New York was still over the top. Crowds of people, but over crowded. Public transportation packed like sardines. And jaded people avoiding common courtesy when encountering others on the street.

Then I spent a year abroad and experienced many large European cities. Again my interest in New York started to grow. My mind was broadening to consider what other western civilization cities could be like. I had been to many big US cities as a kid. But experiencing them as a child following your parents around is quite different then exploring the city on your own as an adult. That wanderlust was sparked with the stay in Europe. Our family had travelled to the East Coast, but we did not see anything between Washington DC and Boston. So what was this incredibly dense part of the country like? My roommate abroad was from Philadelphia and he told stories of how he was amazed at how far apart everything is in the Midwest. What could the opposite be like?

After school and another stay abroad, I started working. Living my dream of taking the el to work and working downtown in all it’s chaos. I loved it. Then I started working for a firm whose head office was in New York. The principals would come to our office occasionally and we had one co-worker who transfered to the head office. I started wondering what living in New York could be like. What would it be like to live this life to the next degree? New York was not alone in this line of thinking. What would it be like to live in San Francisco or Paris for an extended period of time? I did live near Paris, but taking in a train and leaving before late is not like taking the stairs down to the corner café every morning. What would it be like to live in these cities as a resident? Not that I didn’t like where I was at, but just out of curiosity.

It has become a cliché, but then there was September 11th…

Part 2

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~ by Frank on June 17, 2007.

3 Responses to “New York – Bright Lights, Big City (Part 1 of 2)”

  1. […] New York – Bright Lights, Big City (Part 2 of 2) June 24th, 2007 As I stated in the previous post in this series, my impression of New York had grown from a caracature of all the worst of city life […]

  2. hey i have HUGE HUGE HUGE dreams of moving to a big city prefferably somewhere in california but i don’t know what it would be like to live there other than when i was a newborn and we lived there for 6 months i dont have one memory of it. But this summer i plan on going to Europe for a month with an educational program and i will be by myself other than with the group but my parents wont be there or anything so i guess i could kinda get a feel for what it would be like to live in california but i would still appreciate it if you could give me some insight on this matter. Thanx a ton~Ciao!!!

  3. I’m a BIG fan of large cities, though I’m not saying that I don’t like the country or small cities. The latter are more a place for me to unwind and get away. I just like how dynamic cities are with all that they have to offer. But I’ll have to warn you that even for myself who grew up in one, spending all your time closer to the general population can be trying at times.

    I’ve written this about LA. San Francisco is also a great city and would likely be the place I’d go if I ever had to relocate to Cali. But San Fran is wicked expensive and would likely force you to enjoy it on a shoestring. Don’t forget that there is also Seattle and Vancouver out west. They’re wet, but still share that west coast vibe.

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