Thursday, October 21, 2010

New York City

I’ve been going in and out of New York City for over forty years and the only thing that’s changed is nearly everything.

The alignments of the streets are still the same. The streets run East and West and avenues run North and South. Broadway, which kind of runs diagonally up and down Manhattan, is still a vibrant, energetic, electronically colorful way in all of New York City. Now it has a pedestrian mall respite in the eye of it’s activity at Times Square, but that’s about it.

Most of the restaurants have changed names. Some places I used to frequent twenty years ago are no longer there. The buildings are there, but the facades are changed. Delis have become Bodegas. French cuisine is now Japanese, Korean or Vietnamese. Trees have died or have been cut down. Parking meters have been replaced by parking stations in which you put your money in and get a ticket to display on the dashboard of your car.

The cab drivers used to be a mix of third generation old world immigrants who spoke in a New York accent and tolerated nothing. Today many of the cabbies are from the Middle East, Russia or occasionally Latin America. If it weren’t for portable GPS’s some of them would not know how to get from Manhattan to Brooklyn.

Traffic, by the way, is still the same. Congested, intolerable, horrendous, and frustrating. In recent years I’ve gone from driving in to taking the train and using mass transit.

Speaking of that, the subways have gone from tokens to electronic metro cards. It is one of the positive improvements of subway travel.

I was in Gotham recently and stayed at the Hotel Pierre. It is the newly renovated gem of the Taj Hotel group. Elegant comes to mind. I stayed there once forty years ago after a reportorial stint in Vietnam to speak to a group of selected advertisers hosted by the organization with which I worked at that time. I knew it was a high priced place then and it is now. Both times I didn’t pay. It was on somebody else’s dollar.

Yes! Lucky me.

There is one thing about New York City that has not changed over the years. It is its heart. Its spirit is still the same. Its breath of infectious life is still the same. The engenderment of wonder and awe on the faces of first time visitors never changes.

It is no wonder that the slogan, “I love New York” is still the truth of the place.


Anonymous said...

Coincidentally, I was just reading this post this morning as well, regarding sanitation in NYC, 100 years ago. Good to see your memories don't extend quite that far back. ;-)
Happy Thursday. Hope it's a beautiful day for you and yours.

Lorelei said...

I am so proud to say I am a New Yorker; born and raised. I am like a tourist even now...traveling into Manhattan whether by car, train, or bus was always exciting to me. Looking at the skyline, knowing that you are in the greatest city in the world and as I say, "there would be no world without it" city!!! So many wonderful people, places and things to see all in such a small corner of the world, but without it there would be nothing.

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