“Cities have sexes: London is a man, Paris a woman, and New York a well-adjusted transsexual.” ― Angela Carte
Do you ever have this feeling that cities have sexes? NYC felt more like a woman to me. A quick-witted, sarcastic woman with a contagious laugh that does not take no for an answer. Loud, lively, unapologetically herself, strong and weak at the same time, voracious, relentless, impatient, feisty. The kind of woman that will grasp your attention when she walks into a room; not because she is stereotypically beautiful, oh no she might not be beautiful at all, but she has a certain je ne sais quoi, a captivating aura that derives from her not being aware of her charm.
It reminded me of a quote from Agatha Christie’s The Thirteen Problems that I read a million years ago:
“It’s not only beauty. […] There is something else. Look at her again. Things are bound to happen to this woman, or because of her. As I said, life will not pass her by. Strange and exciting events will surround her. You’ve only got to look at her to know it.”
At the same time, New York felt like a true jungle. Merciless, competitive and unforgiving. It felt like living in this city is a constant struggle for survival.
[Said a person living in London. Maybe the fact that it didn’t make the top 10 of expensive cities of 2017 is making London … softer. Whereas NY is showing its ragged edges with pride.]
By the way, let’s not skip the tourist info: We are now standing on the 82nd floor of the Empire State Building. The sky is grey and the city unfolding under our feet seems quiet and gloomy but once you get back on street level, it’s bursting with energy and traffic. And tourists.
Change of scenery, we are now in a ferry, sliding down Hudson river. The tour guide is listing important dates and people but we’re standing on the deck outside and the wind drowns his voice but we do not care because the view is marvellous.
No, not that view.
Seeing the Statue of Liberty from up close felt ironic. Alanis Morissette level of ironic when you consider what it stands in the context of the US becoming increasingly close-minded and xenophobic.
I think I caught the wanderlust bug from this one. A hereditary, chronic disease whose symptoms can only be (temporarily) relieved by travelling around. Exploring more. Restlessly wandering. Getting lost sometimes, as well.
Seen from a European’s perspective, New York has abandoned the idea of consistency. Or, better, it never even tried to be consistent. When you walk in the city centre of big European capitals, there is this feeling that there was (to a different extent) some effort to build in a controlled, uniform way. Not in New York though – the motto for architecture here is taller, bigger, shinier, more pioneering. It’s an ongoing challenge of “what hasn’t been done yet?”.
Now we’re passing under the famous Brooklyn Bridge. Don’t worry, will be back to cross it in a couple days.
And this is the Manhattan Bridge. This one we won’t.
When travelling I love taking photos (can’t you tell?) but, at the same time, I’m always curious to see what people photograph. Living in London, a city that is both ridiculously touristic and photogenic, has increased my awareness regarding tourists taking photos in the most unremarkable places.
Now we’re passing the fancy schmancy part of Manhattan and head north, passing between Harlem and the Bronx.
The scenery changes completely. For the next twenty minutes, we will be surrounded by greenery.
Thankfully, we’re back in the city. As a genuine city person, I can’t handle the extended exposure to fresh air well.
We are now in the World Trade Center area. Look up; impressive, isn’t it?
This is the 9/11 Memorial. Together with the museum, it was built to commemorate the lives lost in the September 11th, 2001 attacks, which killed 2,977 people. Among them was a high number of firefighters who died whilst trying to rescue people. I didn’t know that before and I think it’s something people rarely consider in such cases.
The memorial consists of two recessed pools where the Twin Towers used to be. What you can see in the photo is the “upper” part of the pool; the water from the waterfalls disappears into a smaller square crater in its middle, whose end cannot be seen from pedestrians’ viewpoint. The effect is both eerie and emotional. To me, these two fountains felt like two open gashes on the face of the city, two scars that refuse to heal and that the city will always carry with it; not as a victim or a cripple but as a survivor.
Let’s wander a bit further, sneak into the Oculus World Trade Center, both a shopping center and a transit hub. If you have a look at it from outside, you will realise that what I said above about NYC’s architecture might be true. Santiago Calatrava is the Sasha Fierce of architects.
Because New York’s Stock Exchange desperately needed a Snapchat account.
Now we’re heading towards the 42nd street where all the theatres are. We’re going to see Arthur Miller’s The Price with Danny DeVito and Mark Ruffalo. The performance is going to be impeccable and we’re going to meet Mark Ruffalo after the show. Inside we’re fangirling but we’ll try to pretend that we’re cool, deal?
He’s smiley and friendly and suggests that he loves Athens! Mom is great at the meeting celebrities thing but not so great with the DSLR camera so we end up with mainly the memory of the warm embrace and the fact that he is slightly shorter than we expected.
(Note to self: Reconsider dating shorter but greatly charismatic guys.)
This is New York round one – hope you enjoyed it! There are more photos (and musings) to come so please stay tuned!
Wanderlusting (as always),