Fifteen years and a dozen world capitals later I’d still say New York is the greatest city ever, an adjective attributed to it mainly because of the sheer energy the city holds forth and displays! Its energy, enthusiasm and dynamism is what makes it very beautiful and charming. While my love for the city does not sprout from the very many sit-coms based in the city or even FRIENDs for that matter, it does come from the love for those vast skyscrapers, the cheery Central Park and meticulous urban design, one with heart and soul. As home to the Chrysler Buildings, the most beautiful skyscraper in reference to it’s art-deco spire and proportion, New York boasts of buildings that add beauty to the cityscape and denizens who are stylish, professional with the joi de vivre for life in general. The vegetarian falafel wraps for lunch or the North Indian meal for dinner at an A rated restaurant, mini-bite sized cupcakes for in-betweens, Magnolia bakery with its lemon cheesecake and reese for that chocolate fix is just enough energy to match up with the New Yorkers!
Manhattan, one of the five boroughs is literally the hotbed for action, with something up every corner or a place of significance at every turning, there is a lot going on in this densely populated city of the United States. The New York apartments are known for housing celebrities like Lady Gaga, Donald Trump and the likes, they are even known for the very inconvenient concept of match-box living! Tiny apartments mean public places become extremely valuable, like the Central Park, a beautifully landscaped park right in the middle of Manhattan all equipped with its own zoo! The mid-town as it is called is vastly different from the wall-street holding downtown and Tribeca. Though the financial capital, New York has it’s share of art, making it a paradise for the average culture-vulture. The cosmopolitan character of the United States is further amplified in New York. In food, clothes or art there is a regality in the city that makes it a microcosm of the world at large.
The circle line ferry presents the skyline of the city inadvertently and at the same instance showcases the Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty, almost giving the impression what a novice immigrant may have had in the early 1900s while setting foot for the first time into the land of opportunity. Traditional jews are not an alien sight in the city, who even today on the day of Sabbath or Sunday, shun the use of electricity. Dressed in crisp traditional garb they are constant features in the urban-scape of the city and have been since time immemorial the movers and shakers of the financial capital of the world. To be fair I missed seeing even one over-weight person in NYC, if not for my lapse in vision it may have something to do with the tiny living spaces! Crisply dressed, bagel eating people make their way to work, make their contributions to the betterment of the world, let loose in the evenings, and get home after being treated to the visual sparkles of the lit up town. It is a different way of life, all big cities are, idyllic in its own term and busy in its own term. Its not like one cant sit on a bench and watch the world go by just like in the outback but its just that one wont. Just like energy, human ambition is contagious. There is always more to do and more importantly energy breeds energy.
What is truly amazing is that the city is never sapped of it’s energy, right from the 1800s! There seems to be no loss of enthusiasm in New York or the New Yorkers for living, for doing things, doing them right or doing them wrong, for going from one success to another or one failure to another with an iron-clad grid-locked sense of enthusiasm and thats where I think the city is a rather grand success. Several recessions, collapses, attacks and political insignias later too, New York trudges on open to the world, experimenting and coming up with something refreshing every signal day. Unlike other big cities it does not boast of a particular bias of its own towards art, literature or culture but is a melting pot where each vertical bounces off the other to get better. The wolves on wall street, the pop-stars of Tribeca, the entertainers on Broadway or the average artist in Brooklyn all contribute to the city, that magnifies human instinct and sustains with passion the zest for life.
Its too big, its too active, its too fast-paced, its too extreme, its too stylish, its too effervescent, its too spectacular, its a world of hyperlatives, its a place of superlatives, the address for the tallest, the leanest, in buildings and people, its the manifestation of several hundred years of styles, architectural styles, fashion styles, trends and classics. Even today there is flurry of construction activity, urban redevelopment, gentrification. Mayor Giuliani did his bit in cleaning up New York, and today its a city with much lesser crime rate for a big city, albeit a fellow who did try to grab by bag(!) and didn’t succeed thankfully, its a lot less alarming! A price we pay for a society that has unemployment and rising costs! However the city does have its charms, and as the populace return to surrounding suburbs looking forward to a peaceful weekend or evening, the charms of the city are quite inescapable. Whether it sets you in a tizzy, or gets you overwhelmed, the big apple with its towering skyscrapers or laudable architectural marvels like the Guggenheim or the High-line add a fizz to human existence. From up on the observation deck of the Freedom tower New York looks like a concrete jungle, with only buildings, buildings and more buildings, but take a walk on the streets, the human scale is retained quite observably and the line of sight catches a tree or two at a palpable distance. Do not judge a city by its observation decks, alone, but by the sense it renders while walking through its streets, the energy it rubs onto to you, the vibe it gives, cause energy does not lie!