50 States - 04/50 - New York

09-08-2017

Like many tourists, the only place I've thus-far been in the state of New York, is the city of New York. I figure there's an awful lot more to this state than just one of the largest, most powerful and most 'world' cities in, well, the world. However, there's plenty that can be written (and has) about just New York city itself. I figure I'll give it a brief shot here. Suffice to say I'd love to visit Syracuse, the forests up state, Buffalo and various other places here, but these will have to wait for another time.

Travelling to New York from DC is quite a common thing. There are various flights and trains, with an express train service too. Prices on the normal train are somewhat equivalent to the cost of travelling from London to Edinburgh back home. The train I took had a name - The Vermonter. One of the cars has a glass roof for looking at the night sky apparently. Sadly, I wasn't in that car. I'll be sure to take a proper look next time.

fiesty girl

Living in London for 6 or so years proved to be very good training for visiting NYC. Whilst we were only there for a few days, the feel of the place is very similar. Getting off at Penn Station you are quickly assaulted by all the people bustling to and fro. First thing you learn - go with the flow! Don't get in the way else you'll ruffle some feathers. I felt quite smug, getting my travel card from a machine and onto the subway with no problems!

The New York subway system certainly does have character, much like London Underground. It feels a little different in some key ways though. The entrances are quite small and the stations are not too far underground. Sometimes, if you go in via the wrong entrance, you'll end up on the wrong side of the platform and the only way to get on the right side is to exit, go in via the right entrance and pay again! Sadly, they don't have the cool name that London lines have. Just A,B,C etc. It's a little boring but I guess it keeps it simple.

manhattan from brooklyn

My wife was there for business mostly, so I set about looking for NYC Resistor. I've written about this hackspace in a previous blogpost. Suffice to say, it's one of the coolest hackspaces with a reasonably high level of city slicker hipsters ;) But of course, what would one expect, being in Brooklyn. The Brooklyn bridge is worth seeing! It's quite an impressive structure, almost floating above various neigbourhoods such as DUMBO - Down Under Manhattan Bridge Overpass (there are many areas with similar abbreviated names!). The view of Manhattan from the area just below the bridge is definitely worth seeing. It's this view that makes me think of Hong Kong. It has that sea, harbour, modern city look about it.

119

I found the 9/11 Memorial quite moving. When I first heard of what they had planned, I was a little sceptical. However, when I actually got there in person, I did find it much more impressive. It's definitely a place to go and see and spend a little time around.

New York is a world city, not only because it plays a big role on the world stage, but also because the world has affected it. London was the epicentre of an empire and as such, has seen waves of immigration and culture over many years. New York, whilst not as old as London has had similar things going on. Taking a boat over to see the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, it's quite easy to imagine all the waves of immigrants and refugees who came from all over Europe and Africa to seek a better life in the USA. Many would stay in New York and affect it's character. New York feels very cosmopolitan.

time square

One thing New York doesn't seem to have is any kind of green spaces. I wandered around Central Park and whilst it is really lovely, I still felt hemmed in. This is due to the fact you can still see the skyscrapers on all sides from most places in the park. Still, it is a lovely place to wander through. Manhattan in general, reminds me of places like Knightsbridge, Chelsea, The Square Mile and many parts of Central London. I visited Time Square and I have to say, it's much smaller than I imagined! It reminds me of Scotland Yard. When you see that on the telly, you imagine a large forecourt and possibly some kind of square, yet it's tucked away in a small backstreet. There are a great many adverts, posters, LED signs and other monuments to capitalism here. But if you walk a few blocks around the corner you can see another sign dedicated to recording the current national debt. There are a lot fewer people taking an interest in this sign I can tell you! :)

One of the things we've been looking for in America is 'pub-ness'. I've tried to describe this to some Americans and they think I'm just talking about bars. This is not correct. We can start by using the full word for such a place - a public house. A good British Pub is like a room in someone's house that they have decided to serve you drinks in. A good pub often has a landlord or lady living there. They'll likely have decorated the place in a way they find pleasing, possibly with a good bit of tat here and there. Televisions and jukeboxes do occur but they usually aren't loud and are not the main focus of a pub. The bar will generally not be totally straight. There are usually regulars, who may have their own special glass. If you are a British Drinker you'll know of what I'm talking about. For these who are not, have a listen to this song by Jonny and the Baptists. It will give you a good guide. We are looking for the essence of pub, the quintesscence of pub-ness.

debt

Where am I going with this? Well, I miss pubs but I wonder if America has places of it's own that have pub-ness? All these thoughts came to us as we sat in the dead rabbit, right at the bottom of Manhattan. This place felt quite pub like. It falls more on the gastropub end of things but it's close. Towards the end of the night it did become a bit more bar, but it's set us off on a quest, which is no bad thing. Since returning to DC I've learned of another place that is even more pub like, called The White Horse Tavern so that's next on the list for when I return.

ghostbusters

There are many major attractions in DC, such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which I wandered through very briefly. The closest analogue I can think of is a cross between the British Museum and the V&A. NYC is replete with museums, monuments and buildings that feature in many, many films. It's hard not to be humming 'New York New York' or 'Empire State of Mind' whilst wandering around this place. Much like the places I mentioned in the California writeup, NYC has had such an impact on Western culture, it's hard not to be a little star struck by the place itself (or even a little weirded out). I'm sure people who've lived here for a while see things very differently. NYC has seen more than it's fair share of troubles.

I only managed to scoff one bagel whilst here. I feel that is no-where near enough, and whilst it was good, there's still a long way to go before the Brick Lane Beigel Bake is bested. NYC does have really good food though - places like Dirt Candy are amazing!

I'd like to go back and take part in one of the many summer schools that NYC has for people working in programming, digital arts or computer security. Apparently there are a few good ones, but living in NYC is very expensive. Perhaps one day when I've saved up a few more pennies and I'm looking to speed up my career.

whirlpool

I could go on about NYC and I'm sure I'll be back there at some point in the near future. Whilst setting foot in NYC counts in our quest to visit every US state, I figure there's a lot more to see in New York State but fortunately, it's not very far away.