Living on the outskirts of Toronto means I have easy access to a rash of great city buildings, a multitude of vibrant neighbourhoods, an electric entertainment district, a culture embedded in art, music and great food, as well as world-class landmarks, such as the CN Tower. I am proud to be part of the Toronto landscape, but a big part of my heart belongs to New York City.
Some of my friends and family would agree that New York City is like no other place on earth, but then there are those in my life that haven’t yet had the opportunity to visit the Big Apple. To those people I say, here are some of the reasons you too will fall in love with NYC.
Chicago may be the birthplace of the skyscraper, but New York’s Empire State and Chrysler Buildings are two of the most noteworthy structures to grace the sky. New York City has close to 6 thousand high-rise buildings. The Twin Towers, destroyed by terrorists in 2001 helped secure Manhattan’s place as a skyscraper king.
It is not just the height but the history and architecture that make these buildings fascinating to people around the world. Some of New York’s skyscrapers date back to the early 1900’s. The Flat iron building for example opened in 1902. Located at the intersection of Broadway and Fifth Avenue, it was originally built as the headquarters of the Fuller Construction Company. It was supposed to be named the Fuller Building, but was quickly called “Flat Iron” due to its unusual shape caused by the triangle plot it was developed on.
It may not be a really tall structure like the Woolworth building, G.E building, Bank of America or MetLife building; however, the Dakota, which was built way back in 1884 is one of New York’s most famous buildings. The renaissance architecture can’t help but catch the eye of passersby. Located on the northeast corner of 72nd and Central Park in the Upper West side of Manhattan, the apartment building is best known as the former home of John Lennon and Yoko Ono and sadly, the site of Lennon’s murder.
Times Square 2013
If you are like me and have no sense of direction, New York City should be a dream come true. When I visited Manhattan for the first time I could not believe how easy it was to navigate. A plan in 1811 to develop New York’s pattern of numbered avenues and streets led to a lot of city development and to this day supports a constantly flowing fast-pace of life. If you forget your GPS at home, you don’t have to worry – you will get to where you need to go.
New York City has the largest and longest subway system in the world. The system also has the most number of lines, making it easy for residents and visitors to get to their chosen destination. Subway trains run 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Pay-per-ride MetroCards are one of the best ways to get around. If the subway isn’t for you then it’s easy enough to just hail a taxi. No-where in the world have yellow cabs become more of an icon. There are over 13 thousand yellow (medallion) cabs licensed to operate in the NYC.
New York does the musical better than anywhere else in the world. Some historians believe it was a five-and-a-half-hour-long show on Broadway called The Black Crook that signaled the beginning of the musical phenomenon back in 1866. Since that time, the city has more than earned its place as the champion of the musical. Today even actors and actresses from London’s West End are drawn here to perform.
The city oozes art and culture. People come from all over the world to live here and practice their craft- be it painting, sculpting, dancing, singing, acting etc. New York’s mix of creativity and energy makes it one of the most interesting cities in the world. There is the potential for a surprise around every corner.
With at least one third of its residents coming from somewhere else in the world, it should come as no surprise that the United Nations Headquarters is in New York’s midtown area.
Teresa relaxing in Central Park 2009
Central Park serves as an example for city parks around the world. Situated in the center of Manhattan, it includes several fountains, playgrounds, baseball fields, ice rinks, bodies of water, tennis courts, and other facilities. It is a welcome escape from the busy city. Since the early 1900’s over 240 films have been shot in the park. Central Park was the first landscaped public park in the United States. The first area of the park opened to the public in 1858.
Often when you visit a big city you meet a lot of stressed out people. The demands of job and family seem to be too much. Interestingly enough, my experience in New York is that of happy people. The stress doesn’t seem to show. I have always been greeted with smiling faces and an open, friendly attitude. Recently, I learned that NYC residents live about 2 years longer than the national average. In 2010, A New Yorker’s life expectancy at birth was estimated to be 80.9 years.
While I write about the virtues of NYC there is a long list of creative minds that have been singing their hearts out for the city over many decades. New York State of Mind became one of Bronx Born, Billy Joel’s biggest hits. Our current generation is familiar with Empire State of Mind by Alicia Keys and Jay Z. It became Keys top selling single. Rufus Wainwright, Public Enemy, Paul Simon, Beastie Boys, Lou Reed, Alice Cooper, Lady Gaga, Neil Diamond, George Gershwin, Elton John and at least 50 other well-known artists have written songs about NYC too.
Today 8 million people live in New York’s five boroughs. According to a 2010 New York Times article an astounding 800 different languages are used in New York. Thanks to the city’s diversity and artistic flavour, it is one of the cultural capitals of the world – more than enough reason to visit if you haven’t already.