New York

I’m currently in New York where I’ve come on holiday for 10 days or so, staying in a rather nice apartment in Harlem.  That’s a description you’d not have seen written anywhere 20 or 30 years ago, but this part of New York has gentrified considerably since New Jack City was made.  It’s no Kensington, and you still see a lot of people who look like extras from The Wire hanging about outside laundromats and dodgy-looking discount stores, but there’s not much evidence of serious crime.

I haven’t been to New York since summer 2000, when I came here at the start of my 5-week road trip around the USA.  A few things have changed since then, and not just the lower Manhattan skyline.  For a start, people using the visa waiver scheme now need to pay $14 online for an ESTA – Electronic System for Travel Authorization – which is something the department of Homeland Security uses to see if you’re a terrorist or not.  I knew nothing about this until the airline (fortunately) informed me a few days before I flew.  JFK airport doesn’t look quite so impressive now I’ve travelled around a bit, but despite a long line at immigration I cleared through it quickly enough and was pleased to find Uber works for airport collections too.

One of the first things I noticed, sitting in the traffic on what I think was the Long Island Expressway, was how much the cars had changed since I was here 16 years ago.  Back then they were mostly American – either Ford or GM marques- and much bigger than those you see in Europe, totally different models.  Now you see Toyotas and Nissans everywhere of the same or similar models to those on sale in Europe.

The other thing is that the place doesn’t feel as exotic as it did when I first came here.  Last time I had barely travelled anywhere before coming to the USA, but now I’ve clocked up around 40 countries since it’s just like visiting yet another foreign place.  Only as I found with Australia, it seems a bit weird to be in a place which is obviously foreign and everyone speaks English (of a sort, anyway).

I also used the New York metro yesterday, and made a bit of a hash of it.  I got one one train, thought it was going in the wrong direction, got off it, realized I should have stayed on it, then got back on the next one.  And bloody hell, New York is big.  I only went from 135th to 42nd street, and it felt like we’d covered miles, and I was only halfway down Manhattan island.  And despite my being thoroughly familiar with London, New York is another step up in terms of people running around in a mad rush.

My plan here is to take lots of photos, do some shopping, go on the piss, and take a half-day trip out to an area of Brooklyn for some research for a story I’m working on.  And I’m supposed to be going to the US Open tennis on Monday with the chap I’m staying with, who is taking a client there and for some unfathomable reason has decided to being me along.  Incidentally, my host is an American who I met in South Carolina during my 2000 road trip, in a Wal-Mart car park of all places.  Funny how things can turn out.


10 thoughts on “New York

  1. Half yer luck.

    Spent a large part of my younger life growing up in Manhattan and Bay Ridge Brooklyn, I think Manhattan is still my favorite city. This was back in the eighties when the Big Apple was still rotten to the core. Like you say, you wouldn’t be staying in Harlem back then, I used to live in the East Village and had a girlfriend that lived in the Bronx.

    Last time I was in NYC was for a wedding just before the GFC, stayed in the Waldorf Astoria and took cabs everywhere since the Aussie was on par with the greenback at the time, that is the best way to get around. The mass transit system including the subway is good when you know how, but stick to cabs for now. The whole place including the boroughs has been cleaned up big time, mostly since 9/11, the East Village is also yuppified these days but was a ghetto when I lived there.

    Its also a very photogenic city and as you know you will be spoiled for choice. Since you are up that end of town don’t forget to visit the Grant Memorial and that weird Rockefeller house that is up there as well. The Bulls & Bears Bar in the Waldorf Astoria is good for a mixed drink after the Wall St market close as they do a live telecast of the days action from the bar, I am a sucker for all that kind of stuff. You can get on the telly and get your mum to tape it.

    NYC has the best bars and the best bartenders in the world, period.

    Make sure you get downtown for pictures of City Hall, Supreme Court, Bowery, Canal St, China Town, Little Italy, Soho the birth of punk rock and the classic under the Brooklyn Bridge, shot from Brooklyn facing Manhattan at the right time of the day.

    Lucky bastard.

  2. Thanks for the tips, Bardon!

    James, I do get around indeed although sadly not as much as before. And I’m a good boy these days. 😉

  3. “Tim Newman on September 11, 2016 at 12:28 pm said:
    Just stepped off the plane this morning. ”

    Lucky you.

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