New York City, one of the last of the major cities that I had’t gone to. (Country capitals are not really counted because they are just boring administrative zones and cities of sheer population size doesn’t necessarily translate to interesting level.)
It’s so hard to find any photo that defines what NYC was like, it is so many things, and, the more you stay there, the more it is less about what you thought it would be.
So a typical google search for NYC would turn up the skyline, and the statue.
We had our share of bright blue super sunny weather. In fact super hot. Getting around NY in tshirt and shorts just don’t feel right. Not quite a summer destination. Wow it was hot, for a Singaporean.
In a sense, these days with the Internet, photos, StreetView, everyone can see anything anytime, you don’t have to travel to know what something looks like. The point of going there is to live the city, ny style.
Which starts with their well-known, and currently half disastrous subway. It’s old, it’s noisy, cranky, confusing, doesn’t connect too well East to West, super lack of escalators and elevators, not the safest feeling with the homeless, and then there’s all the disruption and maintenance works.
But you get used to it, up the stairs, down the stairs, through the cranky dumb heavy turnstiles, magnetic swipe card, directions Uptown Downtown, nearest lines, exits NE SE NW SW. NY really lives and breathes by its subway, more so than many or almost any other city. The gridlocked roads and traffic are plain terrible, the parking is terrible (what kinda nonsense is $30/hr), the buses are terrible, hence the only reasonable way to travel around is via the subway. Which makes it wonderful, the city is built around and lives around the subway, you have dense neighbourhoods that are within close walking distance to multiple stations, you have lots of food, services, attractions, etc, all near stations. Even tourist attractions are easily accessible without requiring taxis. That’s in huge contrast to cities that don’t have an extensive subway, you’ll see huge distances to walk, huge parking areas etc. I love NYC for this. Same for Paris, London. Singapore still needs way more stops at closer intervals.
Next, the Times Square. I mean I knew we were going to stay near to it, I thought that was a superb idea in terms of convenience, I didn’t know what we were getting into. omfg we weren’t like in the middle, we were like one traffic junction away at between 7th and 8th Ave, but damn it was overcrowded with tourists, buses, traffic, homeless people, and probably the worst pithole city area of the entire USA. I don’t think any other city in US has this amount of density. So yes it’s a little too close, for most people. I live in a fairly crowded city, I am pretty comfortable with crowds, and I am fine with it, but I can imagine how this would be a disaster for most people I know. Also frankly Times Square is just an hotpot of subway lines, office buildings, same old big name mid market clothing stores, same name restaurants, and the slew of theatres that settled in. Basically it’s not like the peak of artform or anything.
Next up, theatres and Broadway. How nice of them to experience a surge in popularity in recent years, with soaring ticket prices, packed houses, and tons of shows opening. There’s really alot of shows, maybe more than London when I last was in London 10 years back. It’s crazy the crowds. Musicals are great, but it’s just one facet of life. Anyway I feel like there’s no real musical streets around here, it’s kinda dispersed and swallowed up by the Times Square kitsch crowd of tourists and blinky lights, so it doesn’t feel like the area is theatre-y or artsy in some form. Yeah they need to just close the streets to lousy traffic and have more of a feel. I think West End is a bit better in that way, not so stupid feeling. But there are more shows here.