New York City.
The City that Never Sleeps.
The Big Apple.
By Randi McCracken
It’s a top filming and producing location. A fashion hotspot. A vibrant hub that is the epitome of “hustle
and bustle.” New York City is no stranger to tourism. Millions of people flock in and out at the drop of a
hat all day, every day, to experience it. New York City is loud. And smelly. And dynamic. It is enchanting,
and overwhelming, undeniably gorgeous. While its claim to fame is entertainment and energy, at its
core it is simply a constant contradiction.
Skyscrapers tower over the city like watchmen, but trees line the streets-steel gates circling their trunks,
because in this true concrete jungle- they are cherished. While strolling past the faces of multimillion-dollar brownstones on Perry Street you will often simultaneously sidestep heaps of garbage awaiting
pickup, but never before will have you encountered these shades of color. The ivy is greener. The shrubs
are rust and gold. The buildings create a wave down the block like a honeycomb, and so beautiful that
you wonder why you were ever indifferent to the color brown. The West Village is a vortex of charm.
Beneath scalloped awnings, you’ll find boutiques, bakeries, cigar and wine shops, and restaurants- their
perfectly curated windows making quaint look preferable. These storefronts are sienna, olive, and
scarlet, and so hypnotizing that the car at the crosswalk blares at you to get moving. They have things to
do after all.
Entering Midtown, you are bombarded by the smell of exhaust, coffee, cash, pine, sewage, falafel, and
Chanel #5. Heels clack against the pavement, arms wave frantically for taxis, hips sway and hands drum
midair at the crosswalk in response to music that is pulsed through the earbuds of commuters. Often,
that is how I can tell a local from a tourist-the earbuds.
New York City. So many times I have sloshed through its puddles, my hand warmed by a fresh coffee. On
countless occasions skipped down the subway steps and slipped sideways through swishing doors in the
nick of time.
My heart yearns for the crackle of my boots over ruby leaves in Central Park, which at the peak of
Autumn- brought me to literal tears. I have ducked rain-soaked into cafes and had the barista make me a
hot chai with a rueful grin while I shook myself off like a dog.
I have watched violinists practice sitting on the edge of the fountain outside of Juilliard, and ballerinas
fine-tune their routines in the courtyard next to Lincoln Center. Once I saw a businessman in a black
limousine stick his head out of the back window in traffic, order a hot dog, and enter a shouting match
with a Nathan’s Hot Dog Vendor for “overcharging him.” To this day I agree with the vendor. Bryant
Park is prime real estate- those permits are not cheap. Just hand over 6 bucks you frugal….
Five different times and a total of 21 days I have awoken in New York City, and for every day of the last 7
years I have thought of it at least once. New York City may be one of the most human places I have ever
been. New York City is open and honest. It doesn’t hide its flaws, and it embraces all walks of life. It is a true melting pot, an epicenter of culture and diversity. I have tried half of my life’s worldly cuisine in
New York City. I have seen art that I previously only found in textbooks, and I have found more helpful
people in New York (yes, you read that correctly) than in most of my other travels.
So, I will take its deafening noise. And it’s putrid garbage. And it’s slick businessmen and women who
shoulder check me in front of Grand Central because the manager at Rosemary’s in the West Village
remembered my name from 7 months before. His smile shone so bright when he told me he had a new
sandwich for me to try, and gave me a tour of their rooftop garden. I will take its constant smell of
exhaust because the World Trade Center Museum is gut-wrenching and vital. I will take its inconsistent
and semi-complicated (to a layman) subway system because the waiter at The Cupping Room got misty-eyed explaining how he dropped out of law school at NYU to pursue music and had a gig that evening-
And he was so proud he could hardly standstill. I will wait for an hour for dinner with a reservation
because I have named every row house on West 10th Street, and prayed for my daughter at the same
pew in St. Patricks Cathedral that I kneeled in a year later at 9 weeks pregnant, tears streaming down my
face and thank you’s pounding out of my chest.
Somewhere- between the kindest transient man who told me which grates over the subway would
keep me warmest on a particularly chilly February walk, to the loft I stayed in on my first visit; its
quintessential exposed brick wall running the length of the tiny living room and its constant smell of
coffee- I fell irrevocably in love.
New York City. This is why. Yes, the museums are amazing. The architecture is beautiful. Central Park is
perfection. But NYC is so much more. There is a saying that your heart knows the way, and to run in that
So. Let’s Go. ❤️✈️
October 12, 2021