Thursday, September 8, 2016

Thoughts on New York City

Despite being one of the most photographed and filmed cities in the world, I struggled to visualise what New York would be like to visit in real life. It's so different from any other city I've visited. A truly alive city bustling with the movement of eight million people at all hours of the day and night.

Walking between hordes of disgruntled New Yorkers moving quickly through the city as well as tourists at a standstill, looking confusedly at their phones or up at the building filled sky, I felt like I was really in the midst of an urban metropolis. The big city where dreams are made or mercilessly broken.

New York is a place where the American dream still exists. However this is only for a lucky few who defy the odds and emerge triumphant, rather than living their lives paycheck to paycheck, the dissatisfaction of their lives so plainly written on their faces.

New York was described to me as 'morbidly fascinating' prior to visiting, and once I was there I could see the truth of the description. It's a place where its relentlessness and sheer enormity breaks you down so that you are just one of millions trying to exist in a city that doesn't care if you win or lose.

You can see this dichotomy on the New York subway, where successful high rollers in suits are contrasted with exhausted faces trying to catch some reprieve from their many hours of labor. Both types occasionally entertained by the drama that entails taking the subway in New York. Whether that's somebody dancing, singing or just making a scene, as well as kids selling you lollies you don't want for a dollar.

The heat of the underground platforms is suffocating in the summer, the sight of the silver subway carriages a respite from the heavy air once you decode the subway map and figure out the correct subway line. Emerging from the subway station and spending your day in Manhattan at Central Park, or Bedford street in Brooklyn is a surreal experience. As if your life is part of a F. Scott Fitzgerald novel or a Noah Baumbach movie.

While much of Manhattan is saturated with high rise skyscrapers old and new, in other boroughs it's the apartment buildings, many with the quintessential fire escapes out the front, that dominate the streets. It's these apartment buildings in particular that were my favorite to look at, the style of architectural style varying depending on what area of New York you are in and what era they were built.