I finished my series of blog posts on National Historic Sites with the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, both located near New York City. So I thought as my next series of postings I would write about places I’ve visited in this large city. New York City is the most populous, most densely populated, and most culturally diverse city in United States. It’s one of the major metropolitan areas in the world that does not require any introduction. But your view of this city may differ when you look at the city from the lens of a visitor vs. from the point of view of a city resident.
My first visit to New York City was almost twenty years ago, as part of a high school group from the Midwest. In the early 1990s, New York City was not as ‘clean’ and safe as it is today. I remember staying in an area in Brooklyn where we were warned not to get out to the street unless we’re in a group of at least four people, and on our first trip outside the place we stayed, we saw a limousine with bullet holes on the window passing by. I also remember dining at a restaurant supposedly famous with many celebrity visitors, having a ‘chicken noodle soup’ that was basically just chicken broth with some noodles and no chicken pieces in it, and paying $8 for that small bowl. I also experienced being offered illegal drugs while walking with friends in the Washington Square Park in SoHo area.
Several years later, I visited New York City again, this time with my family. We did a road trip after attending my grad school graduation. We went for a day trip into the city, taking the Grayline bus tour around the city. I remembered my parents and my brother said they had enough seeing the big city after only a couple of hours into the trip (coming from Jakarta, Indonesia, they saw New York as just another big city with a lot of people and bad traffic problems).
Fast forward few years later. My brother graduated from college, and was going to continue to grad school. For his field, the best schools and jobs are located in the Big Apple. He wasn’t excited about the prospect of having to live in this big city, but he was admitted to a well-known school in his field and for a program that he was interested in; it was hard to turn down. He lived in Queens while going to school in Manhattan for a couple of years, then after graduation, he got a job where it made more sense for him to live in Upper East Side of Manhattan. During those years, his perception of New York City changed — it became a place that he liked to live in especially with its diversity and the opportunities it provided. During that time, I also relocated to Washington, DC, meaning I was only four-hour trip away from where my brother lived. I visited him many times, and got to see New York from the perspective of one of its residents, and I started seeing it as a place that is full of diversity and things to discover.
Fast forward again few years later to today. Since then, my brother had moved to the West Coast for a couple of years, and then moved back to New York City. Now he lives in Brooklyn, owning his own place there. So he is establishing his roots as a New Yorker. I still come to visit now and then, and I’m always looking forward to look for things to discover (especially with food!). And I’m getting familiar enough with the city layout and the subway system that I could go from place to place on my own like locals.
There are so many places in New York City to feature, and undoubtedly I will go back to visit many times in the future. For this series of blog posts, I will highlight some places I visited in the past where I have photos in my flickr archive to show.
The photo below was taken from the Liberty Island during my visit there a couple of weeks ago. It’s a photo of New York City (mostly Manhattan) skyline, with the familiar Empire State Building on the left, the new One World Trade Center still being built at the Ground Zero, the tall buildings in the Financial District, and the Brooklyn Bridge connecting Manhattan and Brooklyn on the right.