New York is a City Like No Other

NEW YORK, NY—As someone who grew up in the city (in Staten Island, to be precise), it’s hard to appreciate the massive gravitational pull a place like New York has on anyone that hasn’t been spoiled enough to be raised in the greatest city in the world. Innumerable facets of daily life that we take for granted are a constant source of wonderment to those who’ve never experienced them. They range from simple parts of the landscape—the fact that yellow taxis cabs actually drive around everywhere, or that large orange and white traffic cone tubes spout steam from the ground into the middle of the street—to the more meaningful makeup of the population—that New York is truly an overwhelming melting pot where people of all different nationalities and ethnicities embrace the possibility of a life filled with success stemming from the opportunities of a single city.

 Street art, seen on the streets of NYC

Street art, seen on the streets of NYC

 

Sometimes it’s necessary to remove yourself from your hometown environment for a while before you can really appreciate the pull that it has on people. After living abroad for a year, I found that I commanded a sort of respect from people when I would say that I’m from New York. Perhaps it’s the notion that you’ve seen enough of the world just taking the subway, giving you a deeper understanding of the human condition. Or maybe it’s because, for you, what is normal is something that so many people aspire to exist within for just a short period of their lives.

 

Walking the streets of Manhattan is an assault on every bodily sense: from the hot dog stands on every corner to the skyscrapers that will induce a mild case of vertigo should you stare at them for too long. New York is a place filled with possibility. People are inundated with movies, TV shows, and pop culture references the world over reinforcing the notion that this is the place to be if you want to make something with your life. Perhaps that’s why people are so fascinated to find that you’ve left: why would you be searching for something on the island of Borneo, when you had New York at your disposal?

 

Everyone has some connection to New York: they either lived in a small apartment on the outskirts of the city limits for a period after college, or have a cousin that’s been in Brooklyn for years. They made a trip years ago, and walked down 42nd Street, or dined in Little Italy. That, or they’ve always wanted to make a trip to New York. The Staten Island Ferry? Yeah, I’ve heard of it!

 

New York has an intangible pull to it. There’s an electric energy that you find in this city that can’t be found elsewhere. Sure, there are other mega-cities—New York is dwarfed by Tokyo, London is centuries older, and Sao Paulo is  a regional behemoth like no other—but none of them have the quality of being such a unique melting pot of people; none of them is the cultural capital of the United States of America. And on a more personal note, none is the place that I’m so proud to call my home.