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On Life, Love and the Pursuit of Happiness

The Five Best Things about New York that go Overlooked

Robert Manni - Friday, January 29, 2016


Our city really is a helluva town. Where else at 2am can you hear the pounding of jackhammers outside your bedroom window or savor a bowl of spicy squid and noodles at a jam-packed midtown restaurant? If you’re Guy’s Guy, there are few better places to live. I know, I know. At times a Guys’ Guy’s patience gets tested by the randomness of this crazy city. But despite the less than lackluster subway service on the weekends and the stench of the uncollected garbage we too often inhale from the overflowing corner trashcans, there are many uncelebrated perks about living in our little town worthy of a shout out. So here’s to the things about living in New York City that we enjoy, but often fail to acknowledge as reasons why New Yorkers love this damn town so much.

1. Trees, trees, trees – Former Mayor Bloomberg did an amazing thing when he announced a goal of planting one million trees across the five boroughs within five years. He actually surpassed his goal by a few hundred thousand and the movement keeps rolling. If you look around you while traversing the streets you can’t help but notice the plethora of new trees lining the sidewalks of any borough in our sprawling city. Like most New Yorkers who aren’t billionaires, I live in a neighborhood that is undergoing steady gentrification. The city has done a lot of sprucing up the area by planting trees along the main streets and it really makes a difference. Five years from now, things will look amazing. And, unlike the seventies and eighties, our parks are now constantly cared for with ongoing planting and pruning of the landscapes. Central Park, Morningside Park and Prospect Park have never looked better. Which brings me to my second point…

2. Hudson River Park and the Highline – For many years I lived on the far West Side of Midtown. To put it mildly, the scene in the vicinity of the waterfront was barren, broken-down, and depressing. But little by little, over the past twenty years, the spaces along the water have slowly and steadily been revamped. It’s been an ongoing evolution, but the results are revolutionary for anyone who inhabited these areas back in the day. Because the re-engineering of the many miles along the waterfront encircling Manhattan has taken so long, it’s easy to forget what a shit hole it used to be. Today, there are new piers, playgrounds, and places to catch some rays. You can ride your bike, go for a run, or take your family on a picnic while watching the boats roll along the Hudson River. All this, and it's still a work in progress. The same can be said of the Highline, which started as a vision and a dream, but over time became a beautiful reality and now a destination for New Yorkers and the thousands of tourists from around the globe who visit our city. Sure it gets crowded, but this is New York, amigo. Smile, and go with the flow.

3. You can walk everywhere – Like many great European cities, New York is a unique American city in that you don’t need a car. You can either walk or take mass transit anywhere at anytime. How cool is working to and from work? And how much fun is walking to and home from a date, and maybe even cutting through Central Park? It’s awesome. Sure, the subways get overcrowded during rush hour, but it’s a lot better than sitting in traffic and pumping your own gas. Take that, L.A.

4. It's an underrated place to live for seniors – Surprise. It used to be that South Florida was the place for retirees. And during most of my time living in Manhattan I’ve constantly reminded myself to get before I got too old. But now I see that unlike many boring suburban communities with little access to culture besides what’s gleaned online or on the television, New York is jam-packed with museums, concerts, theater, and international cuisine. The city also offers many resources for seniors like Access-A –Ride, discounted metro cards and community outreach programs. And between the discounted MTA fares and walking, it’s relatively easy for most seniors to get around. Of course there are the harsh winters, but New York has four distinctly different seasons to break up the monotony of the 85-degree heat in Broward County, Florida or Arizona. And, our city parks are beautiful all year round.

5. It's a great place for kids – I live five blocks from Central Park and two blocks from Morningside Park. That means my son has access to over a dozen playgrounds on any given day. And, unlike adults, toddlers get to express their sense of adventure happily riding the subway or a bus. We can be almost anywhere in Manhattan within thirty minutes. Granted, raising a kid properly in NYC can be an expensive proposition, but where else can a kid go to daycare and get full Mandarin immersion or interact with all the diverse ethnicities and cultures that NYC offers? It truly is a word class city for educating a kid, and as mentioned, the parks and the playgrounds are pristine. I have more choices for taking out my little boy than I’d have in New Jersey, and we never have to deal with traffic.

I may be rooting for the home team, but truthfully, I’m only scratching the surface about the many underappreciated aspects of living in New York. So next time you’re dodging a pile of slush while entering a crosswalk after a snowstorm, trying to weave around a pack of tourists in Midtown, or waiting endlessly for a dirt-ridden C train to show up on a Sunday, take a moment and consider some of the underappreciated perks you get by living in the city like that beautiful woman or dude standing next to you on the platform. Cheers.

This week’s Guy’s Guy of the Week is former Mayor Bloomberg. In retrospect, he did a great job sprucing up the town and the economy. I did not like him telling us how big our soft drinks could be, and I don’t even drink soft drinks, but overall he did a damn good job in taking New York to the next level as a world class city. In fact, is there any better city?

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