Many years ago, as a kid, I had chanced upon a coffee table book titled ‘New York City In Pictures’. Mesmerised by this amazing city full of energy and ideas, being in New York has since been a dream. I would scribble famous buildings like The Empire State Building or Chrysler Building. Would draw those long straight roads between skyscrapers. New York was the backdrop of the comic books I would draw and write, filling my summer holidays. I would draw action scenes around Radio City Music Hall, Rockefeller Building and so on. It was as if I was familiar with the city even before I ever set foot in it.
And then finally the travel and film gods smiled on us and our film Bachelor Girls (watch it on Netflix now) was selected for screening in NYC. This was our chance to visit the city of my childhood comic book world. And off we flew via London.
We had an extremely narrow layover window in London. As luck would have it, our flight was late to land in London, smashing any hopes of lazying around the airport, a practice I love. In this distress, a British Airways staff lady was extremely helpful in dashing us through a maze of airport alleys, corridors, stairs, elevators, escalators and transit buses, all the while on her walkie talkie, requesting the connecting flight to New York to not take off without us. More than the stress of missing the flight, I was amused by our run. Anyway, we managed to get onboard the flight and landed in NYC in the wee hours of the morning, so wee, the hotel wouldn’t give us our room till a few hours later. So we left the luggage at the 4 Points By Sheraton, Manhattan, and went out for a slow walk, all tired and dizzy. (We were delightfully surprised to find unbelievable rates for this hotel on booking.com and couldn’t resist. Highly recommend this place).
New York somehow felt familiar. Despite the jet lag, the dizzyness, we were so happy and excited to be here! The Big Apple! The Original City of Dreams. The Cultural Melting Pot Of The World. The home of Indie Cinema in USA. The Advertising Capital of The World. The Land Of Skyscrapers. New York is Awesome. New York, I Love You!
What to do in New York is not an easy answer. What to do here is to live here. Honestly, this city has almost inifinite number of things to do and offer. You could spend a lifetime and not cover everything. We try and cover a few brief things which will not include a visit to the Statue Of Liberty. Because we didn’t go there, limited by time (our trip include a quick visit to Los Angeles and back), and we chose the National Museum of The American Indian instead. And loved it.
So here’s understanding the basics of New York City.
– Streets run horizontally from East To West (East 53rd Street, for example)
– Avenues run from North To South
– 5th Avenue splits Eastside and Westside. As you go away from 5th its ‘Higher’, closer to 5th Ave is Lower.
– Broadway runs diagonal
– The entire city Of New York is well connected with the subway and a small walk. If you can understand that, you can travel anywhere on a subway pass and some walking.
As an introduction, New York is divided into many Boroughs or Districts. When we speak about New York City what most people probably visualise is Manhattan. Well, Manhattan itself is divided into Downtown (the southern tip, includes Wall Street and the Financial District), Midtown (includes Empire State Building, Rockefeller Center etc) and Uptown (includes Central Park and many museums). Manhattan is actually an Island.
Just North of Manhattan is Bronx. This area is not an island.
East of Manhattan and Bronx is Queens. This is where the two large airports, La Guardia and JFK are located.
South East of Manhattan is Brooklyn. Its is New York City’s most populated Borough and is largely residential, though a lot of offices have now opened here. It is connected to Manhattan via the famous Brooklyn Bridge.
Then there is Staten Island, located in the South West of Manhattan.
On the west side of Manhattan is Greenwich Village, called just ‘The Village’.
Greenwich Village also has many other dining, drinking and cultural joints. With this basic geography in mind, we set up New York City. More in next post.