Sunday, September 20, 2015

New York, New York

There’s a type of writing assignment that never grows old: the city guidebook.

One type is really comprehensive, covering all the things that make up the city, from aquarium to zoological garden, if the city has them, and heavily into restaurants, theaters, and that sort of thing. Everything a tourist would want to see and the Chamber of Commerce would want him or her to spend money on.

There’s another type which, if it doesn’t exist, should. It would convey the spirit and mood of the town rather than the mundane facts of its geography and physical features. It would look like this.

A Visitor’s Guide to New York
New York is everyone’s favorite city; it’s the friendliest. You want neighborly? There’s no place you can get closer to your neighbors, quicker, (or they to you) than the IRT subway at 5:30 on a Wednesday evening. Sample it at its best, on a humid summer day.
That “big city” image? It’s only PR; New York is really just a series of neighborhoods strung together. Each has its own attractions for the visitor who can speak the local language or is adept at a martial art.
Just think about this: New York has, in one city, two of the best-known tourist attractions anywhere.
Times Square is maybe the most famous single location in the world, and I understand they’ve cleaned it up wonderfully.
Central Park – well, you still want to be alert there after about 6 o’clock, and you don’t want to go there at all in the evening, but it’s spectacular from the penthouse of the Plaza Hotel. Check out the closing credits of “All in the Family.”     

I grew up in New York, but I haven’t been back in years (decades, really).  Things can change a lot in that time, and I don’t know if this advice would still be useful. I may have a nostalgic view of it, but that was my New York