My Love Affair With New York City


I grew up in Uniondale, a small suburban town on Long Island, about 20 miles away from Manhattan.

The top two pictures show me near the Central Park Zoo. Many of my earliest memories are trips to Manhattan with my aunt and uncles. My mom’s younger siblings weren’t married and treated me like a cherished little sister. Aunt Joan took me to see Cinderella, my first movie; she took me to the Hayden Planetarium, which seemed magical. My parents took us to the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building, the American Museum of Natural History. We visited my Dad in his downtoan office. I was hooked. This would always be home.

My best friend Anne and I started going into the NYC when we were 13. We each babysat every week; two weeks of babysitting money covered the cost of the bus and subway and a Broadway show. Six hours of babysitting at 50 cents an hour covered the $3 theatre ticket price. We usually could not afford the commuter railroad; instead we took two buses and a subway for a fraction of the cost. We were already experienced bus riders; I don’t remember any anxiety about riding subways. During all high school holidays, a group of my friends planned a day in the city with a restaurant lunch and a show.

From 1964 to 1981, I lived in Manhattan, first on the Upper West Side and then in Chelsea. For reasons I have never fully understood, we impulsively moved to Bangor, Maine in 1981. My daughter Anne, who has worked in over 70 world cities, claims all of them have more in common with NYC than Bangor does. When we decided to come back two years later, we could not possibly afford NYC, having foolishly given up a fantastic, affordable apartment.

So we moved to Long Island; I now live about 6 miles from my childhood home. Our years on LI have been good; the girls got a fine education. I have enjoyed being so close to the beach; I learned to love gardening. But for years I mourned leaving Manhattan and welcomed the chance to work there. I vastly prefer trains and subways to driving. I only learned to drive at age 36 when we moved to Maine. I am a good driver, but I have never enjoyed it. A NYC friend explained why he always felt safer on subways at any hour of the day or night. “To kill you on the subway, they have to be able to aim.”

I doubt I could now adjust to cramped apartment living. When we now pay in mortgage and taxes for a 4-bedroom house, with a basement and attic for unlimited storage, might get us a small one bedroom apartment in NYC. I am only a short train ride from the heart of Manhattan; I always get a seat. I love commuting into the city three or four days a week to help take care of my grandson. When people ask where I am from, I usually say New York City.

Thirty-eight minutes from the Empire State Building is as far away from Manhattan as I ever plan to be. I am thrilled that my grandson looks at the Empire State Building from every window in his apartment. Two of these pictures were taken from those windows.

About maryjograves

Children are my passion. I have 4 daughters, 5 grandkids under 5 with another on the way, 5 younger brothers, 11 nieces and nephews, 8 great nieces and nephews. I advocate a revolution for a child friendly US. I have been an editor, public librarian, social worker, and internet educator. Tweet @RedstockingGran @ChildrensWings
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