Friday, September 18, 2009

One Hundred Blocks

I've always loved New York City, and on this trip I told myself that one of my life goals should be to live in New York for some stretch of time, so that I could get to know the city not as a wide-eyed tourist, but with the intimate affection of someone who wanders the roads less taken. Maybe I could arrange to come teach in New York for a semester?

But then I told myself: well, why don't you start prioritizing a closer acquaintance with New York RIGHT NOW? On every trip, get off the tourist trodden path and explore. I could see and learn something new every year. I mean, I have never even been to Harlem! Or Columbia University! Or the whole upper half of Manhattan!

So this morning I took Christopher and Samantha by taxi cab to Laguardia for their 10:30 flight. Then I decided to explore cheaper ways to get back into town for my 12:15 lunch with my editor at the Farrar, Straus & Giroux offices, now in the Flatiron Building at Fifth Avenue and Broadway, the intersection of Fifth Avenue and 23rd Street. I saw a local bus bound for Manhattan - $2.25! I checked the route - Harlem! And on to Columbia!!

I boarded the bus and in just a few minutes, so it seemed, there I was outside the Apollo Theater on 125th Street. I got off the bus and started my walk - past the shops and jazz clubs of Harlem, over to Morningside Park, up a long, steep flight of stairs to Morningside Heights, across the Columbia campus, and then down Broadway. I ate a canoli from a little Italian bakery. I browsed the notebook aisle at the West Side Stationers. On past 72nd Street, Lincoln Center, Columbus Circle, Times Square, Herald Square - 100 blocks in all.

I feel most proud and pleased with myself! If I walk 100 blocks on every visit to the city, maybe I WILL get to know it like a native. Or at least know it a whole lot better.

Oh, and the birthday bash was wonderful. The day included stunning views from the Top of the Rock (Rockefeller Center), the three-hour Circle Line boat tour around Manhattan, the long-awaited drink at the Waldorf Astoria (guess how much a drink costs there? no - more! $18!!!), Wicked on Broadway, and a ride back to the hotel in a horse-drawn carriage for Christopher and Samantha. I must say that I do know how to do birthdays! If you don't mind spending $100 every hour, you can have a grand time in this city.

Or you can take the # 60 bus for $2.25 and walk yourself weary and happy.

1 comment:

  1. Claudia, as a former Wall Street foot messenger (for about 9 months many years ago) I can confirm that walking around the city is the best way to get to know it. In fact, in my opinion, walking anywhere is a good way to learn about Life. --Carol Linda