“Everyone should live in London at least once,” says a listicle published by London-based organization studentbeans.com, which serves up a great list of must-sees and dos that are tailored to make a tourist out of every well meaning graduate.
As a loyal New Yorker, I found myself wondering how London, with its terrible weather, strictly demarcated neighborhoods based on ethnic contexts, could possibly find itself at par with New York. Granted, the food is better than it’s given credit for, and there are niche neighborhoods in London that are phenomenal, as is the city’s architecture and green spaces.
However, with all due respect to all three of my siblings, who have lived or currently live in London, as well as scores of friends, I had to make a stance for the city I’ve called home for most of my adult life.
Let’s hear it for New York, folks.
Here are 101 reasons why everyone should live in NYC at least once in their life.
1. When you have NYC as a common denominator, I’ve realized it’s easy to bond with someone. It’s the city we love to love, love to hate, hate to love, hate to hate, and at the end of the day, it’s the city that’s molded those of us who’ve had the opportunity to call it home, for any amount of time, and made us who we are today.
2. New York teaches you to be tolerant of tourists, and graduate from being one: Note the difference between tourists who go to places to see things, and travelers, who enjoy simply being, wherever they are.
3. You learn that the subway system (note Uptown/downtown distinctions) is quite simple. In fact, you will become a pro at deciphering maps.
4. Mamoun’s after a night on MacDougal. Enough said.
5. The gyros from Halal Guys after a long night of clubbing? Yes, please.
6. The meatpacking district. Err, not just to go clubbing, but to note the warehouse chic culture.
7. The performers on the subway trains.
8. A live baseball game at the Yankees/Shea Stadium.
9. You learn that twenty blocks of walking is not really very much.
10. You have a renewed love of open spaces.
11. Central Park’s awesome architecture, especially at the end of the mall.
12. Prospect Park’s landscaping.
13. I could list all the gardens, from the New York Botanical Garden (a must see during azalea season in April), or the Brooklyn Botanical Garden (a great spot for sakura matsuri season), but that is cheating. Needless to say, just go.
14. The architectural styles of brutalism meets minimalist chic that are apparent on every block.
15. Finding a new shop or a new restaurant, is never a problem.
16. New York teaches you the difference between fabulous and ghetto fabulous. A must-know, for all fashionistas and style gurus.
17. You will soon realize that there is a real undercurrent to living, and this undercurrent is ruled by etiquette that favours supplying free food for millionnaires. This is a crucial discovery. If you play your game well, you will never have to pay for another day in your life, even if you’re nowhere close to being a tycoon.
15. Grand Central Station. No, really, once you’ve spent about half an hour standing in the middle with people getting married and taking wedding pictures on the side and commuters rushing to catch their trains to Connecticut or up the Hudson, you’ll have a completely different vision of what it is to stand still.
16. Farmer’s markets, because farmer’s markets have the best tarts, and they’re a place that makes you seek out the best ways to sustain yourself nutritionally.
17. The constantly shifting art galleries in Chelsea.
18. Taking a walk along Roosevelt Island makes you realize how much the city’s past is riddled with getting rid of anyone who doesn’t fit the status quo (this tiny island between Queens and Manhattan was home to prisoners back in the day).
19. Names like Spuyten Duyvil for a neighborhood in the Bronx is really cool, especially when you find out it means Spiting Devil.
20. You will bump into your friends, if nowhere else, then definitely on the L train.
21. Speaking of the L train, if you’re unfortunate enough to live on this line, you will learn the true virtue of patience. Only the G train will provide you enough competition against the L in inciting this virtue.
22. You can escape to a beach ANY time. If you’re like me, you’ll wake up after missing your stop by half an hour and end up in Coney Island, but hey, life is filled with adventures.
23. The food. I know I mentioned specialties, but the food, oh the food. Nowhere else can you wake up to Tunisian cuisine for breakfast, Polish pierogis for lunch, and end up the day with a good and hearty bowl of spaghetti carbonara, only to start the next day shifting continents to Asia, and the following to Latino nations. And you’ll never run out of restaurants to try, I promise you that much.
24. New York will teach you that you don’t really need that much sleep.
25. And you also don’t need to tolerate idiots.
26. There is nothing very wrong with running to catch the train at all costs.
27. There is joy in walking through certain bridges.
28. Wall Street is not reserved just for bankers, but going on a walk along Stone Street can be a fun and definitely unparalleled haven for spotting eye candy.
29. The long walks over the Brooklyn Bridge will awaken your love for panoramic skylines and epic sunsets.
30. Lychee martinis for $4.
31. NYC will make you resilient to loss and pain.
32. And build up a veneer of courage and compassion, regardless of mistakes made, or things not going the way we want them to. It makes the good times that much better.
33. You will learn that every time someone leaves, someone new will come to take their place.
34. The concerts at Radio City Hall and Madison Square Garden will have you humming and singing for days.
35. Even though New Yorkers love wearing a symbolic mask in public transportation, they’re also humble. That dude sitting next to you may be one of the biggest movers and shakers in the city. Why is he taking the subway? Well, because the transportation system is pretty damn tight.
36. When I say the subway is tight, I also mean it’s super cool and works 24 hours a day.
37. And bars stay open till 4 AM.
38. You might never have to watch the city lose power (if you don’t live in parts of Astoria or Bellerose, that is).
39. You will rub shoulders with celebrities, to the point where you will not even be that awed by them anymore, and realize they’re just like everyone else.
40. Sitting on a rooftop in NYC is an exceptional experience. Try 230 Fifth if you don’t have access to your own rooftop.
41. For that matter, Top of the Rock, and the Empire State Building, have some pretty spectacular views too.
42. It doesn’t cost you close to 200 US dollars for a metrocard, like it would for a monthly Oyster pass in London.
43. You will be able to tolerate strangers and learn how not to mask your disdain for their distasteful and obsessive photo taking, without batting your eyelashes.
44. Certainly, it does not rain anywhere near as much as in Canada, nor like London, on the other side of the pond.
45. The free concerts in Washington Square.
46. Street fairs are epic.
47. Others are looking at the Chrysler building and taking photos? You’re working in the building, so you’ve already got one up over everyone else.
48. You will realize that tall buildings are built to sway a little in the wind, so that they don’t just crack in half in strong winds.
49. You will also realize there are worse things than rats on the subway.
50. You will learn to like landlords, and learn the meaning of gratitude once your rent is not increased by 1000% when your friends’ ones are.
51. The Boat Basin on the Upper West Side.
54. Finding your neighborhood bar and meeting tons of cool folks.
55. Neighborhoods that are increasingly mixed, and hence are not as xenophobic.
56. Bubble tea.
57. Authentic fruits and vegetables from all over the world.
58. Tons of single folks.
59. And motivated ones too. No one can stay in New York for too long unless they’re passionate about what they’re doing.
60. Century 21. Not the real estate place, but the bargain shopping haven.
61. Bloomingdale and Macy’s and Saks and all the other stores you’ve grown up hearing about.
62. Discovering the power of donning Manolo Blancs on Fifth Avenue is shockingly empowering.
63. And so is finding a food craving, like fresh portobello mushrooms in your local bodega at 5 AM.
64. If you are a transplant and you get homesick, chances are you will find a group of people who look, act, think and behave the way you do without judging you, and you can melt right in.
65. Speaking of melting right in, New York is a crucible, so even if you’re not an American, you’re immediately a New Yorker.
66. Your heart swells with pride when you give complicated directions on the Lower East Side.
67. Upstate New York is a tiny train ride away if you miss the countryside and the mountains. Long Island is not far either, if you’re into beaches that don’t have toxic water.
68. Whether it’s business, fashion, arts, theater, visual media, human rights, or even breeding chihuahuas, you’re sure to find New Yorkers who are paving the way and defining the trends.
69. Let’s talk about sex, baby. You’ve got your pick of the creme de la creme of folks who look hot, act even hotter, and are driven to please, as much as they are driven to being pleased.
70. You can hop onto a bus up to Canada if you’re bored, or take one of the many flight deals into the Caribbean, or other parts of the States. NYC has enough flight destinations to choose from.
71. Hot chocolate at the Plaza Hotel after a blizzard.
72. Boutique stores off Broadway
73. Fashion Avenue.
74. Organic produce.
75. It’s a great place to be alone.
76. Or meet lots of people.
77. Or be in a relationship.
78. Comedy clubs central.
79. Most famous movies are set in NYC. Imagine walking through a neighborhood and realizing that it’s something you saw in your favorite film? Check.
80. The musicians who have paid tribute to the city make it come alive.
81. Experimental theater.
82. Carnegie Hall and the Met Opera, as well as Lincoln Plaza, once you get bored of being marginal.
83. Beacon’s Closet, for awesome bargains.
84. The Strand Bookstore’s 18 miles of books.
85. And B&H’s, if you love photography.
86. The antique stores in mid-town.
87. Free museum entries on Friday.
88. The knowledge that the “suggested donation” box at the Met, or the MoMA, really only mean that it’s a suggestion. If you’re strapped for cash, a quarter will do.
89. Outdoor swimming pools during the summer in Central Park!
90. Pre-parties, post-parties, after-parties, parties to counter the parties. You get the drift.
91. Everyone visits New York at least once. You’re never going to be bored or lonely, hence.
92. You will realize that it’s wise not to call Staten Island part of New York (who lives there, anyway?)
93. There are beautiful men everywhere. And beautiful women, if you’re a dude. Or both, if you can’t make up your mind.
94. People know how to get what they want in New York. As Frank Sinatra points out, “If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere.” The singer wasn’t lying. Working in NYC will sky rocket your career into unimagined directions.
95. There are no issues with stiff upper lips and overt politeness to make up for sugary hypocritical backbiting (let’s face it, we all know a Briton or two who are like this).
96. The Cloisters provide an unparalleled space for reflection.
97. You can always go yachting if you’re bored of being on mainland.
98. Jogging down Riverside Drive can be fun.
99. The police really work it in NYC. In other words, unless you’re a trouble maker, you’re going to be pretty well protected by the system.
100. Things are so fast paced that they’re constantly evolving and changing to make space for new knowledge.
101. People in New York love questions more than answers. More than that, they prefer you keep your questions to yourself and figure out the answers by thinking, instead of asking them for silly directions without consulting your map. It’s a city filled with individuality, and you need to learn to embrace yours, after all.
Viva New York.
Now get going, folks.
Move to the best city in the world. It’s been waiting for you long before you realized it was, and will be waiting for you long after you temporarily decide you are done with it, because no one can ever really be done with New York.