New York City. As I type the name I’m thinking, “how can I possibly express what this city means to me?” NYC floods my mind with memories of my youth, my family, my dad. From my upbringing in the Bronx, to my school days at Mother Cabrini in upper Manhattan, to later beginning a career in banking in midtown, this city has shaped my life. Yet every time I return I feel like a tourist, seeing its wonders for the very first time.
This account of my favorite city comes from the eyes of a non-native, a native, a pseudo-tourist. Every trip to NY brings new experiences, discovered neighborhoods, new culinary delights, and the best part of each trip, spending time with family and friends. Dare I say it, ! There’s a reason why the now iconic phrase and logo reaches the sentiment of so many New Yorkers and non-New Yorkers alike.
We arrived at JFK airport in June, excited to be in a city we love, to celebrate the nuptials of two of our favorite people. A spring wedding in NY, what could be better. Unlike other trips to the tri-state where we stay in New Jersey with family, this time we decided to really experience the city as tourists. We stayed at a Hilton in the financial district, a neighborhood I had only briefly visited pre-9/11. A vibrant neighborhood where women and men, smartly dressed in business attire, reign in the pedestrian hustle through the bustling streets.
Our first stop in our city tour is the 9/11 Memorial. The memory of the horrific events of 9/11 is palpable still throughout the city. The somber visit to the Memorial, honoring thousands of lives lost in this senseless act of terror, filled our hearts with sadness and pride. Sadness for those forever marked by the loss of their loved ones; pride for a city that stands strong and united.
Walking through the 9/11 Memorial was a surreal experience. I can only imagine that the brave people of NY who were in the front line, as victims, or to rescue and aid, must find it difficult to come back to the site where it all happened.
A short walk from Ground Zero we came across Saint Paul’s Church. Built in 1764, it is one of the oldest churches in NY. St. Paul’s is located right in front of the old World Trade Center, and it became a sanctuary for the victims, workers, firemen, policemen, and all who needed a place to rest, talk, and a place where hugs were abundant in a time of great sadness. The church is also a memorial, filled with pictures, mementos, prayers, and artifacts of that fated day September 11, 2001.
The new world trade center, One World Observatory, opened recently in May 2015, is a must see. From the moment you enter this impressive building you are immersed in a visual experience of the history of New York, culminating in a 360 degree observatory where you can “see forever.” One World Observatory is a stoic reminder that we will never forget, we will persevere in the face of terror.
It’s time to continue our city exploration on foot, and subway. In search of the perfect NY
pizza, our next stop is Little Italy. I’m beginning to feel a resurgence of that old NY accent buried deep within, silenced long ago by cafecito cubano, tostones, and Miami living. We didn’t find the perfect pizza, but we did have lunch in one of the many “A” restaurants in the city.
I love the intricate ironwork of the fire escape, and the beauty of the historic buildings that grace this city.
From Little Italy, to Chinatown, to Tribeca, to Chelsea, each NY neighborhood we visited offers its unique personality and culture.
Exploring the city always brings surprises. No matter how often I walk these streets, I find new places to visit. One of my favorite discoveries this trip was the High Line. An abandoned train track is reincarnated as a beautiful urban garden. High above the city, residents walk through gardens growing varieties of flowers, trees, and exotic plants. Sitting areas nestled within the 1.45 mile long garden invite you to sit, relax, and take in the view. Some of the apartment buildings along the High Line offer eye level views inside chic New York apartments. Residents of these apartments must truly enjoy the constant presence of pedestrians strolling by their windows. The High Line is a treasure New Yorkers so graciously share with all who visit. You can’t visit the High Line without exploring the Chelsea Market, filled with specialty shops and restaurants, this market will delight your senses. Our first day in NY was perfect, but the best was yet to come.
On June 4, 2016 a couple in love were joined in marriage, sharing their love and commitment to each other in an intimate ceremony with friends and family. In a perfect setting, on a perfect day, I was lucky to witness one of my favorite people marry the love of his life. Two very special men are now joined as one. And so a new life begins, and I embrace my new family. Here’s to NY, and to George and Giunero. May you enjoy life’s adventures and love for each other forever.