The Manhattan skyline is unmistakable when heading into New York City. The Chrysler Building is easily recognizable, with its unique architectural design, and the Empire State Building is surely familiar to those who’ve seen the classic movie, King Kong. Noticeably missing from the skyline are the Twin Towers, but just as discernible is the recently constructed Freedom Tower that has replaced the former national landmark. I suppose the array of prominent buildings, both old and new, is what distinguishes “The Big Apple’s” impressive skyline from all others in the United States. The old Chrysler Building and the new Freedom Tower were born of different generations (84 years apart), yet both have a storied past although the Freedom Tower undoubtedly conveys a more significant meaning not only to the citizens of New York but to the rest of the world as well.
It is almost impossible for me to fathom New York City coming together as a community and supporting one another during difficult times or when tragedy strikes. However, I witnessed precisely that from afar on Sept. 11th, 2001, and for many months thereafter, in wake of that tragic period in our country’s history. Our nation’s newspapers and television stations portrayed New York as a caring place whose residents were genuinely concerned with the well-being of their fellow man. That admirable quality seemingly has disappeared, or at the very least has been placed on hiatus, probably until another disaster arises. I know this because my family and I just got back from New York. “The City That Never Sleeps” has reverted to an “every man for himself” mentality. Apparently, everyone is very important and has somewhere they need to be, and if you’re a tourist you had better keep up with the fast paced crowds or move clear over to one side.
Shoulder bumping, hip checking, and unfriendly games of “chicken” are not an uncommon sight, and if it’s raining then you just might as well “fa-get-about-it.” The sea of umbrellas only makes the city’s sidewalks that much harder to navigate, and if you don’t lose an eye in the process then you should consider yourself lucky. I’m not so sure a New Yorker wouldn’t be willing to trample a visitor, to their fair city, if given the opportunity. I wasn’t willing to find out, so I purposely was highly aware of my surroundings at all times whilst out among them. I reckon I could give the citizens of New York City the benefit of the doubt and assume not all of them are impolite and self-absorbed. Maybe they were all simply trying to get out of the dreary weather and back to the comforts of their homes and to their awaiting families. Maybe. The only thing possibly more irritating than the rude people occupying the sidewalks was the relentless sound of blaring car horns all day and all night long. Here a beep, there a beep, everywhere a beep beep.
I’ve never seen the kind of hustle and bustle of a big city quite like what I saw on display in New York. I had a nice time in “The Big Apple” nonetheless. I certainly can’t complain about time spent with family. The 9/11 Memorial and Museum was a tasteful tribute to those who perished. The exhibit was educational but mostly sobering. Even now, 13 years later, the entire situation is still so surreal when reflecting on 9/11. The Statue of Liberty is a magnificent sight to behold. My sometimes blasé attitude towards our nation’s freedom was replaced with heartfelt gratitude while standing in her presence. The Rockettes’ Radio City Christmas Spectacular was in a word…spectacular! Five days in New York City was probably the ideal amount of time because on the last day of our vacation the thought of home had never been so enticing.
When my family and I walked out of The Hotel @ Times Square, for the last time, an obvious commotion of some sort was transpiring around us. As we placed our luggage into the vehicle of a local car service, our hotel had arranged to transport us to LaGuardia Airport, the source of the ruckus became crystal clear. Our hired driver was arguing with our hotel manager. Aawkwaard! I’m not entirely sure what the heated discussion was about since I had some trouble dissecting the pair’s Jamaican accents. I understood enough though to know they were threatening physical harm upon one another. Our driver finally got into the vehicle, with his now stunned passengers aboard, but he continued bickering with our hotel manager, who would not retreat from the nearby sidewalk, for what seemed like a lifetime. I was pleasantly shocked when the uncomfortable incident did not end in fisticuffs; however, it did sound as though they scheduled a time for later in the day to finish what was started. What a fittingly perfect ending to our time spent in New York City.