Dirty, Gritty Bushwick

In Defense Of New York

Ten days after my arrival back in Pittsburgh from the bubble that is New York, I’ve had time to reflect on my ‘almost 1 week’ stay in the City That Never Sleeps. And here are my takeaways:

1) New York really doesn’t sleep. Packed bars in Manhattan at 2:30am on a Thursday? Completely normal. Street food at 3am? Go right ahead. Sightseeing/taking pictures in the dead of night? I looked so normal. In Pittsburgh, I would probably be stopped by the cops & asked if I am soliciting at those hours of the night.

2) The Metro makes Pittsburgh’s Port Authority look like child’s play. My first night in New York, I got bored around midnight. I grabbed my bag, hopped on the L train in Bushwick, & headed to Manhattan. Stayed there for a few hours, then went back to Brooklyn to go to sleep. I am a permanent insomniac, & NY understands my tendencies. It doesn’t judge me; it simply plays along. (“Liberty, go to that karaoke bar in central Manhattan. Go to Bryant Park. It’s only 2am. You KNOW you want to. It’s only an L train ride away.”) I should be able to go where I want, whenever I want, & public transportation should be expansive enough to accommodate those preferences. Pittsburgh, step your game way up.

3) Times Square is just, well, ugh. I’ve been to New York twice now, and I was fairly amazed the first time that I saw Times Square at 3am (and subsequently had a large slice of New York pizza to celebrate my trip with my Pitt friends). The second time around, I have to say that I was not impressed. AT ALL. From business vendors trying to sell you everything under the sun because they assume you’re a rich tourist to the lack of real personality to basically everything about the place, to say that Times Square is the worst is a gross understatement. If you’ve never been to NY, fine, go & see for yourself. If you have, then really, you know what I’m talking about anyway. Don’t even waste your time.

4) Brooklyn is where it’s at. Williamsburg, Bushwick, Crown Heights, Bay Ridge, Williamsburg (yeah, I love Williamsburg; about 60% of my time was spent between there & Bushwick)…..there’s something about Brooklyn that Manhattan simply does not have. I believe that Brooklyn has more personality, the people have more character, & it’s a generally more authentic place (read: not pretentious). Don’t get me wrong, Manhattan has its perks (shopping, MoMa, Central Park, convenient subway stops, Greenwich Village, etc.), but the prevalent NYC borough doesn’t really do it for me. It’s ok, but would I choose it over Brooklyn? Hahaha…NOPE.

5) The 5 boroughs each seem to have distinctive personalities, which I have taken the liberty of naming:

  • Manhattan: “The Snobby Rich One”
  • Brooklyn: “The Cool Younger Sister”
  • Queens: “That Aunt That You Only Tend To See Every Once In A Blue Moon”
  • Bronx: “The Troublemaker”
  • Staten Island: “The Red-Headed Stepchild”, also known to be interchangeable with “Who?” (this one was way too easy to characterize)

6) I have never seen as many organic grocery stores in such a small radius as I did while in Williamsburg. Seriously, who even eats that much food? And who needs that much of the exact same thing in the same area? It’d be the equivalent of putting 10 Starbucks stores around Walnut Street in Shadyside (Pittsburgh). Now, I do love the fact that Williamsburg residents seem to be so health-conscious, but it’s a bit much. Spread out those resources, at least.

7) And what’s up with all of the 99-cent stores? Really, though, why?

8) I only saw one rat my whole time there. Maybe New York’s furry rodents were being kind to me and decided not to make an appearance, but I only saw one, and that was my first night there. Is NY’s rat issue overblown?

9) You don’t need a gym membership. Don’t be foolish enough to buy one of those. You’ll walk enough to keep in amazing shape. I walked more in one day in New York than I do in about a week in Pittsburgh.

10) So many bike rental stations – everywhere! And, due to dedicated bike lanes, it looks to be a lot more safe to ride bikes in New York. I love bike riding, but Pittsburgh scares the bejezzus out of me when it comes to doing so. I have a phobia of Pittsburgh drivers. You Pittsburgh people with cars scare me so badly.

11) To save money, buy your own groceries & cook instead of eating out for every meal. This might go without saying, and it applies to virtually every city everywhere, but eating out often is so easy to do in NY – it’s particularly easy to not realize that you’re doing it with regularity. I went to one of those hallowed organic stores in Williamsburg towards the end of my trip there & bought enough for three meals for only $13. Conversely, I would spend $18 on a brunch in Manhattan. Don’t be lazy, & you’ll save a lot of cash in the city.

12) People that say New York isn’t safe have apparently never been to New York. That isn’t to say that the city doesn’t have its sketchy spots – every city does. However, I walked around at all hours of the night without being seriously bothered once (except for catcalling, which is a completely separate issue). I never feared for my life. I was never afraid. In fact, I have been through sketchier areas of Pittsburgh and Atlanta than I have in New York City.

13) Also, the people aren’t all jagoffs. Whenever I’d get on the wrong train (which happened quite frequently my first couple of days there), New Yorkers were there and ready to help me to find the correct way to my destination. They might not all be saying ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ every second of the day, but don’t you think that’d be weird anyway? Just because someone doesn’t hold the door open for you every time that you walk up doesn’t mean that (s)he deserves to be vilified.

14) I’ve never enjoyed getting lost as much as in New York. Where else can you have such an adventure trying to find the place to where you were originally heading? I got lost so many times in Manhattan walking around that I just took in the sights until GMaps got me back on course (btw, GMaps was the cause of me getting lost about 70% of the time; Google, what’s going on?).

15) New York can be fun alone, but it is 100x more interesting when you have partners-in-crime along for the trip. I didn’t realize how much more fun that I had until I started bringing friends with me for my daily escapades. Grabbing dinner, sightseeing, finding our way around the city, and generally having others with whom to have conversations made for a richer experience. I believe that I would have enjoyed my trip regardless of whether or not I’d had others around, but probably not nearly as much.

16) It’s so easy to make friends there! In New York, I would talk with someone for about three minutes, and suddenly we were long-lost best friends. It was the greatest feeling being in a place where I felt so completely and utterly understood. My sense of fashion, my personality, my goals in life…everything clicked in an instant with others in the city. I felt so free, and so limitless. Nothing against Pittsburgh, because I also have wonderful friends here that I wouldn’t trade for anything. Both cities are great in different ways. Maybe it’s easy to meet new people in NY because there are so many of them 🙂

17) I think I have possibly found my next home. My relationship with New York has spanned many years. When I was in my teens, I wanted to be either a fashion designer or model and I wanted to move to NY to pursue my fashion career. When I was applying to universities, I applied to six places – three in New York (NYU, Columbia, & Fordham) – and got into none of my NY choices. I ended up in Pittsburgh, which has been an amazing experience in its own right. The University of Pittsburgh actually paid for me & a few of my classmates to go on a trip to Manhattan back in 2008 – it was only two days, but I took in as much as I could in that short period of time. To remain in Pittsburgh and pursue a political career would be ideal, since I have found that Pittsburgh residents hold many of the same values that my parents and I hold near & dear to our hearts. I truly believe that I can make a difference here, and that has been my primary goal all along.

However, if I find that I wish to take a different avenue in doing my part to advance society forward, I would like to do that from New York City. Pittsburgh has given me so much, and I will forever be grateful for that. I feel that I need to continue growing as a person, though, and from being in NY for the time that I was there, I believe that I would be a perfect fit for the city’s lifestyle and the goals that everyday New Yorkers hope to achieve now and in the future. I will continue to try as hard as I can to create the life that I have envisioned in Pittsburgh; my commitment to the city and its people remains intact for now. I find that there is an undeniable pull, though, that New York has gained over me. If it continues to pull, who knows what will happen? Until then….#Pittsburgh #Pirates #LetsGoBucs #LetsGoPens   

Talk soon,
Liberty ❤