Living in picturesque Warren County, I typically rely on one mode of transportation, my trusty car. So it was out of the ordinary last Thursday when my family took a cab, a ferry, and the subway to jaunt around town.
That town happened to be the biggest in all America, New York City, and the destination for the Clark clan last Thursday was none other than our enduring symbol of freedom, the Statue of Liberty.
What I discovered during our week-long visit to NYC is it is not, contrary to popular belief, the city that never sleeps. NYC actually sleeps pretty late on Saturday morning.
It's also a city where cars have a unique relationship with pedestrians. Instead of slowing down for pedestrians, New York drivers favor the tactic of speeding up and honking their horn repeatedly. I must admit, it's remarkably effective in clearing the street.
I fully expected NYC to be on a different plane of existence than our cozy slice of pasture land here in Warren County and some aspects of big-city life were a stark contrast.
I was surprised to see a swarm of people eager to pay $800 a ticket to see the rapping Broadway musical "Hamilton." I was surprised to see people paying $45 for a cocktail at the Italian restaurant where we ate dinner last Friday night. And I was surprised to find only one public restroom in all of jam packed Times Square, that being the one inside McDonald's with a maddening wait.
But my biggest surprise in this city of noisy jackhammers is the number of parks that are available. This is highlighted by Central Park, the grandest park I've ever seen. Central Park has its own zoo, castle, amphitheater and softball complex. There are miles of walking and jogging trails and even boat rentals.
Outside of this centerpiece, NYC is filled with dozens of other parks. Just a few blocks from our hotel was Madison Square Park. A few blocks further was Washington Park where kids were playing tag and a man was setting up a grand piano to play for tips.
All this provided my most telling glimpse of what NYC is really like. It's a city filled with people much like us. They may take the subway and dodge taxis on their way to work, but New York residents don't seem much different than we are. They want a nice place to raise their family, even if they are among 8 million other people.
I could see this while watching a mother push her young son on a playground swing much like a scene from our own Jungle Jym. I could see it in the man who owned the tiny pizzeria next to our hotel. He remembered my face, thanked me for my business, and asked me to come back.
Folks in New York City made small talk about the weather. They asked me where I was from. Many said they want to visit Nashville some day. In a city of skyscrapers and overly aggressive drivers, I found New Yorkers aren't much different than us.
Standard editor James Clark can be reached at 473-2191.