‘New York just like I pictured it skyscrapers and everything’

‘Livin’ for the City’ the Stevie Wonder song is probably my favourite track ever (alright that depends on time, mood, how much wine etc. but still you get my drift). I remember listening to this song from a relatively young age (maybe 13 or 14 around there anyway) and being completely lost in the feel and images of New York City that it brought to life in my head.

I remember purposefully just going out whenever I could to listen to it while I wandered the roads of a small village just outside Oxford. In reality about as far as it is possible to be from the streets of Manhattan (alright maybe the Amazon jungle or Sahara desert would be further – but again you get my point). But no matter I was right there.

When I started traveling to New York that is still the song I had in my mind as I walked to the various places I had to go and work on my Onix travels.

And my favourite book and certainly the book I identified must with when I was younger is the ‘Catcher in the Rye’. Again, has moments that just evoke New York. And in particular the New Yorker hotel at 481 8th Avenue is described in a way that for some reason made my young mind just want to go there. So I did.

And so the New Yorker is very often the place I stay when in New York. Partly because its convenient for a large number of the places I have to go (and out of season is relatively cheap) but as much because it gives me ‘New York just like I pictured it with skyscrapers and everything’. I am close enough to things that it makes more sense to walk then take the subway or a cab but far enough that I get to soak up New York on the way. And there is nothing like walking in New York especially at either end of the day.

View from New Yorker

Outside New Yorker

There is something about being jetlagged at the New Yorker especially at the weekend. You can’t (as far as I can make out) actually get functioning wi-fi on the vast majority of the floors so you end up going down to the huge tatty lobby at half four in the morning in search of coffee and a signal for your laptop. And as much as you think New York has changed in the last few years if you step outside the door of the New Yorker and look up and down the street you will see all those who make their living serving those late night/early morning markets for sex, drugs and even cheap cell phone accessories etc etc. Its all there.

In the ‘Last Waltz’ (the classic Martin Scorcese film of the The Band’s final concert) Robbie Robertson describes their first trips to New York staying around Times Square with ‘movie theatres everywhere’ and ‘lots of friendly women’ walking up and down. I wander if it was the New Yorker they stayed at as oddly thirty years later you could still identify it from that description. By the way ignore the use of the word ‘elegant’ on their website. Seriously, what were they thinking? if ever a word was misused.

Last time was there had arrived on Saturday night woke up at 5am the next morning and made my way down to the lobby to plug myself in and kill some time only to see one of my best customers; a good friend and always a willing guide/participant in the search for post work Jameson in the East Village (who had shacked up there) wander through the lobby looking slightly dishevelled on the look out for coffee. One of those ‘small world’ moments.

Times Square

Having said all the above it is not the best place to eat, go out or shop etc. and with 42nd street just up the way it is tourist central with all that comes with it. So, I’m now done with it and on my own dime will be safely ensconced down town at the Mercer or similar but it will always have something for me. And in an odd way (I really don’t like it round there) has contributed to the love of New York that I have to this day.


Filed under: Daily Life

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