There have been many times that my wife Linda and I have either landed at JFK Airport only to rush to make another connection, or driven by New York City and not been able to work the Big Apple into our plans. But this time, on our way to Palermo, we decided to check out the city. And we are glad we did.
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So many movies have portrayed New York City in ways that leave us country folks with the impression that it is not a safe place to visit. But we came to love the city in just a couple of days, and we are a bit bummed that we have to leave so soon.
So, for the sake of getting this blog post out before I go to sleep tonight, here are three things we learned about New York City that we felt everyone should know.
1. New Yorkers Are Not Rude
We went on a 7-hour walking tour of Manhattan today, and our tour guide pointed something out to Linda and me. While New Yorkers do tend to be direct, they most certainly are not mean-spirited people. Despite congested traffic, tourists everywhere, and generally much smaller living spaces than those of us who live in the Southwest are used to, we did not meet a single rude New Yorker. Not one. Not on the streets. Not in the shops. Not even on the subway. Even a few drunk guys who thought they would have a little fun with me because of my cowboy hat were instantly won over by a tip of my hat and a little conversation.
In fact, we actually found New Yorkers to be the salt of the earth. These are some world-class good people, they take pride in their work, and they are helpful. In fact, one lady noticed we had gotten separated from our tour guide because I could not quit taking pictures, and she pointed us in the right direction of her own volition. These are solid folks who would give you the shirt off their backs if they thought you needed it.
2. New York City is Very Clean
According to our tour guide, a lot of things have changed in NYC since September 11, 2001. While New Yorkers have always had a lot of pride both in their city and in whichever of the five boroughs they hail from, they really pulled together after terrorists murdered almost 3,000 people by flying airplanes into their World Trade Center towers.
Travelling to the city today, you would hardly know that such a terrible attack had happened on their soil if it were not for the amazing memorials they built to show the world that they were proud of their town, and that nobody was going to break their spirit.
But even before that, New Yorkers began cleaning up the graffiti and making improvements to their city. This may sound dumb, but I was expecting the city to be way more … dirty and gritty. But New Yorkers care about their city — a lot. I’ve seen many cities both in the United States and abroad that have much less space to keep clean and do a whole lot worse job of it.
3. New York Is a History-Buff’s Gold Mine
I’m always drawn in by history, especially if it helps me better understand my own roots. Well today I saw the federal building that sits on the very spot where George Washington was inaugurated president of the United States. I saw Wall Street, which was once a defensive line against the British — an actual wall; and incidentally, it is where the commerce system of the United States was born. I saw the tavern where George Washington bid his troops adieu after the Revolutionary War. And I saw the graves of Robert Fulton, whose invention of the steamship revolutionized the world; as well as the grave of Alexander Hamilton, one of the founding fathers of the United States, who was killed by Aaron Burr in a duel.
I saw the footprints of the World Trade Center buildings and the monuments they have been into them. And if I were to continue going through all of the history I touched with my own hands today, I would not be able to finish this blog post in time to make my flight to Palermo tomorrow. Suffice it to say, if you love history, you will love New York City.
BONUS: New Yorkers Love a Good Cowboy Hat
Yes, I know the title of this article is “Three Things I Learned About New York City.” But there is one other thing; I’ll just throw it in as a bonus.
Almost everywhere, people commented on how much they genuinely liked my cowboy hat. Two people so much as asked if they could have it. One Lyft driver told me I was “swaggin’ it” with my hat and swore to me that he would one day have one of his own.
Unfortunately, my hat is a Stetson, and it is my work hat. It is worn and grubby enough that it has some character, and it keeps the sun off my ears and bald spot. So … no, I did not give it away.
If you have a chance to go to New York City, I highly recommend it. The people there are dang proud of their city, and they have every right to be. I cannot wait to go back myself.
I would love to hear your comments about your own experience in New York City.