New York City has been on my to-travel list for many years now. This past March, I finally made it there with Meagan, Dan (my long-time friend and road trip buddy) and his wife.
We arrived there at midday on the final Saturday in March. We wasted little time getting our items dropped off at the hotel in midtown Manhattan so we could begin exploring the city by foot. To our surprise, flurries began to fall as we were walking up along 8th Ave., which I actually thought was pretty cool. Luckily, the weather was fine enough the rest of the trip in terms of what you might expect in New York City for March (whether right or wrong, I pretty much assume the climates between Chicago and New York are mostly similar throughout the year).
As we made our way across Manhattan over the next few days, there were stretches of the city, as far as the architecture and the number of people, that felt no different than that of downtown Chicago. And yet, there were many other instances where I was often reminded that we were not in Chicago.
A few takeaways:
- In downtown Chicago, Michigan Ave. and State St., are among the two busiest streets as far as foot traffic and the number of high profile stores, while most of the side streets have significantly less fanfare. Downtown Manhattan meanwhile seems to have multiples of streets with an abundance of foot traffic and high profile stores. Growing up around Chicago and being familiar with the large size of that city, it was impossible to appreciate just how much busier New York City was until having the opportunity to just get a feel for just Manhattan.
- Downtown Chicago has nothing in terms of the amount of various camera and electronic stores in Manhattan.
- In Chicago, I’m certainly familiar with the idea of Jay walking. While the people do cross the street illegally, they usually do not willing walk into oncoming traffic at the risk of getting ran over. While in Manhattan, I was surprised at how often the people and tourist of New York willingly crossed intersections into the path of oncoming cars!
- Not sure if it was an anomaly or not, but I’m used to both seeing and being approached by homeless people in Chicago, usually to ask for money. I don’t really remember seeing too many of them in Manhattan and I certainly don’t remember being approached by any.
- Chicago has alleys. Manhattan does not. That wasn’t something that I immediately noticed until the days progressed and I got to observe a growing number garbage bags along the curbs of just about any street (with 5th Ave. being at least one noticeable exception). It’s hard to imagine such piles of filth occupying the likes of Randolph St., Ohio St., or Upper Wacker Dr. It was startling to witness piles of garbage backs along such busy Manhattan streets.
- Times Square was much busier and significantly larger than I previously imagined. I loved walking around at night and was memorized by the bright lights.
- New York’s Central Park is much larger than I could have possibly imagined. I’m fairly confident it’s length might still be longer than the upper stretch of Chicago’s Michigan Ave.
I absolutely loved exploring downtown Manhattan and seeing various places and landmarks such as Times Square, the Plaza Hotel, Central Park, Tom’s Restaurant (Monk’s Cafe from “Seinfeld”), The Empire State Building, Macy’s on 34th St., Rockefeller Center (including the Top of the Rock Observation Deck) and McGee’s (the inspiration of MacLaren’s Pub in “How I Met Your Mother”).
We did a lot in the four days we were there. Unfortunately, we didn’t have a chance to explore around the other boroughs. I suppose that gives us enough reason to someday go back (not that I need much convincing… I’d be up for returning anytime!).