Sunday, June 08, 2008

New York City: Initial Impressions

We are home again after an interesting week in New York City. Our eldest daughter had her heart set on this trip and planned it herself. She did most of the driving including all of the driving in the city itself...with no nicks or bangs or losses! We used taxis, subways and our feet to get around once we were in Manhattan.

NYC Subway...lots of stairs required to access the trains!

This city is well designed for walking, and that seemed to be the preferred way to get around for the many pedestrians. We pounded many, many miles of pavement in a short period of time.

Fortunately the weather was cool and it was overcast most of the time. KGMom commented that NYC is one of the greenest cities in America and she was surprised that we felt it was smoggy. I agree that the environment is taken very seriously in this urban centre.

FedEx Convoy

The streets were clean, public transit was readily available and the citizens appeared healthy and fit on the whole. But with such a high population density, smog is inevitable, especially on days when there is little wind and considerable humidity. The air quality was listed as unhealthy for sensitive groups when we were there according to the AIRNow web site. But compared to other giant cities of the world, the air pollution was negligible. Mexico City is one city that I have visited where the smog and dirt is likely beyond measure.

Bus Convoy at Central Park

In Central Park, the air quality is noticeably better and the breezes on Liberty and Ellis Islands were refreshing compared to the vehicle exhaust in the urban canyons of Manhattan Island.

Police Convoy near Times Square

My initial impressions of the city were that... was surprisingly clean
...the people were friendly and helpful
...I felt safe day and night in the areas we visited
...taxis and public transit were reasonably priced and food were expensive is a city of great diversity

Taxi Convoy at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

My friend, Dr. Jim compared New York City to Rome. It is a cross-cultural meeting place and an important hub of our society, politically, financially and socially. Toronto, Ontario is a smaller metropolitan area but shares the diverse ethnic neighbourhoods, cultural and business centres, extensive parks and an interesting historical waterfront like New York City.

In our first day, I was impressed by the long lines of people, taxis, buses, and service vehicles. The police cars travelled in long lines together with sirens and lights flashing. People and vehicles merged and flowed in controlled chaos. We purchased NYC passes which provided admission to many attractions for one price of $106.00 for three days. We made good use of them, but I doubt many people would get their money's worth out of them unless they had the tolerance to be on their feet sightseeing for 9-12 hours a day.

Worthwhile trip? Yes!
Glad to be home? Yes!


  1. Anonymous5:35 pm GMT-4

    Glad you enjoyed New York. Our youngest daughter has lived there since 1999. Our experiences for the most part have been good (a couple of parking tickets, and one fender-bender in 9 years) We park our car, and walk, or take the subway. Lunch is usually from the cheese shop, the deli, and a bakery, then we head to a park for a picnic.

  2. I imagine that it was an interesting few days, but I doubt strongly that it would be my cuppa.

  3. Anonymous7:02 pm GMT-4

    I have friends that live in NYC and they are always trying to get me to visit! I just know one of these days I will have to take them up on the offer!

  4. I love NYC! That said, I wouldn't want to live there. And I definitely wouldn't want to drive there. But for a few weeks at a time, it's a wonderland.

  5. When we did the train trip across Canada, our month pass required that we make a jaunt into the States. We went to NYC. Hotels and food ARE expensive. But it was worth it to see this great city. We did that trip for our honeymoon ... almost 4 years ago now.

  6. I visited NYC about 15 years ago, and was as impressed as you were. It wasn't a place I'd want to call home, but it's definitely one of the world's great cities.

  7. NYC is one of my normal hubs for connecting flights. I usually plan a day or so of down time to visit since I find it interesting.
    It is very European in many aspects, but also very American.
    I love the Central Park area.

  8. One of these days I'll go back to NYC and show my youngest daughter around. When I visited before, I was still in college (long time ago!).

    I have good memories of that time--met a friendly Haitian woman on the bus, and she took me around the United Nations, went out of her way to make me feel welcome.

    Sounds like you had a fun trip!

  9. I've only been to NYC once, and I was just a 14 year old kid, so I can imagine now it would be quite different. Thanks for taking us along Ruth and pointing out the pros and cons. Indeed, it's nice to get away, but there's no place like home. :c)

  10. I always wondered what those lines of police cars were doing. You've caught the spirit of the city--glad you had a good trip. And hats off to your daring driver/daughter!

  11. It sounds like you had a very nice trip overall. I like the images of New York you captured. It doesn't seem like the "bad" place I've always thought it to be.

  12. Your pictures and comments make me want to visit there as well. We've driven through twice - once in 1953 on our honeymoon and once when you were an early teenager.
    Like all big cities there are parts that are beautiful and interesting and other parts better avioded. Too bad we usually hear more about the bad.

  13. Ruth,

    I've always wanted to visit NYC. I would love to see Ellis Island, the Statue of Liberty, Times Square and especially Central Park. My youngest grandson also wants to go there. I'm not sure what he expects to see but is always asking if we can go there someday. If you have photos of Central Park, I would definitely love to see them.


  14. I agree with your last statement...glad to be home! I enjoyed your tour of NYC, Ruth. An American city, so different from the rest. I remember my daughter's first trip to NYC with me - she was only 12 years old. The fast pace scared her until we were there for a few hours, then she embranced the culture and had a blast. It is a very interesting experience. Glad you had a wonderful time!

  15. So glad your NYC trip was enjoyable.
    When we travel overseas, it is the one US city that Europeans (as that is thus far our only destination) really love to visit.
    Good points on why the city would have smog--I guess I was comparing it to places like Mexico City, or Beijing.

  16. Jan- Your record sounds good, although I was told parking tickets are pretty pricey. There are always ways to get around high prices.

    AC- I didn't think it was my cuppa either, but I ended up enjoying it.

    Monarch- If you have friends there, you really should go. I will write about the green spaces. They have birding tours in Central Park.

    NCMW- Actually, driving wasn't as bad as parking. I am glad our hotel had parking on site. It would be difficult to find a place on the street.

    CS- Your honeymoon trip sounds great. I want to do a western swing in the next year or so.

    Karen- I am sure you have seen some other big cities in the world too.

    SLD- NY was so much more interesting than other US cities I have visited (and disliked greatly). I like our great Canadian cities too...Ottawa, Montreal, Quebec City, Toronto...

    AfricaKid- Your daughter would enjoy it for sure. Overall, with 4 of us splitting costs, the price tag for our visit was quite reasonable.

    Jayne- I was the same age when I drove through NYC for the first time. But we didn't stop.

    FMDoc- I figure if she could drive there, she could drive anywhere...the confidence of youth!

    Mom- I still think many people perceive NYC as the mugging capital of the country. Good news seldom gets far in the media.

    Mary from ON- I will be posting some pics of Central Park, although the day we went there was very overcast.

    Mary- I was sooo tired at the end of each day. The pace does take its toll, but in the short term that is fine.

    KGMom- There were many tourists from Europe in NYC. The number of languages I heard was amazing.

  17. Loved the convoy pictures!

    NYC is a fun city to visit. I've walked the area around Carnegie Hall, Times Square, Broadway, and Central Park many, many times. It's always interesting, always different, yet somehow comfortingly the same...

    Glad you had a good visit.


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