Manhattan Monday: the Mystique of the City

One of the reasons we started this blog was to talk about our lives in New York. As such, we’ve decided to start a little recurring post called “Manhattan Mondays.” In these posts we’ll discuss some aspect of life in NYC. Posts will include pictures we’ve taken, sites we’ve seen, restaurants we’ve fattened ourselves in, friends we’ve made, and general zaniness we see on the street. We’re off to a dubious start since today is Wednesday, but I wanted to kick off this weekly post by giving a broad overview of why I love the City.

Union Square on a lazy Sunday morning

Union Square on a lazy Sunday morning

What I love most about the City is its boundless energy. Manhattan seems to buzz with a sort of underground machinery that keeps life churning along – never sleeping, never resting – but always moving, changing, absorbing, renewing. Walk out your front door and you become part of the vibrant fabric of a living, breathing entity that doesn’t simply contain living creatures in hollow structures of metal, concrete and wood, but is itself a living being. We don’t walk on cold, lifeless sidewalks or ride in sterile, unfeeling metallic subway cars. The City isn’t a mere physical collection of inanimate objects, but a living character in the story of our lives, a person with whom we intimately interact on a constant basis.

In his magnificent novel, Winter’s Tale, Mark Helprin says this of Manhattan:

“He told her about the city, as if it were a live creature, pale and pink, that had a groin and blood and lips. He told her about spring in Prince Street, about the narrow alleys full of flowers, protected by trees, quiet and dark. He told her about the colors on coats and clothes on the stage and in all kinds of lights, and that their random movement made them come alive.”

Walking into the Brooklyn Bridge from Manhattan

Walking onto the Brooklyn Bridge from Manhattan

Its constant stream of living energy distinguishes New York from the other great cities of the world. While Paris is a beautiful city, it is like a beautiful painting – lovely to behold and visually moving – but devoid of a sparkling vitality that literally absorbs you into its itself. Rome is like an art history book come to life, but it is more like a gateway to different eras rather than the thrust of a current, living golden epoch. London is a charming historic city, but its energy fails to galvanize the soul. Tokyo and Hong Kong are bustling essays in light, yet lack the diversity and cultural breadth of Manhattan. No other city holds the same economic, artistic, and cultural importance as the city by the Palisades; there are many great cities, but only one New York.

Any time I walk down the streets – 4 am or 4 pm, cold or hot, weekend or weekday – I am surrounded by the unceasing murmur of a living city. People of all colors, ages and nationalities walk the streets, voices ring in a symphony of different languages, cars whiz by with horns sounding, lights blink softly in the windows of towering buildings. Not only am I in the city, but the city is a part of my life and I am a part of hers. To be a New Yorker is more than simply living and working in Manhattan: it is forever leaving your mark on the world’s greatest city, and the City leaving her mark on you. Thus I am not a New Yorker for the time I’m here, but wherever I am and wherever I go it will be a part of me – it is integrated into my soul. I will always be proud to say I’m from New York City.

Signed,

B

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4 Comments

Filed under New York

4 responses to “Manhattan Monday: the Mystique of the City

  1. Abuela

    I am looking forward to reading more about New York and you guys! I LOVE NEW YORK AND YOU GUYS!

  2. Jason Foster

    Nice perspective, there is something about big cities 🙂 I live in one too, Buenos Aires, although slightly on the outskirts of the bigger parts.

    • masonymelissa

      Hey, what’s going on, Jason, how are you? I’ve heard Buenos Aires is a great place – would love to visit someday – thanks for dropping by!

  3. Granddad

    My visit of one week could not leave me with the feel you have after 4 plus years and I doubt I would grow to enjoy the congestion and constant fast pace in such a small area. I experienced a fast pace, but it was over a four state area (and on a couple of occasions, international area). In the coming years you will experience the same expansion.

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