is said that New York City as a whole has a certain mysterious quality about it
that can either destroy an individual or it can fulfill his or her dream,
ambition or specific need in some exciting way. For those that are staunch fans,
their exhilaration is palpable and doesn't seem to fade away, while others may
wish they could leave but just can't.
As a native New Yorker, born in East Harlem, I find it to be quite unique and I
must say that it does deserve attention as one of the world's most magnificent
cities for all the following positive reasons.
It is a fact that New York City is the financial center of the United States, as
well as the hub of American advertising, fashion, publishing, and radio
television broadcasting. It is the concentrate of industry, trade,
communication, entertainment, sports, and arts , with a generous representation
of diverse ethnic groups and religion. It has a positive effect on the creative
abilities of its inhabitants. By referring to this great metropolis as a whole,
I need to mention that the Five Boroughs that comprise and add to the fame of
the city of New York are Manhattan, Brooklyn, Bronx, Queens and Staten Island.
Each borough merits individual recognition for its splendid landmarks, treasured
historical sites, rich history and accomplishments. Yes, this is what New York
City is all about, and where millions visit each year to witness man's creative
As for the inhabitants of this enormous metropolis, which is also referred to as
the "Big Apple", there are three groups of people: Firstly, there is the native
New Yorker. This is the man or woman who was born here and will always have some
sort of sentimental ties, no matter where he or she moves to. Secondly, you have
the frustrated commuters that come and go everyday. Then thirdly, there are the
outsiders that are born somewhere else, and decide to become residents of the
city, whether it be for the unlimited opportunities presented, or just feeling
good to be near others of their own kind.
Though New York City may have a lot of positive characteristics, there is also a
strong negative side to living in a metropolis of this magnitude. As the city
becomes progressively more crowded, there is greater tension, irritability and
outright hostility which one will encounter in many places and see in many faces
especially when it is almost impossible to find an empty taxi, a parking spot,
or a seat on the bus or train. The need to survive in the midst of so much
adverse conditions and aggression has made New Yorkers tough as they meet each
and every one of their daily challenges.
New Yorkers are known for their out spoken qualities, and because of this,
insults have been heaped upon them calling them rude. To some effect, it may be
true, but to label all New Yorkers as rude is a misstatement. There are many
courteous and polite New Yorkers. There are those that openly speak their mind
in showing their dissatisfaction, while others who would like to say the same
thing are afraid to do so. It all depends on how you vocalize your words and
show your emotions when expressing yourself. So if you speak your mind without
considering the feelings of others then it comes out as downright rude, to which
someone will say "If you keep your mouth shut, you won't put your foot in it."
Let's not forget the terrific sense of humor that New Yorkers are noted for.
Colloquialisms are heard everyday and are also interpreted as rudeness such as:
"That one could grow potatoes with those dirty ears," "Why don't you take a long
walk off a short pier," "My boss is as tight as a rat's a_____, " "Hey, don't
spit in the air, it might fall on your nose," "If you lie down with dogs, you'll
get up with fleas," "Holy cow, she's uglier than the east end of a horse headed
west." "That one is one French fry short of a Happy meal," "This one is too dumb
to pound sand in a rat hole," "Hell, she's as slow as mud,"" Don't let your
mouth run off 'til your brain's in gear" "What a moron, a blind man could see
that with his cane," "Oy Vey! With those bags, she needs a couple of pairs of
shoes," "He couldn't make a noun and a verb agree if his life depended on it,"
"I hope she lives to a 150 and looks it," so on and so forth.
Even some individuals have been ridiculed for their unique Noo Yawker accent.
Here are some examples: "Gedoutahea, yer puddin me on! " "Yeah, I kum fun Noo
Yawk." "Would ja ged a grip!" " Did'ju or did'ja," "Would'ju or would'ja, ". "Soopah
(Super)," " Fur sur I'm ohn the fawth floor," "Wawda (water)," "I'll have a
tooner samwidge: (tuna sandwich)," " I wud be da foist to tell you if my brudda
was na here," "Fugheddaboudit! I ain't saying nuttin," and " My mudda and fodda
are goin downashaw ohn Lawnguylund. "
Accustomed to social, political and economic upheavals, acts of crime;
overcrowding; deterioration of neighborhoods; intolerable housing; extortionate
rents; and high taxes, native New Yorkers accept the turbulence that is
associated with it as a normal and inevitable way of life. However, it still
doesn't stop them from openly vocalizing their frustrations and tensions with
expressions such as: " The apartments are so expensive unless you live in a rat
infested roach hotel," " Those pushcart peddlers will rob you blind and selling
hot merchandise no less," "There's no place to park unless you pile the cars on
top of each other," "I live on the fifth floor and that damn elevator never
works, this rotten landlord with all the money he makes on us, you'd think he'd
get it fixed!," "Oy Vey! Some of the neighborhoods look like a war zone," "I've
got gates on my windows and three locks on my door doesn't that tell you
something?," "I hate the summer, smells like last year's garbage is still out
there........." so on and so forth.
But then it took a horrendous disaster like 9/11 to awaken the spirit of unity
among the citizens of the city and the entire nation, bringing everyone together
as one mind, soul and spirit mourning and comforting each other in their losses
despite their differences, ethnic background or religion. It was this terrible
tragedy that initiated endless acts of kindness demonstrated by compassionate
New Yorkers . Courageous firefighters risked their own personal safety as they
advanced toward the burning buildings in search of survivors who never
materialized. The number of fallen firefighters was staggering. Entire companies
May these brave fallen heroes of 9/11 be forever remembered in our hearts.
Fallen Firefighters: New York City's Finest
Yet, in spite of all
the discomforts, horrible tragedies and miseries, miraculously, most of those
who crowd the city streets choose to stay. New York, New York. It's a hellava
For the millions of commuters, who travel daily to access employment and
financial opportunities, the rush hour is the worst traveling experience, as
major roadways and bridges are jam-packed with cars, trucks, motorcycles and
buses inching their way through bumper to bumper traffic. The overwhelming
congestion of vehicles and passengers move everywhere and at the same time
nowhere. An hour or two spent in traveling from point A to point B within the
same borough is quite normal. Let's not forget to mention the subway. Train
after train rumble and rattle their way into the station to be greeted by a long
wall of commuters lined up on the platform ready to board it. The throng of
commuters all make a mad dash to the train, pushing and elbowing their way, in
order to get in. After a few seconds, the train doors slam shut leaving the
unfortunate ones behind. In a split-second desperate attempt to get on that
train, some frustrated passengers rush to wedge the doors open just far enough
to wriggle their way inside quickly before the train begins to move, hoping
their arm, leg, pocket-book or brief case, doesn't remain outside. If the train
is a local, it will continue to stop and pick up more passengers along the way,
thus intensifying the intolerable crowding. Ill-humored standing passengers are
all crushed together like sardines in a tin can with just no room to fall over
if the train should grind to a stop.
This scenario is not only limited to the workday schedule but is also seen
throughout the summer months, where New Yorkers and tourists swarm about,
seeking out the beaches, parks and other forms of recreational activities as a
way to relax from the hurry-scurry of the week, yet there isn't a relaxed face
in a carload. Here and there along the highways, one can see stranded motorists
standing in the sweltering, dizzying heat, beside their car that either had a
flat tire, broke down, overheated, or ran out of gas thus worsening the weekend
congestion of pleasure seekers. Once the road is cleared desperate motorists
speed away frantically searching for a gas station only to find themselves once
again trapped in an enormous queue of fifty to maybe a 100 cars inching their
way to the pumps, hoping that the gas would not run out. Not to mention the long
lines at the station's beyond nasty unsanitary bathrooms leaving the motorists
in a state of bewilderment on which of the two they should tackle first. Mother
nature or get gas?
New York, New York, what a hellava town. Where tens of thousands of
neighborhoods , no more than a few blocks long and a couple of blocks wide are
filled with a variety of stores and shops operating in a substantially
self-sufficient way. They are like little cities within a big city. Despite
public awareness of the American traditions, multi-ethnic groups continue to
practice their own traditions and culture. It's this diversity, which makes
America's city so unique. Whether you live in the neighborhoods of Park Slope,
Jewish Lower East Side, Greenwich Village, Italian Harlem, Chinatown, El Barrio,
Little Italy, or Yorktown, life-long relationships never cease to be formed. So
powerful is this sense of neighborhood, that many families as well as their
descendants would spend their entire lives living within its confines.
New York, New York," The City that Never Sleeps." Where past and present
collide. Historians and experienced lecturers of prestigious walking tours lead
local residents and visitors alike on exciting and unforgettable strolls through
the Big Apple's ethnic neighborhoods, places of history, tradition and
craftsmanship, creating indelible memories of an astonishing past.
Down by Manhattan's theater district, young aspiring actors, dancers and
singers, with portfolio in hand swarm the area hastening their pace to attend
auditions in hopes of securing fame and fortune. Car horns honk, brakes screech,
hostile pedestrians shout and wave their fists, while on and off Broadway
theaters disgorge their massive matinee audience onto the streets. Here, there
everywhere, the famished theater- goers move about quickly in search of the
nearest restaurant. Bewildered tourists dazzled by the hustle and bustle of
people and vehicles keep their safe distance. Suddenly the whole block is filled
with the melodic sounds of a powerful singing voice accompanied by musical
instruments, as courageous amateur street performers display their vocal and
musical talents for just a few coins or dollars if they are lucky.
All this and much more continue to add to the colorful, exciting atmosphere and
endless tales about the Big Apple.
So if you ask me if I am proud to have been a New Yorker? With pride I would
say: "You Betcha!" :-)
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