March 4, 2010...8:11 am

Love and Hate New York City

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Washington Square Arch

This weekend I visited New York City for the first time in my life. How I happened to have grown up in New York state without ever visiting New York City is a long story, but lets just say that my NYC virginity is officially lost, and I’m not sure what I feel about it.  I did not get nearly as much time there as I would have liked, and I did not go to most places. I never even visited downtown Manhattan, or Greenwich Village, or Chelsea, which are all at the top of my list of places to see. I plan to go back very soon so hopefully I’ll conquer those neighborhoods then.

So here is a preliminary list of what I love and hated about NYC, based on what I saw:


  • Museums. We visited MoMA, the Guggenheim, and the Cloisters and every single one of them was amazing. I feel as if I have lived my life too far removed from art.
  • The people. Everyone in New York were so friendly and helpful. They would just hear you talking about how lost you are and they’d volunteer directions. Or the man who used his atm card to unlock the door to the bank for us on Saturday, so we could use the ATM. Nice people, you rock!
  • The architecture. There are so many beautiful buildings in New York.
  • The school’s. A lot of the focus of my trip was to check out Graduate Schools. We toured Columbia and NYU and I know that I would be perfectly content with either of them (though pray for me that I get into Columbia).


  • The filth. I knew it would be there, but it still was dis-concerning. I’m no prude. I grew up playing in manure in a barn, but New York just made me feel unclean in every way. Also the weather wasn’t that great and we spent most of our time trying to jump over puddles on Broadway and failing miserably. How I am not ill right now, I’ll never know.
  • The lack of independent shops. For some reason, I thought there would be more independent coffee shops and bookstores on the Upper East Side, but there were none! Everything was Starbucks (one ever five feet) and Barnes and Noble. “Think about it,” Drew said. “It’s NY, the corporate capital of the world.”
  • Transportation. I love taking the bus, and I am a frequent user of the Capital District Transportation Authority. The buses in NYC can go to hell. They cost 2.75 to ride and they only accept EXACT COINS. You can’t even put in a dollar. Albany is more up to date then that. I could put a five dollar bill into a bus at Albany and get a card back good for five rides. I spent twenty-four dollars in two days on a Metrocard alone, and we didn’t go anywhere! I was also shocked at the price of the Subway, but that was at least faster and more reasonable than buses.

As I said, we didn’t do much over the weekend, so there isn’t much more for me to say. I think I still love Boston more than New York City, but surprisingly, I love Albany most of all.


  • I used to live 15 mins from NYC (by bus) and I never ever went – so, you’re not crazy! It happens

  • Hmmm… I take it you don’t mean Albany in Australia. :)

    I’m from Oz and I’ve been to NY… though I think I loved it because it was my first time overseas and I was overwhelmed by the whole experience. I guess there’s lots you can do in a city so big too.

  • I know how you feel about not going to places and events that are just down the road, I got told off recently for never having bee to glastonbury when it is only ten miles from my house..

  • I think NY city is an acquired taste. If you don’t mind my saying this, you are much too young to appreciate New York for all it has to offer.

    Now this I tell you, I wouldn’t live there. I would love to visit again often (been there 3 times), but I wouldn’t establish myself in Manhattan. I give you that.

    I would suggest that you go to NY City on your own with an attitude of the conqueress not the conquered. It will make a whole difference in the world.

  • I think the Upper East Side is probably the worst part of NYC to go to expect independent shops. That’s the part of the city that’s more expensive, it’s centered more around fashion and designer labels. At least, that’s what I’ve learned from Gossip Girl.

  • As far as independent shops go, there are actually a lot. The Upper East/West Side are for people who are quite well to do. Next time I suggest the Village or the Lower East Side or Brooklyn if you want some serious small boutique places (especially around St. Mark’s Place with crazy Eastern European cafes and you can’t throw a brick without hitting a vintage store).

    • I will certainly check out those neighborhoods the next time I go. My friend lives in the Upper East side and she pretty much kept me there. Next time, I’m breaking out on my own


  • I visited NYC for the first time last May and was also “ewwed” by the filth. I had brand new shoes (because I expected to do a lot of walking) and they were more than broken in after 5 days. And my hair – in the mornings it was great but by 6p is was icky again. I would love to visit again but my take is that it’s too fast. Everything, everyone… too fast.

  • Hi, nice article,
    useful input for my plan to go to New York
    thank you

  • New York is such a beautiful place. I went for New Years one year and also saw the play Aida on Broadway… such a wonderful place to visit… Not really sure about living lol

  • I moved to the Hudson Valley almost a year ago and have only been to NYC twice since then. I, too hate a lot of things about NYC. Mainly the filth (the AIR just feels dirty), the noise (stop honking! It won’t make people go any faster!), and those damn long-sided blocks that are really four blocks long. Lol.

    I found transportation in NYC quite affordable by getting a day pass for the Metro subway and then walking to wherever I needed to get to. It’s only $7 for all the rides you want. I definitely got a workout, though, and only stayed on Manhattan.

    I guess while I love the Museums, I just don’t really get the appeal of the city. :) You couldn’t pay me to live there.

  • I’m afraid you’ve spotted a trend with “the lack of independent shops.” I live in NYC and like many New Yorkers lament the almost daily loss of beloved mom and pops to banks, chain drugstores and other formula businesses. People say that every neighborhood is beginning to look the same. It’s the greedy landlords doubling the rent. There are some very popular blogs chronicling this loss–Vanishing New York, Lost New York, Forgotten New York.

    That said, New York City still has many wonderfully quirky indie businesses, you just have to seek them out. Please put Coney Island, which opens for the season on Palm Sunday, on your list of neighborhoods to visit next time. The Cyclone, the Wonder Wheel, the Sideshow, and other attractions are still individually owned and operated. Corporate America hasn’t taken over here yet.

  • Good list of pros and cons.

    We moved a few hours from the city a few years ago and I have only been twice. I am not an urban guy anyway.

  • You actually expected to find independent shops on the upper east side?

    I grew up in NYC. There are literally hundred of awesome independent shops and restaurants, you just have to venture out of the more posh neighborhoods. I worked in a restaurant on 77th street and 1st ave for a coupe of years and it was a miserable experience. The people were rude, the prices were high and we were the only establishment on the block that wasn’t a huge corporation.

    Definitely visit the rest of Manhattan before you make a judgement!

  • Very interesting. I read a couple of bloggers based in New York and I never really had much interest in visiting until I started reading them. Not sure visiting is a must for me now, but I think I’d be willing. I kind of like the idea of walking everywhere and using public transportation to get around, but haven’t had much practice with it, so I think that would take some getting used to. What you and your commenters have said about the filth is definitely off-putting though.

  • I want to do nice New York.

  • Actually I’m from Albany, NY–just two hours from NYC, which is why its so weird I’ve never been there

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