Whenever I travel, I hear from every foreigner I meet that they want to visit New York City. Forget LA , New Orleans or San Antonio. New York is the place that signifies America. It is that somewhere in the distance that shimmers with possibility, the place that is RIGHT NOW, the place where the streets throb with the beat of the whole wide world.
Known as simply “the City” to many people in the northeast, the one and only New York was born as New Amsterdam in 1626 when a group of Dutch settlers used it as a center for trade. Later, in 1664, it was rechristened New York when the city came under British control. The city served as the capital of the newly formed United States from 1785 to 1790 and has been one of the countries largest cities ever since.
You can find just about anything in New York – high art, low art, street food, fancy food, rude people, great people. It’s all there. But what never ceases to amaze me about New York is how homey it is. Down home homey. In fact, I like to call New York, “Omaha in a black leather jacket” (much to the consternation of many) because I find it so informal and friendly. All you have to do is look at the success of the amazing blog “Humans of New York” to realize that everyone on the city streets are just like you – human beings.
Some of my favorite people on the planet are native New Yorkers. For them, New York isn’t that big shiny somewhere. It is simply their home and their neighborhood. In my experience, native New Yorkers don’t have an ounce of pretension but they do have scads of warmth. They live in their city with ease and knowledge and more than anyone else, they welcome visitors with generosity.
Most people have favorite places in New York. Here are two of mine:
The Chrysler Building
My favorite building in New York, the Chrysler Building was built in the years 1928-1930. At that time, there was intense competition to build the cities tallest skyscraper, and the Chrysler Building was crowned with that title for about a year, when it was surpassed by the Empire State Building. The Chrysler Building is considered to be one of the finest examples of Art Deco architecture anywhere in the world today. Renowned for the beauty of it’s terraced crown, it is located on Lexington Avenue, not far from Grand Central Station.
Grand Central Station
If you take the train to New York from various places in the Northeast, you will alight at what is for me, the most beautiful public space in America – the Concourse at Grand Central Station. Here, if you look up, you’ll see a ceiling filled with constellations and stars, if you look straight ahead, you’ll see a round information booth topped by a clock.
This is an iconic meeting place in New York City. Downstairs there is the Oyster Bar Restaurant, where you can sit at a lunch counter and eat clam chowder and gaze at the vaulted tiled ceilings that gleam with a sense of days gone by (see below.) If you only had one day to spend in New York City, you should spend it some of it in Grand Central Station.
Lorne Holden is an artist and author of the Bestseller “MAKE IT HAPPEN in Ten Minutes a Day/The Simple, Lifesaving Method for Getting Things Done.” She plans on visiting New York in the spring, her favorite season there.