We ♥ N.Y.

By on January 20, 2014
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Frenetic, beautiful New York still thrills the senses and moves the heart. Who could fail to love a city that’s such a work of art, asks Fleur Kinson.

With fifty million visitors descending on the city every year, it’s clear the world is completely smitten with New York. It’s not the capital of America nor even of New York State itself, but to many minds it’s the unofficial capital of the world. Only London, with a slightly smaller population but an even more ethnically diverse one, can rival New York for centre-of-the-globe status.

In media, finance and the arts, New York exerts huge international influence. But it isn’t just its power and dynamism that makes us love this city. We love its sheer romance. Physically beautiful – both in its architecture and its green spaces – it also contains potent symbols of aspiration and self-renewal. New York is a canvas of dreams.

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Who wouldn’t sigh to behold Manhattan’s peerless skyline rising above the water? Every skyscraper is a hymn to ambition, a symbol of what can be achieved here. The torch-bearing Statue of Liberty, the first sight of America for millions of immigrants arriving by sea, is a potent icon of a new and better life. Meanwhile the new World Trade Centre and the 9/11 Memorial speak eloquently of a city that can’t be beaten, that overcomes disaster and moves forward with dignity and undimmed strength.

Romance seems woven into the very fabric of this city. It’s there in the dreamy Art Deco fantasies of the Chrysler and Empire State buildings as they throw their lyricism into the twilit sky. It’s there in the vast Gothic span of the Brooklyn Bridge, that mighty umbilical carrying people in and out of Manhattan. It’s there in Grand Central Terminal, in the cathedral-like beams of light that rake across hurrying travellers. And it’s in Central Park, in the landscaped woods and lamp-lit paths that make up America’s single most visited urban park.

With its super-glamorous looks, with its mean streets and its glossy avenues, New York is a natural-born movie star. It’s probably the most filmed city on Earth, with countless movies and TV shows set here. So when we arrive, even for the first time, New York is already familiar to us. We know its flavour and its drama, and as we tread its atmospheric streets, we feel like an actor on a giant stage set. Music too has told us what to expect when we get here. It’s hard to resist a city that comes already eulogized for us in a thousand songs. New York is “so good they named it twice,” it puts you in “a New York state of mind” and its “streets will make you feel brand new, there’s nothing you can’t do now you’re in New York”.

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Movies and music aside, European travellers have other reasons to find New York familiar when they first arrive. This is one of the most European-seeming cities in America – the coffee and food are excellent, the people dress stylishly and have a liberal outlook, and, quite amazingly for Americans, they actually walk to places. While cities like LA are a choking ocean of automobiles, New York teems with pedestrians. It’s currently the only US city in which a majority of households (52%) do not own a car. Plus it sees America’s greatest use of public transport. This, together with an increasing number of eco-fuel buses and taxis on the streets, makes New York one of America’s most energy-efficient cities.

Energy. It’s something that New York never seems to be in short supply of. The buzz of this city-that-never-sleeps can be quite overwhelming. Fast-talking New Yorkers have twice as much to say as everyone else and half the time to say it in. And we love them for it. Dynamic, forward-looking New York won’t shut up or stay still. Neighbourhoods, faces, waves of immigration: everything changes and brings fresh colour. All that really stays unchanged is the glory of
the place.

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