First We’ll Take Manhattan: A Local’s Tour of NYC
As your plane descends down southern approach to JFK or LaGuardia Airports, if you’re sitting on the left the wing may tip down and you’ll see the unmistakable contours of America’s greatest city shining like a jewel, skyscrapers glinting in the sunlight. John Lennon and Lou Reed both compared it to ancient Rome.
Let’s take a quick tour, bottom to top.
We can start near southern Manhattan: (Statue of) Liberty Island, but be careful to only buy a ticket from the window in the round, redbrick Clinton Castle in Battery Park and avoid the touts selling a “good deal” on your walk to the ticket window. It’s one of the only places where a tourist can be very ripped off. While we’re on the subject of rip-offs – also avoid any pedi-cab-rickshaw type transportation: you may find being pedaled a block for $30 is not good value.
You’ll love beautiful Lady Liberty. In the 1980s you could climb a ladder to her torch, in the 1990s up to her crown, and post 9/11 now only gets you to the pedestal but it’s still worth it. Also on your cruise will be Ellis Island with its fantastic Immigration Museum, where most Americans’ ancestors arrived and later went on to make us as a people.
After the boat trip it’s a brisk walk, possibly via famous but dull Wall St. up to the haunting 9/11 Memorial Museum in Lower Manhattan where the World Trade Center was. Schlepping uptown you can take the subway, largest in the US, efficient, clean, and probably faster than a yellow cab. Take it across-town to the left of your map to Chinatown, and Little Italy which, due to demographics and immigration is now just a slither of touristy but tasty restaurants and Italian-American ephemera completely enclaved in by the larger Chinatown.
Up your map a bit, Chelsea (W14th St), where you correspondent resides, defines gentrification: expensive wine and cheese stores, fru-fru patisseries with Google and Twitter’s East Coast headquarters on 17th. There’s the must-see High Line, a restored elevated train line cum garden, the new Whitney Art Museum, and delicious Chelsea Food Market. Lots of tourists mix with a strong LGBT community here. In fact Chelsea is so gay that in our various adult bookshops, a rare thing anywhere else on earth, the heterosexual section is off to the side under “specialties.”
NEW! Around Chelsea the ubiquitous payphone booths on all four corners of every intersection have been replaced by 13ft high screen pylons (some call them Daleks) courtesy of Link.David Anderson is an Australian-American who has lived his entire adult life in Manhattan, NYC, and is suitably deranged as a result. You can catch him in Chelsea walking his dog.