"The Bronx is Up and the Battery's Down."
This is midtown Manhattan as seen from the Brooklyn/Queens Expressway taken a couple days before Christmas.
My wife and I spent Christmas and a few more days in the Big Apple. I lived there some 40 years ago - drove a cab. While much has changed in the city, much remains the same.
While there is much to love in New York, it is also a really tough place to live and work. It's really hard to be middle class there.
We did and saw a lot in the 5 or so days we had: We saw "Fela" the new Broadway musical, we saw the movie "Avatar." We attended a Christmas Eve service at "The Marble Church" to hear my wife's cousin sing a great solo. We went to the "Top of the Rock. We walked around the Battery and Ground Zero. We toured Trinity Church and the Brooklyn Botanic Garden where my son works. We strolled around Central Park and had eats at The Boat House Restaurant. We also toured MOMA which was absolutely packed.
But mostly, I guess, we spent a few great days with our younger son. Both of our kids live well away from home. We see them only rarely.
What takes a midwesterner's breath away about NYC is the cost. We stayed at our son's apartment in Brooklyn, so we didn't have to pay for lodging. Still, everything costs a bunch. Eating at restaurants can be really expensive, although it doesn't have to be. Transportation is very costly. When I lived in NYC the subway cost 20 cents. There were no monthly passes or anything. You just plunked down 20 cents for a token. (Hell, the Staten Island Ferry was a nickel.) Now a single subway ride is $2.25 (or $2.50, I can't remember which.) Now you can purchase monthly passes for $80., but for a variety of reasons, subways just weren't going to work for us. Most subway stations are 2 to 3 levels below ground. My balky knees just don't do well with steps. Cabs are really pricey. A cab ride from LaGuardia to my son's apartment would likely have cost us in excess of $60. The alternative? Car services. You call a car service and usually they appear within 10 to 15 minutes - sometimes far less. The cost? The LaGuardia to Brooklyn trip was $35. The trip from Brooklyn to midtown Manhattan was usually $25. The same for the return. Still, after a few days it became apparent to us that we were spending a bunch on these cars, but there just wasn't any reasonable alternative. They are generally far better than cabs in that they are usually late model Lincoln Town Cars or something similar; far more comfortable than the average cab. They actually have suspensions. The car service drivers tend to be less manic than most cabbies - I know. Remember, I used to be a NY cabbie.
My wife had what she called her "New York" moment when an older woman accosted us down by the Battery asking for money. I didn't hear what my wife said to the woman, but the woman responded by calling her a cunt. Welcome to New York!