Central Park, Kids in New York, Kids in the City, Life in New York, Life with kids, Moving, Moving with kids, New York City, New York with Kids, NYC, Relationship Hell, Riverside Park, Upper West Side, Urban life, UWS
Well, we’ve been here almost a month and it’s certainly been an adventure. A bit of culture shock, a lot of fun, and the occasional rude New Yorker. In case anyone is remotely interested, here are my off the cuff observations on life in the City so far. (Some of this might be specific to our neighborhood, the Upper West Side.)
- Everything is bigger. All the public spaces feel so huge: the parks (hello, Central Park is gigantic!), the museums, the rivers, the bridges (those iconic bridges!), the buildings, the boulevards.
- Except that everything is smaller. All the interior spaces are, well, tiny: the apartments, the kitchens, the grocery stores, the restaurants. I mean, there’s a grocery store down the block from us that’s the size of about half the vegetable department in our old store in Chicago. How do they do it? The aisles are about a foot wide. Seriously.
- This city was not built for stroller life: in large part because of those small interior spaces, life with a stroller is difficult here. They don’t fit in the grocery stores at all. And you can’t just walk to a restaurant and leave your stroller by the table or in the entranceway. There’s no space for it. So you better have a stroller that folds up and be ready to fold it quickly. Because:
- Everyone is in a hurry. Seriously, get to that restaurant and need to take a minute to gather your things out of your stroller before folding it up? Forget it. The hostess, five servers and everyone else waiting will be staring at you like you’ve just broken every single New York rule.
- There are no automatic doors. Random, but true. I’ve seen maybe three automatic doors and not a single handicap button. (Both of which are all over the place in Chicago.) Just another way life with a stroller is difficult. On the other hand, life with a stroller is great because:
- You can walk everywhere. And I LOVE it. We’ve hardly left our neighborhood because everything we need is right here and it’s so fun to be truly living that kind of urban lifestyle. And the times we have left (for museums, brunch with friends, etc) it’s been super easy to take the train, because:
- The trains are awesome. I love the ‘El and all, but the trains in NYC are way better. It helps that we live a block from a stop, but it really does feel like we can get just about anywhere we need to go. Except the Upper East Side, but there are buses for that.
- Life without a car is fantastic. I’ve taken maybe three cabs and we rented a car to go to the beach for a day. But other than that, I haven’t been in a car in the last month. It’s awesome. I don’t miss it at all. It feels so freeing to not have to worry about strapping the kids in and traffic and finding a parking spot and remembering to fill up the tank. Walking is so much easier.
- No alleys/garbage on the street. Of course, walking is slightly less fun on garbage day, when there are giant piles of garbage everywhere. I always knew this and always appreciated the alley system in Chicago, but it really is true: garbage collection on the sidewalks is super gross.
- No garbage disposals. And speaking of garbage, there are no garbage disposals in NYC. Why? I don’t understand. Seriously, can someone tell me why??
- New York is hilly and that’s awesome. I grew up in Wisconsin, so I love hills. But Chicago is as flat as they come and even though Denver is near the mountains, it’s pretty flat too. Walking through the city and climbing up hills and then rolling down into valleys is so neat.
- It’s feels so European. Especially up here, on the UWS. Little sidewalk cafes, people speaking foreign languages everywhere, standing on the ridge overlooking Riverside Park. It’s really like nowhere else in America.
- Trees. It’s Manhattan so you automatically think “concrete jungle”, but there are actually trees everywhere. More trees than in Chicago, for sure. Huge, old trees that look like they’ve been there for a hundred years. I can’t wait for them to start changing colors.
- Dog walkers. Obviously there are dog walkers in Chicago, but I’ve never seen anything like what they do here: one dog walker with ten or more dogs, leashes all tangled up, walking along or lounging on the sidewalk. Archer just about loses his mind from joy every time we see them.
- Boring architecture. There are obviously some iconic buildings in midtown and downtown, but overall I think the architecture here is pretty boring after coming from Chicago. The buildings are so flat and plain. But there’s a certain charm, too, and I can see how you’d come to love them.
- The ENERGY! It’s the quintessential New York word and it feels cliché. But it’s true, so what can you do? There is just so much energy here! Look, there are probably millions of people doing nothing, but there are also many more millions of people doing millions of amazing things and you see them all around you and you just can’t help but get swept up in the energy. I feel so alive! I absolutely love it!
There’s more, I’m sure, but these are the biggest things that have stuck in my mind over the last few weeks. As we get more settled in and more used to the city, this will become my new normal. And I may just notice other new and different things as well. So here’s a snapshot of life at one month in.