I went to New York again in 2018, nine years after my last time there. Though in 2009, I did a quick day trip to visit a college, so not sure if that actually counts. It’s now been four years since I’ve been, but the city still holds a certain magic over me. And how fitting that I come to revisit my travels to New York after finishing The City We Became by N.K. Jemisin.
The first time I went to New York as a kid in 2000, we’d visited the Twin Towers. This time, my mom and I found ourselves at the memorial that stands in their place. There’s a confounding mix of hope and sorrow that weighs heavy on your shoulders as you read the names of the lives lost from 9/11. More so on a cold, gray day surrounded by skyscrapers of steel and glass. It almost feels like time stands still while you’re there, and yet you’re always aware of how life goes on around it.
New Adventures in New York
For the first time, I caught a Broadway show. My cousin had entered the raffle and we ended up with tickets to Head Over Heels, a jukebox musical of the Go-Gos songs. It was kind of cheesy and over the top, but fun and filled with so much queer celebration.
Venturing into Brooklyn, we found The Little Sweet Cafe, where we indulged in a delicious breakfast. Taking the bus through the neighborhoods, we made our way to the Brooklyn Bridge and began the trek across. It’s a high traffic foot path, but the exhilaration of walking from that borough to Manhattan went by in the blink of an eye. Of course, the brisk weather probably helped. I’m sure in the summer swelter it’s unbearable.
As a Florida girl, I’m always fascinated by taking the subway. Grand Central Station, inside and out, has a way of captivating you.
While we revisited old haunts, we also added new stops to the itinerary. I found a tour of the catacombs of the Basilica of St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral (the one on Mulberry Street, not 5th). We were taken behind the organ and behind the scenes of this historic church. Then it was time to dive under. We were led to an empty, concrete room with a single door leading into the catacombs. As we walked through the musty air and dark tunnels, our guide told us the history of the people buried there.
Making your way through Central Park is quintessential to the New York experience. We took a bike and buggy tour, being pulled along through some of the major highlights. As we passed the Balto statue, I confessed I only knew the cartoon movie story. My cousin could not believe I’d never learned about Balto in my history classes.
While a stroll through Central Park these days is part of the classic city experience, it’s important to remember how the park came to be in the first place. It’s worth a read to learn about the once-thriving African-American community of Seneca Village and how the government used eminent domain to acquire the land for the park’s construction.
No matter how many times I visit, New York always holds something new and magical to discover. I can’t wait to go back sometime!
Have you visited New York? More than once? What’s your impression of the city that never sleeps?