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If you intend on going to NY, which I definitely encourage, skip the Empire State and the Statue of Liberty. There are plenty of tall buildings all over the city. You don’t need to pay an obscene amount to take an elevator ride to the top of a particularly tall one. However, I’m not writing off all touristic attractions.
After all, the Metropolitan Museum is the only decent thing about the Upper East Side. In an ideal world, you’d spend the morning at the Met, walk across Central Park to the Upper West Side and grab a bite to eat there. Uptown is generally pricey so if you’re with your parents, I recommend getting them to treat you to food on the Upper West Side. As for the Met, it’s pay as much as you like. Another great (possibly better) museum, park, and food combo would be the Whitney Museum, a walk on the Highline and then going to Chelsea Market. You could also go to Prospect Park or the Botanical Gardens, and then Brooklyn Museum, followed by taking a nice stroll to Fort Greene and eating at Luanne’s Wild Ginger, Roman’s, Walker’s or Graziella’s Pizza.
Really, for the best $1 NY slice, Percy’s Pizza is my personal favorite. Joe’s Pizza is better known but it’s not $1, it’s at least $2.50. If you go to either of those, it’s a quick walk to Washington Square Park or even Thompson Square Park. As for coffee, the second most important food group, you can’t go wrong with La Colombe, Gaia Italian Cafe or Maman, which also offers good croissants.
In terms of clothing, SoHo is an obvious choice. It’s kind of like Oxford Street, but it has a chic (expensive) store called Opening Ceremony which has the craziest sales downstairs. For food, there’s Jack’s Wife and La Esquina. If you’re looking for something more like Shoreditch, I suggest going to St Marks Place to Search and Destroy, L Train Vintage or Trash and Vaudeville (and follow that with food from Cafe Mogador), or go to Williamsburg where there is no shortage of vintage and secondhand shops.
Another place I love is Koreatown. It’s near to the Empire State Building, for those of you who decide to visit. It has a lot of food and K-Beauty stores, and is also near the fashion district where you can buy fabric and such.
I’m not so sure you can do a quick trip to NY and get a proper sense of it. I really believe that you have to live or work there for at least a couple of months. This summer I got to work back home and I saw a part of NY that I hadn’t previously. Working is what the city revolves around and, while I found it very rewarding to be a part of that, I was shocked to see how much the neighborhoods I grew up in have changed. My dad says that no one in NY has time anymore. What used to be a mecca for artists and musicians is now polluted by big businesses. New York is a city that is increasingly harder to live in. Subway fares are constantly being raised, luxurious staples such as Barney’s and Dean and Deluca are being shut down, and De Blasio is aggravating the homelessness crisis. Having lived there for eighteen years, I’ve been able to see glimpses of the creative New York.
My high-school English teacher said that when she was growing up, “you learned how to walk down the street after dark, and sometimes even during the day, learning the bravado walk that said you weren't a victim. Our visitors would come to NY with maps that had streets marked as dangerous. The Upper East Side near the lycée had luncheonettes/candy stores where drugs were sold in the back. Below Lexington Avenue, the Upper East Side was still rather seedy.” It’s not dangerous anymore, but there are some oddities that are exclusive to NYC. Most crazy things will happen on the subway. There will be crazies there, some people in interesting costumes, spilled food and probably urine—but no promises.
New York is not beautiful like London or Paris. It’s fast-paced and can be unforgiving, but it’s a city that has room for everyone and their ambitions in one way or another.
Edited by Alexia McDonald, Digital Editor