I would like to thank New York photographer, James Maher, for the capturing the essence of Manhattan and contributing these images. You can see more of James' work on his website.
|Bow Bridge at Dusk, Central Park|
My Manhattan pipe dream came true nearly six years ago when I arrived on the Upper East Side. Some days that feels like a decades ago, and other days, just yesterday.
I can't recall if I thought about how long I'd live here when I moved in 2007. Would it be a two-year plan? Five-year? Lifetime? I've obviously moved past the five-year timeframe, but I'll have to get back to you on the lifetime option.
Though I was slightly apprehensive about the move, I knew I couldn't give up the chance to live in New York, especially since I had attempted it many times previously. This final time was different though---no matter how imaginary it seemed, it was real. I had to go for it or I'd regret it for the rest of my life.
I wasn't convinced that I'd like living in New York City. I mean, it's one thing to visit the Big Apple and take in all of the activities that people do when coming to NYC as tourists. It's another thing to live the ups and downs of daily life here for a long period of time. I've always loved Manhattan as a place to visit, but once I settled in, I realized that I loved it more as a place to live.
|Clustered buildings in Midtown|
Of course, I miss certain aspects of life before, like living in a house, having access to private outdoor space, driving from point A to point B when it's the only logical solution or I have large/heavy items to transport, and occasionally I pine for a larger apartment with lower expenses. But these are what I miss on a bad day, (except the lower expenses!), and luckily, bad days in Manhattan are few and far between.
On this Valentine's Day, the exact date that my final journey began to this amazing city, I find it most appropriate to think about the reasons why I still love living in Manhattan even more now --- so many years after our initial introduction more than 30 years ago.
|Empire State Building and Bryant Park skaters|
Manhattan changes faster than the speed of light, but the ability to get anything I want at any time doesn't. This 24-hour city offers necessity to luxury and I never have to live without either.
There's a feeling when I walk down the streets -- it's a feeling that anything is possible --- even the impossible. I sometimes imagine the unattainable, if even for a second, and whatever it is at the moment seems closer than ever before. With endless possibilities, anything can happen in a New York minute.
Despite what outsiders may think of NYC, I can tell you that it's not uncommon for a stranger to start a conversation, help another New Yorker, or smile at certain moments in our fast-paced, hectic lives. It happens every minute of every day somewhere on this island.
The beauty in the ugly
There's less than there used to be, but ugliness still exists in Manhattan, and like the prettiness, it's quite photogenic. Most areas of town are sprinkled with little bits and I find beauty in these places. As crazy as it sounds, the graffiti, trash, and dirt contribute to the character and add to the cityscape.
|"Siren" --- Ugliness adds to the character of the city|
Leaving my apartment on any given day brings inspiration. I can find it on a corner, in the subway, when I'm daydreaming or when I'm paying close attention. I can't help but let the creativity that lives here influence me.
Though many aspects of Manhattan life have drastically changed, certain quintessential NYC activities such as walking through Central Park, staring at the Hudson River, taking in a Broadway show, grabbing a Sabrett hot dog at a corner cart, or eating the best deli sandwich on earth still remain the same. And if these things become extinct, other New Yorkisms will be ready to step in their places.
The diversity of neighborhoods
Often I don't get the feeling that I live in a big city, much less New York City. I love that each neighborhood has its own feel and character. From Hell's Kitchen to the Lower East Side and uptown to Washington Heights, a neighborhood in Manhattan is like a small town, and each has its own distinct personality and flavor. I can take a 20-minute train ride and feel like I've escaped to another time and place.
Life in Manhattan can be calm at times. Contrary to belief, certain places on the island are quiet, removed, and relaxing. But the excitement never ceases and is a hop, skip and jump if you desire it. This is after all, "The City That Never Sleeps."
The quick pace, the thousands buzzing around like busy bees, the constant humming of traffic with horns intermittently honking, the loud conversations happening simultaneously, and the I-can-conquer-this attitude of the people are what I love most about Manhattan.
I think I'll stay awhile longer.
|New Yorkers walking on Broadway|
All photos by James Maher.