Last week I made my first trip ever to New York. Although
mainly a trip for work, I managed to see some local friends
and relatives, and took as much opportunity as I could
manage to visit the city.
After getting the subway system figured out, I approximated
a solution to the traveling salesman problem and managed to
get out and see many of NY’s major landmarks:
- Central Park (and a free performance from the New York
Philharmonic orchestra therein).
- The High Line.
- Washington Square Park.
- The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
- The Fifth Avenue Apple “Cube”.
- The World Trade Center Memorial (and the new Freedom
- The New York Stock Exchange and Wall Street.
- Times Square.
- Grand Central Station.
- The New York Public Library.
- The Rockefeller Center.
- The Empire State Building.
- The Statue of Liberty (from a distance).
A few random observations about the city:
- New York’s best attributes are its parks; Central Park,
the High Line, and Washington Square Park would all rank
amongst my top suggestions of things to see there.
- The High Line in particular may be the
greatest municipal salvage projects of all time. The only
contender which I know of is Tempelhof in Berlin.
- Central Park makes for a great inner city running track.
I measured the circuit around its pedestrian-friendly
road system at just over 12 km, with almost no stops.
- Between its pay-to-play chess masters, puppeteers, jazz
performers, and community ambience, Washington Square
Park may be the most successful park I’ve
ever visited. After seeing it in person, it strikes you
as even more absurd at how long and hard activists like
Jane Jacobs and Shirley Hayes had to fight to create this
small haven from automobile traffic.
- The New York Stock Exchange is a tourist trap on a
monumental scale. I had no idea.
- The World Trade Center memorial, two enormous fountains
sunk into the earth, is breathtaking.
- Although New York is the originator of fairly forward
thinking traffic concepts like “don’t block the
box” and no honking laws,
in practice these are not enforced and infracted
regularly. Despite large numbers of walkers, pedestrian
intimidation at crosswalks (largely by taxis) is very
- New York’s relatively long light rotations heavily favor
vehicular traffic, so jaywalking is extremely common, and
I daresay required to make good time on foot.
- Especially in popular areas, traffic on the sidewalks is
so heavy that a form of “pedestrian gridlock” actually
slows walking speed significantly.
- Access to a large variety of merchants open 24 hours is
very convenient. This healthy all-hour ecosystem
presumably becomes possible as population density
approaches four times that of SF.
- My favorite establishment was a speakeasy called Angel’s
Share. I’d been warned that it was hard to find, but if I
handed received precise instructions to climb a set of
stairs, ignore the rundown Japanese restaurant at the
top, and enter the first door on my left (completely
unmarked and nondescript), I never would have found the
exceptional cocktail bar therein.