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Left Coast / Right Coast: Times Square and being a consummate New Yorker

This column is about being a consummate New Yorker. Now there is nothing more “consummate” in being a New Yorker than Times Square. Let’s start with the physical manifestation of this area. It is in the geographic middle of Manhattan, which is the most “central” borough of the five boroughs in New York City.
Mike Gold living the dream in the Pacific Northwest. Photo credit: Nancy Gold.

By Mike Gold, a retired entrepreneur "living the dream in the Pacific Northwest."

This column is about being a consummate New Yorker. Now there is nothing more “consummate” in being a New Yorker than Times Square.

Let’s start with the physical manifestation of this area. It is, first of all, in the geographic middle of Manhattan, which is the most “central” borough of the five boroughs in New York City.

It is hard to experience the physical “crush of humanity” of mid-town Manhattan. Talk about an unfriendly place for private automobiles. It is impossible to just “pull over” your car as you drive in mid-town. It is just about impossible to find a legitimate parking space in mid-town. In fact, it is just about impossible to pull to the curb legally and just “sit” there. It is just about guaranteed that if you do, within a minute or two a beat cop will walk over to your car and nicely ask you to, “Move along.”

The hundreds of street signs along every street are very clear. They will not only say, “No parking,” but will also say, “No standing” – which means you can’t just pull over and stop. (By the way, the street signs are so confusing – as they all conflict with each other as to what is or is not allowed, it is hopeless to try and figure out what you can or can’t do.)

So the only real choice if you wish to stop and get out of your car is to pull into a parking garage. Then, prepare to pay about $50 or $60 for a very short-term park. (Oh, one more thing, don’t expect your car to be returned in “pristeen” condition. It is almost guaranteed that the car will have a scratch or two that was not there when you parked.) Oh, good luck “collecting for damages.” See the parking stub you receive when you park is written in legalese that basically says, “Don’t hold your breath trying to collect."

So instead of driving there, most folk will take the subway. Then you can have the pleasure of fighting your way for a subway seat, and then walking along the sidewalk

Now as you walk along, say 5th Avenue, you will find yourself surrounded by thousands of other walkers. If you should suddenly “stop” walking – in the middle of the sidewalk, it is nearly 100% likely that someone directly behind you will walk into you. And even though as in moving accidents in a car, if the party behind you walks into you it is 100% their fault. (One suggestion, is if someone does walk into your back if or when you stop, the very first thing to do is check to see if you still have your wallet and watch. The pick-pockets in mid-town are known for being super-aggressive.)

One more thing. If you wander into the many gift shops, you have to be very careful that a credit card thief does not “steal” your credit card number. Note that many of them have “card readers” that can read the magnetic strip on your card even from a distance of half a foot or so. Likewise, there are many unscrupulous clerks in the stores that will “swipe” your card number an extra time and “sell it” to organized thieve rings.

Then, you might also have the pleasure of running into a mugger. Click on this link to see how Crocodile Dundee handles that type of situation.

So there is a brief over-look of “life in the big city.” As we’ve lived all over the world as well as many cities in the U.S., let me say that you really can’t experience the “crush” of Midtown unless you’ve done it multiple times. Is it worth it? Well, speaking for myself and family, none of us still live in NY City. There is a reason for that.

And no, I’ve not received a letter from the mayor of NY City (DeBlasio – a most “hated” current mayor –and retired presidential candidate) asking me to “cease and desist” from writing tourist reviews of his “Big Apple.”

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