Take a Trip to NY City and Knock Yourself Out
That is really the one and only word that comes to mind when you walk down the middle of Manhattan – the financial capital of the world that represents the stone and metal heart of American capitalism and power.
The Russians have a saying, “To see Paris and die,” meaning this beautiful city is a must see before you perish. I would add that every American must see New York to fully feel the power of the world’s No. 1 Empire.
We live in Chicago, many call the Second City – we are listed as the third-most populous city in the nation. However, comparing Chicago to New York is like comparing a fly to an elephant, a life raft to the Titanic – in other words there is no comparison. My friend told me to imagine Chicago’s downtown ten times – that is New York!
New York is a powerhouse that represents a metropolis still running the world. Chicago sold out years ago – the Windy City has been privatized, corporatized and sterilized. Chains litter the Loop, small mom and pops in the center were forced out long ago, and charters and Starbucks and Uber turned our little city on the lake into a billionaire’s wet dream. While it still retains its charm, Chicago is not New York.
In New York the pay phones still work, the taxis still run and the public library is a museum that magnifies the wonders of opulence and glamour and takes no back seat to corporate decadence.
Yes, it’s dirty, and that’s what makes it a real city that hasn’t been airbrushed by today’s neoliberals. Walking around the city in the early morning reveals trash, and litter and people down on their luck. In the morning towering skyscrapers that have you looking up in wonder and awe on every street corner loom large, followed by the bright, bright lights of Times Square and people and tourists and immigrants mixing and cajoling in the city that never sleeps.
Those Saudi terrorists who highjacked our airplanes and flew them into the [two] Twin Towers on Sept. 11th, 2001, knew exactly what they were doing. They drove the dagger into the heart of the beast – except the beast that is New York never dies!
Yes, New York City is expensive. But it is also cheap. The government still works here, and that makes for a powerful and mandatory trip for all true-blooded Americans.
1. Traveling – You have to walk New York City. Your head will be turning upwards and sideways and all around. That’s an experience itself, so no need to grab a taxi or take the subway if you want to really see the city. And the city is very navigable – a simple map gets you to the perfect points all tourists must see – Grand Central Train Station is the center point. From there you just walk straight to Central Park, the Metropolitan Museum, Times Square, and the Empire State Building.
2. Statue of Liberty – You have to see this monument if it’s the last thing on your list. This was the entry point that many of our past relatives first saw when sailing from the old world looking for a new life in the new world. It is history and it is amazing to look at. And you can do it cheap – take the NY ferry, the old ships that sailed 100 years ago. (It is free!) The ferry leaves every 30 minutes and the sights in the Upper New York Bay leave you breathless. Twilight will be an extra treat. The Staten Island Ferry in Battery Park is free!
3. Central Park – This park is beautiful. The entrance is grandiose, the statues here remind me of the Russian ones, they are big and awe-inspiring. There is wild nature right in the middle of this metropolis. You can lie on the grass and simply relax as the bustling city buzzes in the distance. Street theater, a small zoo, small lakes, winding paths, a relaxing way to spend part of your day in the giant city.
4. Metropolitan Museum of Art (the Met) – is a must see on your visit here. It is one of the most visited art museums in the world (think about five times the size and collection of Chicago’s Art Institute). We were only able to hit the European paintings – with an impressive array of Van Gogh’s and Rembrandts you won’t find in Chicago. They also are filled with wonderful Greek and Roman sculptures, as well as Asian artwork. The price is $25, and when I asked if there is a discount for teachers, they said pay what you can. I chose $40 for two people. Students pay pennies. Hopefully the rich pay their fair share.
5. New York Public Library – We were supposed to see the Empire State Building ($35 but also a must see!), but it was too cloudy and misty. So walking along the streets we saw this library and discovered an amazing museum inside. Tourists flock to see wonderful paintings on huge ceilings with revealing marble staircases that wind up and down. This library (free of course) boasts nearly 53 million items and is the second largest public library in the U.S. and the 4th largest in the world.
6. Roosevelt Island Tramway – This is the magical experience only a New Yorker could show me and no tourist bureau. For the mere price of a $3 subway ticket, at 59th Street bridge you shoot way up into the NY skyline suspended to cables to cross the East River with connects Roosevelt Island to the Upper East Side of Manhattan. Before 2006 it was the only commuter aerial tramway in North America. Over 26 million passengers have used the tram since it began in 1976 and it carries up to 110 people and makes about 115 trips per day. You feel like you’re in a helicopter ascending. Truly an amazing view of New York – especially at night!
New York is expensive. But it is also cheap because the government, the unions, the small businesses, the Big Apple still play a big role. Flights from Chicago are $200 or less, a bus ride (18 hours) $100, a hostel ($50) and a sparkling city of grandiose marvels to showcase American might all within a walk around town. Small diners, kiosks, hotdog and sharma vendors and souvenirs everywhere. New York should be a required field trip for our youth to feel the might of empire, capitalism and the way big city life once functioned, and still does today.