Just Like I Pictured It

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My last day in New York with Daniela was another great adventure in Manhattan. Our experience with the city up to this point was peeling back my romantic views of the city a little—expectations that were ingrained in me from movies, music, etc. Over this trip, I was trying to instead see it from my own perspective. Each day felt like looking at it with fresh eyes.

We were set on seeing some of the more scenic views of the city, starting with Chinatown and ending with the High Line Park. We had seen NoLita the day before, but decided to venture a little further in from Little Italy. I really loved the architecture here—full of fire escapes and old shutters for the windows on some buildings.

While looking for lunch, we stumbled on to Maman, a charming little French-style bakery/café on the edge of Chinatown. It has some great interior design and friendly staff that carries over to it’s food and drinks—freshly made sandwiches, snacks, and sweets fill the glass cases in the front. Places like this can really take off the bustling edge of the city for a little while and make it feel like home.

We circled back around Chinatown and made our way to SoHo. In the 70’s and 80’s it was more of a scene for artist studios and galleries, but these days it seems retail has really taken over. We saw a few galleries nestled between the high-end boutiques—there was more street art on the walls than in galleries here.

Next stop was the legendary Central Park. After seeing layers of buildings upon buildings, it was great to get lost in some trees for a little while. Even though it’s a man-made park, over the years it’s grown into a pretty impressive spectacle. And seeing glimpses of the skyline through the trees is well worth it. No doubt about it, Central Park is a busy place on a nice day. It’s kind of its own neighborhood in of itself, with more places to relax and take in the nature around you. In some parts of the park you can catch some people practicing music. We grabbed a set close to a guy playing some good songs on a saxophone, watching people stroll and run by us. On a breezy autumn day, there were few places in the city that seemed better to relax in. After getting our fill of the park, we headed out of the park through the Upper West Side, on our way to the High Line on the south end of the city.

Our last stop of the trip was the High Line, which ended up being my favorite part of the city. Seeing the old train line from below while walking through the Meatpacking District, it didn’t look like anything special. But when we headed up the stairs and got our first glance of the main platform—it was full of breathtaking views of the city from both sides of the bridge.

Over the last few years the High Line has become hugely influential—both in New York and around the world. It’s a great example of how to reuse and restore the older buildings and structures in cities. Projects like this bridge the gap between cities and nature, and provide a space that’s easily accessible to people of all classes and cultures. Even though all of the High Line isn’t covered in trees and plants, it shows that you don’t need to construct an epic thing like Central Park to introduce some nature into the city.

Near the end of the High Line path, you can get a sense of where the neighborhood is going. Tons of new luxury high-rises are sprouting up along the sides of the park—clearly a result of the popularity of the area. It’s just one of the examples of how things are rapidly changing in the city because of neighborhoods like this, which are being remodeled into higher class areas.

While it’s good that new life is being brought to places like this, I hope the High Line never has a big entrance fee and becomes something only the well-off can enjoy. I think spots like this should be accessible by anyone that wants to see some truly special views of the city that you would never get from the street.