There are times when I look around my city and I am in love, overwhelmed, and underwhelmed all at the same time. Especially during the summer months I ask myself, “Why do I live in this incredibly hot, incredibly expensive, hot pizza oven of a city?”
Politically, we are a diverse city where there are so many types of Democrats and Republicans brushing shoulder to shoulder on the subways and in workplaces across the five boroughs. The class differences (and inequities) are palpable whereby one can see a homeless person sleeping just outside of million dollar apartments. As the city becomes more expensive with national inflation, the class inequities feel more poignant in almost every neighborhood.
As I have written in this column previously, New York City has incredible bird diversity as well as an incredible system of parks, large and small, where one can see so many different types of trees and flowers year round. This city is truly remarkable even in the midst of growing crime and an overall sense of exhaustion.
The global pandemic has made the closing of shops a noticeable presence in communities across the five boroughs and empty storefronts serve as a glaring reminder of the number of mom and pop shops that could not survive an economic downturn. As I lament the closing of beloved restaurants and small shops, I am also comforted knowing the number of individuals who rallied to support families and business owners in need these past two years. There is indeed a loving spirit in this city that is hard to describe, but anyone who lives in this city knows about the thousands of tiny communities that have been created in a city of roughly 9 million people.
There truly is so much beauty in this city from the people and the surroundings, but I do sometimes feel utterly exhausted by the hustle of it all. I always tell newcomers to New York, “You must leave New York for a short spell to love New York…even if it’s only for a weekend.”
The summer months make it easy to hop on a train or bus to escape the five boroughs. More recently friends have told me about their excursions to Governor’s Island on the ferry, something I have yet to try but am eager to do so. There are also fantastic arrays of New York City beaches, parks, and free cultural institutions just waiting for us.
So, even though New York exhausts me, there is a community ethos I just can’t escape. As I hear drumming in the distance in my neighborhood or even someone blasting music on their stoop, or men playing dominoes on a card table on the sidewalk, I hope this city never loses some of its authentic spirit. Let us know what you love most about NYC at @NYAmNews.
Christina Greer, Ph.D., is an associate professor at Fordham University, the author of “Black Ethnics: Race, Immigration, and the Pursuit of the American Dream,” and the co-host of the podcast FAQ-NYC.