Manhattan


World Trade Center

For a New Yorker who was working in Manhattan on September 11, 2001, I don’t have a harrowing or even very interesting story. I was not near the Towers; I was not near death. I did not see the planes. My life was not saved by a delayed train or by bringing my child to school or by voting in the mayoral primary or by stopping for coffee or by a heroic act by a fellow New Yorker.

I was at my desk in Midtown when the planes hit. As word spread, I gathered with coworkers to watch, horrified, on the news as the Towers burned and then fell, as the Pentagon smoldered. With thousands of others, I walked to Queens over the 59th Street Bridge, and then I got a ride home from a coworker. It was a sad, even terrifying day for me, but not a particularly dangerous one.

Eight years after the attacks of September 11, 2001, I find myself still in awe of the brave passengers who crashed their plane in Pennsylvania. Still in awe of the firefighters who climbed the Towers to rescue my friends, relatives and neighbors despite the obvious dangers in doing so. Still in awe of the ordinary citizens who, simply by being employed in New York’s two tallest office buildings, became unwitting soldiers in our constant battle against hatred and destruction. Still in awe of the scores of volunteers who sifted through the rubble while I watched on TV from the safety and comfort of my home and my family.

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Hippo Shoes

It’s not easy to read thanks to my lousy camera and lack of photography skill, but the store in the middle, found in Midtown Manhattan, is called Hippo Shoes.

Sounds like the perfect place to find accessories to match the new outfit I bought at Manatee Clothiers.


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An amusingly broken traffic light on the corner of 2nd Avenue and 1st Street (photo courtesy of Ethan Stanislawski at Tynan’s Anger):

angry-dont-walk-sign

Rejected captions:

“Something’s different about that ‘Don’t Walk’ sign, but I can’t put my finger on it.”

“That’s one very cross walk.”

“Who says New Yorkers never lift a finger to help a pedestrian?”

“Crossing Delancy–now rated R.”

“New York to pedestrians: F*** you!”

“New York’s traffic signals now display the state bird.”


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Every region has its own linguistic quirks. I’m not talking about accents (don’t get me started on people who say “Lawn Guyland”). I mean words and phrases that are unique to the area. Here are some of my favorite bits of NewYorkese.

1) New Yorkers don’t stand in line. We stand ON line.

2) New Yorkers say “the floor” when they mean “the ground.” Example: you’re walking down the street with someone, and they drop a piece of food, and then they pick it up. Your response: “You can’t eat that! It fell on the floor!” Many New Yorkers do this without even realizing it. And when you tell them, they don’t even believe you, because it seems like a nonsensical way to talk. But it’s pretty widespread.

3) We call a whole pizza a “pie.” Comedian Brian Regan attributes this to New Jersey, but it really belongs to the whole tri-state area.

4) “The City” means Manhattan.

5) Queens and Brooklyn are geographically part of Long Island, but when people say Long Island they always mean Nassau and Suffolk counties. NEVER Queens or Brooklyn.

More New Yorkisms to come in a future post. Meanwhile, enjoy Linda Richman.


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For those of who left a bit confused by this, Murray Hill is a Manhattan neighborhood, roughly defined as the East side of Midtown from about 34th Street to 42nd Street, depending on who you ask. I worked in Murray Hill twice, for a total of about 6 years.

(Side note: My favorite nickname for a neighborhood is for the several blocks just south of Murray Hill on Lexington, informally known as Curry Hill because they house so many Indian restaurants.)

If you haven’t spent enough time in Murray Hill to appreciate the song, well, come back here tomorrow when I have something new posted.


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street-sign1

Like the Bronx, it’s not always obvious who the places in New York are named after. Often, though, a numbered street will get a second name in honor of a local hero, the way 29th Street in Midtown Manhattan has become Norman Vincent Peale Way in the photo above. But even then, we rarely even notice the sign, let alone know who the person is or why that particular street bears his or her name.

So next time you see one of those blue signs giving a street an extra name, give a thought to who the person is and what she did to get a street named after her. Look it up if you have to.

Norman Vincent Peale, by the way, was a 20th-century clergyman who, according to Brittanica, “tried to instill a spiritual renewal in the U.S. with his sermons, broadcasts, newspaper columns, and books.” His book “The Power of Positive Thinking” is an all-time best-seller. He led congregations all over New York state, including the Dutch Reform Marble Collegiate Church, on 5th Avenue and … 29th Street.


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billboard1

This billboard now hangs above 7th Avenue, promoting some TV show about the witness protection program. It’s also promoting indigestion.

Wrong. Just … wrong.


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