A week ago, I took a vacation in New York, my first visit since nine years. As much as I can recall, the city hadn’t changed much, but I had. The city felt much more hectic, demanding and energy draining. Mind you, I was staying and spending most of my time on Manhattan, but even the more populated areas of Brooklyn, outside the quieter residential areas, were full of action. I only stayed for a week, unlike my friends living there who were kind enough to accommodate me. Their opinion was also that New York is a demanding, difficult city to live in. In addition to the omnipresent restlessness you also have other problems like homeless, pests, excess garbage and so on. But all in all I liked my visit and am happy that I did it.
My friends said that living in New York is mentally very consuming: having impulses, information and sensory stimulus constantly and everywhere takes the juices out of you quickly. The fact that untouched nature is not in arms reach also makes life on Manhattan more demanding. The constant presence of people, no matter where you go outside of your apartment, demands your attention and keeps you alert, adding up to the mental load. I am not sure if some people can get used to it or develop some mechanisms to cope with the constant unfiltered information flow. Maybe some learn to ignore parts of it, so that they can be more on their own, even when there are lots of people around and things happening.
For me the trip showed that I wouldn’t like living in such a big city. I appreciate quietness and untouched nature so much that an urban environment would feel suffocating on the long term. Visits to places like New York are nevertheless in their own way refreshing and stimulating. Experiencing and breathing the relentless pace of a metropolis, taking in the sounds, smells, views and feelings, is invigorating, although sometimes exhausting. And after such a visit, I value the greenery and the gentler soundscape of the woods so much more.
Below I have gathered some pictures from my trip nine years ago and the one I made this year. At least I have grown more hair between the visits. When two pictures are side by side, the leftmost is from 2008 and the rightmost from 2017. Otherwise the picture is from 2008 and 2017, which one, I’ll leave to you for guessing.
My first glimpse at New York after getting our of the subway
Visiting the Amish Village (yeah, this is not in New York)
Gospel mass in Harlem
I also visited a gospel mass in Harlem on Easter Sunday. It was a great experience, but I have no pictures from it. It to place in Canaan Baptist Church of Christ, lasted for nearly three hours and was just as full of joy and happiness as I had imagined it would be. Quite a contrast to what Iäm used to seeing in a Lutheran church. If you want to visit a mass in this church, I would recommend getting an hour before start in line to ensure you get in.
Taking a walk on the High Line and back
Lady Liberty and the former immigration center on Ellis Island
A view from Brooklyn Bridge
I took a stroll over the Williamsburg bridge to Brooklyn, then walked south and west, taking the Brooklyn bridge back to Manhattan.
Since 2007 the NYSE has improved its visibility
Wall Street was kind of a must-see, just to get a feel of the finance district, although I could not smell the money present.
On and inside the Intrepid
Intrepid, a decommissioned air craft carrier, serves as a museum on the West Side. There are a lot of planes the Enterprise and even a Concorde on display.
The Empire State Building from street level and my bedroom window
Looking for Lehmann Brothers, but to no avail
The UN General Assembly had no speaker in 2008 and some random guy ranting in 2017
My consumable souvenirs from America