I went into lower Manhattan for an interview today. And I mean literally at the bottom, down by Battery Park and the Staten Island Ferry. As I came up from the subway station to begin walking towards the building I needed to go to, I paused for a moment to take in the scenery. It occurred to me that I had never been down there in my life- at least for as long as I can remember. Actually, I haven’t seen many of the noted tourist sites or communities of Manhattan in years, if at all. Growing up, I was often told that other New Yorkers rarely went to those places either. Whether you lived in the city or the suburbs, those places just seemed ordinary because we lived in the region. What was the big deal? We’d tell us ourselves that we’d see the museums and sample the cuisine eventually, but we never would.
After visiting other cities and seeing their famous venues, thus becoming a tourist myself, I came to realize that this oddity actually has some truth to it. That’s why I did take a minute to look around. Lower Manhattan did not disappoint on this sunny afternoon. It’s a gorgeous cross-section of the city’s history- ironically found at the place where NYC began. There are small-town buildings dating to at least the 1800s; some probably go back to the Colonial era or even earlier. Not that many of them looked in need of much paint! Right next door, you can also see skyscrapers for the financial institutions centered on nearby Wall Street. Many of them are tall and bold enough that they would not look out of place in Midtown, epicenter of the construction/engineering marvel of 20th century New York.
I didn’t have enough to dig deeper and really explore, but as I got back onto the subway to head for Penn Station and ultimately a train home, I vowed to see as much of Manhattan as I can in the next couple of years- if not sooner.
Before I go, I’ll ask you the same question. Do you have the same attitude about famous places near where you live or grew up?