Tuesday, May 22, 2012

NY Snippets

New Yorkers won't tell you they live in New York (unless they're out of town when you meet) but rather the section of town in which they live.  Breaking the megalopolis into bite-sized chunks makes it easier to digest and since only New Yorkers understand how the system works, gives everything an added cachet.  It also restores the illusion that we all really live in a village.  It's not good enough to say you live in the Upper West Side of course to a local, that's further broken down into neighbourhoods, with some more desirable than others.  Living within a five-minute walk of any subway station for instance, will make your rent go up.

And names need to have a certain glamour.  The TRIangle BElow CAnal Street becomes TriBeCa.  Much better.  And harder to find.  The area SOuth of HOusman Street becomes SoHo and so on.  It's all a code designed to exclude non-locals.  Works well too, since you seldom run across a "Welcome to TriBeCa" sign.

Then there are the historical areas like Hell's Kitchen, former home of the Irish mob and now just an unidentifiable section of town.   The Bowery is named from the old Dutch word for farm, on which it was located.  Old rivalries too are locally important; Brooklynites really don't want to be called New Yorkers.  At the time of their amalgamation with Manhattan et al, Brooklyn was the third largest city in the US.  And don't you forget it.

The garbage cans in Central Park are padlocked.  Not to keep the bums out but to keep the raccoons out.  A few years ago, they also had a coyote problem in the park; neighbourhood cats were disappearing.  You would think that if ever an area would be free of wildlife it would be central New York City. Or should that be Manhattan?  Go figure.

Especially charming are the street signs that say: "Don't Even Think About Parking Here!".

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