New York, Where a City’s Identity Lies in its CommunityJuly 28, 2016
Admittedly I am not a travel blogger, but my recent trip to New York has sparked me into writing about travel. Mainly because I was able to develop a connection to a bustling urban community and immerse myself in a city that never sleeps.
New York is intricate, alive, passionate, and evolving. What became clearer to me on this journey was how the decisions of the community can have long-lasting and positive effects on a city’s identity. I’ll go into this shortly.
Waving the tourist buses goodbye, I walked the streets to soak up the atmosphere, be engaged with and feel part of the space. This was somewhat of a challenge in the constant grey, cold and drizzly weather, but rain wasn’t going to stop me.
What struck me most about New York was its propensity to draw me in, like a pied piper using music to lure me places I’d never been. The clatter of machines, the hum of traffic, the lights, whistles, sirens and chatter were mesmerising.
This vast array of public spaces, buildings, traffic, people, restaurants, shops and cultural attractions was a bloodline of its own, connected by a seemingly endless network of subway tunnels and congested roads.
I couldn’t stop walking, or looking, or listening. This was a city built on history, where people weren’t afraid to embrace the environment for what it had become. It was a community.
What struck me even more was that this giant metropolis felt connected. People were proud to call New York their home. Construction was everywhere, and it was being done with pride. The 9/11 memorial was a place of peaceful reflection and beauty. It was hard to believe this space had arisen from such horror. Those who visited felt connected.
My expedition to the High Line was the perfect example of how a community banded together to bring new life to an urban space. The High Line – an old abandoned rail line that meanders high above the streets through aging buildings, weaving its way out of the city sprawl to the docks.
This long-abandoned structure could have easily been pulled down to make way for new development. Instead, the community rallied behind its preservation (not without some opposition). The High Line has become a lifeline of plants and people. A breath of fresh air above the dust and noise of the streets below. A steely stretch of history that has left its mark for future generations.
I love that the community rallied for old steel, I love that governing powers listened, and I love that it now has its own committee ‘Friends of the High Line’ who preserve its legacy. It’s become a tourist attraction in its own right, perhaps losing some of its original appeal, but marvellous all the same.
New York, what an amazing experience, what a delight to visit, what an engaging place. I now have a greater appreciation for what community means to me.