Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Why, Part II

Reading over this entry, I realize that I sound like a gigantic dork. So at least you know I recognize this fact.

Being a resident of Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, it always bothers me when people assume that Manhattan (and the lower half of Manhattan, at that) is all there is to NYC, and that the other boroughs are just suburbs. Brooklyn alone has a larger population than any city in the country not named Los Angeles or Chicago, and the same goes for Queens. The huge influx of immigrants over the years has formed concentrated pockets of many different nationalities and ethnicities, and has helped give each area of the city its own character.

No matter where you go in NYC, that neighborhood is the center of the universe for someone. The neighborhoods of the outer boroughs are not anonymous commuter suburbs, but complete communities in their own right, thriving or struggling, vibrant or dilapidated. Adjacent parts of the city have totally different feels, and walking from one place to the next often seems more like a walk between countries than a walk within one city.

And yet, despite this diversity, there is something connecting all these neighborhoods together. Maybe it's just that they all lie within the jurisdictional boundaries of The City of New York, or maybe it's something deeper. Regardless, I can't help feeling like all of these different places are part of my city. And the longer I live here and the more enamored I get with the place, the greater my longing to truly know my new home, in all its glory and its troubles.

I want to know more than the vague generalities people tend to throw around about different parts of the city. Anyone who speaks about a borough as if it is one homogenous unit is ignoring the huge number of people, cultures, histories, economies, and landscapes that vary throughout the city. These are richly textured places I live among, and there's no way to fully know them without going to each one and feeling its fabric for myself.

While it's naive to expect to really understand a place simply by passing through it, I do think this walk will let us experience the city in a way few others ever have. We will be totally immersed from early Monday morning until Friday night, constantly on the move, the texture of each neighborhood washing over us as we go. I'm not quite sure what it will feel like, but I can't wait to get started.

1 comment:

Adam said...

I think Manhattan is the only place worth living in NYC. I mean, if you aren't there, you might as well live in the suburbs around Washington D.C.