A fun NYC day (albeit COLD!)

By Caitlin Kelly

There’s only so many pandemic months I can stand to live a cycle of apartment/gym/grocery store. Living in a small suburban town with virtually everything amusing closed for months is lonely and isolating!

So, occasionally, I drive the hour into Manhattan, find street parking (sometimes unpaid, when lucky) and wander a bit, savoring fresh air and sunshine and funky old buildings and stonework and little old ladies moving slowly down the block, hipsters in plaid coats and so many dog-walkers!

Carved red sandstone, exterior of an apartment building on Leroy Street

I parked this time on Leroy, a short north-south street in the heart of Greenwich Village, all residential, a mix of five and six-story walk-ups and several brick houses built in 1813.

Imagine! Who walked these streets then? What did they wear? Where were they going?

I was headed a block north to my favorite city street, Bleecker, an odd street that manages to run both north-south on its western edge (right?) then straight across to terminate at the Bowery.

Robert de Niro grew up there.

Herman Melville lived there.

Even singer Dua Lipa lived there for a year.

The legendary John’s Pizza.

Here’s its Wikipedia entry.

The pandemic has closed many places, but a few great ones remain — so I hit Rocco’s Pastry and Murray’s Cheese, stocking up on delicacies like sfogliatelle and Brie. I ate brunch outdoors — the only way right now to eat there since indoor dining is banned again and it was cold! Like, 30 degrees cold.

Safely distanced, this is the only way to dine in New York right now, regardless of weather

So I read my Sunday New York Times and covered my coffee with its saucer to keep it hot and wore my lined leather gloves as I ate my baked eggs.

Ludlow Street

I drove southeast to the East Village and parked, again at no cost, on Ludlow Street, just to explore a different neighborhood a bit. I didn’t walk very far but was happy to see two great shops on Rivington are still there, Economy Candy and Edith Machinist, a terrific vintage clothing store. I also found out there’s two-hour metered parking for $10.75 on that street — a garage can easily cost three or four times that much.

I sat for a while on a park bench, soaking up some sunshine, watching locals wander by. It’s not a cool, trendy, hip part of the city, but a weathered neighborhood where people live who don’t work on Wall Street and flee to the Hamptons.

I enjoyed lunch, also outdoors, eavesdropping — a much missed habit! — on five guys, mostly in their 20s and 30s, clearly all really good friends, joking and laughing at the next table.

I so miss city energy.

So even if “all” I can enjoy — no ballet/opera/concerts/theater — is a sunny day walking, I’m happy with that.

12 thoughts on “A fun NYC day (albeit COLD!)

  1. Jan Jasper

    I lived in Manhattan from the late 70s to the early 90s. Then several years later I lived in Brooklyn from about 2001 to 2005. I loved it and, in some ways I still consider myself a New Yorker. But I don’t think I could live there again. It has nothing to do with covid-19, or even the expense. The crowding and the noise levels and the dirty air got to be too much for me. But I completely understand the appeal. When I’ve visited in recent years, the nostalgia, being reminded of my younger self, and loved ones no longer living, makes it bittersweet.

    1. I’ve never lived in NYC — and have never had a huge wish to do so, having lived in Toronto, Montreal and Paris, three big cities with all their pleasures and frustrations. If I were wealthy? Hell, yes! The West Village would be my vote, for sure. But not to pay $$$$$ for a studio and feel cramped.

      I really get the nostalgia piece of it — when I visit Montreal (weird but true) we have a hotel room that overlooks the exact corner where I lived at 12, 3432 Peel Street, and I picture myself heading for the bus.) Same when I return to Toronto, where every corner has a memory, ages 5 to 30.

      I like having lived here long enough I have a lot of NYC memories as well — like learning to fence at the NYU Coles Center with an Olympian (!)…it is now torn down and becoming (of course) an apartment building. I went afterwards to Fanelli’s, happily still there. When I visit the Morgan, I see 200 Madison across the street — where I had my very first NYC job as an editor at World Press Review.

      1. Jan Jasper

        Those are some cool NYC memories! BTW, you probably saw the piece in the Times recently where all those people who left New York City due to Covid were interviewed. It was interesting to see how they felt, several months to a year later, about the new life they have elsewhere – what they gave up and what they gained.

      2. I did.

        One thing I have never found in this town, in 30 years, is any useful meaning of community — I find it extremely lonely because I don’t fit the mold — corporate. warrior and/or parent. Really boring. Went to church for years. Went to spin class. Tried a few small group things. None worked….one friend from spin class (who just moved into the city,)

        So the NYC people for sure have missed those connections.

  2. Jan Jasper

    Caitlin, There’s no question that NYC is unique and people who live there are, for the most part, very different than folks who live elsewhere. You won’t find large numbers of people like NY’ers anywhere else, tho maybe to some degree you’ll find some in large cities. My theory is that because living in NYC has so many drawbacks – one has to tolerate a lot to live there – that few people will live there for very long unless they have a passion and talent that they can’t deploy anywhere else. WHy else would they stay there? Granted, some native New Yorkers have never lived anywhere else, and some people live in NYC to take in the culture. But that’s certainly not the whole story. The result is NY has a large number of people with a great deal of energy, and they tend to be assertive and outspoken.
    I enjoy living in central New Jersey, and prior to that I returned to my home town of Ann Arbor, for a few years. Many times my level of NYC-learned assertiveness has made these non-New Yorkers uncomfortable. Caitlin, I remember that you’ve felt like a fish out of water when working with more low-key (for lack of a better word) Canadians. It takes a huge amount of drive to survive in the NYC market.

  3. I really enjoyed hearing about your thoughts and outing. The last time I was in was a great day, we learned that Biden had won and people in the the streets went crazy-happy! I always gravitate downtown when I do visit. I lived in a tenement on Bleecker Street while attending Parsons School of Design,1972-73, and often go back (or did), sometimes just to sit at Rocco’s with my cappuccino and anisette toast. (I lived in Manhattan for 15 years, then another 15 in Brooklyn.) By the time I left, in 2000, so much gentrification and Disney-fication had ruined the city for me, but when I do venture in, I seek out just what you describe. Usually I can find something, but for how much longer?

    1. So true! Bleecker is still (the east-west bit anyway) real enough, as is some of the LES. But so much gone/gentrified.

      I miss people watching! Out here, everyone just lives in cars and/or never wears anything much worth looking at.

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