I don't really like New York that much.
My number one reason is the strange population of turtle people that seem to inhabit all of Manhattan. Anywhere I walked in Manhattan, I found myself dodging people meandering back and forth across the sidewalk, crawling along as they pecked away at their Blackberries, and stopping to gawk at anything and everything.
I know, I know, some of these people are tourists, and they can't help it. But I'm pretty good at picking out tourists after all this time near DC, and a lot of these people weren't tourists. They were just damned slow. I'm becoming increasingly convinced that New York is the city that never sleeps because it takes everyone so long to walk to their destinations, they need all 24 hours of the day.
My second reason is the lack of history the city has preserved. Cities I've really loved visiting, like London and Boston, have seemed to be able to grow larger and progress without bulldozing over all of their past. These historic buildings intermingled with the new gives a city a sense of place, a charm and a character that an endless string of skyscrapers will never impart.
I'd always thought of New York as the city that impossibly demolished the old Penn Station and replaced it with the hideous hole known as Penn Station today. So before this trip I made an effort to see if there were any historic areas left. I found a few — an old Dutch house in way, way, upper Manhattan that I didn't have time to see, and Fraunces Tavern, which I did.
Fraunces Tavern is a small museum, a restaurant, and part of a small, brick block of buildings cowering under the skyscrapers not far from Wall Street. It's also the place where George Washington gave his farewell speech at the close of the Revolutionary War, and the room where he spoke has been restored. Compared to other historic sites and museums I've visited, it wasn't very impressive, but I think the Fraunces Tavern deserves some props merely for continuing to exist, a historic holdout in lower Manhattan.
It's not the only holdout. I also stopped into Trinity Church, a more famous but equally historic landmark. I was surprised that the interior looked more like the English cathedrals I've visited than any other church on this continent I've visited, and was glad I went inside on this visit.
New York also seems to suffer from having too many things to do. I know one that's one of its qualities — there's something for everyone in the Big Apple. But it also results in analysis paralysis when you're trying to decide where to eat dinner, or grab drinks. How do you choose when there are 200 great options?
And, perhaps more importantly, by the time someone distills down those 200 great options into a guidebook, recommending a place, anyone with any sense has moved on to the next big thing, fleeing impending horde of tourists. The cool non-touristy neighborhood spots that you can shake out with enough Yelp skills in other cities are the places that became stopping points for tour busses long ago in New York.
So those are my main reasons for not really liking New York. I won't even go into the subway, except to say that I was so relieved to descend down the escalator into Gallery Place's cavernous, CLEAN Metro station on my way back to Silver Spring.
Don't get me wrong, New York has a lot of redeeming qualities, and I'm sure I'll be back. It stands alone in variety and quality of options for theater, restaurants, nightlife, and shopping in this country, even with the aforementioned paralyzing bounty of choices. We walked across the Brooklyn Bridge and then had pizza at Grimaldi's Saturday, and checked out the High Line on Sunday, all quite fun. And there were bagels. BAGELS!
But if I could somehow swap its position with Boston, and have Beantown be within a 3-3 1/2 hour train ride of Washington instead, I'd do it in a heartbeat. Screw the bagels. The very thought of Boston that close makes my mouth water for a cannoli from Mike's.