Do not disappear into silence.
Huge fluorescent orange sign at the entrance to the Brooklyn Museum.
His story was compelling. The young man stepped into the subway car and shared his story. He walked with a noticeable limp and his clothes looked the worst for wear but there was a dignity about him that set him apart. He announced to everyone he had come upon hard times and was having trouble finding work. He went on to describe his situation and said how difficult it was to ask for help- but he really needed help.
I have heard similar stories before. Many requests for money or food that I encounter are not on the streets of New York, but on the subway system. Individuals tell their story to passengers, moving from car to car while the train is in motion. Some individuals are creative and sing their request; some perform elaborate dance moves and jaw dropping acrobatics, but most simply bare their souls hoping someone will respond. The story the young man on the subway shared that morning moved me and I gave him money.
The diversity of New Yorkers makes for an abundance of forms of self expression. I suspect there as many ways to express oneself and points of view as there are people in this city of almost 9 million; fortunately, no one seems to expect any kind of conformity.
I began to wonder about the many ways New Yorkers express themselves and how they view their city. Some people are loud while others have slipped into the background of life, barely heard. Some are activists; some write; others express themselves through song or the visual arts. A few will tell you what they want you to know whether you want to hear it or not.
I decided to ask a few people about their experiences of living in the city. Here is what they, and other New Yorkers said:
- “I’m born and lived all my life here. What do I love about New York? The diversity. The people. The people are great- so great!”
Woman in Brooklyn
- The City is open to things – not as much as it used to be…. It used to be more accepting of differences than it is now but it’s still pretty good.
Vendor at Farmers’ Market
- My mom is running the New York City Marathon!!!!
Beaming young man in his twenties cheering at the marathon and so proud of his mom
- Everybody needs to vote! We need to get out the vote.
Volunteer organizer for the midterm elections
- “….The people of New York City will not be intimidated.”
Mayor Bill De Blasio after a pipe bomb was found at the Time Warner Centre
- “We’re going to fight despair…Tonight we mourn and tomorrow we work.”
Rabbi Joy Levitt at a vigil to honour those who died in the massacre at the Tree of Life Synagogue
- “What’s it like to live in New York? Tough sometimes. Things are much better here than other states. The shelters are better here….the conditions are better.
Man in a wheelchair at a busy subway station.
- I love the people. People talk to you and they’re friendly and everyone who comes here loves cake! It’s a great place to live.
Cashier at a Manhattan bakery
- The traffic is brutal- brutal! It’s terrible driving a car around here.
Man in his 60’s in Manhattan
- Struggling and juggling– Sign beside a juggler outside Grand Central Terminal
And one of my favourties from a person who runs a small business:
I’m a New Yorker- lived here all my life. What do I love most about New York? The people. I love the spirit. There is so much spirit here. I like that at any hour of the day I can go out and find some place that’s open. I like the diversity here. That is a great part about New York…. Life is hard sometimes, but the people try very hard. I love this place- it’s a great city.
Finally….despite inclement weather, record numbers of New Yorkers turned out to vote in the midterm elections, November 6. They spoke at the ballot box, keeping New York Democratic blue.
While speaking with New Yorkers, I continued to explore the city: A Few of My Favourites so Far
- Visiting the Henry Street Settlement where nurse pioneer and humanitarian Lillian Wald began her public health work in the Lower East Side. It’s worth a visit to the centre and learn about Lillian Wald’s story. https://www.henrystreet.org/
- Tal Bagels on the Upper East Side- great pastrami sandwiches
- Watching the New York City Marathon– always a thrill!
- The music scene: Jon Paris singing the blues at the Iridium ( https://theiridium.com/) and Ken Peplowski at Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola (https://www.jazz.org/dizzys/
- Exploring DUMBO- Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass in Brooklyn (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dumbo,_Brooklyn)
- Come From Away– the Broadway show that leaves you feeling GREAT!
- Tour of the United Nations- inspiring (https://visit.un.org/)
New Yorkers love their city. People display a grit and tenacity that makes them who they are. The strength of this city is its diversity and ability to live large. All I can say is New York is astonishing!
Lower East side neighbourhood where Brooks Brothers got its start and the public health movement began through the leadership of Lillian Wald.
Halloween Parade in Greenwich Village
Oyster Bar in Grand Central Terminal
Audrey exhausted by it all