Manhattan: the fragmented city

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It was still clear in New York City when I arrived in the very early hours after a fourteen hour coach journey from Buffalo, the snow flurries left far behind in the north. But by the evening, a gentle snowstorm had started, forming into a deep spread across the city by the following morning. New York was transformed, its famous landmarks dwarfed in stark white. Every street could have been a Hollywood set straight out of ‘Home Alone 2’ or ‘Miracle on 34th Street’.

So where is there to visit on a wintry trip to Manhattan? More appropriately, it felt more difficult to ‘visit’ anywhere as I had done in other cities. This is because Manhattan, much as it is painted as part of the ‘city of dreams’, is very much primarily a tourist destination. I was lucky – or unlucky enough – to be in a flat a mere three blocks south of Times Square. Although I was able to see the flux of tourists visiting the avenues and blocks of the city, visitors passing to and fro every hour of every day, it was difficult to understand the more local districts of New York City.

Nonetheless, there are some very obvious and prominent tourist attractions to be seen. Although places such as the Statue of Liberty and the Rockefeller Plaza weren’t the most eye-catching sights for me, I was captivated by other areas. The Brooklyn Bridge, of course, is one of the most iconic locations to view the Manhattan skyline. Although freezing cold in winter, the brilliant blue skies made for a beautiful, Hollywood-esque sight (as long as you don’t get hideously lost in Brooklyn once you cross over, which I did for two hours). Alongside this, the National September 11 Memorial was one of the most interesting places that I visited. The twin reflecting pools, the largest manmade waterfalls in the USA, are placed where the Twin Towers once were, surrounded by bronze panels featuring every person who died in the 9/11 and 1993 attacks. It makes a sobering, and fortunately not overly touristic, attempt to mark the loss of life experienced in these areas. And no matter the weather, Central Park makes for a beautiful trip for locals and foreigners alike, its miles of park an escape from the looming skyscrapers on every side. It is worth escaping the normal tourist rut and walking 30-40 minutes to the JKO reservoir, encompassed by the famous jogging track.

Amongst the multiple centres of tourism from all corners of the island, I found Manhattan, from my first short impression, to be a city of fragments. In and amongst the centres of industry and economy, the rivers of tourism rushed through; New York City was a ‘concrete jungle where dreams are made’ through its perpetually shifting transcendence and its flexibility, and its inability to stand still.

words and photos by Dannee McGuire, Razz Travel Correspondent

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