New York City

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Well we packed up our cell phones, ipods, shampoo, and drinking water and boarded an airplane for a 9-day visit of NYC earlier this month. I had been to New York a couple of times in the mid- to late-80’s and at that time I would have never imagined that I would want to visit again on a family trip. But things have changed in the Big Apple. The short version is: the City is cleaner, safer, friendlier, and just as fun. Despite 3 plus days of very oppressive heat, we had a wonderful time.

Of course some things are missing since my last NYC visit. An obligatory stop for any NYC visitor is Ground Zero. Having seen it, I have to admit it was hard to imagine the terror that was happening among those streets nearly 5 years ago. Right now it’s just a big hole in the ground. What really hit home was that a fire station just down the street from where we were staying had pictures of 6 firemen who lost their lives that day.

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We were lucky that we were able to stay in a small apartment in the always trendy Greenwich Village neighborhood. The little alley that we stayed in has quite the literary history, but more important to me, it was within walking distance of Washington Square and a host of sites that played key rolls in the early lives of Bob Dylan, Jack Kerouac, Alan Ginsburg etc., including some of the early bars that Dylan performed in, the bar that was the setting for The Subterreaneans, and apartment where Kerouac wrote On The Road. Also we were within walking distance of the street seen on the cover of Dylan’s The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan and the Magnolia Bakery from SNL’s very funny video skit Lazy Sunday.

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("Freewheelin'" street today, trees make a big difference)

Using subways were able to see and get to everything we wanted to see including the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, Ground Zero, Battery Park, the Brooklyn Bridge, Chinatown, Little Italy, the Lower East SideTenements, the site of the Triangle Building fire, Empire State Building, Central Park, Strawberry Fields, Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Upper East Side, FAO Schwartz, Times Square, Spamalot, Yankee Stadium, Jones Beach, Rockefeller Center, and many, many subway stops. Don’t forget lots of good restaurants, none of which we could visit here in Minnesota.

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As I said above, the City is cleaner, safer, and friendlier than it was 20 years ago. We were out after dark many evenings, and never felt unsafe. Police were everywhere and not in that oppressive “I’m watching you? manner but in the comforting “we’re just cops walking the beat.? Believe me nothing gives you a safer feeling than coming out of a subway station after dark in a strange neighborhood and the first thing you see are a couple of cops just hanging out. Times Square is 180 degrees different than the seedy, peep show riven, prostitutes and drug trade place that is was 20 years ago.

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(John Lennon Memorial at Strawberry Fields, Central Park)

Finally I can’t leave without giving a shout out to my friend who let us use her apartment for our stay. Having a place to stay made all the difference in our visit. We could never thank her enough.

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