It’s difficult to pinpoint what I love so much about New York City. It could be the aura of sophistication the city possesses, the immensely tall skyscrapers, the fast-paced lifestyle or the endless choices of dessert options. New York City is a destination I can only visit a few times a year, but the city holds a special place in my heart.
When I was 10 years old, I moved to New York, but I lived there for a short three years. I remember being mesmerized by all the buildings; they were the tallest things I’d ever seen in my life. As a child, I knew the skyscrapers were tall when I couldn’t count the number of stories on my fingers and toes. To date, the Empire State Building is the most famous skyscraper, but my personal favorite is 30 Rockefeller Center. Not only are the lines shorter to get inside, but the view is unparalleled by anything I’ve ever seen. Manhattan and Central Park, 50 blocks in length, seemed to fit in the size of my tiny palm.
Along with a love for skyscrapers, I’ve also curated a love for books. As a child, I was the little girl who wouldn’t leave the library without at least 10 books in hand. Therefore, it must not come as a shock that my favorite stores are bookstores. McNally Jackson Books is a beautiful bookstore with a cafe, free Wi-Fi and a huge assortment of genres. The cafe’s decor makes it look like books are raining down from the ceiling. It’s cute, cozy and the location is central to many delicious restaurants and shops because it’s only a few blocks away from SoHo. I like to think that in such a fast-paced city, there are still quiet moments of relaxation and serenity — you only need to seek them.
Coming to college, my favorite meal has easily become brunch because I can’t seem to wake up before breakfast anymore. Lucky for me, near McNally, there’s one of my favorite brunch locations, Freemans Restaurant. The store is hidden away in an alleyway, but that doesn’t stop the reservations from piling up. Upon entering the restaurant, you encounter a rustic ambiance that makes you feel like you were transported to a hunting lodge. I’d recommend the skillet eggs (eggs garnished with bacon, spinach, grits and cheddar) with a side of sourdough toast. New York City is the best city for brunch, and with the amount of international cuisines, you could try a different place every day of the year without repeating.
Every city has its secrets and New York City is definitely filled with them. One I recently discovered is the whispering gallery in Grand Central Terminal. This place is the central hub for transportation. Within this underground maze, there’s an unmarked archway. When two people stand on opposite sides of the diagonal arch and whisper, they have the ability to hear each other. I tested this out with my friend and it worked. But I also got a handful of curious stares directed my way. I love these hidden discoveries because I feel as if a part of this city belongs to me, just as it can belong to anyone else.
With a city of 8 million citizens, New York City is bound to be crowded. I’ve been to New York City countless times, and as much as I love Times Square and Central Park, I love moments away from the endless crowd of people, too. Thankfully, Roosevelt Island offers me this quiet respite. It’s a narrow island between Manhattan and Queens and not only is the island a good place for a morning jog, but the nighttime skyline is spectacular.
I love this city because of its hidden charms, the variety of dining options and the beauty that lies in both the ancient and modern architecture. I believe New York City is a city filled with determination, opportunities and dreams. And as Fran Lebowitz once said, “When you leave New York, you are astonished at how clean the rest of the world is. Clean is not enough.”
Contact Omil Xia at [email protected].