I moved so many times in my life, that I’ve lost count; but still, even if you move to another city once, you’ll find that the little things are the ones that make you feel as if you belong; special words and phrases, hidden streets and spots. Here are some of the things that make me feel that way about New York; things that when you visit the “Big Apple”, will make your taxi driver think that you actually know where you are and where you are going.
There is No “Green” in Greenwich Village
Greenwich Village is one of the neighborhoods I like the most; it’s surrounding the Washington Square Park (the one where the arch is) and it’s where you’ll find the NYU, Café Wha?, great restaurants and places to go out at night, live-music venues and my favorites: comedy clubs!
Comedy Cellar should have been my first stop, but one day – as I was walking towards the house where Louisa May Alcott wrote the final paragraph of “Little Women” – I came across the Greenwich Comedy Club, and I had to go inside. The day after, I was talking to someone about how much fun I’ve had at the “Green-wich Comedy Club”, when he said:
“Gren-itch. It’s gren-itch”
“I don’t know”
What an enlightening response… I’ve been trying to find out why it’s pronounced that way, but – so far – I had no luck.
Houston, We Have a Problem
If there is one English word we all know how to pronounce, that is “Houston”, except when visiting New York, of course. I was in Soho one day, when a couple of tourists asked me how to get to the “How-stun Street.” I replied, “You mean, Houston? It’s two blocks that way,” but they insisted, “No, How-stun”. I went home thinking, “The don’t know the city like I do!” and sooner after that my ego got a kick in the bottoms.
I got the location; the tourist got the name. As it turns out, the street was named after a man called William Houstoun. When was the second “u” dropped? Nobody knows for sure, but if you want to dig a little bit more, the New York Times has a theory about it.
The Central Park Is Not Natural; It’s “Naturalistic”
After five years of coming and going from the end of the world to the “concrete jungle where dreams are made of”, I began taking some tours to learn more about the city, especially the Central Park, a place that I always admired thinking, “what a beautiful gift of nature.”
Nature is there, nature is beautiful, but the founders of NYC didn’t build the city saying, “let’s do it around that park so we can protect it;” in fact, it was otherwise. When the city was being built, the area where the Central Park is was full of rocks and not suitable for development; so basically they seized the area and turned it into a park.
Everything we see in the Central Park, is man’s made; from the trees, the paths, to the waterfalls with water coming from pipes! And if you’re wondering about the animals, well, the squirrels for instance, were released from the zoo; for the fishes – just to give you another example – we gotta say thanks to the birds, which pick up eggs from here and there and then stoke the lakes.
During one of the tours I took to learn more about the Central, one of the tour guides, Harvey, said that, “It’s not natural, it’s naturalistic”. I think it’s a great way to describe it.
Is There a Statue of Dumbo in the City?
Another tourist asked me once about what Dumbo was in New York, and after I picked up my Argentinian crushed ego from the floor, I had to say, “I don’t know”, as I was picturing a statue of a cute orphan elephant with huge ears, somewhere between “Imagine” and “Alice in Wonderland” in the Central Park.
Soon I learned that DUMBO is a place, in Brooklyn; it stands for “Down Under Manhattan Bridge Overpass,” and it is as cute as the orphan elephant with huge ears: you can walk by the river shore and get an amazing view of NYC (yes, the best selfies you can get); or get right into it and enjoy the cobblestone streets, great places to eat and a lot of hot spots for your selfies.
This Is “The City”
During my time in the Bronx, I used to hear people talking about Manhattan as “The City”; but then I realized that people from NYC do the same.
Manhattan or New York City, whatever you wanna call it, is “The City”, “The-City”, and if you ever come and leave, and you find yourself talking about your amazing stay in the Big Apple, do me a favor: refer to it as “The City”, say it out loud, and I promise you that magic will happen and you’ll get a print in your soul; you were here, and the city is now part of you.