What is it about New York that gives you the sense that absolutely anything is possible? Just around the corner is another world with another language and another teaming population. Modest apartment and office blocks tower into the sky and would be dominant anywhere else. Bill-boards sweep across whole buildings and yet I am block away from Times Square. A “strong-man” in front of Madison Square Garden advertises his willingness to work. He towers in his blackness over the rest of us, in a singlet which accentuates his barrel chest and massive shoulders. But it not just about size. It is the dynamic of the place. The cocktail of business people and regulars, residents and visitors milling along the sidewalk, the press of the traffic, the ubiquitous sirens and yellow cab car horns (the 18th cab in a queue incessantly barps his colleagues – I fail to get that), the rumble of the subway drifting out of the mouths of staircases that open up in the sidewalk – these are the sights and sounds that slap you in the face. Entering NY by train from the south, which I have now done on two occasions, is bit of a slap as well. The tracks draw you though hard industrial suburbs with little hint that the city of Manhattan is so close (the World Trade Centre used to helpfully signal the location) and is hardly the best gateway entrance for a city. You then drop into a tunnel that brings you under the Hudson. A few minutes later you are disembarking and then ascending stairs onto 7th Avenue and the contrast could not be more complete. No industrial grit but light and noise and activity and Madison Square Garden and all its bustle, Times Square flashing its presence a few blocks in the distance, and a swirl of people and noise and colour that is captivating. I understand why people are drawn to this place. I am. And it has as much to do with the bustle as it does about the endless possibilities that lie just around the next corner. This town makes you believe they are all there just waiting to be seized.
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