Coordinates: 40°40′N 73°56′W
New York might be one of the destinations most visited by Puerto Rico’s residents. Whether they are going for a family visit; they stop over on their way to another destination; they are Broadway fans; they want to see the Statue of Liberty or simply for a weekend getaway. The reason does not matter. The reality is that, despite its reputation as a hurried and slightly conceited city, you can safely say that many Puerto Ricans love New York City.
Trains ride underground. Cars ride over
I have visited this city more than fifteen times, even without relatives to be visited: as an adult, as a little girl, single, married, with family, with friends, to work and even to run a half marathon. For me this is a city of possibilities, a bridge to the world. Perhaps due to a refrain my parents would repeat every time they heard the city’s name: "New York, a city of grand avenues. Trains ride underground. Cars ride over." After returning with my in-laws, I realized New York has been avant-garde, especially in the creation of public spaces.
Central Park, an urban forest surrounded by skyscrapers
To learn about the groups that have fought to preserve eight hundred and forty three forest acres in the center of a city in development, has increased my love and admiration of Central Park. Graffiti, erosion, protection from contamination, as well as the restoration of a route around the Reserve, are some of the tasks needed in a space visited forty two million times a year. Every entrance to the park is like a threshold, which allows you to leave behind the city of yellow taxis and skyscrapers and arrive into a peaceful oasis.
Water, gardens and John Lennon
The park is so extensive that some tour it with a bicycle or in one of its famous horse carriages. We chose to go every day for at least one hour, to explore it little by little. We found fountains, gardens, playgrounds, water bodies, runners, restaurants and a memorial to the famous British singer, John Lennon.
Brooklyn Bridge, a city landmark
My in-laws, Swiss trekkers, made me walk from SOHO up to our hotel on 79th West Street. For real! Therefore, to cross the Brooklyn Bridge on foot was a piece of cake. This passage is scenic, not only because you see the Manhattan skyline from another angle, but for the bridge’s architecture itself. While you cross it, you must maintain a good pace to avoid stumbling with cyclists or the multitude of tourists that you find, no matter the season.
Manhattan vs. Brooklyn
Many artists and families came to Brooklyn in the nineties looking for cheaper rents versus those found in Manhattan. Now it is the other way around: everyone wants to live in Brooklyn. I do not blame them: I loved the eclectic and bohemian groove mixed with wonderful recreational spaces that reigns in the neighborhood known as DUMBO (acronym for Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass). After recharging our batteries with a delicious pizza from Grimaldi's, we spent a calm evening exploring its streets and galleries and enjoying the Brooklyn Park on the East River’s shore.
Highline, a new use for old cargo train tracks
The Highline Park rises on Manhattan’s West Side as an excellent example of urban revitalization. The movement to save this space achieved its heyday through the images of photographer Joel Sternfeld, which captured how spontaneous nature had grown on the rails. Although the space is now more adorned with public art and the modern structure over which it rises, the feeling of crossing a wild garden remains.
Every borough has its own flavor and proprietary characteristics. Every time I visit, I stay in a new quarter, what helps deepen my understanding of this fantastic city and perhaps discover something nobody had told me about before.
Conscious Travel Practices:
1) Respect public spaces.
2) Promote attractions with sustainable practices.
3) Support small businesses.
4) Explore destinations by foot or bike.