(“Rhapsody in Blue” introduction, Woody Allen’s Manhattan)
When I was growing up, New York to me was the Upper West Side. That was where my parents’ remaining city-dwelling friends lived and, accordingly, the only place we spent any significant time when we visited. My father’s Seinfeld addiction meant that my childhood home had the reliable soundtrack of a pseudo-UWS for a half an hour every night. When I was about fourteen years old, I saw Hannah and Her Sisters for the first time, kicking off my adolescent Woody Allen obsession. Around the same time, on visits to the city with my mom, I’d hang out with my friends at the Natural History Museum or Strawberry Fields, people-watching. If you’d asked me to draw a map of the city at 16, it would have gone from 59th Street to 125th Street on the West Side and it would have shown the peacocks from St. John the Divine’s, the Shakespeare garden, the 1 train, cavernous pre-war apartment buildings, old ladies in fur coats, hardcover books, Passover seders, and old-fashioned movie theaters with incredibly steep seating.
After years of living in New York, my horizons have grown, of course — but sometimes, when I walk to the 77th St. flea market or eat a bagel with lox in Riverside Park on a spring morning, I feel like I’ve ended up living in the New York I imagined as a kid. There must be thousands of pseudo-New Yorks out there, cobbled together from media, books, and limited New York experience. Do you have your own?