The Big Apple. Paris has just as much romantic cachet. Rome is every bit as frenetic. London has excellent theater, too, and there are also esteemed financial institutions in Zurich and Hong Kong and Frankfurt. Tokyo and Mumbai and Jakarta have just as much population density, if not more. Berlin’s art scene is probably more robust. Kuala Lampur has tall skyscrapers as well. And the cabbies drive just as crazily in Naples. But no other city has all of those things, and more. As former Mayor Rudy Giuliani put it to David Letterman a few years ago, suggesting a new motto for New York: “We can kick your city’s…” Well, you can imagine. It was Rudy talking, after all.
Simply put, there is only one New York. And when one speaks of New York City, one is not generally referring to Rego Park or Marble Hill or even Park Slope. To outsiders, New York means Manhattan—the omphalos of the universe.
New York, New York. The city so nice, according to the song, they named it twice. As well they should. For there is a duality inherent in New York. A city with so much to recommend it comes with caveats that are often the flip side of the same coin (or subway token, as it were). This is what I found when I asked people what the best and worst things about Manhattan were.
There is a raw energy about New York that isn’t quite the same anywhere else—even in Tokyo or Rome. There is always something going on, something to see, something to do, someone fabulous to meet. And the city is always open, unlike in, say, London, where pubs close at the retirement-community hour of 11 p.m.
“The energy, the opportunity, the excitement,” says Adelaide Polsinelli, senior executive broker with the Platinum Team at Besen & Associates and the president of the board of her Fifth Avenue co-op, of the best aspects of Manhattan living.