Yesterday, I decided to go for an exploratory wander around Hell’s Kitchen. I love the way that by doing this, you can just happen upon something totally random that widens your world. And I did! Tucked away down a quiet side street, I stumbled across the newly-opened Fine and Dandy, a quirky gentlemen’s accessory shop full of retro cool.
I was tempted in by the sign (‘accessories for dapper guys’) – and loved the vintage ties – but browsing around I was immediately drawn to a book – Here is New York, a famous essay on the city by the journalist E.B. White. This is a must-read for anyone wanting to get under the skin of NYC.
Written in 1948, yet surprisingly relevant for the modern day, the essay contains valuable insights about life in Manhattan which resonate with my own experiences. By all means, read the work for yourself. I think the part that spoke to me the most was the description of three different New Yorks – the city of the natives, the city of the commuter and the city of the immigrant.
I felt this tripartite categorisation was a little harsh on the commuters – after all, many native New Yorkers move out of town to raise their kids. But the observations on the importance of ‘neighbourhood’ in New York are spot on.
The chap who ran Fine and Dandy told me that Here is New York was one of his favourite books growing up. I now see why. It’s full of poetic nuggets that really capture the soul of the city. I’ll leave you with another of my favourites:
Although New York often imparts a feeling of great forlornness or forsakenness it seldom seems dead or unresourceul; and you always feel that either by shifting your location ten blocks or by reducing your fortune by five dollars you can experience rejuvenation.