Photo by Jerry Ferguson and licensed under Creative Commons.
Recently, I’ve been traveling between SF and NYC, and this is the first time I’ve gotten to stay in my new NYC apartment for at least a week. I’ve been walking around a lot, trying to notice as much as possible. Here are my observations in completely random order:
New Yorkers walk fast. Then again, maybe I would walk faster if I had a regular job.
This city really doesn’t sleep. NYC really does live up to its reputation. Paraphrasing Jon Stewart: “If you can’t buy it at midnight in NYC, it probably doesn’t exist.” Emily even found a 24-hour hair salon!
The NYC tech scene is burgeoning. No, it’s not as large as the Bay Area’s. Then again, even in Silicon Valley, it’s sometimes hard for me to see past the 5,014 deal-a-day sites and the 4,713 photo sharing apps that vary in ways I can barely discern. I felt a really good vibe at TechCrunch Disrupt NYC, so I’m cautiously optimistic.
NYC’s reputation for rudeness seems to be overstated. While people are nicer overall in the Bay Area, I haven’t had any real issues with rudeness. Maybe it’s because I’m a fairly to-the-point engineer. One exception, though, is customer service in non-trendy/luxury places: it’s often worse (and sometimes much worse) in NYC.
There is a lot of most things, and at least a little bit of everything else. In my neighborhood (Chelsea), there are what feels like 5 Thai restaurants on every block. Emily even found a place that makes only wedding veils. The other day, I ate an arepa (Venezuelan sandwich) for the first time; on the way home, I walked by 3 other places that specialize in that very dish.
The food is world-class. I’ve lived in the Bay Area from my childhood until very recently. With few exceptions (mostly Vietnamese food), NYC has the best food of any American city I’ve visited. I’ve eaten at many amazing NYC restaurants. Average Yelp ratings are actually a good indicator of restaurant quality here, unlike in SF where 3 1/2 stars too often means “that was pretty bad and overpriced.” Affordable, tasty eats can be found too, such as the $1 peking duck buns in Flushing, the countless Halal carts in Manhattan, and Mamoun’s Falafel in the Village.
There’s a lot more variety in weather than in CA. When I flew here in February, it was about 20 degrees. For a Californian, that’s about half the lowest temperature I remember experiencing in SF. Now, it’s in the 80’s with higher humidity than I’ve experienced in the Bay Area. On the plus side, during the summer, men can wear shorts and women can wear dresses even at night.
Jeans and shorts are an endangered species (on weekdays). There are many more people wearing suits here, even in more affordable restaurants like sandwich shops. As a guy who only wears suits at weddings and funerals and needs to watch YouTube videos about tying ties, this was at first daunting. I was relieved to find more jeans- and shorts-wearing compatriots at TechCrunch NYC and geek bastions like General Assembly. Fortunately, even many trendier restaurants are fine with you wearing jeans as long as you’re wearing a nicer shirt.
Walking here is awesome. According to my FitBit, I’ve tended to walk around 15-20,000 steps per day in NYC. Compare this to my average of 3-4k steps per day in SF. While walking for just 5 minutes, I can walk by hundreds of restaurants, shops, and other businesses. In SF, I often get bored while walking, because even the busy stretches (like the Haight, Mission) end pretty quickly compared to NYC.
I’m loving NYC so far. Time to eat.