Sunday, May 29, 2022

New York City is quiet

     On Wednesday, the day we arrived in New York City, we joined 3,432,047 other riders on the subway, according to the Metropolitan Transit Authority, or 58.2 percent of the ridership on a comparable day before the pandemic struck in early 2020. 
      As it happened, that was the last time we were in the city, Valentine's Day, 2020, and you could feel a palpable difference. It was a little quieter, the streets a little emptier. We always got a seat on the subway. Though accuracy demands that I point out the above picture was taken after boarding at the World Trade Center stop of the No. 1 train—near the beginning of the line. It got busier soon thereafter. But never too busy.
    I don't want to overstate the case. New York isn't a ghost town. Katz's Deli was jammed when we hurried there for our welcome-to-New-York hot pastrami sandwich and chocolate egg creme. (And what does a hot pastrami sandwich cost at Katz's? $25. In its defense, the sandwich must have had a pound of warm, juicy pastrami—we split it—and was worth every penny).
     The High Line, a hiking trail salvaged from abandoned elevated train tracks, was certainly populated, losing a bit of charm since we first went there, after it had just opened. "It's more crowded than the street," I groused. Still, an amazing amenity, and good to see it so popular. We walked the entire route.
     We did some fun things I can recommend. My son popped for the "Chaos at Hogwarts" virtual reality experience at Harry Potter New York. I agreed, but reluctantly—I couldn't imagine it being worthwhile. But it really was. You don VR goggles, a backpack, wristlets and foot monitors. The experience plunks you in the middle of the Hogwarts world, the VR headset augmented by fans and dripping water and vibration as you walk gingerly through the castle and finding yourself contemplating vertiginous vistas, the shifting staircases and dining hall and such. You have a wand, and help battle various creatures. Someday we'll occupy our movies as they unfold around us.   
     We went to the Guggenheim, not expecting much—we hadn't gone in years, and the main show highlights Vasily Kandinsky, who always left me cold. He hadn't improved, but we appreciated his twee, colorful paintings. And there was an unexpected treat, a show "Wearing Masks" by British artist Gilliam Wearing, on the issue of identity, that was challenging and weird and quite enjoyable.
     But the best part was walking the streets, seeing the buildings and the people. The murder rate here is far lower than Chicago's—I guessed a third; it's actually a sixth. There just isn't the sense of menace you can feel on some streets in Chicago, though that might have been visitor's naivete. I hesitate to say it: but New York feels safer than Chicago. 


  1. I"m startled to hear that New York now feels safer than Chicago, Mister S, despite all the recent crime and violence on a system that carried 5.9 million passengers daily, pre-Plague...compared to the CTA's figure of 750,000 on its rapid transit system. Now you've got this Chicago native, who spent half his life in his birthplace, actually rethinking my first visit to Chicago since the weekend the Cubs won the pennant.

    No problems with the Illinois Railway Museum, out in the boonies, or with the Botanic Garden (first visit in at least thirty years). Or even a Cub game (doubtful). But I was also considering the magnificent and historic Garfield Park Conservatory on the West Side, and even spending a day riding on the North Side, Northwest Side, and Southwest Side 'L" lines, just for nostalgia's sake. But hearing about "the increasing sense of menace on some streets in Chicago" has literally stopped me in my tracks (pun intended).

    I used to know Chicago pretty well, or at least I believed I did. Carried a little animated map around in my head, that told me what was okay to do and what was not, and where the no-go zones were (all longtime Chicagoans do this, out of necessity and self-preservation). As a result, I was only endangered once (on the Red Line, at Wilson)...and the cops showed up at just the right moment. Perhaps I wasn't so smart...just lucky.

    But I've been gone thirty years now...and everything has changed...and maybe I don't know what used to be my city so well anymore. What streets, Mister S? What parts of town? I'm just another one of those hix from the stix...a country cousin who's visiting from Cleveland. Give me the plain, unvarnished truth...the straight dope. I'm still a Chicago boy at heart. I can take it.

    1. Stay off of the Red Line, it seems to be the most dangerous L Line.
      I occasionally ride the Green Line all the way to 63rd & Cottage & don't feel unsafe, but the Red Line is flat out scary at times, so I stay off it, unless it's an emergency & no other way to get somewhere.
      The only time I see cops on the L is when there are at least four of them together, so it appears they too are scared to ride it!

      But as for street crime, it appears that Lakeview & Bucktown are the worst for robberies, muggings & car jackings.
      For that I blame our worthless & useless state's attorney, who refuses to prosecute felonies & bargains them down to misdemeanors & our worthless & useless judges who keep letting felons with guns out on bond, instead of locking them up at 26th & California until trial.
      Check out every day for the latest in atrocities committed by the criminals & their willing accomplices, the incompetents at the state's attorney's office & the rotten judges that let them out!

    2. They've expanded their coverage since the site's inception, and there IS certainly a disturbing amount of crime to be reported in that neighborhood, but is there any possibility that you identify Lakeview as the "worst" because the source you cite is CWB, aka, Crime in Wrigleyville and Boystown (both in Lakeview)?

    3. That's so sad. I grew up riding the northern half of the Red Line, from Howard "to-da-Loop"...and I took it to work for years. Also lived within sight of the Evanston line for years, and by the Ravenswood (Brown Line) tracks for a while. I've heard it's more crowded than ever..

      I was going to take a ride on the Red Line, but maybe I'll just ride the Evanston Express instead It always made my downtown commute a lot easier and faster.. When I flew into and out of Midway and stayed downtown, almost twenty years ago, I used the Orange Line, but only once. I'd like to ride it again. I left Chicago before it was finished.

      And I'm forgetting about watching the Cubs...Not merely because they stink again, but because this former Bleacher Creature refuses to pay the most expensive ticket prices in baseball. I don't need a fix THAT badly.

  2. The 606 is similar to the High Line and very cool.
    I feel safe in Chicago every visit, not that feeling is a good measure.
    Doesn't it depend on where you are in the city? True there have been some violence in areas usually thought to be safe but it's hardly a trend (statistically at least).
    I don't go to the pockets where I wouldn't feel safe but we've been to many parts of the South and West Sides and saw no reason to feel unsafe. Last excursion was to the Garfield Park Conservatory as Grizz mentioned. Worth the trip.
    Glad you had a nice visit to NYC.

  3. When we moved back here 14 years ago there was little crime on the Near North side. That all started changing about six years ago and it's still growing. Shootings, robberies. We stopped riding the L trains four years ago and our property value is dropping.


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