I love city life, the hum and buzz of people around me. I take comfort in the knowledge that I can feed myself and solve nearly any problem I might face with resources which are nearby. Not for me a lifestyle deep in the heart of wilderness unsurrounded by my fellow man – I am an urban creature.
I am also a night owl. As such, life on the west coast, though it has many advantages, may not, I fear, be where I end up living – at least not solely. Many times every week I find myself looking to eat well after 10pm – the hour by which the majority of businesses (and apparently people) on the west coast have closed up shop and gone home for the evening.
This current trip to NYC has reminded me of the many reasons I love NYC and convinced me yet again that I need to live here someday soon – likely not full time (and perhaps less of the time in the heart of the wintertime and the peak of the hottest parts of the summer) but enough of the time that my urbanist instincts can be satisfied.
A few of the many parts of the city that convince me of why I want to live here:
32nd St just east of Broadway – also known as Koreantown this one block (and a bit) stretch of NYC has almost literally more late night, 24hr options than the entire city of San Francisco. If not literally very nearly so (my mental count of dining options in San Francisco after midnight is not a long list in the least). And if the Korean may not be quite as good as I’ve heard you can get in LA (and perhaps for some dishes in parts of Oakland – though I haven’t yet tested this) and Chicago also has some very good Korean options as well – the block more than makes up for that by having quite good dining options available at all hours. And, if you are interested, many other options – such as 24hr spas and Karaoke.
The fact that Momofuku Ssam Bar is open for dinner until 2am 7 nights a week. I ate here for dinner for my first time this trip. It is incredibly good, well worth all the accolades. (for example see what the NY Times critic Frank Bruni wrote in his beyond glowing review back in Feb 2007) Are you back from reading that?
Yes, it is that good.
And open everynight until 2am. So here in NYC instead of making do with instant noodles or a greasy diner (about the sum total of SF’s options after midnight though there are a handful of other options) you could head to the East Village and get a 2 star (NY Times) meal. And yes, it will be more than you pay at that diner, and no the bread & butter is not free (in fact it is well worth the $8 that is the price for amazingly good bread and two types of fresh, full of flavors goat and cow butters).
And that is only scratching the surface of this city. Gems (and duds) lie around every corner. There are multiple 24hr Starbucks (and yes, they are Starbucks, but still – internet + coffee at all hours in many parts of city = happy Shannon).
Sure, NYC doesn’t have great Mexican dining and it does get very cold in the winters, very hot in the summers. And though there is Central Park, for many miles and long stretches throughout NYC greenery is in short supply. And the traffic can suck, people can be rude, there are always tourists, and you can easily add to that list (high rents – really really high rents, 5th & 6th floor walk-ups, window AC units, bugs, rats, poor schools etc).
But. And it is a big but. This is New York!
I love how diverse the city is and how populated. Not as populated or dense as, for example, New Delhi, but denser in all ways than either Chicago or San Francisco the two major cities where I have lived. Sure the prices mean that you can’t go out every night (unless you really strike it rich) and the prices mean that if I think it unlike I’ll be able to buy in San Francisco it is even less likely I can buy in NYC (though certainly one goal of being an entrepreneur in technology is to eventually be able to buy whatever I want wherever I want).
The bookstores are more common in San Francisco (though in NYC you get sidewalk used booksellers in many parts of the city – but fewer used bookstores and independents) and the coffee and cafe culture in San Francisco is truly amazingly good. Plus the tech scene in the bay area is unrivaled, there is tech in NYC but there is also advertising, fashion, wall street, banking, media, Broadway, and countless other options pulling at and attracting the best and brightest (and the not so good and not so bright or talented as well).
For every Momofuku Ssam Bar there are countless other unmemorable restaurants in NYC (though luckily the worst usually – though not always – soon close). On a personal level I have heard that dating in NYC is difficult though there also do seem to be a great many women of around my age here in NYC (always hard to tell who is single however but they can’t all be dating or married). For someone, like myself, interested in smart, ambitious women and open to a great diversity (heck attracted to women from around the globe) NYC is a place full of some of the smartest and most ambitious people from across the planet. Even today as expensive as NYC is and has difficult as the US Government makes it to live and work here if you are not a US citizen (heck to a degree even if you are) NYC is still a place that attracts people from across the globe.
So sometime soon, likely sometime in 2008, I am going to look into finding a place of my own in NYC – perhaps a place to share with others on a timeshare basis of some sort, but a place of my own nonetheless. I still need to be in the Bay Area and I love my apartment there and my friends – but every time I am in NYC I realize more and more that for an urbanist like myself, this is most definitely the place to be (and not a horrible place for me in my role as a cofounder of a new advertising network either).