I had started to write this blog post last year, so the Carnegie Deli I write about below is strictly a mail order operation now. But other than that, I totally agree with what I wrote about, and left in my drafts.
I have a sister in law who can not believe that, after growing up in New York City, I would rather not live there. And, in fact, I haven't lived there in over 42 years. And I try to explain to her, each time we talk about this, that visiting a place is not the same as living there. Hence:
The Carnegie Deli, the deli in midtown Manhattan famed for its thick pastrami sandwiches, has announced it will close at the end of the year. Several of my co-workers, aware that I grew up in New York City, asked how many times I had eaten there. My answer: zero times.
You see, there is a big difference between living in a big city and visiting a big city. If I wanted a pastrami sandwich, I went to the local deli in my Bronx neighborhood. Why would I travel 40 minutes on the subway just to have a pastrami sandwich?
Similarly, I never went to visit the Empire State Building until I was 16, and that was only because I decided, one day, to be a tourist in my home city. I might have visited the Statue of Liberty on a school field trip (I know they made me go to the same museum each and every year, and it got boring after a while.
Yes, boring, in the City of Awesome Museums. I've never been to Ellis Island, either, although I would love to go.
I only visited the World Trade Center (this was back in 1973, before it officially opened) because the bank near my summer job on West Broadway had a branch in there, and that was back in the days before Direct Deposit was invented. Imagine that, walking to the bank to deposit your paycheck. That should be a post for another time.
Macy's in Herald Square was a place where my Dad and I went to people-watch during holiday shopping season.
I think you get the point.
When you live in a city you are commuting back and forth to and from work (or school). You have to buy food, prepare food, shop, and do all those things that take up time. Trust me: most New Yorkers aren't making daily visits to any tourist attraction.
We are just trying to live our lives.
This isn't to say that residents never go to Broadway shows, or visit a museum, or eat in a famous restaurant. But, even as an adult, if I went to "the City" I was there to visit friends or family. If I ate out, it was most likely in an affordable restaurant or in a diner. Or, I ate takeout from the local Chinese restaurant - something I did a lot with my late best friend from childhood and her spouse.
So, if you go to New York City, and I am there, you will sooner see me at the local diner than at the Carnegie Deli. You'll see me walking on the street and not in a carriage ride near Central Park.
And that is the greatest part of visiting a big city - when you can visit it with the knowledge of someone who lives there, and go to where the locals go. Those are the luckiest tourists of all.
That beats the biggest pastrami sandwich that a person can build.
Have you ever lived in a place that was a major tourist attraction? Did you live like a tourist?
Day 24 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge.