N = New York, New York

What can I say?  There is only one New York and – love it or hate it – there is no place like it.

I wish I could say I was well acquired with this Grand Lady, but I’m not.  My time in NY was limited to less than 24 hours on a stopover over 15 years ago, but it was highly memorable … made all the more so by the events of 9/11 that followed.

N = New York 2
Ellis Island – only much later would I discover the manifests that included my grandparents’ and father’s name on them … passing through Ellis Island on their way from Italy to Canada

We were in New York in the summer of 1999.  We had been on the road for 10 days … it was hot, we were tired and ready to go home.

N = New York

With our very short layover, we did as many tourist-y things as possible – Central Park, Apollo Theatre, ferry to Staten Island, Empire State Building.  It was a blur of activity, but there were some very significant impressions that were left behind.

Living in Toronto, I was no stranger to traffic, but THE NOISE!!  No picture can convey the noise that greeted us.  It was a detail we were completely unprepared for and little Misha – 11 years old at the time – clung uncharacteristically to me, like he was afraid of being swallowed up in the controlled chaos.

N = New York 4.jpg
Taken from the top level of a double-decker tour bus

We often hear about the ornery harshness of New Yorkers but my memory of one particular incident is in complete contrast to that stereotypical image.  We were planning to get around by subway and Misha encountered some difficulties with his subway pass.

It was rush hour and hundreds of people were rushing past us as he struggled with his pass. Misha had panicked in the scramble and *froze* in front of the turnstile causing a backlog behind him. A well-dressed man, obviously on his way to work with his briefcase in hand, stopped and calmly explained to Misha what he needed to do.

If he hadn’t rushed off in a hurry, I could have hugged him on the spot.  This kind man defused both Misha’s and my anxiety in a few simple words during a very stressful moment for both of us.

N = New York 3
World Trade Centre

Only 2 short years later, the World Trade Centre would be attacked.  We sat with our young boys, and our photos of this short excursion into New York, trying to make sense of the unimaginable happening on the TV in front of us.

Some memories become more precious than others. For us, New York falls in the category of very precious indeed.


All photos in this post were taken by Gilles.


  1. What a great trip down memory lane! I love the photos. I’m going to NYC for the very first time on the 18th of this month! I’m going with my 2 sisters. This will be our first “sisters” trip as well. I’m so excited! We’re going to do all the touristy things we can. We have a week. So we’re even cramming in two Broadway shows, and you know I’ll be snapping images of doors too! “)

    So, what’s the trick with getting through the turnstile? We’re planning to ride the subway, and buses in addition to the odd cab ride. It can’t be any more complicated than getting into the Metro, or Tube stations in Paris and London…can it?


    • I’m so excited for you! Not sure if it’s going to New York, or spending a week away with your sisters 🙂 Either way, I’m sure it will be wonderful!

      There really is nothing unusual about the turnstiles. I think my son was spooked by all the people and the speed at which everyone was moving. He just froze in front of the turnstile. The man behind him was so kind. In hindsight, I should I gone behind him. Bad Mommy moment! :/

      I hope you have a LOT of fun!! Looking forward to reading about your escapades 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I love it! I’ve been there three times. It’s a bit intimidating but it’s so worth it. The last time I was there was in 2005 and my son too over, planning where we would go each day and hire we would get there. It took the pressure of of me and I was able to enjoy the trip and enjoy seeing the city through my son’s and daughter’s eyes.

    Liked by 1 person

    • As far as crowds go, Prague is certainly the most congested I’ve ever seen – and that says a lot.
      … but for some reason, they didn’t bother me. They kind of added to the energy of the city 🙂


      • We had a great time there! Even better than what the article says, because the editor of the magazine left out some of the most interesting parts.
        You remember that I wrote the comment on one of your previous posts that I’d classify some trips as a success even if someone got hospitalized?

        One night my friend left me in a pub up in Harlem because he was going out to explore. I stayed ’till I fell asleep, with my head resting on a pint. Afterwards some black guy that I’d met drove me back to the hotel.
        I was planning to walk, but the black guy told me: “Ah, no. Oh, no. You’re not walking anywhere. They see you walking along, they see pay check walking along.”.
        He was mighty wise that black fellow, must have been Samuel L. Jackson or some shit (of course, he wasn’t Samuel L. Jackson, but he did actually present himself as Action Jackson and said he’d been on some TV series, film or something. I can’t remember exactly the details, but Lilah the bartender backed up his story).
        Outside the hotel he gave me a tiny joint, the smallest joint I’ve ever seen, but it was some potent shit: ridiculously strong!
        I didn’t even make it through the joint before I staggered into the room!

        Back at the hotel, my friend wasn’t there in the top bunk bed where I’d expect to find him. I figured he’d be there the next morning, but he still wasn’t.
        For a moment I pondered the fact that I’d might have to report him missing in action, call his family and stuff, but I figured it was way to early to create a drama. So I’d wait it out to see what happened. I did the only reasonable thing: started drinking early, got wasted and continued to binge drink the whole day/night, before I went from kiosk to kiosk and bought a whole bunch of Tylenol (in the kiosks you could only buy 3 packets with 3 pills at once, but my alcohol infused, junkie brain, immediately understood that I could just go to different places and pull the same trick).

        That next day we were supposed to go to a book reading with Michael Moore at 16:00, but I overslept and woke up too late, around 17:00. My friend was still missing and now I seriously started thinking about that conversation with his mom and the cops…
        When I came back to the hotel that evening, he was there: bandages all over the place, a half broken thumb and with a giant fucking abrasion running from his hip and all over the side of his body.

        I asked him where he’d been and what the fuck had happened. He didn’t know what had happened, but the nurses had told him that he was hit by a greyhound bus….

        Probably that next evening we hit the strip joints, which was a great idea, because the ladies were really interested in hearing the story and we we’re really interested in ladies (we were young at the time and didn’t worry our tiny brains with the fact that strippers are generally interested in anyone that comes to spend money at such places).

        *Phew* That was a lengthy comment. I think I’ll add it as a post in my blog! 😀


  3. What a whirlwind, Joanne, and some great memories gathered in such a short time. The photo of the World Trade Center towers is particularly eerie when I think of the ripples that continue to flow from their fall.


    • I agree! I remember a quote from some time ago that has stuck with me – it’s something along the line of ‘we tend to get what we expect, so expect greatness’. I think the same is true of finding beauty and kindness in the world 🙂


  4. Wow, Joanne. I am getting teary eyed first about sensitive Misha and then, next over our incredible loss of the twin towers. My parents took us twice to NYC, but I was not a photographer. Never got many pictures but si far my memories are clear. Both my Mom’s parents families came through Ellis Island, one from Germany and other from Sweden. I have my German Grandma’s naturalization papers. What a lot of wonderful things could be seen now, as an adult. Your trip included great high points and glad you met nice New Yorkers, too. 🙂


  5. I’m on both the hate and the like list. Hated it the first time I was there (1991) but liked it when we went last year. But I don’t think I’ll ever love it. Too big, too loud, too….. American. (Sorry.)
    But you did make me pull out my photos from 1991 for the first time in I don’t know how long. I’d forgotten how much the Twin Towers really dominated Manhattan.
    Hope you get back there some day, although you achieved a lot in 24 hours!


    • I think I have the ability to like both the really big cities and the really small towns and countryside.
      I was however really surprised by how noisy it was … especially the constant honking of car horns!
      I just feel that a city like this one deserves another visit – there is so much unfinished business!! 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      • For me, it depends on the city. I adore London and I would go back to Paris or Vienna but I have no love for Rome or Tokyo. Don’t even talk to me about Bangkok….
        I was glad in the end that I made a return visit to New York City. It let me lay some demons to rest. 🙂


        • I think sometimes there is an incident or mood that affects how we feel about a city that isn’t really about the city at all.

          I did not like Florence or Venice. We had been in Paris and I didn’t want to leave Paris. As a result, I kind of resented being in Venice and Florence. I was tired and hot and just didn’t want to be there.
          I hope someday I can go back and see if I can erase my earlier dislike.

          Liked by 1 person

  6. I know what you mean about the noise! I visited NY after about 3or 4 years of living in Toronto and it was rude shock! And I grew up in Bombay, India. 🙂 Hope Toronto does not end up with unnecessarily high noises levels as well..

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I love NY and found it a great place to visit with children. It’s exciting to see all the places you’ve seen in the movies/on TV. I was hoping to spot Cagney and Lacey…no such luck!


  8. Great photos and memories of your visit. My daughter and I have visited NY many, many times. We toured the WTC Towers about 11 months before they were brought down. We often have been asked for directions and we have always been amazed that, as visitors ourselves, we’ve usually been able to help.

    If you’re ever back for a visit, take the Tram (or the F-train) over to Roosevelt Island. It’s in the East River north of midtown. You can see the traffic on the East River Drive, but it is absolutely silent. The view from the Tram is impressive (it goes alongside the Queensboro Bridge (I think that’s the bridge). Another great way to see the city is to take the Water Taxi from roughly midtown on the East River to about the same point on the Hudson. The boat is loud, but you see a lot of city in not a lot of minutes.

    I’m glad you shared this one, it’s one of the few I can relate to directly 🙂 Still, I’m very happy to experience your other journeys through your lens and memory.


  9. Great photo of the towers. My husband has a few of those. As for me, I was there even less time than you and he, and I was like, 14? I had no camera. Still, its impression stays on.


  10. Joanne it seems that you accomplished a great deal in NYC in 24 hours. As you may recall my daughter and I had a five day getaway there last year. We too found New Yorkers so very friendly. Visiting the 911 memorial was an emotional time for us.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Oh yes, not being able to produce your token in time and pass through the turnstiles quickly can be punishable by death, especially during rush hour, and I mean that literally! I’d say you got very lucky! Ha, ha!


  12. I had the pleasure of visiting New York a couple of years ago & like you, I was surprised by the friendliness of the people who live there. Not at all what I expected.

    One of my most favourite things we did was to go on a walking food tour. The one we did was in Greenwich Village & it was fantastic. Here is the link for anyone that might be interested:


    I would definitely go back, it is a city to be explored, that’s for sure!


  13. I think NYC has a bad reputation. Like any place else in the world there are good people and bad, rude people and nice. There is just so many people that it’s easy to feel lost in the mob which makes it feel very impersonal. Also, people seem to remember the 1970s when, yeah, you might have wanted to stay out of the city.


  14. Wonderful post about my home state Joanne 🙂 New York sometimes gets a bad rap for people being arrogant. I have been up in the Twin Towers many times and on one occasion my wife and I went to the “Greatest Bar On Earth” at the top of one of the towers and the views of Manhattan at night were gorgeous. Because of their construction you were able to go right up to the window glass and feel like you were floating. Terry and I were both devastated when we learned of the attacks and were also glued to the television. We truly will “Never Forget”.


  15. My first trip to NYC I attended a reception in the World Trade Center, the second time I went it was gone, tragic. But New York is at the top of my favorite cities in the world. As to the kindness of strangers – we met some of my husband’s friends in NY and wanted to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge. We took the subway and when we exited the subway we got out our map and tried to find the right direction, a woman came up to us and asked where we were going and then proceeded to walk us to our destination.


    • Don’t those kinds of encounters total blow you away?!!
      Your story made me smile because it reminded me that the world is full of kind people doing small kind things that DO make a difference.


  16. I went to New York city for a day trip while visiting my first husband’s family in Connecticut…the week before 9/11. It was all very surreal, my own close call, living near an airport and hearing no planes for days. It’ was the absence of sound that was eerie. Having to teach that day and not wanting to frighten the students but not knowing how much they knew or didn’t know about what was going on…looking at our own pictures of the Twin Towers. Yes, unforgettable. Even today, if I see an older show from NYC that shows the towers still intact, I feel comforted…there are so many images of them around the world…they will never be erased. One day I hope to see the memorials in NYC and Pennsylvania,


  17. For some reason I would never have expected such kindness, you are right New York seems to give that feeling that no one cares but that might not be true at all, with your experience as proof.


    • I guess sometimes it takes only one unexpected interaction with someone to turn your perceptions upside down.
      I’m sure there are others who have had the opposite experience , but I’m grateful to this kind stranger.

      Liked by 1 person

  18. I agree, New York is an exciting, but noisy city. Our kids loved it, as they were teenagers when we took them there, and we did too, but I think you need lots of stamina to keep up!


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