Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Spring Break, NYC and Boston

I just wanted to apologize for not posting over the past few days. It's Spring Break and, well... I'm enjoying the vacation.

Anyway, I decided to go to New York City for the weekend. I've traveled all around the world; I've been to Melbourne and Christchurch. I've been to the Dominican Republic and Tennessee. I've seen NASA's Control Center and had dinner on the top of Cinderella's Castle. Yet, I've never been to the Big Apple. So, when my friend asked me to come and visit another friend who goes to school there, how could I resist?

I assure you all, there is a point here. So many people love New York City. People all over the world dream about moving there. Clearly, none of those people have been to Boston. I told you I had a point: Boston rocks! Visiting New York only made me fully appreciate Bean Town. New York may have a huge population and the Statue of Liberty, but it pales in comparison when it comes to the feel of the city. Manhattan seemed so manufactured, so processed and so homogenized. It makes me think about American cheese... sure, it tastes okay and is good in a sandwich, but it's just not good cheese. It works, but there's nothing special about it.

Maybe I just didn't spend enough time there. However, I didn't feel that way about Sidney or Auckland. Heck, I didn't even feel that way about Houston. Every major city I've been to has always had some sort of feel to it that makes it unique and great in its own way. I can't explain it. However, NYC lacked that feel. I didn't go there and just get what it was all about. Maybe I feel that way because I'm too biased coming from Boston. Maybe NYC is too international; maybe there are so many people from so many different parts of the world that it can't have it's own unique identity. Maybe that's a good thing and I shouldn't be complaining.

The friend I stayed with lives on Stanton Island and I actually have to say I really liked it there. Stanton Island definitely had a feel to it. Maybe NYC has too many parts to feel unique as a whole and I should be looking at each part of NYC separately. Boston's a compact city, there aren't as many parts to the city as there is New York, so the real problem could be that NYC is just too big to feel as if it has a unique feel or identity.

I don't know. I don't understand it. All I know is that visiting New York made me appreciate just how great Boston is. We need to make sure Boston stays that way. Too many important jobs have been lost to mergers. Politicians play with our bread and butter as they allow other countries and states to get the head start with important research like stem cells.

Massachusetts is probably the greatest state in this country; we're the best educated, well off and are ahead of the curve on civil rights and even family values (just look at our divorce rates: lowest in the country). However, Massachusetts would be nothing without its heart and sole: Boston. People are leaving the state in droves, we're the only state in the country that has a shrinking population. While some would argue a shrinking population is a good thing, the fact of the matter is that something is causing people to leave, which illustrates a problem.

It means public colleges aren't as accessible as they should be (80% or more UMASS students stay in Massachusetts). It means better job opportunities are being created elsewhere. It means housing is too expensive. These are all problems that must be dealt with. However, I won't be coming up with any answers until Monday, when I'm back at school.


joe schlieff said...

I hate Boston. Every time I go there I get lost and almost in a dozen accidents. It's got such an inefficient system of roads and subways that I'd rather travel around the city on the back of a clown riding a unicycle. Seriously...that would be a good time.

I went to new york a few months before the towers went down, and I drove through it in was eerie not seein em

Ryan Adams said...

I love the subway system in Boston. It's not perfect, but it's about the cheapest one out there, I've never had any delays and it's pretty easy to navagate. Seriously, Joe, go check out other subways systems and you'll probably revisit your opinion. DC's Metro system is beautiful, but constantly breaks down and is in real bad shape because of very poor planning. NYC was okay, just more confusing than Boston's, probably because it was bigger.

As far as roads... the Big Dig really has made travelling through Boston simple and quick. Driving in Boston is a different story, but the city is so small, why bother doing it at all? Just hop on the T.

Boston is great. There aren't gigantic ugly apartment house complexes like in the outskirts of NYC (yes, there are apartment buildings, but the one's near NYC are just rediculous), everything in Boston is close together. You can walk from the commons to the Theatre District to Newbury St. and not need to stop for a breather and we have a kick'n baseball team =p

joe schlieff said...

yeah the metro is what im comparing it to. DC has by far the best subway ever. ever. i freakin love that city hahaha

Ryan Adams said...

LOL try using it every day to get to and from work. You'll change your mind. It's beautiful, clean and has that wonderful electronic display showing when the next trains will be coming... but it constantly broke down and it was designed so poorly that they made the escalators mostly outdoors... and consequently, about half of them were broken (and they were all just redone too). It was a fiasco. In about a year, it could well meet it's potential, but as of right now it's the big dig of metro systems.

joe schlieff said...

longest escalator EVER. i seriously would have slid down the middle if it didnt have a million metal rods sticking out to kill me. I don't like escalators in general. you have to like hold on to the railing to be stable but ITS SOOOO GERMYYY yuck.

Ryan Adams said...

Some were so long they were triggering my fear of heights.

Anthony said...

Being a native New Yorker who lived in Boston for two years, I feel both exactly the same and exactly opposite that you do. Living in Boston made me love New York that much more. Six months into my job I realized I needed to find my way back to NYC. I found Boston way too small, provinical, and especially, homogeneous for my liking. I refused to even call it a city, but that's just me. Part of the "charm" of NYC is that there are so many parts, and if you don't like one part of town, walk three blocks and it feels completely different. I also appreciate being able to order in Indian Food at 3 AM on a Tuesday, something I never would have been able to do in Boston. The thing that makes the least sense to me is why close the trains at 12:30 but the bars at 2?

As for the trains, they really aren't that hard. Each color runs on a different avenue. Blue runs on 8th Ave, red on 7th, orange on 6th, and so on. Compare that with Boston, which I think has a fairly idiotic way of saying where the train is going. Every line bases itself off of Downtown Crossing. I would start in Malden going "inbound," and five minutes later be going "outbound" ON THE SAME TRAIN. Doesn't make sense. If I'm going in one direction, I should continue going in that direction. Period.

Different places for different people, I guess.

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