, Derry, New Hampshire


August 9, 2012

Column: The best people-watching is in New York City

Having just arrived by train, New York City greeted my son, Jake, and I like a hot, wet slap in the face.

Inching our way across the platform under Grand Central Station, we felt like broccoli stalks steaming in a pot. But that brief stay in a Turkish bath was worth it, because once we entered the grand concourse, it was like walking into a dream — polished marble staircases and a high blue ceiling encrusted with illuminated constellations. I immediately thought of all the great movie scenes shot in this iconic landmark, and especially Cary Grant, elbowing his way through the throng to begin his strange journey as a hunted man in Hitchcock’s “North By Northwest.”

Once outside the station, we got our first full whiff of New York, and I don’t mean that in a disparaging way. There’s a commingling of so many different smells, including carbon monoxide, curry and sidewalk vendor grease. The thick air of a tropical July weekend added to a fascinating mix that can’t be found anywhere else.

Jake and I only had about a full day and a half to soak in as much of New York as possible. We took a three-hour boat tour around Manhattan. We were served breakfast by singing waiters and waitresses. But Jake really wanted to “see” New York, and our midtown location allowed us easy access to some of the best people-watching in the world.

A short walk from our hotel brought us to Broadway and into the heart of Times Square. Early-morning shots of this part of the city during network news programs don’t do it justice. The flashing, high-definition electronic billboards assault the senses. What might a tourist from Nebraska think of that two-stories tall Hershey’s Kiss dancing before their eyes?

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