The words “New York” conjure up lots of images in a person’s mind, most of them having to do with New York City. New York City is one of the most famous places on Earth. In fact, in many respects the Big Apple is the Center of the World, a place where dreams are realized, stars are born, and where an energy exists like no place else in the world.
New York is not just a city, though. It is also the Empire State, home to not only Times Square, the Statue of Liberty and magnificent skyscrapers, but to miles and miles of white, sandy beaches, stunning mountain vistas, the picturesque Finger Lakes, majestic Niagara Falls and so much more! New York is the place where I was born and I will be forever proud to be a New Yorker.
Upstate New York
Over the weekend, my mother and I traveled to Albany for a family wedding. My mother had been excited about the trip for months, partly because she'd never been to Albany, the capital city of New York. I kept telling her that Albany is really no big deal. I'd been there several times before and all I could remember about the place were lots and lots of shopping malls.
Mom and I left her house in Holbrook, Long Island early Saturday morning for the three to four-hour trip upstate. The weather was gorgeous, sunny skies and warm temperatures, and during the ride I was reminded of just how beautiful the rest of my home state really is.
Upstate New York is a vast expanse of open space, with the high elevations of the Catskill and Adirondack Mountains providing stunning vistas at the center and northernmost parts of the state, and the pristine regions of the Finger Lakes and Niagara to the west offering up even more striking views.
As we passed from the northernmost New York City borough of the Bronx into Westchester County and then the lower Hudson Valley, the terrain began to take an stark change of appearance. Cityscapes quickly turn into rolling, tree-lined hills and winding roadways towards the wide open spaces that present a complete contrast to the low-lying and crowded New York City metropolitan area.
The closer we got to Albany, the more the landscape became filled with dozens of picturesque lakes, meadows and streams, views of which were clearer and more stunning from the higher elevations of the area. During my lifetime, I’ve made occasional visits to upstate New York, to beautiful places like Lakes George and Champlain, Bear Mountain and Wyndham, charming Saratoga and the like, and this trip only reminded me that I need to visit more often.
Long Island is one of the most populated (and one of the first!) suburban areas in the United States, with a whopping 7.5 million residents. The island extends 118 miles eastward from New York Harbor all the way to the world-famous Lighthouse at Montauk Point jutting out towards the Atlantic. Though it took me many years to get used to suburban life after moving here from the city, I finally came to appreciate all that Long Island is and the significance it holds as part of the State of New York.
Like the rest of the state, Long Island is a stark contrast in charm and natural beauty. The North Shore of the island faces the Long Island Sound and offers views of Connecticut across the water. The coastline here is marked by rugged bluffs and rocky beaches, with picturesque maritime villages dotting the landscape here and there along the way.
The South Shore of Long Island is protected by the narrow, barrier island known as Fire Island, which is home to some of the most beautiful beaches this side of the Atlantic. On the East End lie twin forks, each with their own unique identities. The South Fork is home to the world-famous Hamptons, summer playground for the rich and famous, while the North Fork represents a more New England flavor, with big, historic homes, acres of farmland and plenty of world-class wineries.
Lined throughout the island’s landscape are the Main Streets that were once, and remain to be, the very image of Americana. Villages such as Northport, Smithtown, Sayville and Patchogue are home to quaint shops and plenty of tempting eateries.
I love living on Long Island, especially in the warm weather months. Though my parents originally wanted to move to Westchester from the Bronx, I am forever grateful that they chose Long Island instead.
New York City
What more can be said about NYC that I haven’t said already? The answer is plenty, and I’m going to save that one for another time, but let’s just say for now that I absolutely love New York City! It’s a place I hope to return to one of these days to live, but for now I couldn’t be happier being close enough to partake in many of the things it has to offer: museums, dining, theater and of course the shopping, but one of the best things about NYC is that energy!
In the past, I’ve considered leaving New York. Almost twenty years ago two of my best friends moved out of state to seek warmer weather and cheaper living elsewhere and I seriously thought about leaving myself. In hindsight I’m glad I stuck it out, even though it is an expensive place to live. To me, New York has it all: the ocean, the mountains, the scenery and of course, the greatest city in the world! I love New York!
Here are some essays and other pieces I've written about New York...