There is nothing that says the Holidays like New York City especially at night. The glitter of Christmas sparkles in the department store windows turning every adult into a kid again. The white lights wrapped around bare tree branches all over town complement the colored lights of the Rock Center tree. No city speaks Christmas as New York does and it is worth spending a couple of nights to take full advantage of what can be.
After years of “going-to-work-getting-on-the-bus-coming-home”, retirement has afforded us the time to venture to unknown boroughs to see more of the beauty of Christmas outside Rock Center. This year, I found something off the beaten track and dragged everyone to Dyker Heights in the Bensonhurst section of Brooklyn. It is an residential neighborhood where each house is decorated in over-the-top Christmas lights that make you wonder who lives there and how much their electric bill is. I am taking a wild guess that the inhabitants are Italian and maybe connected (wink, wink). Traveling in a crowded D train plagued with delays and redirections was an effort yet worth it. This square mile of lighted homes all seeming to try to outdo each other was spectacular. I’m grateful to these people for thinking so much of Christmas to do this and for being part of New York.
This was the first time we stayed in a hotel on the upper west side but it offered an opportunity to explore areas around Central Park. Wollman Rink who I have to credit “The Donald” who in 1986 stepped in to lead the renovation of the dilapidated rink allowing it to join the icons of New York tourism.
Yet there was a time when the city was unsafe as when we looked at the vestibule of the Dakota apartment building where on December 8, 1980, John Lennon was assassinated. There were pockets of unsafe places where high rise luxury apartments now exist. It was a time where it was considered foolhardy to walk through any of the green spaces especially at night and ones nicknamed Needle Park. 42nd Street was dictated by drug dealers, hookers and porno shops. And the subways were spray painted with bizarre graffiti and inhabited by homeless. With all that, we mourned the passing of our beloved Beatle and moved on.
The city recovered and it improved. Strawberry Fields was built, the parks and subways were cleaned up and 42nd Street became safe. Last week, Fifth Avenue was glittered up with the Swarovski crystal star hanging near Tiffany’s and the windows of Saks displayed a stunning re-enactment of the Snow White story compete with animated dwarfs.
Then on Monday, a pipe bomb went off at the Port Authority sending scores of people into a panic. Fortunately, the idiot who set it off was the only one hurt. The next day or maybe within hours, it was business as usual. Speeches by the mayor and governor boasted the resilience of New Yorkers claiming these citizens will not be deterred from their daily lives. That is true and has been tested time and time again.
I had a plan to meet my cousin in the meatpacking district where she lives for dinner on Saturday. Once again, I am moving on.