Ever upwards: Learning to ride the subway

Bryant Park
Bryant Park

It’s not true that foot traffic moves quickly in New York.

Some people do, of course, but all in all it’s not the surging sea of suits I’d anticipated.

Everything else was as I expected; giant pretzels, subway grates, yellow taxis, tree-lined avenues, Times Square lit up like a carnival.

(Not that I’ve seen much – I only arrived on Monday evening).

I told myself it would be just like any other city, but bigger and busier.

Just around the corner from my hotel...
Just around the corner from my hotel…

“Are we there yet?” I asked the taxi driver.

“Not yet,” he said. “We have to go through this tunnel which takes us under the water for two miles, and then we will be in New York.”

After what I assume was two miles, we resurfaced.

“Welcome to New York.”

Taylor Swift couldn’t have said it better herself.

View from Battery Park
View from Battery Park

But I was wrong – it wasn’t like any other city. It was insane. People, cars, everywhere. Music blaring, sirens wailing , taxis honking, there was even a horse pulling a carriage.

Times Square – just a block from my accommodation – was packed. I wondered if there was an event on; but the following night it was just as busy.

Strangely, among all this, people are friendly and kind.

Looking out at the Public Library from The Shop on Fifth Avenue
Looking out at the Public Library from The Shop on Fifth Avenue

New Yorkers are quick to help when it comes to giving directions. Even though bodies are constantly bumping into each other, they generally pause to apologise. I’ve experienced nothing but chivalry among the chaos.

Courts near New York University
Courts near New York University

My first work-related venture involved travelling to the Columbia Journalism School Showcase. This meant riding the subway. I left an hour early, and was still an hour late.

I had better luck on my second go – a meeting in Greenwich Village with interactive news reporter Michael Keller.

But the rest will have to wait until tomorrow; owing to a fire alarm (how New York), it’s late.