Two years ago, this magazine decided to celebrate its birthday with an anniversary issue and to mark the passage of time by dipping into the city’s past. We’ve made it into a tradition. That first "yesteryear" issue explored the history of apartment living; last year’s splashed around in three centuries of New York scandals. This year, well into our middle age (45), we’ve focused on childhood. READ MORE [+]
Growing up in New York is different from growing up anywhere else—there’s a lot less grass, for starters. And many more people, speaking in many more languages and scattered in many more neighborhoods, each as big as a city to even the most adventuresome 6-year-old. In other places, children often imagine their futures unfolding somewhere else (New York, maybe). Wanderlust is less common here. Some native New Yorkers do leave, of course, and many never come back. But even those émigrés (to Hollywood, to the Supreme Court) still speak proudly in their New York accents, the romantic city looming so large that their private early memories—of stickball, candy shops, subway rides—come wrapped or reimagined as city myth.
Many Americans, and even some New Yorkers, may feel that childhood and New York are fundamentally incompatible, that it is as cruel to raise a child amid sirens and concrete as it is to keep a big dog in a small apartment. But for years, the New York kid was on a very long leash. Trusted (or ignored) by parents, children were free to explore the weird, enthralling, sometimes scary city of strangers. This independence has been vastly curtailed, and yet some things about growing up in New York remain as true as ever: It happens fast. You learn to be tough and when to cede to someone tougher. You get a privileged view into the behavior of adults, or at least adults on the train.
As the centerpiece of the issue, we assembled a sort of oral history of childhood in New York, as it was lived by many of the troublemakers (and the terrified) who became its most famous and alluring native sons and daughters—from Colin Powell to Whoopi Goldberg to Larry David to Antonin Scalia. City kids are known for precocity and skepticism, and for growing up into prideful seen-it-alls who refuse to be impressed. But they are not unenchantable, and as we sorted through our many dozens of interviews, we marveled at how much each rhymed with each and with the city’s shared public memory. Could it be that Fab 5 Freddy played the same street games as Mel Brooks? Or that every kid knew (as we heard again and again) that the better way to spell Spalding is S-P-A-L-D-E-E-N? SHOW LESS [-]
“I swear to God, I couldn’t have been more than 9.”
58 memories of growing up in New York.
“The Upper West Side was a museum of European refugees.“
“A world that was sunny, warm and clean.”
“I didn’t want my father to own a nightclub!“
“Think, for the projects, how many windows there were — it was like having Big Brother.“
“I was riding the subway when I was 6 years old.“
“Madonna shut down Spring Street.”
“It was a gazillion degrees.“
“I should also mention that I was constantly robbed.“
See 48 More Memories »
Little Grown-ups and Their Progeny
New York and the invention of modern childhood.
Eloise Has Moved to Brooklyn. Naturally.
Wherein illustrator and writer Joana Avillez pays tribute to her heroine Eloise.
400 Years of Kids in the News
Forty stories of children whose pluck, precocity, or gruesome demise captured the city’s attention.
Hello, 12, and 9, and 5
A gaggle of young New Yorkers share their thoughts on living here now.
Most Popular Stories
Last 24 Hours
- Paul Ryan: Free Lunches Make Kids Soulless [Updated]
- How Oscar Pistorius Might Avoid Prison
- The Best of Twitter Interrupting Cameron’s Phone Call With Obama
- After Newsweek Reveal, Man Insists He Isn’t Bitcoin’s Creator
- The Plot From Solitary
- Mike Lee’s Tax-Reform Plan Does, in Fact, Suck
- The Hijacking of Satoshi Nakamoto
- Broke Law Firm Dewey & LeBoeuf Was Also Fraudulent, Prosecutors Say
- Only 39 Percent of New Yorkers Approve of This Bill de Blasio Character Now
- Bro Who Never Worked at Goldman Sachs Deemed Unqualified to Write Goldman Sachs Elevator Book
Last 24 Hours
- The Plot From Solitary
- How Not to Talk to Your Kids
- Justin Davidson: How Can the Vienna Philharmonic Change Without Changing?
- Why You Truly Never Leave High School
- Space of the Week: A Firehouse, Revisited
- How I Got Over My Al Gore-a-phobia
- By Noon, These Two Will Have Brought In Another Half a Million More Dollars
- Listening to Xanax
- New York Wedding Guide - Makeup Artists Directory