The skyline . . . neurosis . . . “Stand clear of the closing doors” . . . Shakespeare in the Park . . . the penthouse . . . pickles . . . very wealthy small children . . . the docents at the Met . . . seltzer . . . parties where everyone’s wearing black . . . “Page Six” . . . getting bus-slushed . . . the fine distinction among bodegas, delis, and corner stores . . . the knish . . . at 5 p.m., Town Cars lined up two deep in front of corporate buildings . . . Art Deco . . . standing under the Washington Square Park arch with its decrepit statue of George Washington and gazing up Fifth Avenue . . .
“I’m on the list” . . . the beat cop . . . famous people at the newsstand early in the morning so they can be the first to read their reviews . . . apartment envy . . . Ed Koch . . . spending the day sitting in the Cloisters’ medieval garden . . . illegally tapping fire hydrants . . .
Fairway . . . hanging out in the Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s tropical greenhouses in the winter . . . the Chelsea Hotel . . . the Oyster Bar . . . free science educations: Stuyvesant, Bronx Science, Brooklyn Tech and Cooper Union . . . rich ladies with small dogs on Madison Avenue . . . East Village residents glaring at preppy NYU students . . . gypsy cabs . . . the Blessing of the Animals at St. John the Divine . . . bars in converted banks, beauty salons, libraries, and pharmacies . . . the Children’s Aid Society . . . that first warm day in spring when suddenly everyone’s walking around nearly naked . . . handing off an unused transfer to someone waiting for the bus . . . figuring out how much money your friends make . . . rent control . . . “My friend’s band is playing CB’s tonight” . . . everything bagels . . . the Learning Annex . . .
Macy’s Santa . . . elderly salesmen in blue blazers and tattersall shirts at Brooks Brothers . . . peddlers selling knockoff Gucci bags a block away from stores selling real Gucci bags . . . break-dancers on the L train . . . supermodels dancing at nightclubs . . . glitzy book parties . . . people who care about Woody Allen movies . . . calculating infinity not as grains of sand but as germs in the subway . . .
Serendipity 3 . . . your building’s super fixing everything between Thanksgiving and Christmas . . . corned beef or pastrami on rye . . . going to three movies in one day during the summer to keep out of the heat . . . stiff penalties for parking illegally . . . the World’s Fair site at Flushing Meadow . . . rats running out at you from empty lots . . . the Grill Room at the Four Seasons . . . lying about your address to get your kid into a better public school . . . the Brooklyn Heights Promenade . . .
Pete Hamill . . . scaffolding . . . the formerly famous . . .the dozens of fiercely competitive Indian restaurants on East 6th Street . . . the slice . . . the stage door . . . being arch . . . Spanglish . . . Ellis Island . . . Katz’s . . . Nathan’s . . . art students sitting on the floor of the Met with sketchbooks . . . Wigstock . . . blintzes . . . the packed “secret” bar . . . secretaries on the subway wearing power suits with panty hose, socks, and sneakers . . . the homeless shelter . . . token vs. MetroCard . . . smokers outside office buildings . . . gentrification like a tide that goes in and out . . . jay-walking as a sport . . . competing live Statues of Liberty at South Street Seaport . . . deafening car stereos . . . cemeteries in Queens . . . Caffe Reggio’s cappuccino . . . media moguls breakfasting at the Carlyle . . . spying on neighbors . . . Texans who have stronger accents after living in New York for five years than they did when they arrived . . . very skinny people . . . trying to figure out which is a taxi driver’s first name and which is the last . . . obscenely fat house cats . . . the museum pay-what-you-can day . . . Spider-Man . . .
Being woken up by jackhammers, garbage trucks, and car alarms . . . traders walking through the financial district in their blazers . . . calling the Upper East Side “the East Side” . . . Turkish baths . . . live shellfish in buckets on Canal Street . . . old ladies leaning out their windows all day, guarding the block . . . stoopball . . . the fountain at Lincoln Center . . . Tiffany’s . . . the pretzel . . . people swearing every year that it’s their last year in the city . . . pigeons . . . staying friends with people only because they have the perfect roof for fireworks or the perfect window for parades . . . Staten Island threatening to secede and no one (except Republican candidates) caring . . . motorcades snarling traffic . . . deli guys who memorize your order after a while so you never have to ask for your breakfast . . . cruise bars . . . the lions in front of the New York Public Library . . . diplomat parking spaces . . . unwritten but sacred social rules involving personal space (like, take off your backpack on the subway) . . . graffiti . . . McSorley’s ale . . .
New Yorkers gathering around lost tourists to argue about how they should get where they’re going . . . umbrella carnage on every corner after a storm . . . bike messengers . . . cheesecake . . . bohemianism . . . the $1,000 “key deposit” often required to secure an apartment . . . the Halloween Parade . . . the pot parade . . . egg creams . . . people selling batteries on the train . . . getting roasted nuts, never as good as they smell . . . brunch . . . mean museum guards . . . Manic Panic hair dye . . . the Strand Book Store . . . knowing someone who can get you a discount on anything in the world . . . the Peking Duck House . . . the Cyclone . . . steam rising from manholes . . . urban gardens . . . “the bridge-and-tunnel crowd” . . .
Century 21 . . .hosts’ not knowing anyone at their own parties . . . the invention of hip-hop . . . pride in showing off the city to friends in from out of town, profound disappointment when they just want to go to Saks . . . colleagues’ swearing you to secrecy about things that no one could possibly care about . . . lines around the block for stainless-steel breakfast carts . . . J. D. Salinger . . . Woolworth’s (R.I.P.) . . . Lou Reed . . . the little pinpoints of light from the Empire State Building’s observation deck when tourists forget to turn off the flashes on their cameras . . . the Carousel in Central Park . . . New Yorkers of every age, race, and class waiting patiently in four-block-long lines on 9/11 just to make an appointment to donate blood . . . those Greek blue-and-white paper coffee cups . . . affectionately surly wait staff . . . creative use of expletives . . . faux dive bars standing beside real dive bars . . . running around the reservoir . . . pointy shoes . . . in the subway, Guatemalan pipe players drowning out a jazz sax drowning out a Michael Jackson impersonator drowning out Jews for Jesus missionaries . . .
General Tso’s chicken . . .coffee “light and sweet” . . . Union Square Greenmarket . . . revs, cost, and air with the r backward scratched into subway windows . . . dog runs . . . famous people everywhere except where the tourists are looking for them . . . “I’m not a yuppie” . . . ladies-who-lunch . . . velvet ropes . . . the Staten Island Ferry as free Circle Line alternative . . . hearing ten languages spoken in the course of a single block . . . how the concept of “full” changes on trains during rush hour . . . punk teenagers sulking under the Astor Place cube . . . the Apollo . . . proud ignorance of U.S. geography . . . scorn for suburbia . . . bucks, not dollars . . . drumming on buckets . . . never seeing any stars . . . the Flatiron Building . . . finding great furniture on the street . . . the San Gennaro Festival . . . school trips to the dinosaur wing of the Museum of Natural History . . . joy at seeing a free cab even if you don’t need one right then . . . hoodies . . . nerds proud of being nerds . . .
Eloise of the Plaza . . . patent refusal to call Hell’s Kitchen “Clinton” . . . selling, buying, jumping off the Brooklyn Bridge . . . the world’s most arrogant, obnoxious video-store clerks . . . clever acronymic neighborhood names: Tribeca, Noho, Nolita, Dumbo, etc. . . . Letterman . . . everyone is moonlighting . . . world-class pickup basketball . . . jaded 6-year-olds . . . the Odeon . . . gallery-hopping in Chelsea . . . deep suspicions about what happens on Governor’s Island . . . “Houston” pronounced differently from anywhere else on earth . . . pooper-scooper laws . . . disintegrating Lower East Side tenements . . . the opening night of a Broadway show . . . the waterfront . . . nannies sitting on park benches together . . . telling time by clocks on tall buildings . . . Brighton Beach . . . blowing out-of-town guests’ minds by taking them to Canal Street in the middle of the day or Times Square late at night . . .
Leaving your newspaper in coffee shops or on buses for strangers to read . . . sitting on a stoop drinking beer out of brown paper bags . . . drinking martinis at an elegant old hotel bar . . . haggling with street vendors . . . Manny’s Music . . . New Jerseyites in Soho . . . the tree and skaters at Rockefeller Center . . . the mitzvah tanks . . . Euros wandering through Long Island City in search of MoMA QNS . . . that guy who dances with a life-size doll in the Times Square station . . . cater waiters . . . having a favorite panhandler . . . dating someone “high maintenance” . . . strange puddles on subway seats . . . the Hamptons jitney . . . the corner of Broadway and Prince . . . a vague fear of the natural world . . . a whole subway car full of people pretending nothing is happening even when someone just two feet away is screaming obscenities at the top of his lungs . . . gutters . . .
John Turturro . . . dim sum in Chinatown . . . fresh mozzarella in Little Italy . . . broken pay phones . . . the garment district . . . SNL . . . children having nervous breakdowns in FAO Schwarz . . . the witty aside . . . Zabar’s . . . those huge diamond beacons marking the entrance to West 47th Street’s Diamond Row . . . steaks, chops, seafood . . . coffee, donuts, muffins . . . Wave Hill . . . that black polka-dot pattern made by gum ground into the sidewalk . . . the Rockettes . . . the smell of horse manure outside the Plaza hotel . . . mangoes on a stick . . . film students shooting dramatic scenes in Tompkins Square Park with drunk old men looking on . . . building numbers that end with 1⁄2 . . . people camping outside the Public Theater waiting for tickets . . . jokes about combining the real-estate and obituary sections of the paper . . . Jersey guys in ecstasy over all the obscene T-shirts on St. Marks Place . . . double-dutch jump rope . . . the black-and-white cookie . . . dogs in purses . . .
24-hour diners . . . the New York Public Library reading rooms . . . getting bumped into a thousand times a day . . . Columbia University . . . lox . . . opera at the Met . . . dentists and doctors with offices on the ground floor of Fifth Avenue apartment buildings . . . don’t block the box . . . getting doused in beer at a Yankees game . . . gargoyles at the tops of buildings . . . strenuous testing of 2-year-olds for private preschool . . . summer movies in Bryant Park . . . the writer you know who doesn’t write . . . making fun of those dopey New York Times TV spots— "She goes for the ‘Arts & Leisure,’ and I head straight for the magazine” . . . community gardens . . . window washers 50 feet in the air . . .
Brooklyn high-school students hanging out UTB (under the bridge) . . . the Dakota . . . the Brooklyn Navy Yard . . . co-op boards . . . fire escapes . . . water towers . . . the confidence of living in the center of the universe.