Childhood in New York

Climbing in Central Park

I’m excited to read the latest issue of NY Mag—its theme is “Childhood in New York.” It includes recollections from 39 famous New Yorkers about growing up in the five boroughs. I’ve yet to read all of them, but I stumbled upon this quote from Joan Rivers that especially resonated with me:

New York was the magic city. New York was Oz. All I wanted to do was to get out of Brooklyn and get into Oz.

Replace “Brooklyn” with “Queens,” and that was basically my mindset throughout my tween and teen years in the ’90s. I looked forward to the day when I’d live in Manhattan and didn’t have to take a long bus ride and multiple subways to get downtown—or be beholden to the LIRR schedule. (Bayside, where I lived, is pretty far out!) I pictured myself working for a magazine in midtown and taking dance classes at Broadway Dance Center at night. I saw myself living in Williamsburg or the East Village. I imagined I’d go shopping in SoHo and hang out in coffee shops in the West Village on the weekends. And go clubbing until 5 a.m.—because who doesn’t dream about going clubbing until 5 a.m. when they’re 15?

Some of that stuff turned out similarly to the way I’d envisioned—though by the time I actually moved to Manhattan, I found hipster neighborhoods less appealing, SoHo to be too expensive and tourist-filled for shopping. And I really had no desire to go clubbing until 5 a.m.!

But one thing that I predicted, with 100% accuracy, was that Manhattan was where I belonged. I’m more at home here than anywhere else I’ve ever lived or visited. Even after all these years, I still feel like it’s the “magic city.” Every day, I can feel the city buzzing with the excitement and energy of endless possibilities—and I don’t think that’ll ever get old. I’m amazed that my younger self was able to pick up on that during my family’s sporadic trips to “the city”!

Did you grow up in NYC? What’s your memory of childhood here?

(Photo via NY Mag)

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