The Wild Wild East: New York City!


West End and 72nd St.


The Wild Wild East

Nothing is easy in Manhattan, nothing is simple and nothing is kind. So, why do I love it so much? Maybe part of the appeal is that Manhattan is so unlike any other place I've ever lived and the difficultly in making it here only serves to make it more appealing. After-all it must have some good qualities or else why would everyone be trying so hard to move here? The following is a brief synopsis of my experience living in New York City and more specifically Manhattan.

I moved to Manhattan at the age of 42, with little money and great enthusiasm. Enthusiasm was my only currency. No one told me I had no business living in such an expensive town but I soon found out that what I had done was not for the faint of heart or the easily dismayed. Living in Manhattan when you are not rich or connected is a great feat. It wasn't easy but I wouldn't have changed it for the world.

Real estate in New York City is anything but civil. Practices in other parts of the country are either unheard of or resisted here. Fair Housing Laws...what's that? Multiple Listing Service is but a rumor. Try to show an apartment and you may or may not be given access based on the whim, discretion or cantankerous mood of the Super. Have a lot of twenties ready to slip the Super if needs be. Tenants may be required to come up with as much as one or two months rent (no small amount when a 1 bedroom goes for $2,500) for security/cleaning deposit only to have to clean the apartment before they move in. Practicing real estate can be an exercise in masochism. Brokers are given the respect of a small town used car dealer. And paying your dues includes taking people out in blizzard conditions, walking up 50 flights of stairs for a 5 story walk-up only to have them sign a lease or purchase with an agent that just showed them one apartment in a high rise elevator building that they said that they would never live in on the east side during an open house. But people sign up as agents in droves. We get up at 3:30 in the morning to hike down to Williams Street and wait outside in brutal weather for up to 5 hours to take the real estate exam. Why do we do it? We do it because we love the business; we love the people, we love the architecture and we love New York City with all of it's challenges.

Why do people rent, buy, live and work here? Why do we all trudge through knife slicing winter gales, climb up 5th floor walk ups every day, several times a day, push our way through sardine packed subways to shop in sardine packed department stores, pay exorbitant prices for food, housing and the basic necessities of life? Because to live in New York City, to live in Manhattan, is a dream. This city is unlike any city in the world. The people here are unlike any other in the world. It's tough, they are tough, it's beautiful, they are beautiful and most of all it's undefeatable as are the citizens.


Other cities are big, other cities are expensive, but there is an uncivilized quality amidst the civilized in New York City rising up from it's underbelly. It's a freedom or a blatant disregard for convention, sometimes the line is blurred, that lends itself to the static electricity felt by every single person who has ever walked the streets of Times Square after the rain or of Central Park in the wee hours on a snowy day. Anything goes, seldom is there a law or even if there is a law it's often not enforced, nor is societal judgment there to stop you. It's live and let live or die and let die and once you've tasted it you'll never be able to live any other way.

One of the things I love about Manhattan is that you never know who you will run into whether famous, infamous or ordinary. Movies stars live next door to us of the more terrestrial ilk and walking down the street you may, and I have, run into the likes of Dustin Hoffman, Kathleen Turner and Woody Allen, to name a few. That's just the way it is here, you never know who you will see or what will happen, it's part of the magic of New York City.

On one particular day I was coming out of the women's room in a downtown book store. I happened to be dressed up because I was going out that evening and the woman washing her hands in the sink next to me asked me "are you somebody"? I just laughed and said no. I laughed because I was flattered that she would think I was "somebody" and also because I have often thought the same thing but dared not ask. In Manhattan you might be seated next to a billionaire having coffee at the local diner or cafe, a famous author or a Broadway icon on the subway...that's just the way it is here.

One of my former employers was a multimillionaire, he took the subway, dressed in wrinkled clothes and most of the time looked like he was past due for a hair-cut by about a month. At the same time my next door neighbor dressed impeccably and got regular pedicures and was as poor as a church mouse. The funny thing is that even when you are a nobody you feel like you're a somebody living here. It must be the excitement or the electricity that the city exudes, it gets under your skin and into your heart and gives you that zest for life that makes you want to dance in the street to the music playing in your head or coming through the 3rd floor window from the opera singer rehearsing her part.

The thing is, in Manhattan, even if you're a nobody, you're a somebody here.

They say you can't see the stars in New York City and the reason is that they were brought down and live here now, you can see them twinkling in all the buildings, teasing you with their light, beckoning you to come out and play with them. New York, my home, my love.

Photo off my balcony in Manhattan on a Snowy Day


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Comments 21 comments

Angela Harris profile image

Angela Harris 8 years ago from Around the USA

I would love to live in NYC for a few months just for the experience, but I don't think I would like living there for long. But I've been wrong before.

Brie Hoffman profile image

Brie Hoffman 8 years ago from Manhattan Author

It's wonderful, the best city in the world!

AZGuy profile image

AZGuy 7 years ago

Thanks for the great article Brie. I haven't been to NYC in a long time (used to make weekly trips there from CT in my youth) so it's great to hear what's going on there! One of these days I'm going to make a trip back there.

Brie Hoffman profile image

Brie Hoffman 7 years ago from Manhattan Author

You're welcome, you'd better hurry before it degenerates with the economy!

Andrew 7 years ago

Great read.

I have just rejoined the real estate workforce.

It is so true about the 5 flight walk-ups!

Even worse is when you have a client ready to sign, you dash back to the office and find out another agent has someone who's Daddy is going to pay the entire lease upfront

Now we have to pay to post on CL? Too bad I remember when it was free.

Brie Hoffman profile image

Brie Hoffman 7 years ago from Manhattan Author

Good luck Andrew and thanks for commenting.

Robert 6 years ago

New York City!? No way! I've flown over NYC a few times but, by the grace of the Almighty, I've never been there. I've heard the crime is so bad you best leave your wallet at the city line -- then carry a sign that says "I Gave!" I've seen pictures of downtown NYC. There was something odd about them, then I realized there was no sunlight! All the buildings obscured the sun even at noon! Have you seen a New Yorker's face? It's always haggard with sad eyes and dark circles under the eyes. And all the people there frown. In fact, any big city east of the Mississippi is looking for trouble.

Brie Hoffman profile image

Brie Hoffman 6 years ago from Manhattan Author

To each his own Robert, 8 million people might disagree with you and I certainly do!

sb 6 years ago

best city in the world. i curse the day i left it and long for the minute i will return. no better people, sounds, energy, experience anywhere.

Brie Hoffman profile image

Brie Hoffman 6 years ago from Manhattan Author

AWWW sb but at least you got to experience it, that's something! Thanks for writing.

mike 6 years ago

new jersey is very beautiful too....its a shamew it's been so overlooked.

Brie Hoffman profile image

Brie Hoffman 6 years ago from Manhattan Author

It is and there are lots of beautiful cities but I've never found one that has the energy NYC has.

ahorseback profile image

ahorseback 6 years ago

Hi Brie; If i could give you one gift it would be to be free of the city life for awhile, Why is it the more people crowd together the more we take advantage of each other. It happens in the little towns too, though not as much .Is it not basic selfesh-ism? Sometimes I think it's these very traits that provide answers to the question , what's wrong with Americans.

Brie Hoffman profile image

Brie Hoffman 6 years ago from Manhattan Author

Well, I enjoy the country too ...just not as much.

Adrienne Daniels profile image

Adrienne Daniels 2 years ago from Columbus, Ohio

Have lots of family in Brooklyn, Manhattan, Bronx, Queens, and have visited New York a great deal, loving every visit, but just can't find it in me to live there. Extremely overwhelming. Great article! Very nostalgic

Brie Hoffman profile image

Brie Hoffman 2 years ago from Manhattan Author

Thanks Adrienne, I can't seem to live anywhere else.

kndashy41 profile image

kndashy41 2 years ago from Houston, TX

I used to work on 5th avenue and 53rd above Tiffany's. I've seen people like Cuba Gooding, Jr., The Rock (and his humongous bodyguard) and one of Alec Baldwin's brothers up around the Museum of Natural History. I used to take my dates there. I also met Audrey Lorde and slam poet, Stacyanne Chin. New York City is the best!

Brie Hoffman profile image

Brie Hoffman 2 years ago from Manhattan Author

Cool!, I used to see Alec Baldwin all the time, he lived 1/2 block away from me on 91st and Central Park West.

prasetio30 profile image

prasetio30 2 years ago from malang-indonesia

I hope I can go to New York one day. Thanks for sharing with us. I like this hub very much. Great song as well. Voted up!

gracenotes profile image

gracenotes 2 years ago from North Texas

I really enjoyed your very descriptive hub. I've visited NYC twice.

I have met one celebrity in my volunteer job, but it was one of those situations where I knew his face, but couldn't call up his name until I made the connection after he introduced himself. (It was kind of embarrassing).

Definitely, weight loss/gain can contribute to the disparity of a public image, and the loss of immediate identification. That has recently become the case with the particular celebrity I named. It must be a weird feeling when plastic surgery, or other changes in weight or hair color make you either suddenly invisible, or cause perplexing changes on the faces of passersby in Manhattan, who think they know you from somewhere.

At any rate, NYC definitely would rate exciting due to the chance of surprise on a daily basis. I am glad you got to experience life in NYC.

Brie Hoffman profile image

Brie Hoffman 2 years ago from Manhattan Author

Thanks "prasetio30" and "gracenotes", I am very happy I had the chance to live there and I hope I can return sometime soon.

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