Manhattan Mystique

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Been working out of a Corporate office in the West Village, and i'm starting to now understand the "Manhattan Mystique". For all my years I worked in midtown, at 59th and Park, and would go back to Hoboken each day. I would meet a lot of people in Hoboken who were just in Hoboken because they couldn't afford Manhattan rental prices and were just waiting to make more money or find a roommate so they could move into the city. I never really understood why. To me I didn't see the "big deal". I didn't get what the big difference between Hoboken and Manhattan was. I'm not a Jersey guy, i'm from Philly, to me Jersey has always been a joke of a state, but I have found that Hoboken was a pleasant melting pot of, well, suburban middle class white kids.

Now that i'm working in the West Village, i'm starting to see the city in a whole new light. It's really not something that I can describe well in words, and I highly doubt anyone reading this will fully understand what i'm about to say, but bear with me.

Manhattan is just

I hate to use a word like that. "Cool". Gee is the Fonz showing up? But it's the closest word I can really just decribe it. The midtown office wasn't cool. Sure, it was on Posh Park Avenue, but there's something very sterile and corporate about where I was - and the shops were all on Madison Avenue, the feeling to me was like you couldn't just meander around - you had to be "GOING SOMEWHERE" and the tourists were in full effect, standing on the sidewalks and blocking everyone.

In the West Village, however, it's just a more mellow vibe. I have been taking my lunch breaks just walking around. Exploring. Looking at the shops, boutiques and townhouses along tree lined, quiet streets. I feel like, on some streets, that i'm walking down a movie set - and in some cases i'll recognize a corner or street from a movie. There's also the people that live and work there - there's something just different about them. Something that Hoboken doesn't have.

You see, Hoboken has a great group of residents, but there's something very homogeneous about most of the town. The West Village has just a spectrum of people, and in some ways I get the feeling that many of them fall into three categories:

1. They are local & rich. This is the most popular person I see around the West Village. I walk around and see people between 25-45 just hanging out in their $500 Japan-imported distressed jeans, D&G sunglasses and well coiffed hair, with their dogs at the dog park or just sitting at a cafe and there's something different about them. They aren't on their lunch break and they aren't a rich tourist. They are definitely showing by the cut of their clothes and their expensive accessories that they are a "somebody" (or trying to be a somebody).

2. They are local & not rich. Sure, they may not have money, but the artists, dog walkers and ex-hippies that meander around are still just...interesting. I love to people watch, I could sit on a bench for hours and watch people pass by, look them over, and try to figure them out. They could be a working Joe like me, and just add to the flavor of the town. There's also a lot of kids around, which I didn't see so often in midtown Manhattan. There's a definite energy of the parents and kids vibe that I never really saw uptown.

3. They are a tourist. Lots of tourists walk around, you just can't escape them.

10 years ago I would have wrinkled my nose at the idea that Manhattan was so "special". I didn't get it. To me, what's the difference between the West Village and Hoboken which were seperated by a river? Heck, we could be the West West Village. On my lunch breaks, I walk along the river, by Pier 40, and I can see the Lackawanna Terminal and people on Pier A.

But I can say as much as Manhattan bug has bitten me, I won't be abandoning Hoboken anytime soon, I do look forward to exploring some of the bars and restaurants around my office in the West Village.

Anyone have some good places to check out?

1 Comment

Hey Furey.....

I just want to recommend a bar for you down in the West Village. It is a beer bar (no macro beers on the menu) but it is a great little spot. It is called The Blind Tiger Ale House. It is right on Bleecker and Jones (off 7th Ave and just a couple blocks from the Christopher St. PATH station). It will open you up to new beers - all you've got to do is ask the bartender or ask for Alan, the bar manager who is usually there. I have gotten to know him as well as a bunch of the bartenders and consider myself a regular. The only thing you may not like is that they don't serve any liquor. But this place has a reputation among beer people as one of the best beer bars in the US. If you want to check it out before going, here is their website:


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This page contains a single entry by Furey published on April 2, 2008 12:09 AM.

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