21 February 2016

New York Revisited

My first visit to New York City was in April 2008. I was a lanky 15-year-old with an unkempt washmop of hair, a mouth full of braces, and a suitcase overflowing with disastrous fashion choices. But no amount of adolescent awkwardness would detract from my excitement to explore the impossibly huge city I knew from countless Hollywood movies and American television shows. I had never felt more like a wide-eyed tourist.

Eight years later, and following a major overhaul of my wardrobe and social aptitude, I touched down at JFK Airport for the second time. A return visit to New York had been lingering at the back of my mind since my first season at Paris Fashion Week, when I acknowledged that spending money to see the world wasn't such a terrible idea after all. Somewhere along the way, I inspired Tazz to accompany me; impelled by her obsession for British Airways sales, and a New York Times feature about a pencil shop in Lower Manhattan, we booked our city break during my birthday dinner, somewhere between steak and sticky toffee pudding.

Williamsburg Bridge New York The High Line New York New York

February is the cheapest month of the year to see NYC, albeit it is arguably the coldest. With temperatures never rising above zero degrees during our one-week stay, it wasn't as easy to enjoy New York as I had done previously. For instance, a sunny seaside trip to Brighton Beach and Coney Island isn't nearly as fun when an icy wind bites at every square inch of exposed skin.

All the same, Tazz and I refused to be deterred by such a minor detail as not being able to feel our own faces. We trekked through the city as eager explorers, seeking occasional warmth and refuge in diners and 5th Avenue stores. A memorable attraction was The High Line, a disused freight railway line elevated above the streets of Manhattan, revitalised into a public park. Even in the winter, when the grasses are brown and the trees are bare, The High Line is a beautiful and calming space amidst the glass and concrete jungle. Its modern renovation combined with physical reminders of its industrial past perfectly complement the antithesis of contemporary and traditional architecture in the surrounding cityscape.

The High Line The High Line The High Line The High Line The High Line

Having both been to New York on previous occasions, mine and Tazz's greater objective was to seek out the city's lesser known treasures. To that end, we dedicated much of our holiday to exploring Williamsburg and Lower Manhattan, where we discovered the quaintest boutiques and hidden entrances to secret speakeasies. CW Pencil Enterprise, whose feature in the New York Times had been the final push to booking our holiday, was everything I had hoped for and more. And a stroll through Manhattan's Meatpacking District led me to my new favourite menswear label, Ports 1961.

Towering and sprawling, New York is an imposing city to the casual tourist. From street level, the ascending skyscrapers, hotels and apartment buildings give an air of mystery, hiding the rest of the city from view. And from the open space of Central Park, the encompassing skyline isolates you from the rest of the world. I know the city holds much else to discover, and I hope I have the chance to return in the near - rather than distant - future. Perhaps when the city doesn't fancy turning me into a human popsicle.

Coney Island Coney Island Coney Island Coney Island Coney Island Williamsburg Williamsburg Williamsburg Williamsburg Bridge Blind Barber Central Park Central Park New York

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