Tag Archives: New York

Driving in New York

Lower Manhattan

Driving in New York, specifically Manhattan, is an experience all of its own. There are people everywhere. In the street – crossing the street. When doing research about getting around Manhattan when visiting you come up with the same advice over and over again – use public transportation. That’s great advice for a couple of reason. First, you’ll get to where you want to go faster. Second, less stress. And finally you don’t have to worry about a place to park. But where else will you get to experience this unique type of adventure?

An adventure it is if you’re not a usual driver in New York. Vehicles everywhere going in different directions faster than you can determine which lane you need to be in. No other driver is going to just let you change lanes or take a moment to figure out if you’re going the right way or if there is an available parking spot. Being an aggressive driver is required in order to get around in Manhattan. Being aggressive does not mean being stupid. The other drivers are watching out for you whether you realize it or not but there is a catch – you need to watch out for them too.

Vehicles Everywhere

I decided to go against all of the advice and drive in Manhattan as a tourist. There was a car full of people and using our rental car, paying tolls, and paying for parking was slightly more economical than using public transportation. In addition, theoretically we could visit more sights in less time by relying on our own vehicle going from Lower Manhattan to Mid Manhattan. After driving for a short time it became obvious that using our own car was not going to make getting from one area to another faster.

The streets seem tighter, the parking areas are smaller, and staying focused on driving is a challenge as there are recognizable sights all around trying to take away from that focus that is required to keep from crashing into someone or something else. Every block is stressful and requires a lot of energy to get where you are going without incident. After 45 minutes of driving in Manhattan I had mixed feelings about the experience. On one hand it was exhausting. On the other hand, it was fun. Driving in New York is unlike driving anywhere else.

One of the Many Distractions

Prior to being in New York I’ve had the privilege to drive in Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Miami, Chicago, Washington D.C., Philadelphia, and several less populated cities. In fact I drive in Minneapolis on a regular basis. Minneapolis may not be as intense as other cities but it does provide larger city experience. None of these cities compares to New York.

Streets packed full of cars that feel as though they are all honking at you and traveling at 60 miles per hour if they are going 20. After some time you begin to realize that all the honking may actually be in an effort to help instead of nagging and distracting making you feel like you have no idea how to drive. Many of the honking sounds were just an announcement that another car was going to be moving over a lane behind you or in front of you. The warning actually becomes helpful after figuring out what they mean.

If you need to move over a lane because there is a bus or truck stopped in your lane a block ahead or construction has closed down a lane or two in your direction you just have to use the blinker and go. Most of the time the cars around you will make room rather quickly. When we left Manhattan for the last time I was completely surprised we made it through without a single ding in the rental vehicle. I was very nervous every time we entered a parking garage because the ramps and spaces were all very tight. I thought I was going to hit the wall or pillar in each place. It feels like an accomplishment to have successfully driven in Manhattan on multiple occasions without crashing. Those that drive trucks and buses in downtown amaze me. Those individuals have earned my respect. They also make me question their sanity. What’s next? London, Paris?!

Driving a Bus in Manhattan?

The 9-11 Memorial

Lower Manhattan

While spending some time in New York there were some key places we wanted to see. One of them was the World Trade Center where the 9-11 Memorial is along with the 9-11 Museum and the new One World Trade Center. We arrived in Manhattan on a Friday afternoon near Wall Street and of course had to go and see the Raging Bull while in the area. After a quick bite to eat we headed towards Battery Park to see Lady Liberty for the first time. With some time left before dark it was decided to visit the 9-11 Memorial. Of course the new One World Trade Center had been in our sites since arriving in New York.

The Iconic Raging Bull

Nearing the 9-11 Memorial site things suddenly became more familiar. This area which was broadcast endlessly on TV on September 11th, 2001 and for days after. We could now see these buildings and how they all relate to one another with our own eyes. Some of those memories, thoughts, and feelings returned as we began to re-live the attacks as we could imagine the twin towers standing tall where there are now reflecting pools. As discussions progressed about 9-11 it struck me that my children view this as a piece of history instead of being able to re-call living through this event. I realized that to them this is like the attacks at Pearl Harbor are for me.

The South Reflecting Pool

While exploring this memorial site we generally took it in silently as it is an emotional place. To think of those family members and the memories they must have of the days and years that followed September 11th and what it must be like for them to visit this place now is difficult. I can’t begin to imagine. Seeing all of the names of those that died here over a decade ago and roses placed on those names who would have celebrated a birthday that day was disheartening. The pools symbolizing both towers are a beautiful place to reflect on the recent past and hope for the future as new buildings are being constructed.

The Past and The Future

After leaving the memorial plaza we began to explain to our children the events of that day forever engrained in our minds and hearts. Our oldest was too young to remember any of the attacks and our youngest was not yet born. It was almost an epiphany to realize their view on 9-11 as an item in their history books. I was a little frustrated with their lack of emotion at such a major violent event in the history of the United States at first as I tried to convey these horrific happenings in the exact places they were standing. After taking a few moments to come to terms with their different view I began to be thankful that this is just an event in history for them and not the beginning of an age of terrorism making them afraid of what may happen on any given day.

Remembering and Reflecting

That was a far change from the fears I had after these attacks occurred. I remember wondering what kind of place my children would grow up in and feeling sorrow for their possible world. Continuing across the street from the memorial we walked by the firehouse so many became familiar with as the first firefighters to enter the World Trade Center after the first airplane smashed through the North Tower. Now we gained more perspective on the events of that day and could understand more clearly how and why people were doing the things they did and how unimaginable it had to be.

New York Fire Department Closest to the World Trade Towers

Much of those horrific attacks of September 11, 2001 are just memories now and a lot of healing has taken place as that location is being transformed, anchored by a new World Trade Tower. Currently the tallest building in the Americas, it is a beacon of hope and perseverance of a willingness to continue and recover.

The Beacon of Hope