Weekly Throwback: Week 1

PUBLISHED ON 16/3/2018 @ USA 2018

Wow, it’s been already a week since we arrived here in New York City. Time flies by as fast as memory fades away. Hence, Weekly Throwback is a series where I reflect upon the week that just passed.

Well, let’s start. Our first seven days in the Big Apple began mostly relaxed and without many obligations. It took us some days to overcome our jet lags and to get along with all the new things. We used the time to explore the greater neighborhood and to gain first impressions of the city.

What we discovered


We found our first apartment in Harlem in the north of the Manhattan island, more precisely on W 127th Street. The neighborhood of Harlem is separated into East and West Harlem where gentrification has influenced the West more than the East so far. Harlem is a mostly black neighborhood and according to Wikipedia rather affected by poverty. Nevertheless, lots of shops line the street offering organic food, branded clothing or international mobile plans. But there is also a “Berlin Späti”-like store concept that can be found at hardly every block, the Deli.

Typical New York Brown Stone Houses shape the image of residential areas. These row-houses are built from brown stones - or at least brown-painted stones - and look almost the same. They have a ground floor which usually is three steps below sidewalk level and can be entered through a door that is underneath the stairs to the actual main entrance on the second floor. Apart from these two levels, there are usually at least two further floors above. Most of the mid- or long-term rental apartments offered in the internet are located in any floor of such houses.

Central Park & Upper East Side

The Central Park bounds Harlem in the south. We paid the park our first visit at a sunny (but cold) day last week. Its size is phenomenal. We entered coming from 5th Avenue and spent an hour to pass 13 of the park. Even though it was cold lots of sporty people used Central Park’s hills for jogging and cycling. Apart from that the lawns still were empty. What might probably change as soon as spring is coming.

East of the park the Upper East Side unfolds. In contrast to Harlem this area is wealthier and - at least from what we saw so far - home for many Latin-Americans. We had a huuuge New York Style Pizza at Lexington Pizza Parlor.

Columbia University

The ones who read my first post about our time in New York might remember that the reason for us to stay here is actually Lê’s PhD thesis. Hence, we spent some time on the Columbia campus as well. The Institute for the Study of Human Rights resides in the Riverside Church at Morningside Heights… Yes, Riverside Church. Unlike in Germany, there seems to be no reservations about joining secular and clerical utilization under the roof of one and the same building.

Times Square

Right in Midtown Manhattan flickers and pulsates Times Square. The narrow streets that seem to cut deep gorges separating gatherings of skyscrapers are congested with traffic. Crowds of people flood the pedestrians. Giant glass fronts reflect hundreds of screens, neon signs and tickers. To me, Times Square has always been the symbol for New York City.

What we learned

  • New York consists of 5 Boroughs: Manhattan, Brooklyn, The Bronx, Queens and Staten Island
  • Famous streets like Broadway or 5th Avenue cross entire Manhattan or even further and have more faces than the ones they are known for.
  • One of the main characteristics of New York Style Pizza is its large diameter.
  • Whole Foods Market is a supermarket chain that sells organic food.

What we liked

  • A Whole Foods Market is located in walking distance from our home.
  • The chain restaurant Olive Garden at Times Square is great to have an American-Italian lunch, to relax with babies and to have a soup and salad flat-rate.
  • Many streets in Harlem were finally renamed by figures of the civil rights movement, such as Malcom X Blvd, Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd or Martin Luther King Blvd.
  • The Professor who is going to entrust his beautiful flat in W 88th Street to us offered it far, far below market value just because he’s a nice guy.

What was weird

  • Not nearly half of the subway stations are accessible by stroller or even wheelchair. New York, you can do better!
  • It’s nearly impossible to purchase a suitable Lycamobile sim card, neither online nor at stores.