First Day in the City

Monday, March 29, 2010

New York Magazine’s senior editor David Haskell edited the book My First New York, a collection of the stories of notable NYC transplants and their first experience in the city. Contributors Nate Silver, of, and Andre Aciman talk about their “first New Yorks”.

How did you meet New York? Comment below.


Andre Aciman, David Haskell and Nate Silver

Comments [36]

Elizabeth from Brooklyn

I was in my early 20's when I first came to NYC for New Years Eve '03. I stayed in South Williamsburg with some friends in a huge raw loft. Even though I was currently living in the Mission district of San Francisco, the grittiness of NY seemed so exciting. The energy, pace and creativity made it easy for me to fall in love and move from SF 8 months later.

It's been almost 7 years that I've been living here - I often day dream about dry heat and good readily available produce. While that initial magic is mostly gone and the weather has started to grade on me, I don't think any other city can compare to NYC - but I'm looking, preferably someplace with "better" weather... I think they call it Utopia.

Mar. 29 2010 06:01 PM
gaetano catelli from downtown manhattan (for now)

@[8] "jane, re: #6: good for you. This city wouldn't be what it is without transplants so brag away, pal!"

jane, dear, did i mention that my parents were both working at The New York Daily News when they met? :-)

Mar. 29 2010 04:23 PM
Frank from Newark, NJ

I actually moved from Germany to Newark, to take on a new job.
Well, the jobs great, Newark much less so.
Manhattan is a great place, and I spend most of my leisure there.
Just to give the other commentators an outside view: by German standards vast parts even of Manhattan are quite worn and rundown - not to mention Newark downtown.
Its hard to imagine where all the money earned at Wall Street goes. Obviously not into decent windows and plumbing, or central heating that can be regulated within you own apartment...

Mar. 29 2010 03:35 PM

My first apt. after college was on Broadway in the village. It was a huge loft (2500 sq ft) that is now an antiques store. I shared with 3 other friends and we paid $1200 a month.
They finally wanted it back after a few years and started turning off the hot water in the morning when we were getting ready for work.
It didn't stop me from loving NY though.

Mar. 29 2010 12:49 PM

I'm a native New Yorker, and also from what's now considered Hamilton Heights. I consider this place a home and breeding ground for everyone that loves it.

Mar. 29 2010 12:14 PM
sara from nyc

I think the authors should re-title the book "THEIR First New York" where "they" are the usual suspects: celebrities. I could imagine an interesting discussion of the differences between the experiences of the older and the more recent migrants - so very much has changed within and without the city, within and between classes, etc. - but I very much doubt that much beyond the fabulously anecdotal is included here.

Mar. 29 2010 12:13 PM
Aaron from Brooklyn

I moved to New York from San Francisco one year ago for love. Adapting to this New York life style has been quite difficult at times, and without a job has not made it any easier. On top of that, I experienced the coldest winter ever. I have a love/hate relationship with the city, but my love keeps me here.

Mar. 29 2010 12:12 PM
Maaza from Johannesburg, South Africa

I moved to NY for grad school. The first few days were miserable. I was overwhelmed, lost and kicking myself for having left a house with a garden to live in a room smaller than my old kitchen. I thought I would hate it forever, but by the time the third week ended, I was in love with the city. I stayed for 5 years and have never felt more at home anywhere. Now live in Johannesburg, where I do appreciate the South African space and sky. But I think about the city, which I called my "motivation espresso", all the time. I even miss the stuff no normal person should miss - the smell of the subway, the sound of the garbage trucks early in the morning and the tenacity of the rats. Nothing like it.

Mar. 29 2010 12:08 PM
Meredith from Brooklyn

This is so strange! I literally just started a blog about my life in NYC, and I am starting with my first experiences and how much I love it here. Shameless plug -

This is the first place that has ever felt like home to me, and I am a 34 year old who only moved here 5 years ago...

Mar. 29 2010 12:08 PM

#23 Ha! You really are a New Yorker - typical belief that everything must be about you; if it's not it's "pointless".

Mar. 29 2010 12:05 PM
Taina from Inwood, NYC

I'm a Native NYer, born and raised in what's now referred to as 'Hamilton Heights'. I now live a little further north, in Inwood

That said, I re-meet and fall in love with my city daily.

Mar. 29 2010 12:04 PM

#24 totally understand what you're saying. I feel the same way too.

Mar. 29 2010 12:01 PM

I've lived here longer than I have any other location, (16 years), so by default I must be a New Yorker. More importantly, I still can't see myself anywhere else (in the States, at least) and have found that even terrible days in NYC are still preferable to great days living in another city.

Even if you choose not to always take advantage, you know you at least have the option of doing almost anything 24-7. This is in part what keeps me here. I'll also never grow tired of "visiting" several countries within a few hours on a couple of trains.

Mar. 29 2010 11:58 AM
Daniel Kane

I'm from New York City, and this is segment is pointless.

Mar. 29 2010 11:58 AM
Joshua Lohmer from Brooklyn

I moved here last year by way of Minnesota, Wisconsin and Colorado. More so than anywhere else, in New the essence of the American Dream on display: the dream is the dreaming itself - the perpetual pursuit of more, better. It's the crux of the city's beauty...and it's ugliness. Someone said to me the other day, "You get up in New York and you feel like you have a shot. You don't feel this way in other cities." But I wonder, a shot at what?

Mar. 29 2010 11:57 AM
Lisa from Manhattan

I'm most happy and least happy to be a New Yorker when I'm doing the same thing: walking up 3 flights of stairs on the subway in a crowd of people. When I'm feeling good, I feel proud of us New Yorkers, walking everywhere, being in shape and living our exciting lives. When I'm feeling tired of the city, I feel like a lemming, a robot. It's drudgery.

Mar. 29 2010 11:56 AM
Carey from Jersey

I moved to Brooklyn from Minneapolis about 5 years ago in search of my dream job, and within the first few weeks I met my future wife. A year later I found a great job (almost my dream job). NYC will always be a special place to me.

Mar. 29 2010 11:55 AM
rina Piccolo from Sunnyside, Queens

Moved here from Toronto 5 years ago to get married.
I started feeling like a New Yorker when ticket-sellers in Times Square stopped approaching me to offer deals on Sightseeing buses and Broadway shows. Guess I don't look so "new" anymore..

Mar. 29 2010 11:53 AM
mombi from NYC

I knew NYC was truly home to this Texas girl when I didn't have to re-pronouce Houston in my head when I got off the subway in Soho. (Hue-stun vs House-tun)

Mar. 29 2010 11:52 AM
a. g. from hudson county nj

sorry for being a bit off topic,i'm native born new yorker- at times the "irrational exuberance" of transplants is nauseating...

Mar. 29 2010 11:48 AM
St John from The Bronx

I first moved to Manhattan from suburban Melbourne, Australia when I was 8. I was horrified by people living on the streets, the dirt, the noise ... my dad took me to FAO Schwartz hoping to win me over, but he said I just sat outside on the curb crying saying "I want to go home, I want to go home ...'
Of course, I love it now!

Mar. 29 2010 11:43 AM
Inger from Inwood, NYC

I came here from Cologne, Germany 8 years ago, after I had met my future husband in the Dominican Republic (both on vacation).
At first I thought it was a nice fling and a good opportunity to visit New York City. Surprisingly enough, I fell in love with the man & the City. In 2003 I immigrated, married and had 2 boys in the last 5 years. I found a lot of wonderful people & friends here and to this day am still in love with the man & the City.

Mar. 29 2010 11:41 AM
Jill from inwood, nyc

I first visited the summer after my senior year of high school with my grandmother and aunt for a day. At the time I was obsessed with SNL and wanted to be a writer on the show. We took a tour of NBC studios & I was smitten.

Fast forward three years and I went back for my 21st birthday. This time I was obsessed with musical theater and Wicked. That's when I decided I wanted to live here.

Two years later I did move here, and come September will have been here three years.

Oh and I am neither a comedy writer or an actor/singer at the moment haha. Such is life. ;)

Mar. 29 2010 11:24 AM
taylor James Pierce from NYC

I moved to Ft. Greene, Brooklyn from Iowa 2 weeks after my mother died on my 21st birthday in May 1988. Needless to say, I was far from my familiar, caring and secure environment. As an artist who always was interested in the other and trusting of my instincts- I befriended the characters at the Valhal Jazz Club and was offered sanctuary from the perils of acclimating. Great Jazz and advice from the old timers made my transition to NYC a seemless and painless one. I was no longer the artistic oddball- I was a budding eccentric in a place where it could very well be the norm. I was home.

Mar. 29 2010 11:19 AM

#11: Yeah, it's a b*tch to be here when you're broke. The city mocks you in a way when you can't spend here because it's seems as if you can easily spend $10 just leaving the house in NYC.

Mar. 29 2010 11:14 AM
GrrlScientist from

i came to NYC from seattle for a job of a lifetime as a research scientist at the natural history museum. two years later, my funding ended, and i ended up unemployed with nowhere to go and no money to relocate with anyway. like another of your commenters, i've spent more than my share of time alone and weeping on the A-train.

despite everything, i do love NYC.

Mar. 29 2010 11:10 AM
Z from Morningside Heights

I moved here from Chicago for a girl. She dumped me five days after I arrived on Thanksgiving Day. I learned that loneliness is crying by yourself on the A-Train. No one will even look at you.

Mar. 29 2010 11:03 AM
steve dutton from UWS

I moved here 5 years ago. Growing up in Boston and traveling all over the world for business, I thought NYC would be a piece of cake for me. WRONG. between alternate side parking, getting on the A train by mistake and riding an extra 100 blocks, looking for a parking space on 34th and ending up in the Lincoln tunnel to Jersey, it was so much harder to get used to. However - the people (provided you're not driving) are the kindest, most helpful and easiest to talk to. The people are great. After the first year, it became easier, and one gets better every day at navigating, but you still need a calm place to escape to every other month or so, just to take a deep breath and relax. I came here for my job, and would have never moved here on my own. Now that I'm here, I like the city, it's exciting, but I'm not in love with it like some othere.

Mar. 29 2010 10:58 AM

Gillian - referring to hipsters? They annoy me as well. #6: good for you. This city wouldn't be what it is without transplants so brag away, pal!

Mar. 29 2010 10:17 AM
Peter Breitholtzd from Southern Minnesota

It was a double edged sword; like what I might imagine an addict's experience to be; on one edge I knew exactly where I was and where I was going and felt empowdered and exhilirated; on the other edge I knew not everyone was there, was't sure I should be, and was leary.

Mar. 29 2010 10:14 AM
gaetano catelli from downtown manhattan (for now)

the moment of my conception began my first day in Manhattan.

@4] GIllian: amen.

Mar. 29 2010 10:08 AM

My first experience in NYC was New Year's 1998 and a gay New Year's Eve party down in Alphabet City (which was still a little un-gentrified back then in spots). I was with friends and only in NYC to get my headshots taken during my last year in drama school. We were up from Ohio and I though Cincinnati was a big city then, so NYC was very scary. We arrived early and someone was cutting special K out on a plate and since they were scraping it with a razor blade I asked "Did your dish washer break?" Total Polyanna. I went my own way after hitching the ride for the holiday and when I caught up with my friends I discovered that I was the only one who'd actually been out on my own and rode the subway and got myself around by myself. I am now 10 years here and consider myself a New Yorker. Never thought I'd make it.

Mar. 29 2010 10:03 AM

Not to be horrible, but many NYC transplants annoy me. I mean the type that move to NYC and thus feel that they have to act a certain way to be a New Yorker. I've noticed that the gruffest, most obnoxious, in-your-face New Yorkers are actually from somewhere else.

Mar. 29 2010 09:49 AM

curious if the new folks still coming here for the same reasons?

Spending Saturday @ Arthur Ave. brought me back so fast to the community-driven feeling I had back in the 80s in Greenwich Village, I had forgotten that sense, of villagers' pride keeping commercialism and crass tourism in check...

Mar. 29 2010 09:46 AM
Liz from Savannah, Georgia

Although my father arrived in New York in 1920 via Ellis Island, I didn't get there until about 15 years ago, but I love it there! We've been several times. I love it so much that I almost feel homesick when I see documentaries about it. (I also regularly listen to, and support WNYC.)

I know it is expensive to live there, but we'd love to retire to New York. However, we keep meeting people who have moved FROM New York to our region to retire.

Can you find out whether anyone who has moved TO New York City to retire has advice for people like us?

Mar. 29 2010 08:44 AM
George from Bay Ridge

I am a native New Yorker but I'm curious as to why do people come to New York in the first place? Why not Los Angeles or Chicago or even Boston?

Mar. 29 2010 03:42 AM

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