There`s something about the first city I fly into on each continent. Hanoi - love it, Copenhagen - awesome. New York makes it three for three.
It`s impossible not to have preconceived notions when you heading to New York - half of every TV and movie coming out of the states in based there and gives you an idea of what to expect, and it generally delivers. Case in point, on my subway ride in from the airport there was a crazy homeless man muttering on one side of me and a huge fat person on the other side!
It`s sorta weird, being so bombarded with images of the city that it felt like I`d already been there. There`s the public library steps they ran down in Ghostbusters, that`s the Flatiron building - used in every establishing shot of the city, there`s the Soup Nazi shop! Speaking of Seinfeld, anyone who`s watched the show will get continual moments where you remember bits from each show, subways, diners, low talkers, Snapple! It`s unbelievable how well they tapped into the city for that show.
Ground Zero was worth a visit. Locals tell you you can`t appreciate it if you didn`t see it when the towers were there, but the gaping hole you see now is pretty haunting. The people hawking the Twin Tower memorabilia around the edge of the site is pretty ordinary I reckon, but hey, Capitalism rules supreme.
A few other good things: bagels, Times Square (neon extravaganza, hated by residents), running Central Park, the Hershey`s store, watching a taping of Letterman, the subway stations at rush hour, the Empire State building, hearing Jewish people say Oi for real, getting anything you want at any hour (but you need to know where to look), talented buskers on every corner, cabby`s shouting at each other, it being acceptable to be impatient etc etc. Like I said, it lives up to it`s reputation and that made me happy.