By Dan Singer
Yeah, you got it. Born and raised. Actually just thirty minutes from Columbia. No, not by subway—there’s no subway by me. I’m talking about the West Side. I mean the real West Side. So West Side you’re, like, on the other side of the river.
Is that still New York? Sure it is. It’s not like we have the same governor but… aren’t we getting into semantics? Sure, some might call it “across state lines.” I’m not much of a geographer. Anyway that’s ignoring the concept of the Tri- State.
Call it what you will, you know? I guess if you want the technical term, you’d call it “New Jersey.”
Your aunt and uncle are from a town in New Jersey? No, I’ve never heard of it. “Jersey” can mean a lot of things. Maybe they live in a charming beach town where every ice cream shop is named after a different Springsteen lyric. Maybe they live in a less charming beach town where MTV films a reality show. Do they speak with an accent? They might be from the backcountry—I’ve never been. Not everyone from New Jersey knows your Grandparents. Some of us have class and culture. In the north some of us do, anyway.
Jersey may be my birth state, but it’s not my home. No one with a sense of their own worth would call it that. For instance, New Jersey is home to three major sports teams; can you name them all? You can’t and here’s why: their names are the New York Jets, New York Giants, and the New York Red Bulls.
But can you really blame them? The Jets and the Giants share the same stadium located in the middle of a swamp and flanked by a regional airport and the New Jersey Turnpike. The official logic is that the Jets and Giants represent the New York metropolitan area. They may be headquartered on the west side of the Hudson, but the concept of the team is broader than that. Broad enough for them to call themselves New Yorkers.
I feel like I fall into the same category. My mailing address may say NJ, but my T-shirt says NY. And if you don’t like it, you can straight up get fucked.
So my roots are in the Garden State–does that mean I need to shout it out for all the world to hear? Spare me the romanticism. I may not be from New York, but… Jersey? I don’t want to be from New Jersey. What I’m saying is, in the broader, more interesting sense, I’m from New York.
Pretentious–maybe, maybe not–but what can I say? I’ve had my fair share of experiences in this city. I got my tonsils taken out at St. Luke’s, clipped a biker with my car turning off Broadway. The last time I really thought about my geography was on a Lit Hum trip to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I bought my ticket and waited for my professor in the lobby. Man, I thought to myself, I’ve been on this same field trip five times since kindergarten.
By Luca Marzorati
I’m from New York. Well, just north of it—and I mean just north, like, within walking distance. The Bronx, if you’re rounding down. Sure, Westchester is technically north of the city, but I prefer “up-uptown” or even “extended Bronx.”
People tell me that Westchester County is “the suburbs,” or even worse, “upstate”—bullshit, I say. Take a drive through Yonkers, and then tell me you’re in the sticks. Entering Mount Vernon from Wakefield, you won’t even know the difference. I think we’ve got more apartment buildings than Staten Island, judging from the pictures (no, I’ve never been). Westchester County Airport has even been used as a stand-in for LaGuardia and JFK in a bunch of movies: I bet you saw some of them, and couldn’t even tell the difference. And the Bee-Line bus system even runs into the Bronx!
Plus, Westchester is just as tied to the city as wherever you’re from. Practically everyone commutes in for work, and we’re just as close to Manhattan as whatever cool new neighborhood of Brooklyn that you just “discovered.” And the commute is just as rugged: Metro-North passengers may have cushioned seats and electrical outlets, but we have to figure out whether we should buy a peak or off-peak ticket, or if we’re comfortable sitting backwards, or if we should strike up a conversation with that guy we kind of know.
The noble natives of Westchester even commute to the historic and magnificent Grand Central Terminal. All those businessmen in your picturesque Instagram shot are not, in fact, Manhattanites, but Westchester residents, going about their daily business. Even the discerning photographer behind Humans of New York occasionally features a denizen of Westchester County, and, from what I can tell, there is not a statistically significant difference in the number of likes.
Even before I came to school in the city, I knew New York like the back of my hand. The subway— that’s right by Grand Central. The Met? Somewhere around Grand Central. Madison Square Garden? That’s kinda close to Grand Central. Brooklyn? Not near Grand Central. And, like many Westchester residents, I’ve spent a lot of time in the Bronx. Granted, most of this time is on the train as we whizz by the projects, but I’ve been buying cheap cases of beer at Imperial on East 233rd Street since I was 13—thanks Maureen!
As I get older, my Westchester pals and I continue to explore the city, like the true urban citizens that we are. All our summer internships are really close to Grand Central, in Midtown, which is a neighborhood with a ton of character. We all meet up for lunch at this cheap French bistro called Au Bon Pain.
After work, the fun really begins: happy hour in the East 30s is the place to be. I finally understand what people are talking about when they say “downtown.” It’s best when the bridge-and-tunnel crowd has to head for the exits (little do they know the pleasure of being from a place with an overland connection to the Big Apple). After a night on the town, we’ll congregate in Times Square—right by Grand Central–looking up and admiring the lights, realizing we’re at the beating heart of the greatest city on Earth. We can’t stay too long, though. The last train back to Westchester leaves at 1 a.m.