When you imagine a bygone New York, what do you see? The Mean Streets of the 1970s? Crowds flocking to jazz-filled Harlem dancehalls in the Roaring Twenties? Low-life 19th-century gangs of New York? I picture a giant 1940s Film Noir set; Gotham deep-shadowed in black and white, burly taxis prowling the streets, Bogart and Bacall locked in a romantic embrace, Trilby-clad gangsters lurking on street corners, steam pouring out of drain covers…
You see, I have my mum to thank for firing my imagination. When she was a little girl, her father entertained her with exciting stories of his time in the Merchant Navy. When he as just a 20-year-old boy, he sailed into Manhattan during the Second World War visiting the Waldorf Astoria and Times Square in the 40s… To my 10-year-old mum, these tales were the stuff dreams were made of, only seen on the big screen. So a trip to New York to retrace his footsteps was high on her wish list from a young age; an ambition she fulfilled in 1994 when my dad surprised her with a visit. She was so taken with the greatest city on earth, it was the undisputed destination for our next family holiday. My sisters and I were beyond excited. It was one of our best family holidays to date.
This is why I love New York. Like my mum, I booked my next trip no sooner had I arrived home, and I’ve since been 15 times, and counting.
Sadly, my mum passed away in 2001, but I’m grateful I have these amazing memories to treasure. I’m thankful she told me my grandfather’s magical stories and opened my eyes to the greatest city on earth. So I’m dedicating this blog to her.
(Photo credit: 42nd Street View of the Hudson River Waterfront, circa 1942 by Andreas Feininger, Getty Images)