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The Big Apple at Its Core

charging bull copy

As a cyclist, I don’t ride in New York City. Between vehicles and guys gunning to win the Tour de France, I’m happier biking the quiet trails of Westchester and Cape Cod.

Except now. The pandemic has turned our city into a playground for cyclists.

I left my apartment Tuesday morning at 8:30. Normally taxis, ubers and delivery trucks would clog the streets. Starting at W. 72nd Street, I headed down Broadway. Cars were scarce. I cruised past Columbus Circle and Times Square, before heading east on 42nd Street. After passing an empty Bryant Park, I flew down 5th Avenue, the Empire State and Flat Iron buildings a blur. I circled Union Square and got back onto Broadway, pausing only at Houston and Canal streets for the light. When I arrived at the Charging Bull on Wall Street, there were no tourists lined up waiting to snap a picture with the bronze sculpture; he stood abandoned like the hundreds of closed shops I’d just passed. Fitting.

I ventured on to the Staten Island Ferry dock, the end of the road, the tip of Manhattan, with the Statue of Liberty in the distance. Twenty years ago I arrived in New York City with a few dollars in my pocket and a dream in my heart, just as my grandparents and mother had done over 70 years before when they’d sailed in from Europe. Now, all Americans are in the same boat, wondering what our lives will be like in this “new” version of the good ole U. S. of A.

My dad often tells the story of when he attended graduate school in Manhattan. To learn his way around, he drove his Hillman Minx at three a.m. when the streets of the city were quiet. What I learned during my quiet bike ride was that New York City is not about the buildings, the restaurants or even the theater, it’s about the people. And with no people around, the city looks like a big apple with one huge bite missing.

Stay safe.

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