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Hot Summer in the City

Anne McDonough

To get to the Jersey Shore from Washington this weekend I took a 2 a.m. bus to New York's Chinatown, which was filled almost to capacity, and then walked from Forsyth and Division streets up to Port Authority, where I planned to catch an 8:30 a.m. bus to the shore. Now, there are plenty of ways to get from Chinatown to midtown (cabs, the subway and buses were all within easy reach) but I haven't explored my city in what feels like way too long, so I kept to the streets and wound through Chinatown, the Lower East Side, through Chelsea and then up to 40th and Eighth.

And along the way I just happened to fall in love again.

There is something about the city -- any city, but particularly one that is filled with energy and bike riders and taxis and zillions of people most of the day -- on an early summer morning that just makes me so happy. It wasn't yet hot, at 6 a.m., and as I walked through the different neighborhoods I saw merchants taking in new produce, folks in pajamas walking their dogs, late night revelers holding on for dear life to their first cups of coffee as they sat on benches in Tompkins Square Park.

And I got to peek into several Green Thumb community gardens -- during the day I'd hardly stand at the gates peering in, but early in the morning there's either no one there or the folks who are are ready with a smile -- and walk down numerous streets looking up, something I rarely do when there are sidewalks filled with people.

By the time I arrived at Port Authority at 7:45, the streets were busy with traffic and plenty of folks were out and about and I no longer had the city almost to myself, instead just the prospect of another bus ride ahead of me. And I wasn't going to get to do any of the wonderful things the city has in store for visitors and locals alike during the summer--outdoor dancing and music at Lincoln Center or movies at Bryant Park, for example. But wandering around, even for just a few hours, reminded me that you don't have to go far or plan something exciting to get a lot of of a place.

By Anne McDonough |  July 16, 2007; 10:08 AM ET  | Category:  Anne McDonough
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My sister and I went to Paris 20 years ago, and I still remember a woman walking out of a boulangerie (?spelling?) early one morning with a net bag, and a baguette. She was wearing a housedress, robe, and slippers. It made Paris seem like a small town to me. Some of my fondest memories of large cities happen early in the morning.

Posted by: Alice | July 17, 2007 3:11 PM

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