11 Reasons Why New York City Is The Best Place To Grow Up
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11 Reasons Why New York City Is The Best Place To Grow Up

"From the Bronx to the Battery, it's all mine. I'm a city kid!"

11 Reasons Why New York City Is The Best Place To Grow Up
Andrew Prokos Photography

I am a born and raised Brooklynite, but now I go to college in Pittsburgh. Being away from home and rubbing shoulders with people who grew up in very different places has made me miss New York and appreciate how lucky I was to grow up in such a wonderful place. These are the reasons why I believe that my childhood could not have been in a better place.

1. The Subway

While most kids had to wait until they were 16 and had their drivers license before they could go places on their own, I was taking the subway by myself at the age of 12. I was able to go off and have adventures anywhere in the five boroughs without my family tagging along. To this day, I still don’t have a license. In New York, cars are unnecessary — walking, biking, and taking the train are all easier and more efficient modes of transportation. They are better for the environment, as well!

2. There’s always something to do.

Growing up in New York meant that I was never bored. There were always shows to see, summer camps to attend, and museums to visit. My personal favorite museum was the Transit Museum, which is located in a retired subway stop. There, you can learn about how the New York City transit system was put in place and even walk inside of real subway cars from different eras!

3. Food

There is a reason why they call it "New York style" pizza, it may come from Italy, but pizza was perfected right here in New York City. Pizza from anywhere else is really just lies covered in cheese. New York also has the only real bagels. No, you can’t just take any old circular bread and market it with the name “bagel.” Real bagels are chewier and fluffier than regular bread. Beyond bagels and pizza, any kind of food that you could possibly imagine from anywhere in the world is sold in New York and it's all of the highest quality. There also a ton of cool food trucks that sell Belgian waffles, dumplings, or grilled cheese—which is going far beyond your typical ice cream truck.

4. Cool & Unique Stores

New York City is a haven for small businesses. Do you want to go to an independent bookstore the size of a Barnes and Noble? What about a reasonably priced, old-timey candy store? Or a vintage clothing store with one-of-a-kind finds? New York has those and many more. In the age of Walmart and McDonalds, it was nice to grow up in a place that managed to maintain character through quirky local businesses. In New York, people are not guaranteed to dress the same, eat the same food, or listen to the same music, and that makes it a conducive environment for growing people of diverse personalities.

5. Safety

I always felt safe walking around the city, even at night. Some may fight me on this point, but if something bad were to start happening, it is better that there be ten random people standing nearby to help out. Unless you happen to be standing in the exact center of Central Park in the middle of the night, no matter where you go in New York, you’ll always be within steps of a dozen other people. Even if it’s the middle of the night, there are buildings with people in them everywhere. As I grew up, I always felt like the people all around me had my back.

6. New Yorkers are kind.

Contrary to popular stereotypes, most New Yorkers are actually really kind. While we may not be the most polite or friendly people in the world, New Yorkers are willing to lend a hand when it really counts. I can remember one time when I was little, I was taking the subway with my older cousins who were from out of town and we accidentally got on the train that was going in the wrong direction and we had to suddenly get off. My cousins jumped up and ran out the door, but I was not quick enough and the doors closed before I could get out. I was terrified and started pounding on the door and crying. Normally, when the subway doors close and you miss your stop like that, you are out of luck because those doors reopen for no man. This time, however, some kind soul noticed the wailing child and got the conductor to reopen the doors! This act of kindness was no fluke—I often see people giving up their subway seats for the elderly or helping someone who dropped their stuff pick it up.

7. Good Schools

Unlike other big cities, New York has a pretty strong public school system. It may be the bane of NYC 8th graders, but the city’s high school application system allows all students in the five boroughs to have equal shots at attending any top school across the city, regardless of where they live. Additionally, many of the public high schools have some little twist that makes them special. For instance, Fiorello H. Laguardia High School has a renowned visual and performing arts program in addition to its academics. At Bard High School Early College, students get an associates degree from Bard College in addition to a regular high school diploma upon graduation.

8. Pretty City

From a completely unbiased standpoint, New York is the most beautiful city in the world. For one thing, the Manhattan skyline is completely dazzling and iconic from the empire state building to the new freedom tower. The Brooklyn Bridge is a rather stunning masterpiece as well. Wandering around Brooklyn, one can find charming brownstones and ornate, historic architecture. Living somewhere so pleasant to behold always brightens one’s day.

9. Nature is nearby.

When being constantly surrounded by people gets to be too much, one can take solace in one of the city's many parks. Central and Prospect Park (pictured above) are good places to go sledding in the winter or to take an idyllic autumnal stroll in the fall. In the summer and spring, there are beautiful botanic gardens in Brooklyn and The Bronx where one can see all manner of lovely flowers and trees. If the city parks and gardens aren’t enough, you can head an hour or so upstate where there are ample places to hike, ski, or boat. Even though I grew up in New York, I was never deprived of nature.

10. History is all around.

Many millions of people have left their mark on New York and you can practically feel the history in the air. Walking down an everyday street, you can pass the market where immigrants used to sell goods from pushcarts or the old apartment of a beat poet or rock star. I remember taking field trips to the Tenement Museum on the Lower East Side of Manhattan or Ellis Island when I was in elementary school and feeling awe struck by the sheer amount of humans—with all of their lives, loves, and losses—who had walked on the very ground where I stood.

11. Diversity

As I grew up, I was exposed to people of every race, economic class, and religion under the sun. This point may be increasingly less the case with the gentrification and whitewashing of New York City, but, even so, New York is still far more diverse than your average suburb. Growing up around so many different sorts of people has been important in shaping who I am. As I learned to coexist with a diverse population from a young age, I was taught important lessons about acceptance and respect. I truly believe that growing up in New York made me a better person.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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