As I wrote last year at this time, autumn is New York’s best season and October its best month. So it gives us great joy to present an issue devoted to what is perhaps the ultimate cosmopolis and the people who make the daily commute from the ’burbs to the boroughs and back again.
Folks like composer-lyricist, Ridgefield resident and now WAG cover guy Stephen Schwartz, the man behind the Broadway hits “Wicked” and “Godspell,” the animated films “The Prince of Egypt” and (with Alan Menken) “Pocahontas” and the opera “Séance on a Wet Afternoon.” And Fred Kaufman, who lives in Irvington but works at Thirteen-WNET’s headquarters in Manhattan, where he’s the multiple Emmy-winning executive producer of “Nature,” PBS’ longest-running documentary series. Or Meriwether Fielding Lewis, a onetime Wall Streeter who with wife, Megan, created a Hudson River paradise, featured as our house of the month.
Others may have forsaken WAG-country living for bright lights, big city (sorry, Jay McInerney). But Paulette Cole, co-founder, CEO and creative director of the divine ABC Home in Chelsea, and Bonnie Kirschstein, managing director of The Forbes Collection in Greenwich Village, are proud of their New Rochelle and Chappaqua roots, respectively.
They all make the byways that link the ’burbs and boroughs – be they I-95 or Metro-North’s Hudson Line – among the most synergistic, creative corridors in the world.
New York is all about its people – many of whom came here from somewhere else with an eye on opportunity. But it’s also about the neighborhoods those people inhabit and work in, places like tiny, cobblestoned Dumbo, which nonetheless packs a wallop with its cafes, galleries, shops, architectural details and hipster ’tude. And then there are the landmarks in those neighborhoods, the ones that go beyond the Empire State Building and Statue of Liberty, like The Algonquin Hotel, home of The Round Table (think Dorothy Parker, not King Arthur) and the Oyster Bar & Restaurant.
Both echo the city’s American Indian antecedents. Before it was ever New York City, it was already a center of trade where various indigenous tribes would gather, drawn by one of the world’s finest harbors.
And something else: Perhaps more than any other city, the place that would become New Amsterdam and then New York is about an idea, a state of mind (thanks, Billy Joel and Jay-Z). It’s a city that says if you’re broken, disillusioned, down to your last dime, well, it doesn’t matter. You can begin again, reimagine yourself. New York City was the place Richard Nixon turned to after Watergate exiled him from The White House. It’s the place Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis returned to when Camelot ended.
Then came a very bad day and the proud city that has been humbled so many times found itself humbled again and in need of the transcendence it bestows on others. Once again, New York dug deep within its granite soul to reinvent itself anew, this time at the World Trade Center.
That ability to recreate itself seemingly each day is the essence of New York, its gift to the world and the reason it remains the once and future city.