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What it's like to live in New York City

March 14, 2014, 8:26 pm | This story has an Influence Score of 1440

By @mariocantin

Describing New York City is a tall order. From the harsh realities of the Bronx to the lavishness of Park Avenue, and everything that's in between, there are innumerable perspectives to be explored.

Being one of the largest and most influential cities in the world and exerting a significant impact upon commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and entertainment, there are literally thousands of  New York residents who would have been compelling interview prospects for this particular story.

I've approached Joanne Wilson, a successful individual across a well-diversified career path who is currently an angel investor, advisor, blogger and a champion of women in technology.

Through her blog as well as her Twitter feed, it had become obvious to me that, despite her successes, Joanne had remained truly grounded, in addition to being well-spoken and having a sense of humor to boot; and although she has learned over time to say no when it’s appropriate, she is by her own admission a giver by nature. I therefore felt that she may be inclined to share her obvious passion for New York City with the rest of us; and that it would constitue a fascinating read.

I had asked 14 questions of Mrs. Wilson, and this article is basically comprised of her answers. Joanne was born in Los Angeles, CA. She explains, "I moved when I was almost 7 but my memories of Los Angeles are all good. I have always felt comfortable and at home when I return. Family members live there and I returned to live there for a semester in college. I plan on spending more time out there in the years to come.

She's lived in four cities with a one-month stint in yet another location. She settled in NYC in August 1983.

When asked what had brought this California native to the Big Apple, she replied that she had gotten a job there. She added, "There was no question in my mind that I belonged in NYC. I was going to come and make my mark." That she did.

I wanted to know what had been her initial impression of New York City. She said it "was awe". She goes on to explain, "I remember looking at apartments downtown and then taking a bus up Madison Avenue into the 70’s. We were staying at my Mom’s friend from childhood on 79th and Park. I still can remember that feeling of peering out the windows of the bus seeing the tall buildings nestled on top of each other as the throngs of people moved along the street. It was feeling of pure excitement".

I inquired as to whether or not that initial sentiment had changed over the years. She answered that what makes NYC the greatest city in the world is that it is always changing. "Neighborhoods have changed, stores have come and gone, new museums have been built, the city has become much cleaner and more efficient.  I love the city today just as much as I loved it the minute I set foot on the concrete."

Describing what she has since discovered about NYC that she couldn't have known at the onset, she shared, "I continue to seek out new discoveries in NYC as the city is always changing. When we moved here we took the city in like it would be taken away from us at any moment. We explored every neighborhood even Coney Island and Far Rockaway." Referring to the city's five boroughs—The Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, and Staten Island—she adds, "Each neighborhood is an entire country in itself and that is what makes this city so unique."

"The city never sleeps" are her thoughts regarding how life differs in the City of New York from other urban areas, American or otherwise. "There is nothing you cannot get here. No other city has the breadth of cultural activities from music, arts and sports, the huge variety of cuisine even from tiny small countries there is at least one restaurant representing them and different ethnic neighborhoods."

"The pace, the lifestyle, the access to anything completely appeals to our lifestyle”,  she expressed. Just about the only thing she would change about NYC is the cold weather and the floods that residents now have to worry about.

She extols the importance of understanding the city’s various neighborhoods -- either before moving there or simply prior to a visit -- as follows, "If you move to NYC and never leave your neighborhood you might as well not live here. The ability to see, taste, indulge and participate while educating your mind is something nobody should take for granted while they live here."

When I asked what other insights she could provide about the Big Apple which would not easily be found by simply doing a Google search, she simply instructed, " Put on your walking shoes and explore".

The point is well-taken; however for any reader too remote to be able to organize a visit to NYC, her blog offers a tip in this regard. She endorses the book "Humans of New York" by Brendon Stanton, which is essentially a photographic census of NYC. Brendon has a Tumbler blog which provides much insight about the locals and their personal stories.

Another question I had was, does NYC offer an advantage for a celebrity? I was referring to her specifically, but Joanne has remained very humble in this regard; however, she replied, "I am always respectful of anyone who is a familiar face in this city. Nobody has to feel that the whole world is staring down their back here."

The Wilsons are planning a second home on the other coast as well. "Los Angeles will be our secondary residence. I am really looking forward to it. We spend time in other places in the states and around the globe and I am looking forward to that as we move into our empty nester life."

In a closing statement, the Gotham Gal -- as she refers to herself -- summarizes her experience of living in The Big Apple in just four words, "NYC is the best".

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