First days in New York

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 24, 2009

New York magazine has a great feature where they asked well-known New Yorkers about their first days in New York City. I could read these all day. Some of my favorite bits follow. Keith Hernandez, after the Mets won the 86 World Series:

It’s one thing to become a New Yorker; it’s so much weirder to become a New Yorker that all the other New Yorkers know.

Lauren Hutton wasn’t going to stay in NYC at all:

I was supposed to meet a friend in New York, and we were going to take a tramp steamer to Tangier. It was going to cost $140. Once I got there, my plan was to take a bus for ten cents to the outskirts of town and see elephants and rhinoceroses and giraffes. I was as ignorant as a telephone pole.

Richie Rich (this one, not that one):

The first night I moved here, I met Madonna. She walked up to me at the opening of Club USA with a lollipop and a beer, and she was like, “Hmmm, you look cute.” And I was like, “You’re Madonna!” I’m like, This is New York. Wow.

Danny Meyer eventually realized he should be in the food business:

I entertained all the time, hosting lovely brunches where I would go out and source the best cheeses and pates I could find, which was a big deal for a 22-year-old back then.

Nick Denton moved here from San Francisco:

I finally decided to come here after 9/11. The foreign press was full of love letters to New York. Writers like Martin Amis were waking up and thinking, “Oh my God, we almost lost it!” I know it sounds sentimental, but no one would ever write a love letter to San Francisco.

My wife and I decided to move here after a visit in early 2002, which visit was influenced by some of the same writing Nick refers to. All these people writing so passionately about a place, it must be pretty special. We decided to check it out. But more specifically, we moved here so that Meg could start a company with Nick.

While the company didn’t work out so well, moving here was one of the best decisions we’ve ever made. We picked the smallest apartment on the fifth floor of the crappiest building on one of the best blocks in NYC. I sporadically freelanced for Gawker and a few other companies but didn’t find a full-time job until about 6 months in. But a pleasant walk home down tree-lined streets, good light into our small bedroom, an apartment layout suited perfectly to our furniture, and the intense immensity of the city made all the difference.

Update: Ricky Van Veen shares his story about moving to NYC. Great story.

Everything was still new and exciting to us. Your first year in New York is great because there’s so much you think you and your friends discovered, like “a great little burger place called Corner Bistro” or “the best corn in the world at this place Cafe Habana.”

Ha! Meg and I discovered “these great cupcakes at this place called The Magnolia Bakery” shortly after moving here.

I met one of Ricky’s partners, Zach Klein, through Nick Denton (him again!); we had brunch together one Satuday morning shortly before their New Yorker piece ran. The meal probably couldn’t have gone much worse. I’d just had all four of my wisdom teeth pulled the day before, so I was all bloody and jacked up on Vicodin, trying to eat salad even though I don’t care for it very much and wasn’t that hungry anyway, and wondering why in the hell Nick wanted me to meet this guy who ran a joke and boobs site for college kids. After recovering my health and senses, I eventually met Ricky, Josh, and Jakob and got to go to a couple of those fantastic parties. The cabinet of crystal was indeed weird. (thx, andy)