By Bohemia Agent Corey Wright
New York City, 8 million people, with 8 million stories. It’s inevitable that at some point in a conversation with new friends, co-workers or the “Norm!” of a local watering hole holding down the corner of a bar, the question “So, where are you from, originally?” for, however brief, will inevitably be a topic of conversation.
I watch as others take their turn, announcing with all the pride of their home, “Florida”, “California”, “Upstate”, “Canada” … then my turn comes… “Alaska”. Usually after the announcement the line of questioning that follows is a variation of “Is it true what they say about the 24 darkness in the winter?” or “Wow!, how did you make the transition from Alaska to New York City?” or “It must’ve been such a culture shock transitioning from the Last Frontier to the Big Apple”.
Coming from a town 10 times the size of Manhattan with a population of 20,000 to sharing a tiny island with almost 2 million people, I suppose it's expected that one would have great anecdotes of struggle, adjustment, or “culture shock”.
The truth is, every time I tell the story of what it was like to come from AK to NYC it begins with how much my neighborhood helped make the transition easy.
I explain how when I first landed in New York almost a decade ago I ended up in a little neighborhood called Hudson Heights. Not knowing one neighborhood from the next, I soon realized that I was so fortunate to have landed where I did.
You see, just few steps from my stoop is one the most beautiful parks in Manhattan, Fort Tryon Park. Fort Tryon is nestled along the side of Northern Manhattan built by Frederick Law Olmsted Jr., son of the architect of Central Park, in 1935. The park features gardens, river views, dog parks, an amazing restaurant, New Leaf Restaurant & Bar and beautiful extension of the Metropolitan Museum called The Cloisters.
Fort Tryon features events throughout the year, everything from performances of the works of Shakespeare, Yoga and fitness classes, wine tastings and my favorite, the Medieval Festival.
On the most Northern point of the park, free kayaking on the Hudson every Sunday throughout the summer allows you to become even closer with the beautiful Hudson River. (http://www.inwoodcanoenyc.org/ ) You have the unique opportunity wake up bright and early on a Sunday morning stroll through the Park with a coffee in hand and arrive at a small dock with boating enthusiasts excited to share the experience of paddling in New York’s Hudson River.
When finished you can enjoy one of the best uptown Brunches at New Leaf Restaurant & Bar (http://newleafrestaurant.com/).
I enjoy the hustle and bustle and I thrive on the energy this great city has to offer; but, when the day is done, I also need my peace and tranquility. I need to see the trees change with the seasons, I need to see a body of water and have a place to lose track of time watching it. Alaska will always be home for me, but Hudson Heights and Fort Tryon Park are places that give this small-town Alaskan guy some peace. In this crazy city, they will always be a little reminder of home.