“Only in New York.”
It’s not even an actual sentence. There’s no verb! And yet, we all feel the spirit and energy and romance behind the words. I’m not sure what it is about the city that inspires such a characterization: that there are things that could only possibly happen here. Where 8.5 million people with high hopes and bigger dreams crowd, year over year, into 300 square miles and try to make it.
Maybe to some people “making it in New York” means knowing the subway system like the veins in your hand or having your own apartment with central air or carrying 13 tote bags for 42 blocks. But to a newcomer like me, at its lowest common denominator, making it in New York seems to mean the simple act of not leaving. Of toughing out the messy chaos — or even being thrilled by it — because a part of you knows or believes or has felt the magic that created it. And sometimes those sparks look like fireworks or heartbreak or an unforgettable night, but it all feels like it could happen. Like any day could be the day New York gives you a high five and changes the trajectory of your life. And that feeling — the tingly electricity or the dull promise of it — is worth it.
We asked ten New Yorkers about those moments. The times the gears of their everyday turned a little differently, left them baffled and with little more to say than, well, “Only in New York.”
Illustrations by Amber Vittoria; follow her on Instagram @amber_vittoria.