NEW YORK — While most New Yorkers avoid the wandering crowds of tourists, costumed characters, and bombarding big screens of Times Square,
I chose to live there.
After renting in the Upper West Side for two years and fed up with my reliance on the temperamental No. 1 train, I decided to look for a new apartment that had more access to trains.
My search landed me in a year-long lease in the neon heart of New York City — where I had 12 subway lines to choose from.
As 2016 comes to an end, and an estimated 1 million flock to watch the famous New Year’s Eve ball slowly descend, here’s what it was like to live at the center of the world’s third most visited tourist attraction.
NOTE: My rent skyrocketed — believe it or not — and I was forced out of my beloved Times Square neighbourhood.
Home sweet home! This is what my door looked like. I shared an entrance with a jewellery store, a barbershop, and a spa. I relied on the barbershop to accept my mail.
Before we go up the stairs, this is what the curb outside my apartment looked like on most days. There wasn't a place for me to throw trash, so I just placed it on the footpath like the businesses around me did.
A few months before I moved out, these receptacles were placed on my street. I made as much use of them as I could.
Here's my kitchen on the day I moved in. No dishwasher or microwave, but I did have plenty of storage.
Moving past the kitchen is my bedroom. I had two big windows that I immediately bought blinds for because the room was so bright at night from the lights in Times Square.
One of my two windows faced the Church of Saint Mary the Virgin. I had no idea there were churches in Times Square, but this Episcopal church has been in the neighbourhood for 145 years.
The other window had a less peaceful presence since it overlooked this two-story T.G.I. Friday's. My room flickered red and white during the night because the TGIF sign that juts from the restaurant alternated colours every few seconds. Here's a view from the street:
Admittedly the lights weren't as bad as all the noise. My apartment was bookended by an Irish and a Scottish bar. You can imagine what St. Patrick's day sounded like -- also pretty much every weekend.
I stayed in town for Thanksgiving and had a terrific view of the parade from my doorstep. My parents and I stood in the street, which was clear of tourists because the police blocked it off for security purposes. Not a bad perk.
Twice a month I dragged my bulging dirty laundry bag through the hustle and bustle of Times Square. I convinced myself that I was getting an excellent arm workout. On a rainy day or when I was feeling really unmotivated, I splurged on an online service to pick up, wash, and drop off my laundry.
Carrying groceries back from the store was an even bigger hassle. I used this 24-hour deli next to my apartment to grab basics like milk and chips.
For mostly everything else and for better prices, I went to the closest grocery store, which was on 43rd Street and 10th Avenue -- a 15-minute walk from my door. I had to shop smart because I only had my two little arms to haul my purchases nearly a mile back to my apartment.
I couldn't completely avoid the crowds in Times Square, but one small habit I adopted was to walk along the footpath on the street. There were usually police barricades in place that helped create a pedestrian walkway.
Of all the multistory billboards in Times Square there were two that I especially didn't care for. The first one is eight stories tall, as long as a football field, and at the corner of my street. Say hi to the world's largest billboard.
This billboard at the corner of 43rd Street and Broadway is equally awful. Crowds gather at the base of the screen, pretty much in the center of the footpath, and then smile and wave at themselves for extended periods of time.
So the crowds are kind of a pain, but look at all the subway lines I have just steps from my door. Birthday party in Brooklyn, housewarming in Astoria, dinner in Hell's Kitchen, something in Hoboken -- I'm there.
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