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Tale of Two Cities


by Mike Margulus, Guest Blogger


I’ve always thought you could split the world population into two parts: those who really dislike New York City and those who rave about it. (This perspective, naturally, ignores those people who have no opinion of the place, and admittedly  they represent a majority of everyone.) Now I’ve always belonged to the first camp, not being able to get beyond the grime, frenetic pace and horrid expensiveness.

Also, I inevitably compared it to Chicago, which I deem to be the most attractive city in America and the Paris of the U.S. I am happy to say that over the past 18 months and a couple trips east I have made a 180 degree turn and love to visit NYC, though I still believe that Chicago is clearly the prettier of the two cities.

The main reason for this transformation is my perception of New York as a museum in and of itself. Recently, before visiting NYC in February, Liz and I saw a wonderful documentary on the city by Rick Burns (Ken’s younger brother), which greatly expanded our appreciation of New York’s fascinating history and tremendous diversity.

Some of the specific highlights of our “historic” journey through Manhattan and Brooklyn are the following:


  • Discovering the absolute beauty and charm of Brooklyn Heights, dating back to before the Civil War. One of the prettiest neighborhoods of New York, it is located across the East River from the financial district.



  • Sensing the incredible achievement of constructing the Brooklyn Bridge by walking across it. It is a true wonder even in today’s world, 132 years after it was completed.

IMG_4657.5aSHOW Liz_2 (2)


  • Visiting the Tenement Museum to literally experience some of the living conditions surrounding the era of the early garment industry and the immigration waves of the 19th century.


  • Walking through the Manhattan neighborhood of the West Village, which as a “pre-grid” entity has the character and layout of an old English village.


  • Taking a guided tour through Central Park and learning how this gem originated and has further blossomed in its gardens, bridges, fountains, ponds, meadows and historic structures.


  • Visiting the Beaux-Arts styled central library on 5th Avenue and exploring its inspiring, majestic spaces. Combining this visit with extended stopovers at the classic Grand Central Station and beautiful Bryant Park was also a special experience.



  • Driving through the lovely Green-Wood Cemetery, a national historic landmark in Brooklyn and a beautiful “outdoor museum” and resting place for people as diverse as Leonard Bernstein and Samuel Morse, the inventor of the telegraph.



  • Walking the High Line, a linear park on an elevated section of the old New York Central Railroad. Beautifully landscaped with diverse plantings, it serves as a wonderful respite from the urban stresses of the city. It’s playing an important role in the further gentrification of the Chelsea neighborhood along the Hudson River.



In the “entertainment” category, consider seeing the hit play “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night -Time”.

Then go for a snack or meal at the Joe Allen Restaurant on 46th St. to learn about the theatre world and Broadway’s celebrated flops. And finally check out Katz’s Delicatessen, where the “orgasmic scene” from “Harry Met Sally” was filmed.

I hope to write a blog on Chicago and its world  class architecture at a later date!


Liz and Mike Margulus travel extensively throughout the world, sharing the love of photography to enhance their travel experiences.  Their web site is


Post Author
Susan J. Smith
Susan's career includes writing for newspapers, lots of community work and a wonderful family life. Now she is enjoying traveling, photography and writing for DesignDestinations and Grand Rapids Magazine. She welcomes you on her journey and appreciates your comments.

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