I left my office in Midtown on a Monday night after work. I had come back from a trip that morning and went straight to the office, so I still had my bags with me.
I walked to the corner to hail a taxi. Luckily one was just approaching when I got there.
As I was juggling my stuff to open the door, I noticed a large pizza box in the back seat.
“There’s a box of pizza here,” I told the driver.
“Oh, give that to me,” he said. “The lady who just got out must have left it behind.”
I threw my things in the back and gave him the box through the window.
When I got into the back of the cab, he opened the box and tilted it toward the plastic divider so I could take a look.
“This is a full pie from Serafina!” he exclaimed. “Do you want to split it?”
I politely declined.
“Okay, your choice,” he said. “But do you mind if I play some soft jazz?”
— Samantha Tobin
The metropolis is quiet
The metropolis is now quiet
The raw voices of the day are silenced
A fast-moving car on the boulevard
The last reveler to return home
A magical time this is before sunrise
The clicking of your shoes on the sidewalk
You rarely hear a sound and only then
The market stalls packed and stored
Coffee is brewed at the Starbucks that is open all night
Cappuccino in a real cup please
A window seat to observe
The vanguard of the bourgeoisie
The web of the subway is now starting to tingle
Peripheral people are coming
Key keepers open their stores
While the eastern sky shows the clouds red
You can see movement behind the shop windows
Preparing for the Coming Flood
The city awakens, stretches and yawns
Soon the trains will deliver the crush
There’s still time to breathe fresher air
Walk slowly on the empty sidewalk
And let yourself be seduced by this new facet
From the wonderful city by the sea.
— Ted Bishop
Mona Lisa at the Met
It was a cold February day in 1963. I was 10 and my sister was 6. We stood in line with my father outside the Metropolitan Museum of Art to see the ‘Mona Lisa’. It could be seen there. My father was delighted with this great opportunity.
“You’ll never forget this day,” he told me excitedly in his Brooklyn accent as he repeatedly slapped my upper arm. “You’ll never forget we came to see the ‘Mona Lisa’.”
Nearly 60 years later, I don’t remember the ‘Mona Lisa’, but I do remember standing in front of that beautiful building on Fifth Avenue with my enthusiastic and adorable father.
— Donna Damico
I closed the coffee shop at 7am. It was already dark and freezing cold, and I felt a little uneasy as I pulled down the grille and knelt to put in the locks.
I hadn’t worked at the place for very long and was still learning about the area. Harry, an elderly regular who lived across the street, had talked to me that morning about what the Lower East Side had been like when he came to live there in the 1980s. He was concerned about a young woman who was locked up alone at night.
I had laughed away his concerns and sent him off with his pumpkin bread at the time. Now, however, I was a little nervous. It was a very quiet block without much light.
I got up from the door, turned to the street and caught a flash of light out of the corner of my eye. I looked up at the third-floor window across the street, where Harry had apparently been keeping a watchful eye.
He blinked his flashlight twice at me: Everything okay?
I nodded, smiled and raised my thumb, feeling both dumb and comforted. I had a feeling he would do that most evenings from then on. And he did.
— Jessica Hitt
I was at a deli on Morris Park Avenue in the Bronx with two friends from Los Angeles. After getting our sandwiches we went to the till to pay.
The man at the counter called my friend’s order and put his sandwich in a brown paper bag.
My friend said he didn’t need the bag.
The man looked at him, made strong eye contact, took the sandwich out of the bag, crumpled it up, and threw it in the trash.
“My sandwich shop,” he said. “My rules.”
My other friend said she didn’t need a bag either.
Again, strong eye contact, followed by another bag being crumpled up and tossed in the trash.
The man looked at me.
“You too?” he asked.
“The bag is okay,” I said. He and I both started laughing. My friends were cautious.
“Welcome to New York,” I said as we came out.
— Jessica Ward
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Illustrations by Agnes Lee