Woody’s entire film was a love letter to the city of New York. It was made in 1979 during a time when the city was in poor economic shape and crime was sky high. Still, he was able to totally romanticize the town.
I was living in Atlanta at the time, where I was born and bred. I knew in my heart that I needed to be in a melting pot, in a city where I could be whoever I needed to be. In high school, I never quite fit in and I wasn’t sure why. I wanted to come to a city where I could explore, get involved with the arts, be a part of a melting pot while not feeling different because my skin was darker than everyone around me.
I moved to New York after spending some time abroad after college and I’ve been here ever since. My first apartment was on West 70th Street between Amsterdam and West End. When I turned left outside my building, I ended up at Riverside Park; when I turned right, I could walk to Central Park, Lincoln Center, Zabar’s, Lincoln Plaza Cinema, H&H; Bagels, Cafe Luxembourg where I used to see all the Broadway actors after their shows. I’ve had an adult life filled with theater, opera, concerts, hikes upstate, trips to beaches during the summer, walks all over the city, meeting other like-minded people who also moved here from all over the world.
About a year after my arrival, I was at Carnegie Hall watching a classical concert. In the not too far distance was Woody Allen and his wife. I’ve seen them numerous times walking on the Upper East Side. I owe a lot to him. He painted a beautiful portrait of the city in not only “Manhattan” but also “Annie Hall,” “Stardust Memories” and his other films that I got swept away and moved here as soon as I could. The city has changed since I first got here. It’s much more expensive and I’m not sure if I could experience the amount of culture and find the same opportunities as I had when I got here today.
But I still love it. I’ve since had kids and moved to the suburbs and no longer can walk out the door and roll right into the heart of it all. I miss that sometimes, but I can get in easily on the train and quite often do. The city will always hold a special place in my heart and I refuse to let go of what it has to offer me. I go in as much as I can.
Like one of his famous lines says, “we’ll always have Manhattan.” And so will I.