New York City is like that recurring dream you have of discovering an extra room in your house, a room you never knew was there. That expanding sense of space and possibility. You could wander New York for a long time and never run out of rooms.
It's also decrepit. Endless, sprawling decrepitude. I don't say that as a criticism, it may actually be no small part of New York's appeal.
Or maybe it's not decrepitude that I'm noticing, so much as an overwhelming sensation that it's a machine that could never be paused and restarted. Like that proverbial shark, New York must keep swimming, or die. You get a real sense of this when you start thinking about everything that's necessary to keep a city of this magnitude running.
Example: New York has the highest per-ton waste disposal costs of any city in America, mostly due to transportation costs. All five boroughs now ship their household garbage to neighboring states.
Example: There are over 700 pumps, at 280 locations, pumping water out of the subway. If all the pumps were to fail, the tracks would be submerged in less than eight hours, and the entire system flooded in less than a day.
Example: In July of 1977 the power in New York failed for a single day. Looters rioted in the streets. When I was a kid in Saint Paul, Minnesota, we once lost power for three days. Our ice cream melted.
But so what? Whatever it is that forms the "hate" part of New Yorkers' love/hate relationship with their city, it's a small price to pay for a breadth of cultural diversity unrivaled anywhere in the world.
It is, as they say, a hell of a town.