New York City – NYPD & FDNY – Local Heroes

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The New York City Police Department (NYPD or NYCPD), officially the City of New York Police Department, was established in 1845 and is the largest municipal police force in the United States, having primary responsibilities in law enforcement and investigation within the five boroughs of New York City. The NYPD is one of the oldest police departments established in the United States, tracing its roots back to the seventeenth century. (Wikipedia)

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Members of the NYPD are frequently referred to by politicians, some media and their own police cars by the nickname New York’s Finest. The NYPD is headquartered at 1 Police Plaza, located on Park Row in Lower Manhattan across the street from City Hall. (Wikipedia)

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The Municipal Police were established in 1845, replacing an old night watch system. In 1857, it was tumultuously replaced by a Metropolitan force, which consolidated many other local police departments in 1898. Twentieth-century trends included professionalization and struggles against corruption. (Wikipedia)

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As the high-profile principal law-enforcement agency in the largest city in the United States – also a main media centre – fictionalized versions of the NYPD and its officers have frequently been portrayed in media including novels, radio, television, motion pictures and video games. (Wikipedia)

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The New York City Fire Department is the largest municipal fire department in the United States and the second largest in the world after the Tokyo Fire Department. The FDNY employs approximately 10,200 uniformed firefighters and over 3,600 uniformed EMTs and paramedics. Its regulations are compiled in title 3 of the New York City Rules. The FDNY’s motto is New York’s Bravest. The FDNY serves more than 8 million residents within a 320 square mile radius. (Wikipedia)

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Like most fire departments of major cities in the United States, the New York City Fire Department is organized in a paramilitary fashion, and in many cases echoes the structure of the police department. The department’s executive staff is divided into two areas that include a civilian Fire Commissioner who serves as the head of the department and a Chief of Department who serves as the operational leader. (Wikipedia)

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Operationally and geographically, the department is nominally organized, into five Borough Commands for the five traditional Boroughs of New York City. Within those five Borough Commands exists nine firefighting Divisions, each headed by a Deputy Division Chief. Within each Division are four to seven Battalions, each led by a Battalion Chief. Each Battalion consists of three to eight firehouses and consists of approximately 180–200 firefighters and officers. Each firehouse consists of one to three fire companies. Each fire company is led by a captain, who commands three lieutenants and nine to twenty firefighters. There are currently four shifts of firefighters in each company. (Wikipedia)

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The city’s first firehouse was built in 1736 in front of City Hall on Broad Street. A year later, on December 16, 1737, the colony’s General Assembly created the Volunteer Fire Department of the City of New York, appointing 30 men who would remain on call in exchange for exemption from jury and militia duty. The city’s first official firemen were required to be “able, discreet, and sober men who shall be known as Firemen of the City of New York, to be ready for service by night and by day and be diligent, industrious and vigilant.” 

Although the 1737 Act created the basis of the fire department, the actual legal entity was incorporated in the State of New York on March 20, 1798 under the name of “Fire Department, City of New York.” (Wikipedia)

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“New York is notoriously the largest and least-loved of any of our great cities. Why should it be loved as a city? It is never the same city for a dozen years altogether. A man born in New York forty years ago finds nothing, absolutely nothing, of the New York he knew. If he chances to stumble upon a few old houses not yet levelled, he is fortunate. But the landmarks, the objects which marked the city to him, as a city, are gone.”

 – Harper’s (1856)

“I was in love with New York. I do not mean ‘love’ in any colloquial way, I mean that I was in love with the city, the way you love the first person who ever touches you and never love anyone quite that way again.”

–Joan Didion

“Each man reads his own meaning into New York.”

-Meyer Berger

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New York City – Bridges to Civilization

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The Manhattan Bridge carries automobile, truck, subway, bicycle, and pedestrian traffic over the East River. The Bridge runs between Flatbush Avenue Extension in Downtown Brooklyn and Canal Street in Chinatown, Manhattan.

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The Manhattan Bridge was the last of the three suspension bridges built across the lower East River, following the Brooklyn and Williamsburg bridges. It has four vehicle lanes on the upper level, split between two roadways. The lower level has three lanes, four subway tracks, a walkway and a bikeway. The upper level, originally used for streetcars, has two lanes in each direction, and the lower level is one-way and has three lanes in peak direction.

The Bridge supports seven lanes of vehicular traffic, four transit train lines, a pedestrian walkway and a Class 1 bikeway. Every weekday, the Bridge carries over 450,000 commuters, including 106,700 commuters in 85,400 vehicles, 4,000 bicyclists and 340,900 mass transit riders in 950 subway trains. Over 75% of all Manhattan Bridge crossings are by public transit.

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“I remember perfectly my first trip to New York, when I was on the bridge between Brooklyn and Manhattan, when I saw the skyscrapers. It was like an incredible dream.”

Diego Della Valle

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The Brooklyn Bridge, built between 1869 and 1883, connects Manhattan with New York’s most populous borough, Brooklyn. The bridge is one of the most famous and magnificent landmarks in New York City.

An elevated pedestrian path not only gives you the opportunity to cross the river without being bothered by the traffic that rushes past a level below, but it also offers a great view of the bridge’s towers as well as downtown Manhattan’s skyline. The views alone attract millions of visitors to this bridge each year.

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The most noticeable feature of the Brooklyn Bridge are the two masonry towers to which the many cables are attached. The towers with large Gothic arches reach a height of 276 ft (84 meters), at the time making them some of the tallest landmarks in New York. Roebling claimed that the monumental towers would make the bridge a historic monument. He was proven right when the bridge officially became a national monument in 1964.

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The Brooklyn Bridge ranks as one of the greatest engineering feats of the 19th century and remains one of New York’s most popular and well known landmarks.

The impressive bridge spans the East river between Brooklyn and Manhattan and stretches for a length of 5989 ft, about 1.8 km. The span between the large towers measures 1595.5 ft (486 meters). This made the Brooklyn Bridge the world’s largest suspension bridge.

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The construction of the Brooklyn Bridge started in 1869 and took fourteen years to complete. At the time many saw the construction of such a large bridge as a folly.

The driving force behind the whole project, John Roebling, was a German immigrant who had worked for the Prussian government as a bridge and road builder. He launched the idea of building a bridge across the East River after he had taken a ferry across the river that ended up stuck in the ice.

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“I once started out

to walk around the world

but ended up in Brooklyn,

that Bridge was too much for me.”

― Lawrence Ferlinghetti, A Coney Island of the Mind

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“Over the great bridge, with sunlight through the girders making a constant flicker upon the moving cars, with the city rising up across the river in white heaps and sugar lumps all built with a wish out of non-olfactory money. The city seen for the first time, in its first wild promise of all the mystery and the beauty in the world.”

-F. Scott Fitzgerald

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“Up on the Brooklyn Bridge a man is standing in agony, waiting to jump, or waiting to write a poem, or waiting for the blood to leave his vessels because if he advances another foot the pain of his love will kill him.”
― Henry Miller, Black Spring

New York City – Pizza Joints, Diners & Delis

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“In New York I pretty much live in diners – I order French Fries, Diet Coke floats and lots of coffee.”

– Lana Del Rey

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“When I’m back in New York – and this is a terrible thing to complain about – I eat a lot more really, really good food than perhaps I’d like to. So many of my friends are really good chefs. It’s kind of like being in the Mafia.”

– Anthony Bourdain

When I first washed up on the greasy streets of NYC and bellied up to my first real NYC pizza counter, someone might easily have remarked, “You’re not in Kansas anymore.” New Yorkers do pizza differently than anywhere else.

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“I thought America was fabulous. Take pizza for example. For years I’d been thinking, I wish someone would invent a new kind of food. In England it was always egg and chips, sausage and chips, pie and chips… anything and chips. After a while it just got boring, y’know? But you couldn’t exactly order a shaved Parmesan and rocket salad in Birmingham in the early 70s. If it didn’t come out of a deep-fat fryer, no one knew what the fuck it was. But then, in New York, I discovered pizza. It blew my mind wide fucking open. I would buy ten or twenty slices a day. And then, when I realized you could buy a great big pizza all for yourself, I started ordering them wherever we went. I couldn’t wait to get back home and tell all my mates: ‘There’s this incredible new thing. It’s American and it’s called pizza. It’s like bread, but it’s better than any bread you’ve tasted in your life.”

– Ozzie Osbourne

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For New Yorkers, a slice to go, served on a paper plate with a stack of napkins, is our version of fast food. While folks in other parts of the U.S. might do the drive-thru thing and slam a burger and fries in the car, we grab a slice and walk down the street cramming grease-laden cheese bombs down our gullets. It looks weird at first to see someone walking down Fifth Avenue with a piece of pizza as if it’s no big thing, but you get used to it and, soon enough, it becomes, well, no big thing.

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One thing you might not be familiar with is the fact that some NYC pizzerias use anthracite coal to cook their pizzas. Pizza geeks have long been into coal-fired pizzas. The ovens cook at a hot-enough temperature that a skilled pizzamaker can create an amazing crust that is both crisp and chewy at the same time and that is not dried out and tough. Also, the way that most of these old-school coal-oven places make the pizza, they just sort of know how to make a nice balanced pie, one that doesn’t go too heavy on the sauce or pile on too much cheese.

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“Everybody ought to have a lower East Side in their life.”

– Irving Berlin

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“I am not Jewish, but I think that America invented nothing so fine as deli food.”

– Mike Newell

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“I‘m going to marry a Jewish woman because I like the idea of getting up Sunday morning and going to the deli.”

– Michael J. Fox

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“I hate sandwiches at New York delis. Too much meat on the sandwich. It’s like a cow with a cracker on either side. “Would you like anything else with the pastrami sandwich?” “Yeah, a loaf of bread and some other people!”

– Mitch Hedberg

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“You look around New York, and we are surrounded by restaurants and food trucks, and we celebrate food in this city like no tomorrow.”

– Chris Noth

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“Too few people understand a really good sandwich.”

– James Beard

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“New York City has fantastic restaurants and, unlike London, a lot of the best restaurants are relatively cheap.”
– Tibor Fischer

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“I don’t feel like I have to dress up to go to the deli.”

– Adam Driver

New York City – Life on the Street

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“The true New Yorker secretly believes that people living anywhere else have to be, in some sense, kidding.”

― John Updike

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In 1998, Robert John Burck flew to California to do a photo shoot with Playgirl magazine. He went on the beach in jeans and a flannel shirt. The photographer suggested he go out in just his underwear. “I did it, went out in my underwear and made over $100,” he says.

“I’ve been doing it ever since.”

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Work is the curse of the drinking class.”
–Oscar Wilde

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“For in that city [New York] there is neurosis in the air which the inhabitants mistake for energy.”

― Evelyn Waugh

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“I look out the window and I see the lights and the skyline and the people on the street rushing around looking for action, love, and the world’s greatest chocolate chip cookie, and my heart does a little dance.”

― Nora Ephron

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“One belongs to New York instantly, one belongs to it as much in five minutes as in five years.”

― Tom Wolfe

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“As for New York City, it is a place apart. There is not its match in any other country in the world.”

– Pearl S. Buck

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“New York is an ugly city, a dirty city. Its climate is a scandal, its politics are used to frighten children, its traffic is madness, its competition is murderous. But there is one thing about it – once you have lived in New York and it has become your home, no place else is good enough.”

― John Steinbeck, America and Americans and Selected Nonfiction

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“When you leave New York, you are astonished at how clean the rest of the world is. Clean is not enough.”

― Fran Lebowitz

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“New York was a city where you could be frozen to death in the midst of a busy street and nobody would notice.”

― Bob Dylan, Chronicles, Vol. 1

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“I can’t with any conscience argue for New York with anyone. It’s like Calcutta. But I love the city in an emotional, irrational way, like loving your mother or your father even though they’re a drunk or a thief. I’ve loved the city my whole life — to me, it’s like a great woman.”

– Woody Allen

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“There’s something so romantic about being broke in New York. You gotta do it. You have to live there once without any money, and then you have to live there when you have money. Let me tell you, of the two, the latter is far better.”

–  Amy Poehler

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Old New York City is a friendly old town

From Washington Heights to Harlem on down

There’s a-mighty many people all millin’ all around

They’ll kick you when you’re up and knock you when you’re down

It’s hard times in the city

Livin’ down in New York town

– Bob Dylan

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“The faces in New York remind me of people who played a game and lost.”

– Murray Kempton

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“New York is the capital, the national headquarters of homelessness…. No one feels he belongs here.”

– GERALD STANLEY LEE, The House of Twenty Seven Gardens

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“New York! The white prisons, the sidewalks swarming with maggots, the breadlines, the opium joints that are built like palaces, the kikes that are there, the lepers, the thugs, and above all, the ennui, the monotony of faces, streets, legs, houses, skyscrapers, meals, posters, jobs, crimes, loves … A whole city erected over a hollow pit of nothingness.”

-Henry Miller

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“Give me such shows — give me the streets of Manhattan!”

– Walt Whitman

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“I regret profoundly that I was not an American and not born in Greenwich Village. It might be dying, and there might be a lot of dirt in the air you breathe, but this is where it’s happening.”

– John Lennon

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“I love New York, even though it isn’t mine, the way something has to be, a tree or a street or a house, something, anyway, that belongs to me because I belong to it.”

-Truman Capote

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“New York remains what it has always been: a city of ebb and flow, a city of constant shifts of population and economics, a city of virtually no rest. It is harsh, dirty, and dangerous, it is whimsical and fanciful, it is beautiful and soaring – it is not one or another of these things but all of them, all at once, and to fail to accept this paradox is to deny the reality of city existence.”      – Paul Goldberger

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“Each neighbourhood of the city appeared to be made of a different substance, each seemed to have a different air pressure, a different psychic weight: the bright lights and shuttered shops, the housing projects and luxury hotels, the fire escapes and city parks.”

― Teju Cole, Open City

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“Whoever is born in New York is ill-equipped to deal with any other city: all other cities seem, at best, a mistake, and, at worst, a fraud. No other city is so spitefully incoherent.”

– James Baldwin

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“New York now leads the world’s great cities in the number of people around whom you shouldn’t make a sudden move.”

– David Letterman

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“New York has a trip-hammer vitality which drives you insane with restlessness, if you have no inner stabilizer…. In New York I h ave always felt lonely, the loneliness of the caged animal, which brings on crime, sex, alcohol and other madnesses.”

–  Henry Miller

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“The city is an amusement park: Everything is concrete, it’s full of tourists, and food vendors line the sidewalks. It’s like living in a casino: The lights never dim, there’s an incessant din of bells and horns, and there’s always someone, somewhere, crying in a bathroom.”

-Jane Borden 

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New York is a different country. Maybe it ought to have a separate government. Everybody thinks differently, they just don’t know what the hell the rest of the United States is.

– Henry Ford 

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“There is no place like it, no place with an atom of its glory, pride, and exultancy. It lays its hand upon a man’s bowels; he grows drunk with ecstasy; he grows young and full of glory, he feels that he can never die.”

–  Walt Whitman

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“If you live in New York, even if you’re Catholic, you’re Jewish.”

– Lennie Bruce

New York City – Taxi Cabs

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Taxi cabs are both loved and hated by New Yorkers. They serve as a quick and easy means of transportation across Manhattan, a route not amply served by the subways. The downside with having an abundance of cabs is the traffic that results. Most traffic-jams in mid-town are speckled with many of the over 10,000 yellow cabs that service the city.

“I get out of the taxi and it’s probably the only city which in reality looks better than on the postcards, New York.”

– Milos Forman

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New York Taxi Rules:

1. Driver speaks no English.

2. Driver just got here two days ago from someplace like Segal.

3. Driver hates you.

– Dave Barry

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The act of flagging down a cab is called “hailing”; there’s not much to it, just stick out your arm above your head, and pretend you’re the Statue of Liberty. When the numbers on the roof of the cab are lit, it is available. Yellow Medallion cabs are the only ones authorized to pick up hails. Avoid cabs that are not the typical “yellow cab”, especially if you are new to New York. It’s a good idea to make sure all seat belts are working before closing the car doors.

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“Anytime four New Yorkers get into a cab together without arguing, a bank robbery has just taken place.”

– Johnny Carson

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“People say New Yorkers can’t get along. Not true. I saw two New Yorkers, complete strangers, sharing a cab. One guy took the tires and the radio; the other guy took the engine.”

– David Letterman

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“I love New York. You can pop out of the Underworld in Central Park, hail a taxi, head down Fifth Avenue with a giant hellhound loping behind you, and nobody even looks at you funny.”

― Rick Riordan

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“I don’t have to really be in the 60s. Every time I hail a cab in New York, and they pass me by and pick up the white person, then I get a dose of it. Or when they don’t want to take you to Harlem. I grew up with that.”

– Queen Latifah