Danielle McLaughlin: The end of summer in the city

Labor Day in the US will provide New Yorkers with one of their final chances to enjoy the long Summer afternoons.

Labor Day in the US will provide New Yorkers with one of their final chances to enjoy the long Summer afternoons.

Opinion: Winter might be fast approaching but there is plenty to love about Autumn in New York City. 

It's Labor Day weekend in the USA. From the Hamptons to Hawaii, Americans are taking a break to savour the last long, languid weekend of Summer. Before school goes back, college starts, football kicks off, and workers hunker down at their desks, staring down the barrel towards Thanksgiving, Hanukkah and Christmas.

F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote in The Great Gatsby that life began again with the summer, with its "sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees."  He was referring to his mythical West Egg and East Egg, located 30 minutes from Manhattan on the Long Island Sound.  Their ocean breezes provide a stark contrast to Summer in New York City. 

Which is oppressive.

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Heat reflects relentlessly off the concrete and glass of the city's structures and the asphalt of its streets and avenues. It's like a big, hot hug. Subway platforms are noisy, poisonous saunas. Streets teem with tourists. Sneakers, selfie sticks, shopping bags.  A menace to commuters like me, always in a hurry to get where we're going.

But there is respite.  I've found relief in ice-cold subway cars, on rooftop bars with a cocktail in hand, on the windy ferries that zig-zag the East River between Queens, Brooklyn and Manhattan.  And beauty, too. Watching the sun set over Manhattan's high rises as my daughter plays in an oversized sand-pit, calling out to the ferries that dock nearby. Walking under Central Park's enormous canopies, shaded from the morning blaze, as my husband finishes the New York City triathlon.

Fitzgerald also wrote lovingly in Gatsby about the Queensboro Bridge, a span that links northern Queens with Manhattan.

"The city seen from the Queensboro Bridge is always the city seen for the first time, in its first wild promise of all the mystery and the beauty in the world."

The Queensboro presides over my small enclave of Queens.  Its 100-plus year old cantilever span provides a stark contrast to the polished glass towers of my neighbourhood.

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I travelled, in the back of a black car, along the top deck of the Queensboro Bridge early last Saturday.  It was 6am, the sun was rising behind me, and Manhattan's skyscrapers glowed pink with the reflected early morning light out of the east. I was en route to CNN to talk politics at 7am. I was nervous. As the cream steel exoskeleton whizzed past my window, I thought of Fitzgerald's homage to the bridge, and the City so filled with possibility.

I've lived here for a year now.  And that mystery and beauty remains. I've met many New Yorkers with decades under their belt, who share my sense of wonder.

Autumn will bring lots of hard work, an escalating (and ugly) presidential election, and cooling weather.  I'll remind myself to be glad of kinder weather and fewer tourists. But honestly, I just can't wait for summer to return to the city.

 - Sunday Star Times


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