The (Adventurous) Other Four: Bronx Edition

I feel like it is pretty easy to fall into a routine in life if the daily grind is familiar and comfortable. Even around here (crazily enough), I’ve noticed that the more comfortable I’ve become with living in the middle of all of these tall buildings and close crowds, I’ve grown to become pretty darn repetitive myself.

Artwork adorns a walkway in The Bronx

I’ve found myself fighting this like crazy, however, because there is so much to see, do and experience here in this insane, wonderful city. The worst symptom of my routine within the first month here has been my status as a full-time Manhattan dweller. Safe for a Queens trip during our first weekend here to see the Padres play the Mets in Flushing, I hadn’t left Manhattan at all. Don’t get me wrong, Manhattan has been extremely exciting to explore, and there is still so (so!) much I’ve yet to experience on this island. Manhattan is, however, one of five boroughs in total that make up New York City. I’d like to wrap up this summer by saying I saw as much of New York as I possibly could. With that in mind, last week I set out on a mission to discover “the other four.”

By the end of the week, I had actually stepped foot in all of New York’s boroughs except (ironically) Queens. The only stop that truly amounted to checking out another borough, however, was Yang and my Friday afternoon trip to The Bronx.

After a half an hour or so on the 3 train, tracks suddenly led above ground. On the other side, we were suddenly greeted with sunlight (very bright sunlight, especially after that time underground) and a big block of lush, green fields with little ballplayers spread out across them. It looked to me something exactly like a classic summer scene from the Midwest – except in the middle of the big city. Well, maybe this wasn’t “the middle” anymore. What we were looking at, as our train slowed to a halt, were the former grounds of perhaps the most worshiped cathedral in all of baseball. Across from the field was a current site to be revered – Yankee Stadium. Or at least the new Yankee Stadium, which had opened in 2009. The fields packed with little leaguers to the left of the new stadium and our subway stop were where the old, classic Yankee Stadium once stood. As a huge baseball fan, I was partly enthralled, partly in disbelief and more than a little overwhelmed to be standing upon such hallowed ground.

Yankee Stadium

Unfortunately, no Yankees game was to be played that night (surely an adventure for later), but plenty of Little League action was available for the taking in. After about an hour of exploring the surrounding area, Yang and I jumped back onto the train to see what we could find further into The Bronx.

What we found was a fresh personality to New York that we’d always heard about but hadn’t yet seen. The Bronx (or at least the neighborhoods we walked around Burnside Avenue) was more open, yet bustling. It had more of the small city, town feel – while still being a part of the Big City. We saw a plethora of true diversity and authenticity in our brief time in The Bronx. I felt like I’d been transported to another country completely at points – and exactly which country depended on the block we found ourselves on. Especially strong was a Hispanic influence in The Bronx, but of many different cultures. I found the similarities and differences among these cultures, and in a larger sense a vibe of complete belonging for all of these groups in this one location, to be amazing.

With our Bronx swing, I had become a bit more aware of the great melting pot atmosphere New York represents. For the first time since anxiously stepping off my flight from Denver last month, I felt like I had experienced something completely unique and different.

I’m definitely planning on returning to The Bronx for that Yankees game down the road, but am also looking forward to taking similar experience that New York’s other boroughs hopefully have to offer.

– Zach Garcia

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