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Summer in New York City

A dispatch from Brooklyn at night

by
Ani Wilcenski
July 03, 2023

The summer months are the best argument for living in an outer borough, where things are green and there are myriad outdoor locales that haven’t been colonized by McKinsey interns drinking warm IPAs or failed Lower East Side poets doing ketamine. These months are also an excellent argument for marrying rich and fleeing to a manor in Maine.

If these options are not available to you at present, I suggest spending as much time as possible walking around the city in the evening. One of the greatest things about New York is the utter lack of car culture, and therefore its supreme walkability. You can stroll in the city for hours and see something different and new on every street, because you’re forced to pay mild attention in a way you don’t when you’re somewhere like Los Angeles, complaining about the traffic from behind the wheel of a Mazda. It’s free entertainment and a form of meditation in a city where it costs money to breathe.

This walkability, and its benefits, is undercut by the conditions of a New York summer, because during the day there are Instagrammers clogging every street in Soho with fit checks and everything is so humid and pavement-heated that a walk longer than 10 minutes makes you look like you just emerged from a sauna in Brazil. This is why all the best city summer activities involve the great indoors—stuff like art museums, or getting Nepalese food in Queens, or shopping for useless but ostensibly luxe objects in the West Village.

But by dusk the city cools down, the streets get a little emptier, the pollution turns pink behind the buildings, and even the warmth of the air feels nice against your skin. After a late dinner, you can walk home past crowds waiting in lines for bars hotter than the world outside, excited for nighttime in a city that pulses with heat.

My favorite evening walk is in Brooklyn by the East River, where you can hear crickets in the bushes and waves lapping against the stones under the bridge. Sometimes if you close your eyes and feel the breeze from the water in your hair, it feels for a moment like you’re somewhere else, a respite without air conditioning, somewhere spacious and easy.

Ani Wilcenski is Tablet’s audience editor.

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