My Manhattan (with doors)
I spent my childhood in Ohio and Maryland,
but for most of my life I’ve lived in Manhattan.
The name comes from the language of the Lenape people,
recorded in the ledger of Henry Hudson’s ship, Half Moon, in 1609: Manna-hata.
“the place where they gather wood to make bows”–
the Lenape valued the hickory trees of Manhattan.
My first residence was a dorm room on West 27th Street;
My first job was in a clothing store on Lexington Avenue.
The Number 1, the 42nd Street Shuttle, and the Number 6–
those were my first subway lines in Manhattan.
My work offices were mostly in the Garment Center on Broadway,
but one was on the Avenue of the Americas in Manhattan.
When I freelanced most of my clients were located between 34th Street and 42nd Street–
but I also worked for people in the West Village, on the Lower East Side, and in Soho in Manhattan.
I have lived on or near West 21st, 27th, 82nd, 95th, 111th, 113th, 135th, 152nd, and 162nd Streets,
and on Bank Street, Hudson Street, Broadway, and West End Avenue in Manhattan.
Clinton Street was where I lived in Brooklyn–
but it didn’t take me long to return to Manhattan.
The Garment District, the West Village, Chelsea, the Upper West Side, Morningside Heights, Harlem, Hamilton Heights, and Washington Heights—
those are the regional names of the places I’ve lived in Manhattan.
I have always wondered if my Dutch ancestors, the Van Lents, lived in New Amsterdam–
or if I am the first descendant on my mother’s side to reside in Manhattan
Sherry at earthweal asked us to consider the names “of the places most beloved to us.” I don’t think she was thinking of cities, or of numbers as names, but Manhattan island is, and has been, my home, where my history resides, for 50 years now. And many of its names are numbers.
For Thursday doors, I could only find photos of the front doors of 3 of my residences. I took the top one recently–it’s my first uptown apartment, a Columbia University building, where I moved during a transition period in my life. A former roommate, then a Columbia grad student, lived there with her roommate and a rotating series of friends and boyfriends.
Here’s the inside of the apartment door where I spent the early lockdown of the pandemic. Not very appealing. But my windows looked out on the subway and a playground and Broadway. Noisy but light.
Here’s the inside door of my apartment now–much more to my liking, even though you walk right into the kitchen. And I also have lots of light, my top priority in a living space.
My poem was inspired by Natasha Trethewey’s wonderful ghazal “Miscegenation”.
And you can join in Thursday doors here.