January 25, 2011

100 Reasons To Love Growing Up In New York City


What Better Way To Celebrate New York Family’s Fifth Anniversary?

By Eric Messinger


There are the transcendent reasons and there are the tangible ones. And sometimes they are both. The city’s diversity is an transcendent gift to a child, even if it’s hard to measure. Easy access to the American Museum of Natural History is more tangible, but how incredibly lucky are our kids to have it? It too is a transcendent gift. I wouldn’t say that all our neighborhood pizza shops are a transcendent gift, but you know what? They’re always there when you need them and they almost always make kids happy.


To celebrate our 5th anniversary as a magazine devoted to helping parents raise their kids and enjoy life in the city and beyond, we tasked ourselves with coming up with 100 reasons to love growing up here. Our criteria was simple: we looked for things that have a meaningful impact on the lives of children, for serious reasons (like health and education) or fun ones. Of course, there are many more things we could have listed. But at the least, I hope you’ll look this over and be inspired to embark on a city adventure you haven’t yet shared with your child or see something else and think it’s time to do that again. (One final note: These are not rankings! Everything is #1.)

1. The Diversity.

2. All Of The Wonderful Neighborhood Playgrounds.


3. Walking Over The Brooklyn Bridge.

4. The Great (Often Free) Programs from the Parks Department and The City Parks Foundation.

5. Symphony Space.

6. We’re Becoming A Greener City Every Day.

7. Madison Square Garden (The Knicks, Plus All The Shows For Kids).

8. Snug Harbor (Including The Children’s Museum of Staten Island).

9. Flushing Meadows Corona Park.

10. New York Botanical Garden and Brooklyn Botanical Garden.

11. Holiday Windows and Oversized Christmas Trees.

12. Free Activities! There Are Lots Of Them, Including Our Favorite: Movies Under The Stars.

13. Central Park.

14. Ellis Island.

15. Diners!

16. The Children’s Museum of Manhattan, The Children’s Museum of the Arts And The Brooklyn Children’s Museum.

17. The United Nations.

18. All Of The (Other) Amazing Parks We Don’t Have Room To Mention!

19. The MoMA.

20. The New York Public Library.

21. Wave Hill.

22. Incredible Ethnic Eats (Whether Ordered In Or Sought Out).

23. Asphalt Green.

24. The American Museum of Natural History.

25. Big Apple Circus (And The Other Small Circuses We Don’t Have Room To Mention).

26. South Street Seaport And The Imagination Playground.

27. The Park Slope Effect: Yuppie Family Gentrification.

28. The Williamsburg Effect: Hipster Family Gentrification.

29. The Harlem Effect: Diverse Family Gentrification.

30. All The (Other) Great Museums We Don’t Have Room To Mention.

31. All the Wonderful Y’s And The JCC Manhattan.

32. So Many Dog Parks.

33. The Queens County Farm Museum.

34. Pelham Bay Park/Orchard Beach.

35. Prospect Park.

36. The New Victory Theater.

37. From FAO Schwarz To West Side Kids,Cool Toy Stores Large And Small.

38. The Professional Sports Teams.

39. Awesome Ice Skating Rinks.

40. The Greenbelt Recreation Center.

41. The Wonderful Neighborhood Libraries Around The City.

42. Amazing Birthday Venues And Entertainers, And All Sorts Of Birthday Cakes.

43. Name A Sport or Hobby: There’s A League Or Program For It.

44. Firefighters, Teachers, Writers–Whatever Your Dream, There’s A Role Model.

45. The Statue of Liberty.

46. The Wonderful Children’s Activity And Enrichment Programs In Every Neighborhood.

47. A Pizza Place Or Bagel Store Every Three Blocks.

48. Dave & Busters, Ripley’s Believe It Or Not, Madame Tussauds.

49. The New York Hall of Science and Liberty Science Center.

50. Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge.

51. The Riches Of Everyday Street Life (Plus, City Kids Walk!).

52. City Island.

53. The New York Aquarium.

54. Bike Riding For Kids (especially along Hudson River Park and Riverside Park).

55. Coney Island (All Of It: Beach, Fishing Pier, Rides, Nathan’s And The Ball Park).

56. The Public Pools Around The City.

57. Compared To Most Big Cities, It’s Safe Here.

58. Lots of Great Neighborhood Pediatricians and Pediatric Dentists.

60. It’s Not Uniformly So, But There Are Lots of Great Neighborhood Public Schools.

61. And Lots Of Great Private Schools (Including For Families Favoring Single-Sex Education).

62. The Hordes Of Parent Volunteers Running PTAs And Sports Leagues.

64. The Bronx Zoo.

65. Broadway Shows.

66. Historic Richmond Town.

67. An Abundance Of World Class Hospitals.

68. Chinatowns.

69. Yankee Stadium or Citi Field: Take Your Pick.

70. Grand Public Beaches Like Jacob Riis Park and Brighton Beach.

71. Lincoln Center (With A Special Nod To The Kids Programming At Jazz at Lincoln Center).

72 . The Empire State Building.

73. All The Nutcrackers At Christmastime.

74. Radio City Music Hall.

75. Robust Neighborhood Parent Groups like Park Slope Parents And Hudson River Park Mamas.

76. College Kids Underemployed Actresses Underpaid Young Professionals = Lots of Great Babysitters.

77. Big Fun Bowling Alleys.

78. It’s A “No Smoking” City.

79. If You Have A Child With Special Needs, There Are Social Service Organizations To Turn To.

80. Ground Zero.

81.Carnegie Hall And All Other High Culture Venues With Programming For Kids.

82. The Other Attractions And Stores In Times Square And Midtown We Didn’t Have Space To Mention.

83. From Kayaking In The Hudson To Fishing In Van Cortlandt Lake–Water Recreation!

84. The Safety Net Of Incredible Charities And Social Service Organizations.

85. “Big Box” Event Shopping Like The American Girl Store and Nintendo World Store.

87. People Like Living Here.

88. A City Rich With Churches, Synagogues, Mosques And Other Religious Centers.

89. All The Wonderful Little Children’s Theaters.

90. It’s A City That Rewards Hard Work And Big Dreams (And Kids Get That).

91. Laurie Berkner And Dan Zanes.

92. Kids Love Trains, Buses, Cabs, And Airports–We Got Them.

93. Neighborhood Greenmarkets.

94. Grand Central Station.

95. Chelsea Piers.

96. The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

97. We’re Close To Many Wonderful Destinations: From Green Oases Like The Hudson Valley To Other Special Cities, Like Washington, D.C.

98. From Grand Candy Emporiums To Ice Cream Shops, It’s A Yummy City.

99. Driving Adults Crazy By Zipping Around Sidewalks On Your Scooters!

100. “If You Can Make It Here, You Can Make It Anywhere.”

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