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On New York streets
People hurry along through a thriving commercial center
Editor's note: Originally published: September 5, 2003
Near the 42nd Street station, people scurry past an inconspicuous food stand on Broadway.
"FRIED CHICKEN, GREEK GYROS, KOSHER HOT DOGS," the sign reads, offering an eclectic selection from different cultures.
"PHILADELPHIA CHEESE STEAK, ITALIAN SAUSAGES."
But the diversity doesn't seem to foster barriers. The stand owner wears a dark blue New York Yankees cap. He and millions of others who live here are unified as New Yorkers.
From the occasional phone booth poster promising a forum to share new ideas about society to teasers for experimental projects, ads in Manhattan could take a lifetime to read.
In fact, Times Square looks like something out of "Back to the Future." Technology reigns over the area with rapidly flashing billboards of all colors, in-your-face advertisements and up-to-the-minute news.
"Always Coca-Cola," shouts one ad.
"Cold! Cold! Cold! WATER," boldly announces another, reminding the few New Yorkers walking in a leisurely enough manner to notice the sweltering heat of a June day.
In the hustle of the city, the New York Post uses people power to position solicitors. While worldwide chains that can adapt to the movement of the city thrive, smaller local chains like NY Sports Club and Famiglia's make their presences well known.
Meanwhile, near a food stand 75 blocks uptown, a fast-talking foreigner asks another pedestrian a question.
"You an illegal? Have you got your green card yet?"
The foreigner races across the street before a dreaded green light reappears.
Further street sounds indicate the nature of the city.
"F-U! F-U! F-U!" shouts a small child, echoing the explicit words of a ranting man who is passing by.
At 110th and Broadway, a homeless protestor begins to make noise.
"You know what stars are made of?" he shouts. "Stars are made of food and water. Now you can see them all of the time. All of the time"
Naïve sightseers look up in shock before reminding themselves of where they are.
Despite the vast commercialism, the heart of New York City is still in the cars' perpetual honking, the two ancient men competing in chess on the sidewalk., the couple embracing at 116th and Amsterdam.
The heart is in the occasional passerby wearing the stars and stripes to remind the city that New York is the epicenter of the United States.
Andrew Mangino edits The Cauldron at James Caldwell High School in West Caldwell, N.J.
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