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1319.93 I still Love New York

Last week, Hubz and I spent a few days in New York City to celebrate our combined birthdays, mine being last month in April, the focus was mostly on his, falling only a few days before our trip. I've spent a lot of time in Manhattan over the years, going 4+ times annually. This was prior to the towers falling and only once soon after. Although it only seems like not so long ago, a lot has changed in 17 years, not all bad. For instance, the city is much cleaner and no one smokes anymore. There was a time that it was practically impossible to walk the streets without encountering at least one cloud of second hand smoke. 
Gone are the cute little shops where you could find that one thing you'd see no where else, replaced by empty store fronts or corporate stores housing fast fashions available anywhere. In all fairness we didn't go to the Garment District but these boutiques used to be sprinkled all over the city, one of the reason we walked everywhere to dip into one interesting spot after another, on every block.
The energy, the vibe is different, a watered down version of its former self. 
The unique character of "The City that never sleeps" is gone. Evidenced by the lack of people in Times Square after 1 am. Everything was closed, making it difficult to find a fun spot to have some drinks and experience that unique NYC night life. Farewell to the slightly seedy 'Kats Bar' with the 6' Puerto Rican drag queen bouncer or the 'Marquis de Sade' a block from Macy's with the practically topless trans entertainer passing the time on a swing on Wednesday afternoons. 
The hustle and bustle is still evident, still plenty of hawkers but with the addition of crappy costumed cartoon characters invading your personal space wanting to take pictures and be paid for it, more Hollywood Blvd than Times Square. Thankfully the Naked Cowboy is still there, just as pleasant and personable as ever, seeming unaware or unbothered by a soft-bodied shirtless man wearing headphones (we called him the Naked DJ), screaming random things at you to get your attention, clearly a poor attempt at stealing the Cowboy's gimmick.
I would like to preface this next observation by saying I don't support the counterfeit items Canal Street was famous for but if one were so inclined that was definitely the place to find such things. The amount of closed shops along the street was also very surprising, seemingly not immune to the citywide gentrification. I wondered if we just picked the wrong day, something that was never an issue in years past. We were however constantly approached by men and women whispering about the availability of handbags, pretty sketchy. I may or may not have found some imitation purses but that's for me to know and you to find out.
The subway seems the same with a few improvements. I personally have never cared for it, the two biggest reason are my claustrophobia, preferring to stay above ground in the event of a brown out and the second no longer a problem. I could never be quite sure when to get off the train, convinced I'd miss my stop. Now, they have LED signs with upcoming stops displayed. A big improvement for me, but I think I'll stick to the cabs, another thing that seems to be dying out with the addition of Uber, Lyft, and NYCGreen.
We had a lovely stay at the W Times Square, with a nice view of the Hudson River and while I don't love the city it as I once did, I still kinda like it.