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7 Train to Long Island City

There is no better place to get amazing views of NYC than Long Island City. Across the East River, LIC used to be an industrial hub until a few years ago. Pepsi had a massive bottling plant and the Long Island Rail Road came through the center of town and then the cars were lowered on to barges via the massive gantries that stand tall to this day at Hunter's Point.

From the 59th Street bridge - also known as the Queensborough Bridge - on the right to the Freedom Tower on the left, the panoramic view of NYC from LIC reveals the iconic landmarks that give character to the city. The United Nations building, Chrysler and Empire State buildings, and then a series of familiar downtown buildings including the imposing Freedom Tower.

LIC has quickly morphed into a skyline of high rises and beautiful parks from an industrial landscape. The ferry connects you to Wall Street in less than 20 minutes. And to 34th Street in a fraction of time. The view from my cousin's 31st floor perch in LIC is breathtaking.

It is hard to miss the Pepsi Cola sign if you are on the east end of town. It sits imposingly on the river bank, dozens of stories high, brightening the night sky with a glorious red glow. A big sign brings big clout!

LIC is starting to look like mini version of Manhattan. Tall buildings are now on both sides of the streets with hundreds of thousands of apartments overlooking the Manhattan skyline.

Mixed in the urban waterfront landscape, you will find neighborhood shops, restaurants, and breweries, all within walking distance of where you live. We went to the Rockaway Brewing Company. The laws prevented breweries from having bars (you can imagine the reasons) and then they were allowed to do so but with strict guidelines. The RB Company's brews, decor, and cat were spectacular, not to miss the "Now Recording" sign on top of the brewery door.

It's hard to talk about LIC without talking about NYC!

I cannot articulate what is it about New York City that reminds me of India. It's certainly not the tall buildings, the grid like streets and avenues, the weather, or the rumble of trains going underground. It's probably the throngs of people, gridlocked streets, and oh yes, the smell of food hovering under your nose like morning fog on a humid day. The smell of wraps from the Halal Guys crossed with coffee or the smells of something fried wafting from every corner. The homeless people bundled in the cold bring me memories of the children who come knocking on the car door at intersections in Delhi. Most of all it is the collective energy of hundreds of thousands of people moving in synchrony, purpose, and rush that makes me nostalgic.

I imagine the blue sky forcing apart buildings that want to merge.

Some parts of the city are unchanged in decades. I spent many hours at the camera stores near Penn Station in 1976 with my father. Computers were not on sale then but the stores look just the same. A deep sense of satisfaction comes over me as I walk by these stores. I remember my father inquiring about cameras and accessories, amazed at how much he knew about gadgets I didn't understand.

If aliens abducted me and dumped me in an unknown place, a Duane Reade sign would instantly let me know that I was in New York City. No doubt.

Where else would you find little statues of dogs, roosters, and bears kicking back and drinking wine. Better yet, where would you find people willing to buy these?!

Whether you are in the City on work or pleasure, the hotel prices inevitably give you a heart attack. Check out LIC for better deals. Take the 7 train from Times Square and hop off one stop from Grand Central station to enjoy the neighborhoods, eateries, pubs, and views. And don't forget to order the Pale Ale at Rockaway Brewing Company. Loved it!

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