In this article, we share photos and insights from friends of Anchorstar living in New York City. Sophia, a Brooklynite, has curated this selection. She moved to Tokyo in the spring of 2020 and currently works at Anchortstar.
New Yorkers are born all over the country, and then they come to New York City and it hits them: Oh, that’s who I am.
– Delia Ephron
The thing about New York City is that it makes you feel. You might love it or hate it, but you are never indifferent towards it. How could you, when bombarded by the intensity of human fervor in hundreds of iterations? Having spent the first two decades of my life there, I say with deep affection that there is subtle insanity to being a New Yorker. Even if you only spend a year or a week or a day walking the city streets, New York molds itself around you. You become a part of it, and it, a part of you.
When I arrived at Anchorstar, the fondness for New York City was apparent. In the past, the team traveled there together annually. These trips honed their acumen and inspired their work together. Due to the pandemic, it had been over two years since the last visit. Likewise, I had been away for just as long. So, we brainstormed a way to lessen the six thousand mile gap between Tokyo and New York.
We turned to friends of Anchorstar living in the Big Apple for help. This assistance came as photos illustrating the experience(s) of being a local in New York City – as captured and described by our friends. For people in Japan who have never had the opportunity to visit themselves, these photos offer a version of day-to-day life in New York City. For people like me tackling life overseas, they offer a taste of home. Enjoy!
Photos from Mimi Soule
“This is an image I captured while riding the subway to Soho. While on my way to a friend’s birthday dinner, this couple quite literally rolled onto the F train, dressed to the nines. It was Fashion Week in New York, so I wouldn’t be surprised if they had just come from walking a show. Fashion is one of the most breathtaking ways that New Yorkers express their individuality, and this couple was no exception. In what other city would you see people absolutely rocking cowboy boot roller skates?”
Photos from CoCo Hubbeling
“This photo was taken after a long day in the city. Nothing makes me happier than sharing a meal with friends. And there’s nothing better to share than a New York slice.”
“This is a photo of a man reading in the lower east side of New York. He’s relaxing as I walk by on a busy day. We’re complete strangers to one another but our shared presence defines the city. People-watching is an important part of my New York experience. Everyone is so comfortable in themselves in such close proximity to one another. “
“This is a photo of a car in Brooklyn with a personalized license plate. People have a fascination with labeling everything they own here, and expressing individuality seems characteristic of New York. Spotting a unique plate makes me laugh and wonder about the owner of the car. This license plate is from Minnesota. What are they doing in New York? Who is SPICIE!?”
Photo Miki Nakata
“I took this photo while on a walk near my home in Brooklyn. The beautifully laid carpet of cherry blossom petals was so spectacular that I took a moment to just stop and admire. “
“A melancholy smurf found in the garbage disposal room of my apartment building. The cardboard boxes were thrown away haphazardly, and, in this unsorted, American garbage dump, I felt as though I had come across a drunk salaryman at midnight on a train platform in Japan.”
Photos from Nelson Lin
“One of the perks of being a New Yorker is that we’re spoiled for choice. But if you live in Astoria, Queens and you’re craving some cured or smoked meat, there’s only one choice: Muncan Food Corp. This family-owned establishment sells a wide variety of meat, pickled vegetables, and imported goods from the Eastern European region, specifically Romania, Serbia and Hungary. Before buying, you can always ask for samples. But most of the time, I don’t even ask; they’ll just slice a cold cut of salami or ham and hand it to me with a smile. :)”
“Slava Ukrayini! (Glory to Ukraine!) is displayed in the storefront of this family-owned East Village diner. This phrase has gained worldwide importance as a symbol for resistance against the recent Russian invasion. Since 1954, Veselka has been serving wholesome, affordable Ukrainian food to hungry New Yorkers. In typical New York fashion, to show we’re standing with Ukraine, we’re marching on the streets and supporting local businesses. At Veselka, 100% of the proceeds from selling borscht—a hearty Ukrainian wintertime soup—and other baked goods are being donated to help Ukraine. When customers dine here, they’ll see two QR codes on the table: one for the menu and another that takes you directly to their fundraising website. On their homepage, they’ve also created an Amazon wish list to show items they need for relief efforts. The list includes items such as first-aid kits, sleeping bags, tactical garments, and painkillers. For New Yorkers, Veselka is not only our beloved restaurant but also a symbol of unity and peace.”
Photos from Jackie Morris
“Summer in New York is unmatched. The moment it gets hot, something SNAPS inside of everyone. It’s like you have no choice but to connect with people on the street, dance, laugh, run and sweat for 3 months straight. “
“There are a lot of things that you see in New York that you don’t question. This is one of them. NYC provides a cloak of non-judgment (some would call this being jaded, but I prefer to think of it as an openness based off of extreme exposure).”
“You wouldn’t necessarily think of NYC as a place to capture a breathtaking sunrise or sunset. But some of the most beautiful scenes I’ve seen are from the roof of a building in the city. The split between sky and the tops of roofs and buildings feels like a merging of two worlds. “
A heartfelt thank you to all of our friends for sending these evocative photos and descriptions. Each in their own way, they have demonstrated what it truly means to be a New Yorker. New Yorkers are individuals, undeniably distinct but aligned in their determination to fulfill their dreams – no matter how staggering or strange the scale. As captured in the photos above, the experience of living in New York City is equally unique and filled with moments of serendipity.
Yet, there is also profound loneliness and fatigue in being a New Yorker. The excess of hope, drive, and ambition can produce a heavy emotional toll. I would be remiss not to mention the financial strain when, for many, the costs of living are the primary source of stress. One might find themselves faced with the question: New York takes from me, but is it ever giving? It’s hard to be sure.
So, why choose to stay? I believe New York City is a place that offers endless opportunities to experience true belonging. To find and create community. Living in Tokyo has been a dream come true in many ways, but I miss my New York community. This project provided a welcome window into a place I cherish and a temporary remedy for homesickness. Rather than a single restaurant or park or cityscape view, I miss the inexplicable yet palpable energy that envelopes New York City and all its people. It is an unspoken understanding that to choose New York is to accept New York. To welcome what you may not understand and perhaps never will. It’s exhausting, it’s exhilarating, and it’s intoxicating. This spirit of New York City breathes life into every street corner and makes it impossible to look away.