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Hidden Treasures: 4 Places I Discovered While Getting Lost in NYC

By Jillian Jandl

As a Boston native, coming to New York City has definitely changed my definition of a big city. This realization has come from a lot of time spent getting lost and navigating my way through this city maze. But, once the fear subsided, some of my favorite days here have been those during which I got very lost and found exciting new places to explore.

I have lived about fifteen minutes outside of Boston my whole life, and I always considered Boston to be so large and overwhelming. Last summer I worked at a small advertising agency in Boston and commuted into the city every day. At first, it was a big change from my usual day-to-day suburban travels, but I quickly realized just how small and manageable Boston is. My train brought me into the North End of Boston and my office was all the way across town in the South End. I expected that this would mean needing to get on another train, adding to my lengthy commute. But, once again, Boston’s small size became apparent when I realized that I could walk from the North End train stop all the way down to my office in less than 20 minutes. If you have the right shoes on, you really can walk from any point to another within the city of Boston. 

So, naturally, learning to commute in New York City was a bit of a different story. Living on the Upper East Side, I was not quite sure how I was going to get down and over to Columbus Circle for my internship at Young & Rubicam every day, and then further downtown to the Fisher Center for class. Luckily, the Q train opened up just before we got here, offering almost door-to-door service for me from our dorm to my office. If I spent my entire semester here simply going from home to work and back, I would have no problems and no chance of getting lost. But that is not the best way to take advantage of a semester living in New York City. So, as I am sure you can guess, I have gotten myself lost a time or two…but it wasn’t always bad!

I am very stubborn, so when I get lost I wait as long as I can to pull my phone out and look at my maps. I am always waiting to turn a corner and have the “oh I know where I am” moment. Here are a few of my favorite places that I have found by accident while lost in New York City:

Bryant Park: I was planning on going to the New York Public Library one day to see how beautiful it is. I came up from the subway and I was not at all where I thought I would be, and I could not find the library. So, I wandered around a bit and landed at Bryant Park. It was winter, so the ice skating rink was still there and hundreds of people were spending time in the park. I walked through very slowly, taking it all in—and once I made it to the other side, I realized that the park backs up to the library. It’s now one of my favorite places in the city. 

Manhattan Bridge: I had seen this iconic shot many times, but never knew where it was until I looked up and realized I was there. I had to go to Brooklyn for a meeting one Friday, and decided that I would walk the Brooklyn bridge back to Manhattan before getting on the subway to go home. I started walking towards the bridge and could not find the entrance for pedestrians. So, a little lost and uncomfortable, I kept walking around assuming I was missing something. I wove through a couple of side streets and came across this view where I was able to take this picture for myself. Right by the waterfront, there are also some really cute coffee shops and a carousel. 

The Museum at FIT: I was over in Chelsea one day and decided to walk uptown a bit on the west side because I had not spent much time over there yet. I walked by FIT and saw a sign for the museum on 27th street, so I went in and realized it was free admission (perfect for my budget). The museum featured a great exhibit about fashion in Paris and a tribute to costume design in Hollywood. I definitely want to go back when they start the next exhibit.

Central Park: This one is more about getting lost on purpose. I love going into the park and just letting the paths guide where I will end up. Every time I go into Central Park, I try to walk a different way and see a new area of the park. As pretty as the park was after snowfall, the spring colors are drawing me in a lot more. 

As someone who has a hard time reaching too far outside of my comfort zone, coming to NYC has really allowed me to stretch this zone farther than I have been able to in the past. While the Newhouse NYC semester is all about preparing us for careers in the communications industry and taking relevant courses to complement this, it is also a time to discover a new city. As an advertising major, I know that a great deal of the advertising world exists in New York, so this semester is truly a test-drive to see if this is the place for me after graduation. Lucky for me, every time I stumble upon a new place I have not seen before, I fall in love with this city even more. Whether you are here for a semester or just a weekend, don’t be afraid to get a little lost. Have fun exploring!

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