New York is that city


As for pollution risks arising from motor car fumes — apart from all the other pollution hazards — it seems that New York car traffic is so heavy and congested that one is likely to die of poisoning much earlier there than in any other major city.

In no other city in the world are there so many men, both black and white, lounging about, so obviously poverty stricken, devoid of both work and hope.

We still remember our shock when the taxi driver, an active member of his union, taking us from Kennedy Airport to our cheap hotel in Manhattan* advised us, on discovering we were Limeys*,“to double-lock your hotel room doors and, whatever else you do, don’t take your wife and grand-daughter out after dark.’’ He also told us that he wouldn’t do night work for all the dollars in the Rockefeller vaults;* only that week he had attended the funeral of one of his fellow-cabbies shot while on night duty.

Never, in any other large city, have we seen so many policemen on the streets We had read, and had been told, that New York police are probably just about the toughest in the world. It has been implied that they have to be, for New York is a tough place; and it has been suggested that it is “the best police force that dollars can buy’’.

We found it possible to accept the former contention, but have no experience to go by on the latter. We were certainly not prepared for the swaggering pistol, baton, handcuff carriers that we saw. We have no idea what effect they have on the average New. Yorker. We only know that, as innocent tourists, they frightened the life out of us.

We had looked forward to seeing “little ole Broadway’’* and Times Square*. It would be an exaggeration to say we were reminded of Aldgate High Street* on a wet and windy night. But we would swear on a witness-stand that “little ole. Broadway,’’ seen through our eyes, was a higgledy-piggledy”, loud, ugly and messy conglomeration of bad architecture and neon signs.

We were surprised at the number of New Yorkers who told us how much they would like to get out of the city because it had become a sick city, a dangerous city, in which an unaccompanied woman (and many men, for that matter) feared to walk in the streets at night.

Among the ordinary people that we met — the cafe waitress, air terminal receptionist, the janitor in a large building near the Grand Central Station,* taxi drivers — all were most courteous and took infinite trouble to assist us. Such human contacts helped to counteract the shock that New York gave us.