From Live Alone and Like It (1936) by Marjorie Hillis
There is no limit to the things you can do inexpensively in New York, if you’re sufficiently up and doing. Have you, for instance, ever been to the movie house way up-town where twenty-year-old pictures are shown, knee-high skirts and all, and elegant prizes are handed out, especially on Saturday nights? Have you ever been to a Yiddish theater, with its really fine acting, on the lower East Side? Or to a Spiritualist meeting on the upper West Side? Have you ever been to the Flea Circus, or played games with a nickel for stakes on Broadway? (Have an escort for the last one.)
Have you hunted up the little French boarding-house-like restaurants where gourmets gather and dinner costs next to nothing; or the Italian restaurants, or Spanish ones, or Russian, Turkish, or Armenian ones where food is both cheap and good?
Have you heard the finest New York organists play on Sunday afternoons, or the Russian Orthodox Cathedral choir sing, or been to the poetry symposiums at Saint-Marks-in-the-Bouwerie?
Have you tried the swimming pools at the Y.W.C.A., or skated in Central Park, or joined a Public-Speaking Class? Have you ridden back and forth on a Staten Island ferry late on a winter afternoon, when lower New York sparkles across the harbor from every high window, like a theater backdrop?
Have you spent a spring Sunday out at Bronx Park, when millions of tulips or iris are in bloom and more kinds of lilac bushes than you knew existed? Or been to the Bronx Zoo, where even a grown-up should go once or twice? Or lunched beside the seals on a summer day when parasols dot the terrace of the Central Park cafeteria?
Have you walked across Brooklyn Bridge on a cool summer night, or across George Washington Bridge in the autumn when the Palisades are brilliant red and yellow? Have you been to Chinatown, or to a concert in the Park or in the Stadium?
Have you visited the great markets in the very early morning and seen the carts of green and yellow vegetables, and gold and scarlet fruits, and the stalls of various foods and drinks of every nation?
Do you use the Public Library nearest you— and really know how much it will do for you if you ask it to? Have you heard the six greatest preachers in the city? And been to lectures by some current celebrity?
Have you visited the American Wing at the Metropolitan and the Musuem of the City of New York? Have you sat in the top balcony at the Opera, and haunted the cut-rate theater counters till you got cheap seats for at least two or three of the best shows in town? (Monday nights, for instance, you’ll find them.)
Have you been to one prize-fight, and one radio broadcast, and maybe one burlesque? And what about the free art exhibits?
These are only a few of the things you could do on a factory-hand’s salary. If you’ve lived in New York a year, and done even most of them, you haven’t been bored.