Many say they love fall in NYC, as if there is something intrinsically special about the city at this time of year. But what exactly is so great about New York in the fall? The common reasons people cite are vague. How many times have you heard people wax poetic about “that feeling in the air?” Sorry, folks, but that just doesn’t do it. Fall in New York City is overrated. Here are 10 reasons why.
1. What you want to do in the fall in NYC doesn’t actually happen in NYC
Apple picking, leaf-peeping, pumpkin patches, football — pro or high school — all take place outside the city. Last time I checked, no one owns a car in NYC, and you can’t take the subway to an orchard. Even if you do have a car, good luck getting to [insert name of inconvenient, fun fall venue here] because you’ll get stuck in traffic and spend hours in the car trying to get there. That’s because New Yorkers have an uncanny ability to have the same brilliant idea at the exact same time.
2. The window of opportunity for ‘fun fall activities’ is small. Chances are you already missed it.
Some brilliant friend of yours has the idea of going apple picking this weekend. Oy. If you do indulge and survive the traffic (both there and back), you will likely find you missed apple picking season. Peak apple picking season is way earlier than you would expect. Orchards get picked in early September (i.e., Labor Day) and send their produce to major distributors way before most New Yorkers get their act together to organize a fun, fall getaway.
It’s a similar story for leaf-peeping, but works in the opposite direction. You want to go leaf peeping as soon as October hits and it’s time to buy a pumpkin. But fall colors in New York City typically don’t change until early November, and by that point, everyone is already over fall.
3. Governor’s Island closes
Arguably one of New York City’s nicest parks closes on Oct. 31, just in time for peak leaf-peeping season, causing more New Yorkers to get stuck in traffic en route to an ill-fated, er fun, fall weekend getaway.
4. Gingko trees wreak havoc on sidewalks across the city
One of the hallmark signs of fall in NYC is not a blaze of orange and red trees, but rather a sidewalk bombed with the vile fruit of the Gingko tree, referred to by local arborists and children alike as “stinko gingkos.” Mushed gingkos create a horror to see and smell and are just about as bad to step in as pile of dog waste. To add insult to injury, Gingkos are one of the top 10 most common trees in New York City.
5. September is peak beach season
Labor Day marks humanity’s mass return to the city from the Hamptons and upstate, but in doing so we miss the best time of year in those places. The beach is the best in September — the water is the warmest, the sky is clearest (no August humidity), the waves are big and there are no lifeguards to scold us. Upstate, it’s peak produce season — the optimal time for corn, apples, peaches and tomatoes. Above all else, popular beach and upstate destinations empty out in September, while the city gets packed.
6. Fall brings the end of Summer Fridays and summer fun
Summer Fridays are one of NYC’s best holdover traditions. Once reserved for publishing, the half-day Friday custom has become common outside the “Big 5” publishers with major employers across many industries adopting the tradition. After Labor Day, this glorious, summertime tradition comes to a hard stop, translating to long AF Friday afternoons for 9-5’ers across the city. And while not every New Yorker has the luxury of Summer Friday, Labor Day nonetheless means vacation season ends, which means bosses expect you to actually do work.
7. Columbus Day Weekend is a tease
Columbus Day once was a commonly observed local holiday and a shoo-in for a long fall weekend. Recently, the holiday has lost favor among locals and just about everyone — and rightly so. Christopher Columbus was no saint and he didn’t “discover America.” Tack that on to the rise of non-local employers in NYC and the result is that fewer companies observe the holiday, translating to one less day off, and one less reason to like fall in New York City. That said, public schools still get the day off, which can wreak havoc for parents who need to find a sitter while they go to work.
8. Daylight Saving Time doesn’t do New York City any favors
New York City is a late-rising town, which means that while daylight saving time might be a solace to farmers in Iowa, it does little good for New Yorkers who tend to wake up later and stay up later.
9. Free stuff ends and everything gets expensive
In the summer, it’s hip to go to free movies, museums and shows — everyone else is doing it too! In the fall, it’s hip to pay top dollar to see see culture. Just how many of your friends are talking about seeing that new Daniel Radcliffe play? Yeah… “cheap seats” are $149 a pop.
10. Two words to leave you with: San Gennaro
Because Lower Manhattan wasn’t crowded enough already.
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