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Essay

NYC Love Stories

In conjunction with our production of Fly By Night by Will Connolly, Michael Mitnick, and Kim Rosenstock—a tale of love, hope, and sandwiches set against the backdrop of the northeast blackout of 1965—Playwrights Horizons curated a collection of great NYC love stories and images. Our favorite submissions appear below.

Washington Heights when I was 16 and Bob was 19. That's where we both lived and met and fell in love, not immediately, but slowly, surely, and passionately. The Little Red Lighthouse and The Great Gray Bridge were ours. So were Fort Tryon Park, the Cloisters, the Museum of the American Indian, the #4 bus which I took when I pretended to be interested in Bob's basketball games, and the A train which we took to midtown restaurants and theatre and had our first drink at Beekman Tower. I majored in drama at The High School of Performing Arts and my father had a grocery store called The Sunshine Dairy.

We wrote to each other every single day for the two years that Bob was in the Army, stationed mostly in Korea. Heartbroken and worried, longing for him, I said I would be happy in a cold-water flat if only we were together.

We married in a Washington Heights synagogue and started a fairy tale marriage but struggled to pay the rent.

Manhattan unaffordable when I became pregnant, we raised our two amazing daughters in Hollis and Flushing. Bob went to Brooklyn College and Brooklyn Law and I went to City and Queens College. Late bloomers who didn`t get our degrees until after the children were in school, Bob became an attorney and I an elementary school teacher(Bushwick, Harlem, and Fresh Meadows).

Ten years ago, our children and grandchildren gave us a surprise 50th anniversary party that we firmly believe outdid all others in details of romance and symbols of love. We're celebrating our 60th this June and still marvel at our great, good fortune in finding a love that grows and grows.

Oh, that cold water flat? Umm, when we retired we moved to the Upper East Side.

Thelma Blanc


I left work about 3 and walked into a ZumZum, a long gone chain on 53rd & 3rd. I sat on a corner counter stool and ordered coffee and a donut I sipped the coffee while scanning the NYTimes and sensed someone sit on the next stool, catty corner to mine. In my bad mood I thought ‘wha?? a whole empty counter, do you have to sit next to me?”. The waitress came to get his order, saw my untouched donut and asked, "so what’s wrong with it?” “nothing, I feel lousy and have too big a headache to eat”. The man said “I can go to Duane Reade and get you aspirins". I looked up, a surly “no thanks” bubbling in my lips but  Instead I saw a handsome man, hazel eyes and a sweet smile, the kind that makes you automatically want to smile back. He said, “I came to celebrate a good day and relax before heading home”. “Lucky”, I said, agreeing to his Duane Reade offer.

What I really remember of that day are muted images: talking much, staying until dark, ordering their bratwursts later, exchanging phone numbers.  

The next day at the office I came in singing “I'm in loooooove”. He called mid morning. Many sighs by co-workers. He obviously felt the same.
 
About three months after that day we moved in together; six months after that we married in city hall, my doubtful parents (are you really doing this?) key witnesses. 
 
Twenty or so years later he died of cancer. But for those years in between we had a pretty good run and produced a son who's getting married this summer. I'm grateful for that afternoon, courtesy of a NYC coffee shop’s catty-corner seats and Duane Reade aspirins.

Judy Capel

It began with an innocuous note on Brian's OK Cupid profile, stating that he's looking for the best pizza in New York.  Elissa, who wasn't necessarily interested in the guy, just the topic, sent a message extolling the value propositions of 2 Bros. $1 slices, and Koronet's impossibly large wedges of dough, sauce, and cheese.  But her palette was quickly expanded, as Brian introduced her to the real pizza of New York, a slice of city life that had evaded her till now.  After many dates, including pizza dates in all five boroughs (Di Fara in Brooklyn, Louie & Ernie's in the Bronx, Sac's Place in Queens, Lee's Tavern in Staten Island, and Don Antonio in Manhattan), Brian proposed in front of both their families - at a pizza restaurant in New Jersey.  It was love at first slice.  They're getting married this September.

Elissa Dunn


In June 1978, a weekly publication (long defunct, name forgotten) that listed dozens of free or low-cost cultural events around the city included a notice that Carol Bellamy, the new City Council President (and the first woman to be elected to citywide office) would be speaking at an organization called Histadrut at their headquarters in the East 60's.  My friend and I, then in our late twenties and fed up with the bar scene, decided to meet for this lecture after work one evening.  We paid our nominal admission charge and were surprised to find that this was a singles event.  We nearly walked out when we saw the array of balding, potbellied men, and women of a certain age with purses hanging from their elbows, Queen Elizabeth-style; on first glance, we appeared to be the youngest people in attendance.  But we stayed and found seats in the audience.  A few minutes before Bellamy was to speak, a man appeared, gestured at the chair next to mine, and asked, "is this seat taken?"  Introductions were made, and after the speech he asked both of us if we wanted to go for coffee.  My friend, amused by the invitation, bowed out and said she was going home.  After talking for a couple of hours at a coffee shop on Madison Avenue, this man and I got on the 79th Street crosstown bus, and he walked me to my apartment building on the west side.  This turned out to be the first of many dates with the man I married a little over a year later.  Histadrut is no longer at that location, Carol Bellamy is long gone from the NYC political scene, but my husband and I have now been living in the same upper west side apartment for almost 35 years.

Debbie Engel

We met, dated, fell in love, and got married in New York City.

For our first, blind date dinner, he asked me to choose the restaurant. I picked
Zucchini, a cozy, bring-your-own wine restaurant on East 70th Street. We talked 
for hours, he walked me home and asked when we could meet again. I proposed night roller skating at the Roxy disco roller rink located in a warehouse on the lower Westside. He said okay. He knew I went there weekly with friends and told me that he didn’t skate. I was impressed that he was willing to put himself in a position where he could not impress me. Over the next weeks we jogged on weekends in Central Park (he was training for the NYC Marathon), shared breakfast and read the Sunday papers at cafes around the City, met for movies after work, popcorn was dinner, and went to his office on Wall Street and to mine in the Seagram building in midtown. In the blush and magic of new love, we explored The Big Apple together. He bought me earrings at a street fair in the Village, I took him for a surprise birthday dinner at the Rainbow room, we ice skated at Rockefeller Center. We kissed on top of the Empire State Building, danced at Roseland, cuddled in cabs, hugged in museums, held hands at the Radio City Christmas show. We celebrated New Year’s Eve in Times Square, watched the Macy’s Day parade from a friend’s apartment, rowed on the boat pond in Central Park, shared coffee at the State of Liberty, listened to jazz at the Village Vanguard. It’s hard to believe this all took place 30 years ago and though it has changed dramatically since then, New York City still offers lovers adventure, excitement and magic as they fall in love.

Marcia Hamilton


It was April, 1965 and I had just returned from my first and only Spring Break experience in Florida. It was a lot of fun but resulted in a major argument between myself and the girl I was dating at the time. I decided to call her to see if we could patch things up, but her mother said she had gone to the World's Fair with some friends. I called a friend who had a car and we drove to the Fair to see if we could track them down. We spent hours looking, but came up empty. On our way back to the car, we passed through the New York Pavilion and ran into the sister of another girl who I knew from St. John's University. She was there with a friend and, in an attempt to get a ride home, said that Kathie, her sister, would love to see me and hear all about the Florida trip. My friend agreed to give them a lift and we picked up Kathie and all went out for pizza. I had such a great time with her that I decided to ask her out. The best move I ever made. We're married 46 years and we have the New York World's Fair to thank for bringing us together.

Frank Stapleton

Men’s Socks at Bloomingdales…The Beginning

We met in Bloomingdales… men’s socks. He was a Christmas part-timer selling socks. I was on a six-week assignment from the Tobe-Coburn School for Fashion Careers. One of my responsibilities was keeping track of employees’ hours and timesheets. One Reuben Mark, in socks, was nowhere to be found. My theory was that he clocked in, then sneaked out to the Baronet Cinema on Third Avenue.

Eventually, we met, not at the socks counter, but when his friend on the training squad introduced us. Not sure when Reuben asked me out, but I must have said yes.

It was the amazing 60’s with so much going on in New York City. I lived with three roommates at 56th and Lexington. We went out with college boys, had big parties, enjoyed careers. Life seemed too exciting to have just one boy friend. Besides, we were so young. But still…he was cute.

Reuben didn’t seem to take himself seriously, as if it weren’t cool to be too definite about the future. That was appealing. He said maybe he’d go to business school. He didn’t talk about himself but joked a lot. He was kind, smart, and made me laugh…and he liked me. I liked him.

That’ll Be the Day and Rave On were his favorite songs. Mine were Earth Angel and Sincerely.

He left for business school right after part-time at Bloomingdales. He invited me to Cambridge. He often came back to New York, not to Bloomingdales, but to see me.

On a date night in New York, we decided to prepare escargots and lobster. So, off we wandered to Bleecker Street in Greenwich Village to market. Steaming lobsters was easy. Escargots… another story. We’ve been lobstering on Long Island Sound ever since. We still do date night in NYC… every Thursday.

Thank you, Bloomingdales.

Arlene Mark


Brian and I met and started dating in May 2012. He grew up in New York and is a diehard NY Mets fan, I went to college in Saint Louis and loved the Cardinals. On June 1st 2012 he took me to Citifield for the Mets vs Cardinals game. It ended up being the first No-hitter in Mets history! Not only did I give up the Cardinals for the NY Mets that day but I started falling in love with Brian. I owe the NY Mets for helping write our love story!

Kelly McCarthy