On my last trip to New York, I tried to document exactly what it is that makes tourists and newcomers stop in the middle of the sidewalk to look up.
Provided that they're not mowed down by irate commuters, the view is equally breathtaking and claustrophobic. The buildings on every side give the impression that the sky is gone, replaced by apartments and offices, rusty fire escapes and glowing neon.
My eyes are used to expansiveness the other way. Coming down off the mountains, the Central Valley looks like a neverending quilt, with its edges hidden by fog and smoky bad air. But there are no buildings, or even tall trees, to obstruct your view otherwise.
There's a little of that in Central Park, and it's a relief to lie out on the grass and let your eyes rest on the clouds. But the buildings still peek out and remind you where you are.
Constantly looking up makes you aspire to be in those tall buildings.