that's not "the park" in NYC parlance, that's Harlem, and the price sounds about right.
"the park" usually refers to CPW, Columbus (west) and 5th (East) from the bottom of the park to about 96th street. and if you find a one bedroom for under $1.5 you are lucky and on a low floor. The subways suck next to the park, but the busses on Columbus (yes, buses, your cell phone works) and on 5th are great.
a few blocks away on the east (madison, lex) you'll find it more affordable and impossibly dull (yes, NYC can be dull)
on the west, head over to Amsterdam or even Broadway and things are considerably cheaper (though still expensive). Plus, as over-populated with the progeny of too many fertility drugs as it is, there are more things to do and the subways on the west side are infinitely superior (i.e. there is more than one) than on the east side.
harlem is great, though, and anything you get is sure to appreciate more quickly than in many other areas of the city.
the local staion, NY1, has a good real estate round up on the weekends. you should check out their website at NY1.com - they keep updates of how many new units are coming online and how that can help you negotiate with sellers, especially in new construction.
i imagine the people with those mortgages in Atlanta have land. (water, however...)
the city is full of gay spots, all frustrating or wonderful depending on the day and your outlook. endure that rit of passage like everyone else. as for the airport - car service. if you can pay that mortagage you can pay a car service. get in the habit of using the same one. the 777-7777 one is better than the 666-6666 one.
public airstrips in jersey? Dunno. If you are looking to fly yourself, I think, the FAA website probably has an answer - that the closest you can get to NYC is Islip. Then again that Yankee who (sadly) crashed into the building flew out of somewhere in Jersey I believe.
Good luck with the move!