Message - Re: Who else thinks the quality of living in NYC is way overrated?

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Posted by  Benjamin on April 07, 2004 at 19:22:31:

In Reply to:  Who else thinks the quality of living in NYC is way overrated? posted by Dick Bloomberg on April 07, 2004 at 14:06:02:

I just happened upon this site while looking for information on a particular New York City building. But as a life-long New Yorker and former urban planner, I find your question "irrestible"!

While I, myself, love living in Manhattan, I think a number of your criticisms are quite valid, and it bothers that such criticisms are often ignored or glossed over by those concerned with the future of New York (or "traditional" urban cities, in general). I think solving similar problems in the past is actually what made New York City (and other cities) great. It lead to the invention, or adoption, of wonderful innovations like street railways, elevators, indoor plumbing, improved fire-proofing, weather-protected transportation and shopping concourses (like Grand Central Terminal's or Rockefeller Center's), and, of course, a great, great many others.

And not only did such problem-solving make New York City more liveable, it also contributed to the creation of New York City exports that helped the City's economy grow and thrive.

But for a variety of reasons, it seems to have become more and more fashionable to blame the negatives of New York City living (and the negatives of living in "traditional" urban cities, in general) on other factors -- rather than upon our failure to address and solve the genuine problems (some new and some old) that are created by urban living.

Some other thoughts:

In a city like New York, a lot depends upon one's individual circumstances. An extreme example: it seems to me that the very rich experience New York as a very different place than those who are middle-class or poor. The very rich rarely, if ever, ride the subways, while for the middle-class and poor, the subway environment makes up an important part of their experience of the City. (I, myself, usually try to walk, even for distances of three miles or so each way, rather than take the subway.)

And, of course, a lot depends on one's life style -- one's likes, interests and values. I have relatives who wouldn't live in Manhattan even if they won the lottery and know others who, given their interests, etc., can't imagine not living in Manhattan.

But in order for the New York City to continue to be viable, or thrive, it will have to be able to attract and retain a broad variety of people -- and will thus have to address and solve some of the genuine problems that you bring up.

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