24 June 2008

the three new yorks.

i saw this on the subway, up high above the handrails, most likely next to a dr. zizmor ad.

There are roughly three New Yorks. There is, first, the New York of the man or woman who was born there, who takes the city for granted and accepts its size, its turbulence as natural and inevitable. Second, there is the New York of the commuter — the city that is devoured by locusts each day and spat out each night. Third, there is New York of the person who was born somewhere else and came to New York in quest of something ….Commuters give the city its tidal restlessness, natives give it solidity and continuity, but the settlers give it passion.

this new york times city room blog discusses the piece today:

The idea of three New Yorks has prompted debates among New Yorkers, non-New Yorkers and people who wish they were New Yorkers.

Can anyone really claim to know New York, a city of eight million, City Room wonders? And just who is a New Yorker anyway? Commuters, settlers and natives? (Don’t forget the original natives.)

Incidentally, one passage in the “Here is New York” essay struck many for its prescience in the weeks after 9/11:

The city, for the first time in its long history, is destructible. A single flight of planes no bigger than a wedge of geese can quickly end this island fantasy, burn the towers, crumble the bridges, turn the underground passages into lethal chambers.

The E. B. White selection will be up for three months. The other selection, focused on science, is by Galileo.

Maybe there are three (or more) New Yorks — but sliced in a different way.

After all, a third of the city’s income is earned by the top 1 percent of its tax filers. For the state overall, every dollar earned by the top fifth of is matched by only 11.5 cents by the bottom fifth — the biggest gap in all the states. In Manhattan, the poor make 2 cents for $1 the rich make (on par with Namibia).

With the rising costs of housing, food, gas and the advent of a what some call the new gilded age, class — not place of origin — might be the true New York divide.

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