I Love New York

empire.jpg There is a piece today on 3 Quarks Daily about how Adam Gopnik and Roger Angell are wrongly nostalgic about New York, lamenting how it used to be, instead of appreciating the best thing about New York: change.

Normally I would have agreed with this. And by the way, making that point is nothing new. But I have to say, the change in the past, say, 15 years, is actually different this time. (Yeah, everyone always says that, too.) It’s different than the change from the 70’s to the 80’s, or from the 60’s to the 70’s (changes I’ve witnessed, and granted, those are small increments in the great, big scheme of things).

Here’s how it’s different. New York is not changing. It’s disappearing. And yeah, that’s not a new thought either. But it’s beginning to look and feel like everything else. Eventually it will be gone. The thing is, it’s not just New York, this will eventually be true of everywhere. Some places will be more resistant and will be subsumed more slowly, perhaps much more slowly, but eventually every place will be like every place else.

Mark my words.

Unfortunately, we’ll all be dead relatively soon, so I won’t be around to say I told you so, and you won’t be here to roll your eyes and tell me to shut up.

Here’s what may be a new-ish thought: As sad as I think this all is, ultimately, it will be a good thing. Uniqueness will always find expression, in ways I can’t imagine today. But maybe it will be a good thing if we are all essentially living in the same place.

Stacy Horn

I've written six non-fiction books, the most recent is Damnation Island: Poor, Sick, Mad, and Criminal in 19th-Century New York.

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