“Lets go to the City!” As a youth from Brooklyn that meant something once upon a time. Manhattan or “The City” as people who lived in the outer boroughs would call it was where everything was. Sure there were things going on where we lived but “The City” always had a special mystique to it. Going to 42nd street a.k.a. Forty Deuce or the Deuce or Greenwich Village a.k.a. the Village amongst other hot spots in Manhattan was an event to look forward to. There was an excitement in the air that had to be felt to understand. It was a melting pot of different people, scenes and cultures. You could sense danger but it only added to the experience. You had a feeling that what was going on here was only going on here and at that time it was true. How things have changed.
Recently I was in the Lower East Side to meet a few friends and hang out and while walking the streets I felt like I was in a scene from the movie “They Live”. Gentrification has hit and “The City” I once knew is now dead and gone and replaced with a sterile and hollow shell of what it was. Things can never stay the same forever but the soul and character of this once inspiring city has died. No longer does it have the charm of the greatest city in the world. It now feels like Anytown, USA with franchises and chain stores replacing the mom and pops start ups and independent businesses that were unique to New York. Many of these businesses have been forced out of their places of business to uncertain futures by skyrocketing rents and greedy landlord looking to cash in on the next corporate tenant. The array of characters that once walked the streets have mostly been replaced by zombie like people stareing at their smart phone. I almost had at least 10 collisions with people who were not looking where they walked as they were immersed in what was on their phone while they walked to Starbucks or Chipotle.
I can only say that I am glad that I was able to experience NY for being the cultural center of the world and inspiring city that it was. It definitely changed the course of my thinking and life. Thanks for everything but I have to sadly bid you adieu.