Doree Shafrir and Irina Alexksander look at "crash virgins" in this week's Observer, young New Yorkers experiencing their very first economic downturn.
Lizzy Goodman was one of the fortunate ones of the class of 2002; upon graduating from Penn, she had a job lined up as an assistant teacher at Buckley, the all-boys school on the Upper East Side. Six years later, she’s an editor at large at Blender. Like some of her peers, she seems hopeful that, instead of being a harbinger of utter doom, this crash will instead level the playing field just a little bit.
“I don’t think anyone is hoping for American financial collapse just so that the Bowery can be seedy again,” said Ms. Goodman, who lives in the West Village. “But on the other hand, if in the wake of this collective shuttering and fearing comes a return to old school ’80s boho New York, I would certainly be in favor of that.”
The disconnect between the New York of legend and the reality of living here has perhaps never been starker. “I know a lot of people who moved to New York for something that isn’t in New York right now,” said Mr. Fischer, the marketing strategist. “There is a sense that things are in transition. I think there’s a big question of how this will change the social and cultural landscape of New York in the next two or three years. I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s excitement—but it’s apprehension that something is definitely happening.”
Of course, that’s a story that’s been years in the making; the disappearance of Lehman Brothers and the conversion of Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley into bank holding companies—as recently as last year thought to be a sacrilege—isn’t going to make $4,000 a month one-bedrooms on the Lower East Side any cheaper. (Or if it does, they’ll go to $3,500 a month, not $1,500.) The days when a photographer could buy an abandoned bank building on the Bowery for $102,000—as the photographer Jay Maisel did in 1966—are over; they are not coming back. (See also: the Playpen, smoking in bars, liquid lunches, Passerby, subway tokens, the Barnes & Noble on Sixth Avenue and 21st St., et cetera, not to mention the Algonquin Round Table, the Automat, Spy magazine, Warhol’s Factory, and the Palladium. Also: typewriters.) Some Wall Street types may flee; a few Wharton grads might move to Boston or San Francisco. But it seems highly unlikely that the crash will herald in some utopian new era of “creativity” or allow artists to colonize Soho, or even the East Village, again. It’s over! You missed it! Even Rent has closed! Besides, the Russians are here now.