From Peggy Noonan's column in The Wall Street Journal Friday:
In New York some signs of that future are obvious: fewer cars, less traffic, less of the old busy hum of the economic beehive. New York will, literally, get dimmer. Its magical bright-light nighttime skyline will glitter less as fewer companies inhabit the skyscrapers and put on the lights that make the city glow.
A prediction: By 2010 the mayor, in a variation on broken-window theory, will quietly enact a bright-light theory, demanding that developers leave the lights on whether there are tenants in the buildings or not, lest the world stand on a rise in New Jersey and get the impression no one's here and nobody cares.
The New York of the years 1750 to 2008 — a city that existed for money and for all the arts and delights and beauties money brings — is for the first time going to struggle with questions about its reason for being. This will cause profound dislocations. For a good while the young will continue to flock in, for cheaper rents. Artists will still want to gather with artists — you cannot pick up the Metropolitan Museum and put it in Alma, Mich. But there will be a certain diminution in the assumption of superiority on which New York has long run, and been allowed, by America, to run.
Peggy Noonan is such a tool. People said exactly the same thing about New York in 1977 (when she was just a spry 74-year-old).
Frankly, and I like Noonan, but I think she's off her Reagan addled rocker. There is still as much traffic in the city as ever, as many shows, events, concerts, openings, etc. Cheaper rents? Does she read the papers? (She lives in Jersey) Rents are not going down. Not on my block, nowhere in town. Not yet. The only thing dimming and I know cause I work there, is Wall St. Deals are dead, bankruptcies are up. Walk into the Chase Manhattan building at 5pm some days, and no one is coming out. Cause they're not going in. New law associates are starting on staggered schedules, there is no work. But American arts always improve, not diminish, when times are hard, but old Peggy is just worried about the money under her feet...which got its evil gain beginning with Reagan -- her and the rest of the right wing looney's hero. Don't you dare count this city out, not now, not ever. This remains the greatest city in the world.
I don't like Noonan, she's a f**kin' opportunist that suddenly started "seeing the light" when the Republicans looked doomed this fall and gathered a lot of press.....
She was out Sunday morning diminishing the definition of torture...duty calls.
She is back to her usual delusional self, and her meds.......
I'm her polar opposite politically, but I'm usually interested in what Peggy Noonan has to say and agree with her in this case.
I just returned to New York last month after a fourteen month absence. My impression is that the city is basically identical to the city I left in 2007, but smaller. There are fewer pedestrians, more empty bars particularly on weeknights, its easier to get reservations and restaurants, and so on. But the vonglerification complained about on this site and at Vanishing New York is still there, its just somewhat muted.
I'm really happy that the sidewalks are alot less crowded and its easier to walk, and the subways are even slightly less crowded despite the service cuts. I'm happy we still have the great museums. But there is noticeably less energy than I remembered. Really New York doesn't seem much different than the numerous provincial cities in the US that have hit hard times. The main contribution of New Yorkers to American culture in the last ten years has been to crash the national economy so its not surprising the place is a bit demoralized.
Actually Ken, rents most definitely ARE falling. The New York Times has covered this pretty much weekly in their real estate section. Hard to believe, I know. But very true!
Aside from that, I don't see as strong a connection between finance and the arts that Peggy does. I'm aware that art will always need funding and that, sadly, cultural institutions will be reeling with less money from big corporations.
But think of how dynamic the city's music and art scenes were in the 70's and early 80's when NYC was on the verge of bankruptcy. Maybe, just maybe, artists will be able to afford New York (even, gasp, Manhattan) once again and a legitimate cultural contributions will flourish once again.
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