Tuesday, May 29, 2012

A Zillion Tourists

The mainstream media got itself into quite a lather over those High Line flyers from Anonymous last week--and it tells us something interesting, something critical, about the city and its changing face.

Shawn Chittle's TV

After I first posted the news, Fox 5 picked up the story with a video called "High Line Hater." One woman interviewed said, "Before they rented in this place, they knew this exists," referring to residents who live along the High Line. NY1 interviewed a young man on video who said, "It's the Meatpacking District, the nightlife here is crazy, so you should be kind of used to it. Live somewhere else if you don't like the noise."

CBS Channel 2 found someone to say, "This is New York City, if you want space, move to the country," while another called the flyer's rules "civility." The New York Post, with their take titled "High Line anxiety: Neighbor rips raucous rubes," also featured a video that is largely pro-High Line and pro-tourist, with one detractor who said that the High Line has changed the neighborhood for the worse. In the UK, the Daily Mail took offense, calling the flyer-maker a bossy, nasty, unfriendly whinger.

[*Update: The Atlantic Monthly Cities blog chimes in, recalling when "Many of New York’s neighborhoods weren’t tourist attractions. They were tourist repellents." TIME's blog does not approve of the "tourist hater." The Wall Street Journal looks at the negative impact of High Line tourism on Chelsea.]

In the comments to the original post, many people defended tourists (and many did not). One wrote, "I cannot stand when people hate on tourists." Another called the flyer writer "a flaming liberal...a bigot, a snob." Many of the commenters, here and elsewhere, said in essence: If you don't like tourists, you're an "elitist."

When did tourists become so protected in New York City? And when did local crankiness become elitism? However you feel about the High Line flyer, it has us talking about New York and its new relationship to tourists.

In the 1980s and '90s, the t-shirt "Welcome to New York. Now Go Home" (alternately, "Now Get Out") was popular, a New Yorker's message to tourists and rube newbies. Today, looking at the interviews and comments on the High Line story, the more popular slogan might be: "Welcome to New York. Leave If You Don't Like the Crowds of Tourists--You Knew It Was All One Big Tourist Attraction When You Moved Here."

New Yorkers, once proud of their crankiness, used to delight in maligning tourists. In the late 1990s, as the city was beginning its massive transformation into a tourist economy, Fran Lebowitz said, "What a nightmare! No one who isn't from New York knows how to be a pedestrian. Pedestrians don't mosey. And they don't walk five abreast. I'd like to make New York unsafe for tourists."

But by the 2000s, the "Now Go Home" t-shirt (and sentiment?) had vanished. Journalist Clyde Haberman tried to find it while writing a piece for the Times about the glut of tourists in town. ("We're Glad You Love Us, Don't Overdo It" was the gentle title.) Clyde carefully pleaded, "Really, is it asking too much to have our city back?"

In 2006, Bloomberg launched his multi-pronged marketing plan to bring a record-breaking 50 million tourists per year to New York by 2015. That number was surpassed in 2011—and the record was broken again in 2012, when the city endured 52 million visitors.

Recently, I conducted my own search for the Now Go Home t-shirt, which used to be prominent in the shops along St. Mark's Place. No dice. The salesgirl in Search & Destroy agreed, "That one is hard to find." The closest thing I saw was the anachronistic, gun-toting "Duck Mother Fucker."

So what happened? Why has New York become so welcoming to tourists, so gently tolerant, even protective and defensive? Something shifted somewhere between 1999 and 2006, and it wasn't just the election of Bloomberg. I've written about this extensively before, but briefly: The events of 9/11 turned New York City into America instead of a city of, in Woody's words, "left-wing Communist, Jewish, homosexual, pornographers."

And that scolding word--elitist--it comes right out of the Tea Party playbook. It doesn't mean rich people, as Fran Lebowitz has reminded us, it means smart people. And I think it also means non-mainstream people.

Fleet Week visitors

This past weekend, I visited the USS Wasp, in town for Fleet Week. It was loaded with tourists and with New Yorkers acting like tourists. A gay couple strolled along, one of the men dressed in a trim mini-skirt and high-heeled, snakeskin, go-go boots. (It's no secret that gay men love Fleet Week.) Excited to see such a bold and beautiful human being on the flight deck of a U.S. Naval warship, I took a photo. At that moment, a touristy-looking woman turned to me and said, "That's New York," and I thought she would say something appreciative next, about the city's gutsy individualism, but she didn't. She said, "Scary, isn't it?" I turned and snapped her head off.

As Fran Lebowitz said in an interview, "Present-day New York has been made to attract people who didn’t like New York. That’s how we get a zillion tourists here, especially American tourists, who never liked New York. Now they like New York. What does that mean? Does that mean they’ve suddenly become much more sophisticated? No. It means that New York has become more like the places they come from."


Alex in NYC said...

" "I cannot stand when people hate on tourists."

I'm going to nitpick for a little bit.

I'm not hating on tourists, I'm just hating tourists. Tourists are not a stable plateau on which other verbs can be realized. Moreover, the action of hating requires not surface. It is an airborne verb, so to speak.

Space Pope said...

I can't speak for everyone else, only draw my own opinions on this question of 'why rag on the flyer'. Myself, I'm not particularly ragging on the poster for flaming the High Line tourists because of elitism, liberalism or any of those above reasons. Frankly I don't give a rat's ass about what any of the individuals political leanings are.

What chaps my ass is as follows. The type that would leave a flier like this in my opinion is one of the Bloomberg-Yorkers; the people that were originally tourists who decided to stay because they 'loved what he did with the place', and sat by and watched as everything that made NYC a real working, breathing and living city was decimated for the sake of a crop of giant glass dildoes that scrape the smog-line and improve their personal convenience by attracting useless luxury boutiques and chain-clone stores.

NYC was made a safer place for the sake of these new-money people, and as such tourists would flock in droves to the new attractions made for these people. It's a case of 'I made my bed, but now I don't wanna lay in it' in my opinion. It really bunches my nads.

V said...

You said it - post 9/11 the city morphed into "shop if you care about new york" and tourists flocked to see the remnants of the world trade center and to "support". Now, after 10 years people have been indoctrinated to that mentality and still view new york as a spectacle. It is a sad reminder that the effects of 9/11 live on in many ways and what was once thought of as "helping new york and new yorkers" is now damaging. I don't have any idea of what one can do to change the tide.

JM said...

Economy gets worse, crime goes up, tourism drops as kids from Kansas get killed in subway muggings.

I can't see any other way for 'New York for non-New Yorkers' officialdom to stop. And I'm not really looking forward to it, considering what it will mean for us all in terms of safety and economic conditions.

In the 40s, 50s, 60s, even 80s and 90s, New York was run for New Yorkers, and tourists came for the experience. Why official policy had to turn inside out to supposedly attract tourists is still weird to me. But then, Bloomberg isn't a New Yorker, and has never liked what so many of us liked about the city. So it makes sense that he's escalated things to this level.

The East Village became the East Village Theme Park, and a lot of the rest of Manhattan, at least, has followed suit.

boweryboogie said...

It's all about the coin.

Anonymous said...

Can I just say... I think you hit the nail on the head. This is where the real problem lies. I sometimes wish the crime and grime would return and maybe all these "new money" people would just go away.

kingofnycabbies said...

I'm grateful for the Meatpacking District.


Because at any given time half the poseurs, Eurotrash and homegrown douchehats ruining New York can be found there, leaving the rest of the city a somewhat less moronic place.

Yes, there are pockets of rampant schmuckhead infestation, like the now-safe-for-newbies-who-would-have-previously-had-their-noggins-split-open-on-the-sidewalk-outside-CBGB's New Bowery, but that's only because the percentage of wankers has gone up over all.

It Was Her New York said...

Jeremiah, I still have my "...Now Go Home" tee shirt and if you ever want to borrow it, I'd be delighted.

Brendan said...

Protesting really loudly about tourists has always been a mark of insecure recent transplants. That's all people are reacting to. I'm certain none of the people on that comment thread would defend the person you heard on the ship (well, maybe the one who complained about "flaming liberals").

Jeremiah Moss said...

Her NY, could you please take a photo of that shirt? it's a classic!

Jeremiah Moss said...

Brendan, i think you're partially right about the transplant vs. tourist issue. many of us came to NY to get away from the mindsets of the people we grew up around--which were not merely provincial, but often dangerous (i.e., homophobic, misogynist, racist, etc.).

to see the city becoming provincial--and everything that comes with it--is extremely painful.

but i'm sure there are plenty of native NYers who feel similarly--as they've made their voices quite clear here before.

JAZ said...

Can always count on Fran Lebowitz to tell it like it is.


""That's New York," and I thought she would say something appreciative next, about the city's gutsy individualism, but she didn't. She said, "Scary, isn't it?" "

That's right. Come to our city, one of the few where we can safely walk hand in hand with the same sex and mock us.

Little Earthquake said...

I agree with you on the "elitist" tag. It's not just the Tea Partiers who use it - left wingers throw it around too. It's an easy word to use because it lumps all your enemies into one group, but none of your enemies would ever knowingly embrace the term. So they have no idea you're talking about them and are inclined to agree with you. And you get away with sounding populist.

I am a transplant who moved here because New York is different. No other city like it. So I don't want it turning into something similar to everything else. Nevertheless, I'll always welcome tourists here. Their behavior can be obnoxious, but so can cab drivers', subway peddlers', cops', gang bangers', etc. It's just another thing to put up with here. I just wouldn't post a flier like that, but that's me. It reeks of victimization and entitlement, two epidemics consuming American society. There are other ways to accomplish whatever the author has in mind. He/she opened himself up to ridicule because of his/her implied powerlessness over the situation, while posing as a supposed "real New Yorker" with an attitude that supposedly is in scarce supply these days (but is more of a Hollywood invention).

I suppose I'm soft on it since I jut herded four Brazilian tourists around town last week. One even had a huge camera dangling around his neck like Peter Parker. They don't know about all the little etiquettes of this city, and they feel silly and ashamed when they violate one. One of them got reprimanded for leaning on a subway pole on a near-empty train. He didn't see the harm, but he doesn't live here and doesn't get that it annoys people. And he didn't feel like it was his place to argue. Probably because he lives in Rio de Janeiro, and sees the same a-hole tourists (including many NYC natives no doubt) unknowingly engaging in their own tourist faux-pas in Copacabana.

As far as the pre-tourist-boom days in NYC, I view them the same way I view 1950s America. The 50s are either demonized by the left as a time of horrid patriarchal repression and racial suppression, or upheld by the right as a golden era of innocence and family and economic stability. I'm suspicious when either viewpoint is presented because it's obvious b.s., pure binary thinking by people with rose (or other) tinted glasses.

The same goes for NYC pre-Giuliani. It was either a golden era of creativity and possibility, when the city still had a "soul," or a post-apocalpytic era of rampant crime, disease, squalor, and depravity. The truth is obviously somewhere in between. But again - it's binary thinking that gets people to take a "side."

So now we also have binary thinking on tourists. They either are the economic saviors of NYC, or a terrible scourge responsible for anything that makes it look more "suburban." The truth is more complicated, but you won't get that from the Post or Fox 5 or the New York Times. They make money by splitting people in two categories and have them yell at/about each other.

My advice is, try to take it all with a grain of salt.

Anonymous said...

You characterize the people from elsewhere as provincial, dangerous, homophobic, misogynist, & racist, and you wonder why you're called elitist? And you assume that it's because you're smarter? Sometimes I wonder if this is satire.

Jeremiah Moss said...

i characterize the people i grew up around as provincial in those ways. which is factually accurate.

this whole "elitist" tea party crap is really problematic and needs to be torn apart. it's part of the "be stupid" mentality. stupidity became a virtue with the Bush 2 administration. it's utterly destructive.


Jeremiah, some people won't be happy until their only interaction with the city is "Superize me."

Laura Goggin Photography said...

I agree with what's been said about pot-9/11 marketing, which has been to advertise the city as being the opposite of the scary old days, and a fun place to shop and spend time as you would at any other friendly place like, say, Disneyland. For the last decade, this has been the message sent out, so I can't really blame people for visiting and expecting the city to be just that. I've actually not had any problems with tourists who are from other states/countries - for the most part, they've been friendly. But, you're going to have problems with any large group of people, whether they be tourists in Times Square, or mobs of locals at any large event.

I think the transient issue is more of a problem. That Bloomberg marketing message is the same for attracting people who want to live here - NYC can provide the same restaurants, businesses, housing and culture that a person is already familiar with, so one can settle right in without making any life adjustments. This has become noticeable now as so many people have bought in to the sanitized city idea and have moved here expecting what they were sold.

This probably requires further discussion - I don't think we can generalize so much about tourists, but should really look into who is 1. doing the irritating and 2. being irritated.

Did I just defend tourists? lol

Anonymous said...

Fran Liebowitz also said "there's nothing interesting about a city full of rich people" which we are now sadly finding out is 100% true.

I think all this 'elitist' name calling crap is just another way of saying "It annoys me that you don't blindly follow the herd like I do. What's wrong? Think you're too good for it". And to that I answer "Yes, I think I'm to good for it." Pardon me for being a member of that pretentious 'elite' group called 'people that think for themselves'.

America and NYC are becoming the world portrayed in the movie 'Idiocracy'. Only a matter of time before the first 'Brondo' bar opens in Times Square.

Brendan said...

Sometimes "elitist" is a valid criticism and sometimes it isn't.

When Bloomberg says he wants the city to be a "luxury product," that is an expression of elitism. Foodieism is elitism of the worst, shallowest kind, elitism based entirely on consumption choices. Elitism is a useful concept for understanding and describing these things.

I got in trouble in another thread for suggesting that complaints about 7-11, Dunkin Donuts, etc. can be elitist, but I think I'm right. There are Dunkin Donuts in East New York. Who's going to them? There's a Dunkin and a 7-11 in my gentrifying Brooklyn neighborhood. ONLY long-time residents go to them, never the hipsters and yuppies, who prefer their own upscale places. Yes, they are chains, yes they are ugly, yes I would prefer if they weren't here. But people go to them because they're cheap, and they serve a predominantly lower income clientele. That is why I am EXTREMELY uncomfortable treating them as part of the same phenomenon as Marc Jacobs. They degrade the character of the city but in a surface, aesthetic way, whereas real luxurification degrades it by actually pushing out PEOPLE, who are its soul.

I think anti-tourist sentiment can fall into the anti-DD/7-11 trap a little bit. Do we dislike them because they are racist and homophobic (how do we know?), or because they're uncultured rubes? The latter should absolutely be called out as elitism, and it's something I've never heard from a native New Yorker or even one who's been here more than a couple years. I guarantee the author of that flier, if he or she sticks around, is going to be embarrassed of it in the future.

Ken Mac said...

"The Out of Towners" celebrated the idea that NYC was only for the tough, the creative, the mad, those mad enough to come here and succeed against the odds. Now? Cupcakes.

Jeremiah Moss said...

the herd-like defense of the High Line also baffles my mind, in all of this news coverage. the High Line IS NOT ALL GOOD. it has good aspects, and many negative aspects as well. let's look at it clearly, please.


The Ugly European said...

From the NYT, Sept 9, 1993
"Tourist Is Killed in Florida Despite Taking Precautions

"Uwe-Wilhelm Rakebrand did everything the authorities had been telling tourists to do for their own safety since the slaying of a visiting German woman here last spring. But in the end, those precautions did not save his life.

In the latest attack on a tourist here, Mr. Rakebrand was fatally shot early today as he was driving a rental car on the city's main expressway, just minutes after arriving from Germany with his pregnant wife for a vacation."

This murder took Miami off the tourist agenda for years.

Just saying.

Anonymous said...

I was born in Queens and lived for 23 years on western LI. Went to the city all the time as a kid and a young adult, but I still did all the tourist-y things this past weekend when I took my daughters to the city for the weekend. My youngest was paranoid about being thought of as a tourist, she was so preoccupied about annoying a NYer by taking pictures or pausing to look at something. Kind of sad to know the extent of her stress over this, because so many people we encountered, natives if you will, went out of their way to be nice to us. There's something called common courtesy, which should extend to both NYers sharing their city with the tourists and the tourists who are occupying those residents' stomping grounds. As for Fleet Week, my husband was a 23 year Naval officer, and he spent many years on ships during Fleet Week welcoming tourists, many of them New Yorkers, on his ships! We're all tourists sometimes!

glamma said...

Watch out people. Bloomberg will suck every last cent out of NYC residents just to keep fueling the tourist money machine. And where does all the revenue go? Certainly NOT back to helping New Yorkers. NYC residents are nothing but a nuisance to this administration. Why else would they be slashing every possible social program, closing hospitals, schools, etc, etc.
50 MILLION TOURISTS - hard to compete. GOD BLESS the brave person who made those flyers - if we don;t stick up for ourselves, WHO WILL?

Neil J Murphy said...

I found a 'Now Go home' t shirt on eBay (http://www.ebay.com/itm/Welcome-New-York-Now-Go-Home-T-Shirt-8-Sizes-New-/350252500177) although the ones I remember were black with a bold sans serif typeface in neon colors. This particular one looks too friendly, and the outline of the state seems out of place.

Wait, here's another one: http://www.cafepress.com/mf/16515055/welcome-to-new-york-ash-grey-tshirt_tshirt

Anonymous said...

I have been thinking about the responses to this so much that I've actually been inspired to post myself – a rarity I assure you. I really appreciate all the differing opinions here. I can find something in almost every post that I relate to.

I was born in Manhattan in 1970. My parents were not rich. My father, just out of architecture school, was drawn to New York by his love of art and free thinking. My parents packed up my year-old sister and came to the city with no money, no job and no place to live. They found a place on the then drug-infested west 80s.

We moved to Stuyvesant Town when I was four. My sister and I went to public schools, low-cost day camps, and my parents sprung for every creative class you can think of for us - ballet, art, tap dancing, acting, etc at the Y, Third St Music School, etc. This was not "luxury" living, as they now tout the complex to be. It was civilized, but not fancy any means. We slept with wet towels in the summer, since the buildings were not wired to handle air conditioning. This was middle class.

When I turned 13, "old enough" to tackle the city (far younger than would be acceptable by today's parents), my friends and I wandered the streets East Village, saw shows at CBGB, tried to look cool at the Peppermint Lounge, then found our place at Danceteria, to further grow up at the Palladium and Milk Bar. I loved my life in NY and felt lucky to have it. I always knew my life was different from the other kids in America, going to football games, driving cars, cheerleading, whatever. We were somehow better for our alternative experience.

For me, NY started when I was born. It starts when we arrive. For all of us, there was no before. While I miss my “old NY”, I also realize there are generations before me that miss their version of the “old NY.” People who arrived in 1993, miss their old NY and so on.

I despise the generically glossed-up, hotel-bar singles taking over every “hot spot” with entitled abandon, overweight and undereducated tourists not looking where they’re going as they search out the closest Applebees, family-funded 20-somethings living in brand new high-rise condos that have taken the place of my favorite haunts, but there is no going back. New York, as everyplace, is ever-changing. Sometimes for the better, and sometimes for the worse. Nothing can ever stay as it was. New York is a living being. It is alive so it changes. I just feel lucky to have experienced New York in what I see as its glory.

If you made it through my post, thanks. I know it's long. I just felt the need to say it.

Anonymous said...

Hahaha, Neil. For sure. No New Yorker would consider this to be a "state" thing. NYC or die!

Anonymous said...

"America has gotten it's revenge on New York because it's moved right in. Now it is a mall. I think that is the final victory of the suburban sensibility."- Fran Lebowitz

laura said...

it is the MESSAGE, not the messenger. what it the difference if he is from ohio, iowa? what does it matter if you perceive he likes luxury? he is on YOUR SIDE!! get it? he right! you are wrong. he knows about quality of life, you dont. you talk BS. your tired. if you think someone pays a higher rent or goes to expensive restaurants (may not even be the case here), then their message is invalid? mean while his flyer is exactly what jeremiah's been saying. whats up w/this college thinking? its the message not the messenger! many years ago a young man ran out of his house screaming @ construction workers to stop the construction!!! was from del moines. they were building a subway entrance near his house. he told the newspapers he didnt move to new york, work, buy the house, to have a subway near his corner. his name was roy holston fowler from del moines. its always been new york dream to come from nowhere, famous & rich, buy a house or an apt, & live in peace. these are the type of people who have a real voice, & sometimes its the same as yours. i resent all the speculation about the flyer person. he's mad, you're mad, jeremiah's mad. but as usual its that fringe mentality again. maybe the guy lives in the low income project, & is an writer? an artist? maybe he has 4 roommates? like him better now? all of a sudden his message is valid. correct? i have never seen such shallow immature people as i sometimes seem posting on this blog. arrested development grow up. case closed. you threw out the baby w/the bath water.

Bob96 said...

Jeremiah failed to include Lebowitz's last sentence in the interview: " So I think, in the end, the people who will be in New York are the people who deserve to be here – people like me." Say what you will about how the shape of NY life changes, and maybe I miss some of Lebowitz's wit, but she says much about the self-satisfied more-New Yorker-than-thou pose that pops up so regularly. I can't really figure out why so many folks, and so many of them transplants themselves, get so crazy about the billions of tourist dollars left behind here. Honestly. Who but a newbie Manhattanite would really worry very much about clots of British tourists sweating away the afternoon at another trashy chain attraction? I was born in an immigrant family in Park Slope 64 years ago and grew up in its old Italian-Irish working class streets. Except for a few years away, have always been here--Avenue B late 60s, back to Carroll Gardens and Kensington,Brooklyn, now Manhattan. The spirit of NY, as I remember it, was a mostly benign indifference to tourists, and I can't remember anyone ever spending 2 minutes in some self-congratulatory chest-beating to posh about what it means to be a "real" New Yorker. Back in the day, no one gave a rat's ass, mostly, and went on doing their lives. I just don't get this out of whack hatred for tourists, who, secret's out, can be avoided by walking around Midwood or Woodside or Woodlawn, which are still in NY the last time I looked. Finally, having lived through waves of street and subway crime, drugs, depression, near bankruptcy, heroin plagues and race riots, and years like the mid-70s when fear was everywhere, I have to say it's more than offensive (and much more than a little stupid) for some of the posters here to long for the days of "grime and crime" to return--even to the point of more murders. What kind of deluded craziness is this? You make your life in NY, and you make it as best you can. There are no secret gifts, no unbearable burdens that other places don't also impose. This city does allow its rich and smart to deny their privileges, to fetishize some lost plebeian underworld they never would live in if it still existed. The city changes, sometimes for horribly bad ways, and I'm in agreement with some, if not all, of the plaints here. But it's time to stop fetishizing a NY that, for so many millions, a dangerous and even unliveable trap, ath the same time it was an amazing gift.

esquared™ said...

Used to have that 'it ain't Kansas' shirt, nonetheless here's the design for it


There's also Johnny Cash's "Welcome to New York, now go the fuck home."


Anonymous said...

People who think NYC is like a suburb have clearly not spent any time in the suburbs.

Yes, there are Subway restaurants. 7-11's. Annoying purple and orange Dunkin' Donuts. But there's nothing like walking on the streets of NY. You can go from point A to point B so many different ways, and be more influenced and entertained in an hour of walking than in a year anywhere else.

The city is safer now than 25 years ago. The subways are better. Obviously people are going to visit. NY isn't feared anymore the way it once was. And it took it on the chin 10 years ago in the name of terrorism. That event made NY a martyr; it gained sympathy - a new concept in how the city is viewed by the rest of the country.

NY is a city that is constantly changing. It's not old. It's new in the scheme of civilization. And it's always torn itself down to start something new. You want to live here, you have to accept it. My grandfather lived his entire 87 year life in what is now the East Village. He saw a lot change in those 87 years. And he never once complained about any of it. It was what it was.

Sam said...

@Anonymous 11:08AM. Sorry, but NYC was MUCH BETTER 25 years ago. This whole Bloomberg initiative to make the city so "safe" now has come at quite a cost......the ligtning-speed bulldozing and sanitization of anything that had authenticity, character, and heart & soul. NYC was better WITH a certain element of crime about it because with crime comes fear, and with fear comes respect. Only those people with a thick skin, open mind, and a city-swagger WANTED to live in NYC because of the way it was! Not the well-moneyed young douchebags today who cannot exist without the constant, familiar, and predictable, i.e. Duane Reade, Bank of America, Starbucks, Jamba Jusce, Marc Jacobs, Cell phone stores, artisinal foodie-bullshit and screeching/howling sports bars that are on practically EVERY block now. NYC's pulse and energy is dying...

laura said...

bob96: i like some of your comments, & understand the "old days". we didnt speak of tourists, they were not in our face. not 50 million! how would you like tourist express busses coming to midwood, kensington etc? all they need to do is film a movie there, or open a restaurant. what if they were in front of your house 24/7 on your stoop? now do you get it? i am 4th generation new yorker & I GET IT! i do agree w/you about the idiot comments about missing the drug addicts. the people who say this are negative, were not born in new york, or lived in the surburbs. i suppose i would take the tourists over filth & addicts. but to compare is stupid.

Joanna said...

Neil, I appreciate your comment a lot. I am 23 and have spent 22 years of my life as a new yorker (well, 4 away at college, but NYC was obviously home). It's amazing to me how even in my short lifetime I have seen my own home neighborhood change so dramatically.

Part of what bothers me about some of the comments about the highline and tourist situation(s), is that it often becomes an argument about "what kind of new yorker" someone is. Arguing over authenticity and belittling people based on an assumed understanding of who that person is and where they come from. I think a lot of us have concerns about how our own actions, as well as big changes around us, will affect new york in the future. I mean, when the highline first opened I thought it was awesome. My friends who grew up in Chelsea were excited to have more green space. Unfortunately it's hard to keep that kind of thing a "secret," and so with something outstanding inevitably comes a wave of people capitalizing on it.

I grew up on the upper east side of manhattan, not the "ritzy" part but the "up and coming" part, I suppose, at the time. As we are polish immigrants, I spent a lot of my time in Williamsburg and Greenpoint, doing grocery shopping, seeing family friends, etc. I now live in Greenpoint and I love it, but the whole concept of change and "vanishing new york" is something that is on my mind every time I step out the door. In a way, I am relieved because I feel that my polishness makes me a more "authentic" member of the community. At least, I have memories here. What I love about present day Greenpoint that I don't love about present day Williamsburg is that I feel it has a good "mix" of old and new. I admit that I appreciate the new bars, coffee shops, etc that are more targeted at the "new" north brooklyn population. But I LOVE that the meat market I've been going to since I was a kid is still there on Manhattan Ave, along with a lot of other Polish establishments. I regularly wonder about how this community will change over the coming years. I also wonder what my role in this is. Is my excitement about new bakeries and tea shops also a a death sentence for the "old" community, or can they continue to coexist as they do now? It is my hope that it will continue to thrive as a medley rather than lead to the eventual gentrification and mass-exodus of longtime residents.

Anonymous said...

What a terribly sad little person to be so disturbed by evil tourists as to write, print and distribute posters like that. I bet their sole ambition in life is to be a feared Gawker commenter.

Anonymous said...

joanna, a mix is great. some new coffee shops & boutiques & also the old practical businesses. it used to stay like that for years. now the changes are so fast, that you cant remember where you were. as for anon 9:22am- guess you dont know what it is the be squashed by strangers on your own stoop. most likely you have no respect for people either.

Anonymous said...

Couldn't have said it better myself. Its happening all over, too.

Up in Boston, the South End has changed from interesting artists, dancers, musicians and a predominantly gay population to horrible, loud empty-nesters and trust funds kids living in million dollar condo's which were bought for them by mommy and daddy.

When I walk down streets, which used to be filled with interesting people hanging out on their stoops on a warm summer evening, we have people for whom the Kardashians are role models turning these apartment buildings into frat-houses. Good luck getting some sleep on a Tuesday night when the 22-year-olds-who've-never-heard-the-word-"no" have their stereos blasting you out of bed at 3am.

No longer are there any inexpensive local restaurants where one can get a reasonably priced, simple meal. Its all fancy, expense account places now with valet parking to draw in the suburbanites who seek an exciting night in the "edgy" South End.

Finally, we now live in a neighborhood where dog bakeries outnumber human bakeries, where you can't buy toilet paper but where organic, truffle-infused, pomegranate-flavored, hand-carved kale chips are available on every corner, if you can get past the triple strollers and can stand the douchebags yelling on their cellphones and double-parking their black Range Rovers.

See http://thesouthendisover.blogspot.com, an anonymous blog which had caused quite a stir a couple years ago.

Anonymous said...

Always remember: Bloomberg is a Boston Native. Destroying my hometown is revenge writ large for the Curse of the Bambino. Note that the Red Sox only broke the curse during Bloombergs second cursed term.

The NY Tourist Board said...

This is a nice blog ya got here.. It would be a shame if something happened to it...

maybe you write some nice things about tourists and how much you love them... ok? it would be a good thing... ya know?


Anonymous said...

i think you got it backwards here jeremiah. its more that the rest of the usa has gotten to be more like nyc. nyc is not such an anacronism holdover as more an more urban regions of america are returning to urbaness. the suburbs are dying and the inner cities are rebounding all over the place. i dont think nyc inspired the trend, its happening for a variety of reasons, economic necessity, etc. every city aspires for 24/7 downtowns, improved transit, etc. these days. its back to the future. but this leaves nyc as much less unique, an inevitable outcome of the urban rebound trend.