Thursday, January 27, 2011

NYC as Philosophy

Very often on here, I harp on what NYC is, has been, and is becoming. This blog is not just about NYC as a place but about NYC as an idea, a spirit, a feeling, even a philosophy. 

What is the philosophy on NYC? Well, just read this whole blog and you might start to get an idea. But it would only be a start.

I've also blogged recently about the proposed Walmart in NYC, and about how it represents everything that NYC is not. Like Robert Moses building his highways by gutting neighborhoods, Walmart and the other big box stores are their 21st century equivalent -- big, impersonal impositions that come to dominate and ruin the neighborhoods they arise in. 

Big highways and big box stores are, in my opinion, antithetical to the philosophy of NYC. NYC is about diversity, about small neighborhoods that, knit together, make the greatest metropolis on earth. Highways and big box stores basically say, "To hell with the neighborhoods. The city is just one big mall and parking lot." 

I recently read a wonderful article about this very subject. In words and mood much better than I could ever convey, the author of this article, which you must read, ponders about the proposed Walmart in NYC and what it means -- and will mean -- to the city's future. It is, really, a moment of truth for us. He writes: 

"If (and when) the retail juggernaut does come, its presence will be definitive of the state of the city. It will indicate how desperate we may be for work—any work. It will be a further sharpening of the edge between high and low, luxury and convenience, rich and poor. And it will show us all how far we are willing to let the city change to be able to buy thongs and pacifiers in the same place."

Couldn't have said it better myself.

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