Something is rotten in the state of... New York!
What is going on out there? All of a sudden (okay maybe it's been a few years coming) I am in what I think is my city, yet it is looking ever more strangely like L.A.! How could this be? one might ask (I would ask), but it is so. Look around and everywhere you will see evidence of the Californication of this oh-so-not Californian town.
First: I've been to LA enough to know that there is a genuine need for Hotels that provide their guests with a bubble of diversions; besides shopping, the beach (and certainly not in downtown LA) and celebrity watching what is a guest to do besides sit at the pool, go to the spa, get a massage and the like. But in NYC, really?
Dream Downtown offers the following promotional tidbit: "While guests are encouraged to venture and explore all that the city has to offer, Dream Downtown provides its guests with a complete, on site offering of amenities and services. Whether you want to enjoy an afternoon massage or surf the internet pool-side, our staff is fully committed to ensuring that your stay with us is a dream come true." The idea being: why leave, we have everything you want right here. My question is, why not build this in Newark then? where there is genuinely no reason to leave the Hotel?
Okay -- I get that there is something weird, maybe charming and certainly disorienting in the novelty of lounging poolside and staring at the rooftops of LES tenements at Thomson LES; or sipping a fruity beverage and feeling wildly chic overlooking what once was the most hardcore gay sex scene in the city (think Pacino's Cruising circa 1980 in the Meatpacking District) at the Ganesvoort; but why pay for the real estate if there is no need to exit the pleasure palace?
It is not as if the folks who can afford to lounge at these Hotel pools or join SOHO House can't afford to leave town on the weekends and frolic poolside or seaside elsewhere. Why pollute the truly urban with "resort chic" accoutrement? I speak from a place of genuine confusion.
Second: Do we really need Times Square to become even more of a circus with the advent of the "pedestrian island." With a sweep of the legislative pen -- the oldest artery in NYC was cut (literally and figuratively) so visitors can sip lattes and watch the pretty lights and all the "clean up" courtesy of the good folks at Disney.
NYC is a busy town. Yes, there is lots to do and lots to see if you are not working here, but New York does not move at the pace of L.A. (both a good and a bad thing). Tourism is one thing, and I am all for it, but why not come visit NYC for the things that make NYC the incredible city it is? Why does it have to become L.A. in order for it to be enjoyed?
Third: I am all for a healthy biking community in NYC. I think it is great for everyone (better air quality, healthier people etc.) I am also very aware that NYC is chock-full of parks and bike paths that are at a safe distance from traffic. In fact, you can now circumvent the entire island of Manhattan by bike or on foot and (mostly) avoid ever coming into contact with taxi's and trucks; and there is no limit to the biking opportunities in Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island and the Bronx.
That said, the bike lanes that are now everywhere in the city are dangerous and frankly, a nuisance; they slow traffic, cause accidents, precipitate unwarranted tickets and make turning onto small street unnecessarily harrowing (for bike and car alike). NYC is a city that allows for all sorts of people to participate in all sorts of activities but it is not Santa Monica! We have a variable climate here, one can't bike all year long, the city is less about the ocean (which of course it sits at the mouth to) than about the sidewalk; do we need the year-round hazard?
Alright, I am done ranting. But really, it is not a rant, it is a love letter; a love letter to a city that I understand is always changing, but I hope that it will stay true to what (and where) it is!
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