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Old 05-30-2013, 09:58 AM
 
Location: Stuyvesant Heights, Brooklyn
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I think London is similar in a lot of ways; size, infrastructure, and services. Way of life is very similar, in term of the industries and nightlife. Pace-wise, it's not as frenetic as NYC, but I can't think of many places that are.

Tokyo *could* be said to have a touch of the NYC fast-paced lifestyle (especially during rush hour), but in general the city and its people are so different culturally that it doesn't feel comparable.

Toronto is somewhat NYC-like, but much cleaner. I don't remember it making much of an impression on me other than that, so others would be more qualified to answer than me.

Berlin is representative of some of NYC--at times it really feels like you're in Williamsburg circa 2003.
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Old 05-30-2013, 11:22 AM
 
Location: Eastchester, Bronx, NY
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First city that popped in my head was Toronto. Although Toronto is a bit more Chicago-like than NYC-like.
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Old 05-30-2013, 11:23 AM
 
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Rome
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Old 05-30-2013, 12:13 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by juanus_superbus View Post
Tokyo *could* be said to have a touch of the NYC fast-paced lifestyle (especially during rush hour), but in general the city and its people are so different culturally that it doesn't feel comparable.
I'd say Osaka is probably the most New-York-like city in Japan when it comes to pace (even walking pace!) and the general tenor of life.

But I have to give a write-in vote to Kyoto. The population is much smaller, but geographically, it's NYC's twin. It has:

* Numbered streets in straight lines (most Japanese cities have street maps that resemble a bucket of live bait squirming around)

* A big green space in the middle (the old Imperial Palace; you can't just walk around like you can in Central Park though),

* A new train station that nobody who remembers the old one likes very much (and which even has 7th Avenue and 8th Avenue exits!),

* Streets named Canal Street (堀川通) and Riverside Boulevard (川端通).

If you were raised in one, how can you not feel at home in the other?
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Old 05-30-2013, 12:26 PM
 
Location: Toronto
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Originally Posted by aceofangel View Post
Toronto is a good comparison, just on a much smaller scale. Hong Kong is also a good comparison. Shanghai and Tokyo doesn't feel like a Western city (they shouldn't). But the pace of life is similar.
As a lifelong resident of Toronto and its neighbouring suburbs, and also someone who loves New York City and would move there in a heartbeat if I had a good job opportunity (I am a dual citizen), I feel somewhat qualified to explore the oft-cited similarities between Toronto and New York. I'll divide my brief analysis into two categories - similarities and differences:

Similarities

- Both are the largest cities in their respective country, and as such, engender a certain amount of respect and derision. Toronto, in particular, gets a lot of hate from all over Canada for just about every reason you can imagine. The vast majority of Americans have a certain amount of respect and admiration for New York, while most Canadians (including many who live in the Toronto area) are inclined to dismiss the city and its inhabitants, citing a number of reasons.

- Both cities are financial powerhouses. New York and London vie for financial capital of the world, while Toronto has the seventh largest stock exchange in the world, and like New York, is the undisputed financial capital of its respective nation. As a result, both cities have a lot of residents who work in the financial services sector, and both cities are a magnet for corporate investment, and many large corporations have their headquarters in both cities. Because of this, both cities have a tremendous amount of economic "clout", and the fortunes of these cities often rise and fall with their stock markets.

- Neither city is the capital city of its country, yet both are the largest and most powerful in their respective countries. What does this mean for the city? Well, if you've been to a capital city like Washington DC or Ottawa, you'll notice that they are truly "political" cities, where a large number of residents are involved in politics or work as bureaucrats, and rather than the financial sector dictating the city's pace, the political tides do so instead. As a result of not being the capital cities of their respective countries, I believe that both New York and Toronto are freer in a sense, because they are not the seat of the country's government. Since the cities are not overly influenced by national politics, they are able to focus on being important in other ways, ie as cultural and financial centres.

- Both cities have thriving inner cities that have made amazing comebacks after serious setbacks in the latter part of the last century. Everyone is familiar with New York's epic struggles and its astonishing transformation during the last 15 years or so, but most people aren't aware of how Toronto's downtown was completely levelled to build parking lots for suburban commuters, while a "new" downtown of tall office towers was built just west of the old one because I guess the city figured that tall office towers with adjacent parking for commuters from the suburbs was the way of the future. As a result, Toronto lost much of its heritage and urban vitality, the East End of the downtown became a skid row, and many Toronto neighbourhoods fell into decline as people moved to the suburbs. Thankfully, Jane Jacobs had recently moved to the city, and with her at the helm, Toronto residents galvanized to stop city hall from destroying more of the inner city to benefit suburbanites. Around the same time that New York began its epic comeback, there was a downtown revival in Toronto, people began buying up old homes in neglected inner city neighbourhoods and renovating them, and gradually the downtown started to come back to life. Now both cities - unlike many in North America - can boast of a safe and thriving inner city where real estate prices are sky-high because of the tremendous demand from people who actually want to live in the city and not the suburbs.

- Both cities are famously cosmopolitan, and have large immigrant communities that help make the city great. Apart from enriching the city with their food, immigrant communities add their culture into the mix of both cities, creating an atmosphere of diversity, tolerance, and progressive attitudes that both cities are famous for.

- Both cities are known for their progressive politics. While there are certainly plenty of conservatives in both cities, the dominant attitudes of New York and Toronto are liberal and progressive.

- Both cities have the largest gay communities in their respective countries, and have been important for setting the tone of gay culture and politics nationwide. They both have thriving gay communities, and gay people are attracted to both cities for their populace's progressive attitudes. Unfortunately, both cities were also hit especially hard by AIDS in the 80's and 90's, and many gay men died as a result.

- Both cities are national trendsetters and leaders in the culture industry. They are both leaders in fashion, film, art, music, theatre, and attract people from all over the nation who hope to find a community of like-minded artists and to ultimately be successful in their respective talent. Unfortunately, once people have proven that they can make it in Toronto, they typically leave Canada altogether for the US, whose bigger market and promise of bigger paycheques almost inevitably lures them away from their home and native land. As a result, there are many thousands of successful Canadians working in the American culture industry, adding their talent to an already-massive talent pool, and usually forgetting all about Canada in a matter of a few years. While I really dislike Drake's music, I'm happy to see a musician who is a celebrity in the US constantly biggin' up his Toronto roots in his songs. This isn't that common. I wonder how many of Drake's fans know he got his start on the Canadian TV show Degrassi High, and contrary to most hip-hop artists, grew up in one of the wealthiest neighbourhoods in his city.

- Both cities are made up of "boroughs" that are distinct in character (note that Toronto doesn't officially have "boroughs", but the former municipalities of Etobicoke, North York, and Scarborough fit the definition quite well). They both have a "downtown" borough, where most people work and where most of the city's main attractions and cultural institutions are located (Manhattan, and Old Toronto), as well as residential boroughs that are still very urban, but vary considerably in character. However, Toronto only amalgamated its "boroughs" into the City Proper in 1998, while New York has had it's boroughs for many years. The result is that Toronto's "boroughs" are more distinct from the Old City than New York's boroughs are from Manhattan. There is still considerable friction between Toronto and its "boroughs" due to competing agendas and differing needs that are symbolized by our current, infamous mayor. As a lifelong resident of Etobicoke, he has tapped into the "boroughs'" resentment of Old Toronto, and managed to galvanize his supporters by pitting the Old City against its amalgamated municipalities, labelling Downtown residents as elitist snobs who are out of touch with the rest of the city.

- Both cities are coastal in nature, and their history is deeply intertwined with their proximity to their adjacent bodies of water.

- Both cities have experienced massive gentrification in recent years, which has lead to soaring rents and home prices, making it virtually impossible for middle-income residents to live in large swaths of the city. Gentrification has had more positive results in New York than in Toronto, because it has at least made neighbourhoods with an extremely low quality of life livable again in many cases. The South Bronx and many parts of Brooklyn are perfect examples of this. In Toronto, all gentrification has done is ensure that the Old City is inaccessible to middle-income earners, leading to a Manhattanization of Old Toronto. Toronto never had neighbourhoods like the South Bronx that desperately needed investment to save it from the crime and decay that had come to define it - what it did have were overlooked inner-city neighbourhoods with diverse populations that have now become no-go areas for the poor and middle-class, and the local businesses have come to reflect the change by catering almost exclusively to the wants and needs of the new wealthy inhabitants. As a result, Toronto's inner city has lost much of its diversity as renters have been priced out, and many homeowners discovered that the houses they had bought for a couple hundred thousands dollars back in the 80's were now worth more than a million. In Old Toronto, it is now virtually impossible to find any kind of house for less than $750,000, no matter how small it is or what kind of shape it is in. This leads to my final point....

- The middle class is becoming an endangered species in both cities. Like New York, Toronto's middle class has largely been forced to decamp to the "boroughs" or the suburbs. They've taken with them the vitality and strong backbone that the middle class provides any city where it is allowed to flourish. Both downtown Toronto, and Manhattan were once majority middle class areas, with certain communities for the ultra-wealthy. Having a strong middle-class presence in the heart of the city made the cities what they were, gave them much of their character and strength, and allowed talented people from all over the world to live in the centre of the action, where they were most likely to find success and not be beaten down by an extravagant COL that made it nearly impossible for them to survive. As a result, Manhattan and downtown Toronto were almost always at the forefront of new cultural movements and innovations, while now the residents of these areas are generally the consumers of culture rather than its creators. Extravagant rents and home prices push talented people out of the city and deter them from showing up in the first place. Many people have questioned whether New York has started to lose its "edge" in the creation of culture, and I believe it has simply because talented people cannot move there as freely as they could in the past, and so the talent is being spread out among many American cities rather than in New York, which was the destination of the past. Gentrification has made it so that only the wealthy can live in desirable areas, and this means that fewer middle income people will choose New York to build a life, which in turn means that those people who create the culture that becomes world-famous are not settling in New York until after they have made it big and made the big bucks. This means that the innovators do their innovating elsewhere, and only come to New York when they've made it. The same thing is happening in Toronto, to a certain extent. Few people want to live in our "boroughs" because our transit system is way behind the times, making it impossible for a place like North York to ever become like Brooklyn.

Now for the.....

Differences

- New York City is much larger than Toronto, much denser, and if you include Jersey, far more diverse in terms of the urban environment.

- New York City is, along with London, arguably the most important and best-known city on the planet. Toronto is not. As the largest city of the richest, most powerful country in the world, New York has the kind of clout that Toronto can only dream of. It pulls in the best and brightest from all over the world, and as a result it tends to be at the forefront of everything. As I mentioned earlier, Toronto also pulls in the best and brightest and Canada, but they then often move to New York or LA once they've become successful in TO.

- New York's urban environment is much different than Toronto's at street level, leading to a totally different lifestyle and urban experience. Taking Manhattan as my example (although it can also apply to much of Brooklyn, the Bronx, and parts of Jersey), many of New York's residential areas are primarily apartment buildings rather than rowhouses or densely-packed semis. Although the height and size of the buildings vary by neighbourhood, most of New York's inner city neighbourhoods are defined by apartment buildings, where both renters and homeowners live. Also, New York's neighourhoods are filled with mixed-use streets and avenues where people both live and work and shop. Even the most residential parts of Manhattan are filled with apartment buildings, brownstones, and are a short walk away from retail areas. This ensures that many parts of the Tri-State are the densest communities in North America. It also makes for a very intense urban lifestyle, where the entire city is literally outside your door, and even the wealthiest New Yorkers live in apartment buildings. Toronto, on the other hand, is built quite differently, which leads to a totally different urban lifestyle. Toronto's residents mainly live in rowhouses or semis that are packed tight together, even in the most central parts of the city. Although there are tons of condos and highrise residential in the centre of the city, there are comparably few low and mid-rise buildings that make up the bulk of residential housing in Toronto's residential areas. The standard downtown Toronto neighbourhood has narrow streets lined with a mix of densely-packed Victorian and Edwardian semis, set back at least eight feet from the sidewalk (almost all Toronto houses have front porches instead of stoops), and draped in gigantic old oaks and maples that provide a canopy of green to even the most central Toronto neighbourhoods. In the summer, looking down at the city from the air, all you see is green, and its hard to imagine that dense neighbourhoods exist beneath the foliage. On these residential streets, there is rarely any retail, except maybe a corner store or a small cafe / diner, and very rarely are there low or mid-rise apartments. Instead, Toronto has large commercial thoroughfares where the bulk of our retail is, and here you have street-level shopping, with a floor or two of apartments above. This may sound like an insignificant detail, but it may be one of the biggest differences between New York and Toronto, because it is the very fabric of the city, and it affects the way residents live their lives. Although Toronto's inner-city neighbourhoods can be very lively and busy (especially in the summer), the city's design ensures that few neighbourhoods approach the density and liveliness of many New York neighbourhoods. Toronto's residential streets are quieter; people spend evenings hanging out on their porches, not on stoops. There are no fire escapes for people to sit on and watch the action below, and there are not enough low-rise apartment buildings in our neighbourhoods to sustain the densities needed to give Toronto that super-urban feel that New York has. Toronto's aesthetic is messy urbanism, and everywhere you look you see a clash of styles, wooden telephone poles filled with fliers, alleyways bombed with graffiti, streetcar wires mingling with electric and telephone wires overhead, back yards that are an anarchic mess of additions completed over many years so that nothing is uniform, and most streets don't have a single home or building that is the same, even in a group of rowhouses or semis. It's definitely unique, but I prefer New York's street-level energy. Ultimately, this feature of New York is probably the main reason I love it so much, and I wish that instead of building tracts of high-rise condo towers, the city focused on building mid-rise, mixed-use neighbourhoods that resemble Hell's Kitchen or Morningside Heights.

- New York has a more interesting and storied history than Toronto, and much of it has been preserved, which gives one a sense of the past being a living, breathing part of life in the city. Toronto has steamrolled too much of its history to have this effect, and is in the process of tearing down even more of its old buildings to build high-rise condos. Toronto does have an interesting history, but one would never know because all traces of it have been wiped clean.

- New York has a much better and more developed subway system than Toronto, which has allowed it's boroughs to flourish and become nearly as urban and dynamic as Manhattan in some places. Because politics has always gotten in the way of Toronto expanding its subway system, its "boroughs" are not nearly as dynamic, dense, or desirable as New York's. They have maintained a suburban character in many places, because people don't want to live in a place where the COL is nearly as high as downtown, but the amenities and urban vitality are largely absent. Toronto may have the third largest transit system in North America by ridership (after Mexico City and New York), but having to transfer from the subway to a bus to get somewhere ensures that these areas will never grow to their full potential. As a result, Toronto's best neighbourhoods are the few that are within walking distance to the subway, or are on a streetcar line. A recently proposed plan to expand transit region-wide, and would have made Toronto's system truly excellent has once again been thrown under the bus by politicians who seem to think that no one should have to pay a dime for better transit.

- New York's importance to America's economy is recognized by Washington and even grudgingly by residents of other states and cities. As a result, Washington and Albany ensure that New York gets the money and resources it needs to thrive, because they understand how important it's success is to the success of the nation. Toronto, on the other hand, gives so much more money to the Provincial and Federal governments than it gets back that we have massive budget deficits every year and are constantly cutting back on programs because we can't afford them. Neither Ottawa, nor Queen's Park will openly admit that Toronto needs more money and resources because they don't want to **** of the rest of Canada, who mostly dislike Toronto and underestimate its importance to the nation's economy. As a result, Toronto has to bow and scrape to get a few million bucks just to keep things running smoothly. Many people debate whether or not Toronto is a world class city, and in my mind the only reason it isn't is because it simply doesn't get the funding it needs to be the city it can be. If it were allowed to keep more of the money it generates, it could expand transit, build more affordable housing, unleash itself from the grip of developers who build whatever they want wherever they want because the city is so desperate for the cash, and actually realize some of the great ideas people have had for making the city better. As it is, we're like New York was in 70's, going hat-in-hand to the government, which then promptly tells us to drop dead. Until Toronto is given the money it needs to be great, it's status as a world class city will always be ambiguous. New York, on the other hand, is about as world class as a city can get.

- Although New York is very diverse and cosmopolitan, it still tends to be divided along ethnic lines to a certain extent, especially it's black and Latino population. There are neighbourhoods in New York (I know, because I've been to them) where people will actually call you out for being white and tell you that you shouldn't be there. I've had Puerto Ricans in New York derisively tell me I couldn't possibly be half Puerto Rican because my skin is too light, while they meanwhile don't speak a word of Spanish and have never even been to the island. I've even had a cop in the Bronx, on the Grand Concourse near the Cross Bronx ask me and my girl what we were doing there, and pretty much order us to get on the subway and "go back to Manhattan". When I ignored him and asked how many minutes we were from East Tremont by foot, he dismissed us with a wave of his hand, turned his back and walked away. Another cop on Atlantic Ave. near downtown Brooklyn told me and my girl not to walk too far, lest we end up somewhere we don't belong. I asked him what he meant, and he told us that there several neighbourhoods nearby where we didn't belong (he was black). My very first time in Harlem, almost the minute I stepped out of the cab onto Lennox, early on a Sunday morning, a young guy walking his dog called me an f'n white boy as he passed. I asked him to repeat what he said, and he turned around, flipped me the bird, and told me to get back in the cab and to back to where I belonged. Nothing like this has ever happened to me in all the many years I've lived in Toronto, and never would because there is no such thing as a black neighbourhood in Toronto. Our poorest, most "ghetto" areas are racially mixed, and one can see people of all ethnicities walking the streets. Even in areas where certain ethnicities have a large population, they never make up 50% or more of the population, with the exception of Caucasians who do predominate in some areas. I've always had a saying that in Toronto we treat all our poor people equally badly regardless of race, and disparities in this city are certainly more income-based than race-based. As a result, I know I can go to any neighbourhood in the city and not stick out just because of the color of my skin. I like this about Toronto, and find New Yorkers to be a little too preoccupied with race and skin color by comparison.


Anyways, I know I've written a lot here and still not covered everything. To summarize, I guess I could say that there are certainly similarities between New York and Toronto, but I think that our differences are at least as great. Whether or not Toronto is more like New York than any other city, I can't say, but I know that for me the differences are most apparent when I visit New York, not the similarities.
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Old 05-30-2013, 12:30 PM
 
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Originally Posted by crescent22 View Post
Paris. Same mix of elegant and dirty and diversity all sloshed together.
I was just in Paris and the tourisy areas there were much cleaner than the tourisy areas in NYC.
Other than that, I did get a similar vibe while I was there but at a slower pace. Both cities make you fall in love with them, that much is true.
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Old 05-30-2013, 12:31 PM
 
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Originally Posted by palomalou View Post
Rome
No. I was just in Rome and there are VAST differences between the two. One definitely did not feel like the other.
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Old 05-30-2013, 12:40 PM
 
Location: West Harlem
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Originally Posted by sawyersmom View Post
I was just in Paris and the tourisy areas there were much cleaner than the tourisy areas in NYC.
Other than that, I did get a similar vibe while I was there but at a slower pace. Both cities make you fall in love with them, that much is true.
Paris is NOTHING like New York. There is no "similar vibe" (at all...).

Berlin ... maybe. But even there, not really.
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Old 05-30-2013, 01:12 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Harlem resident View Post
Paris is NOTHING like New York. There is no "similar vibe" (at all...).

Berlin ... maybe. But even there, not really.
I've never been to Berlin so I can't say but have you been to Paris?
I think it's similar. It's my opinion. If you don't agree fine, but what I was saying was that was the vibe I got while I was there.
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Old 05-30-2013, 01:18 PM
 
Location: West Harlem
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Originally Posted by sawyersmom View Post
I've never been to Berlin so I can't say but have you been to Paris?
I think it's similar. It's my opinion. If you don't agree fine, but what I was saying was that was the vibe I got while I was there.
Been and stayed for some months, on more than several occasions - of course. How else could I have an opinion ? Many back-and-forths in addition.

I have many friends in Paris, and environs, and while they like New York they always say as well how much it differs from Paris.

The urban fabric of Berlin has been quite impacted by cultural globalization.
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