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Old 05-19-2017, 08:50 AM
Location: New York, NY
7 posts, read 8,025 times
Reputation: 21


Hi all,

I frequently lurk the citydata forums and decided to make my first post, giving my impressions of changes I have noticed since returning to NYC as an adult.

Some background on me: I immigrated to NYC with my immediate family at a very young age and lived here until I was 18, first in Chelsea then in Astoria. I went to both middle school and high school in Manhattan and took the subway ever day of the week, to go to school and to hang out with friends around the city. After that I lived in Washington DC, São Paulo, Edinburgh UK, and Brussels, Belgium. I returned to the city a couple of years ago and work in Finance. I am in my mid-20s.


Neighborhoods: A lot of changes here. There is a lot more going on in the outer boroughs than even 8 years ago. I used to spend a lot of time hanging out with friends in Brooklyn as a teenager, mainly Williamsburg, Park Slope, Cobble Hill, and Sheepshead Bay. I did not know Bushwick even existed until I returned. Crown Heights I knew about due to the riots but again, was no-man's land to me. Williamsburg south of Grand St was all Hasidic, the gentrification has spread out considerably in less than 10 years. My neighborhood, Astoria, has also changed. Rents and home prices have skyrocketed and although my mother has finally been able to make a middle-class (for New York) wage, she will never be able to buy her own apartment in the city unless she downgrades to an undesirable area. She is stuck in her crumbling 2-bedroom apartment in Astoria, which at least is $800/mo cheaper than the current rent in Astoria for one-bedrooms. I will say that since Astoria was always a middle class area with a high ownership rate, the demographics of the neighborhood have not changed as much as other areas of the city.

In Manhattan, many places I hung out in as a high schooler (the High Line, Chelsea Market, many previously under the radar museums like the Neue Galerie etc) are now completely miserable and unvisitable due to the throngs of tourists. In many places, it is impossible to walk or move. At museums, you have to fight people to see the art, and i don't mean on free admission days (I will never make that mistake again). It is frustrating that the public places we pay for as New Yorkers are not pleasant for us to be in. That said, I still find it pleasant walking around most neighborhoods outside of Midtown/Financial District. The Upper East Side especially has become more interesting. I no longer view Manhattan as a place to aspire to live though. Queens and Brooklyn are much more pleasant places to live.

Transportation: The subway in this city has become a living hell. Don't get me wrong, it was bad when I was a teenager. But the delays and overcrowding have amplified immeasurably and the weekend inconveniences in particular are outrageous. Half of the subway shuts down and getting anywhere on weekends is an odyssey. Buses virtually never arrive in many parts of the city. I take the M60 to and from LGA fairly often and this line is completely underserviced. The schedule says it arrives every 10 minutes when in fact it is always every 20-25 and as a result it is always packed to the gills. Thanks Cuomo!!

I still don't know how to drive, but my boyfriend has a car and it is really wonderful. We have been able to explore so much of the Hudson Valley which is absolutely beautiful and a MAJOR advantage of living in NY. And we have been able to explore neighborhoods and cheap delicious ethnic restaurants in the outer boroughs, and the Gilded Age estates and beaches on Long Island. I used to be anti-car but the New York area has great things to explore if you have a car.

Safety: New York was very safe growing up and it still is. But I have a greater appreciation for it having lived elsewhere. Unless you live in public housing, New York feels much safer than much of Europe. In Europe, pickpocketing is a constant thing to watch out for whereas in New York it is non-existent. Brussels where I lived was not safe for a young woman at night and several people I know were sexually assaulted. There was a lot of drug abuse in the U.K. and those people would loiter in the most frequented areas and were very aggressive. I was stalked numerous times. São Paulo, well, let's not get into that. D.C. was fairly safe but a lot of theft and many areas to avoid. For a city so massive and frankly with so much inequality, New York is remarkably safe.

People: This was the most jarring thing for me. Growing up, everyone I knew lived in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, with a couple here and there from the Bronx and Staten Island. Nearly everyone had foreign parents except for the substantial number of Jewish kids I went to high school with. Now, most of the people I meet are from the suburbs (of NY or otherwise) and therefore very milquetoast even if they are not white. I constantly feel like an outcast. I have very little in common with the people at work in finance, who come from wealthy backgrounds and on weekends go skiing, sailing, and other things I never had the money to do. It is also very bizarre meeting people outside of work who live here yet talk about the city in stereotypes and like it is a foreign land - "Oh Astoria, that's were the Greek food is." And yet they call themselves New Yorkers and act like they own the city that they frequently are condescending about. This is much less common among older transplants (people 30+) and may just have to do with people from the burbs frequently maturing at a slower rate.

I have yet to make any non-New Yorker friends because everyone is just a bland finance bro who wants to get "hammered" and go to wherever nightmarish bar in the LES. Many of these people are bigoted about the poor in New York (I used to be poor in NY, so it's very awkward) and I hate the culture of sizing people up based on where they work and how successful they are perceived to be. This did not exist at all among my cohort growing up here even though we went to highly competitive schools.


All this said, it's VERY difficult to actually live somewhere else when you grow up here. I love many other cities I've lived in and visited, but have felt very depressed any time I have lived somewhere else for more than a few months. I have felt suffocated. I have no delusions about New York being the "only place" but there just isn't enough anywhere else I've been/visited. The convenience, variety, immensity, and culture is hard to let go of. So until I am priced out I am standing my ground!
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Old 05-20-2017, 12:04 AM
11,493 posts, read 5,569,598 times
Reputation: 5949
Most of the time you lived here, you were a child and were interacting with people you went to school with rather than people you meet in the professional world. So of course the kind of people you meet will be different.

It's also worth noting any native New Yorkers barely leave their neighborhoods and aren't very knowledgeable of the city. Many native New Yorkers associate Astoria with Greek people and don't know much about beyond the fact that there are Greeks there. So that's not a transplant thing.

And believe me, it's not just finance bros who like to get drunk on weekends. Nightlife is big in NYC and many people partake in it.
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Old 05-20-2017, 10:29 AM
Location: New York, NY
7 posts, read 8,025 times
Reputation: 21
Most native New Yorkers have a fair amount of working knowledge of many neighborhoods in NYC. Not every neighborhood obviously, I even mentioned in my post that I didn't know much about some neighborhoods like Bushwick and Crown Heights.

Likewise my point about the finance bros isn't that they like to drink, obviously people all over the US like to drink on weekends. It's that there is an emphasis on drinking/clubbing and very little else (other than 'high status' things like sailing and going to the derby) that diverges a lot from what I am used to.

I don't know, my observations may be totally obvious but I dont think you really understand how big the difference is until you go through it. In many ways I don't feel like I live in the same city. Some of that is due to the shift to professional life and some is due to actual changes in the city.
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Old 05-20-2017, 10:46 AM
2,925 posts, read 1,192,601 times
Reputation: 3277
I grew up here, change is for the better, but not much in way of affordability.

Nyers say racist thing, feel a certain way, amongst residents from all over the world, as if one immagrant group is better than the other.

Racism is taught , by the group losing numbers, to the group gaining numbers.

I dont miss the outdoor drug market, graffiti and garbage, the pee filled streets, but miss the freedom pre internet days offered.
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Old 05-20-2017, 11:03 AM
7,568 posts, read 7,994,022 times
Reputation: 8075
You should qualify your post title stating when you were a child. NYC is constantly changing. Live long enough and you will see it evolve even more. The NYC of today is vastly different from my childhood too, back when "Jewish" kids were immigrants or who had parents who were immigrants, along with everyone else. There was plenty of pick pocketing in NYC and I wouldn't say that is exactly non-existent now either. Don't get a false sense of security just because of what you have seen in Europe. Since human brains continue to develop until the late 20s, I don't know if childhood is completely over for you either.
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Old 05-20-2017, 11:07 AM
Location: In the heights
20,173 posts, read 21,767,856 times
Reputation: 10254
This was a really interesting write-up, thanks!

Also, my condolences in having to work with finance bros.
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Old 05-20-2017, 11:39 AM
Location: New York City
1,219 posts, read 971,445 times
Reputation: 994
As D.C. native that visited family here in the City during childhood and now live here as an adult, I can see the many vast changes that have happened during the years. Some for the best, some for the worst. Manhattan feels sterile in many parts these days and Harlem has changed, A LOT. But NYC is definetly one of the safest cities I've ever been too, much safer than my hometown of D.C. because you are right that thefts, especially car breakins are really high there and almost half of the city is ghetto as hell and best avoided. NYC has a lot to offer and if you can make the trip, the Hudson Valley is a beautiful place and Long Island is cool.

If I were to ever leave the City, Westchester county would be my #1 choice. Places in Northern NJ and Connecticut are hidden gems too and only a short journey from NYC. Many New Yorkers don't take advantage or are simply unaware of how great this area is.
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