New York Officially Dead

Monday, June 14, 2010

And here is the epitaph:

I am ending Lost City. Most of the City is lost after all—the good parts, anyway—so you could say the course of history has put me out of a job. Ironically, the kinds of news that fills up a jeremiad like this will, if too constant and voluminous, eventually puts the enterprise out of business. It's like writing a volcano report from Pompei; you know the communiques are going to end sometime.

I began the blog because I was incensed and alarmed at what the city was becoming. It was losing its grit, its fabric, its very character. It was losing its New York-ness, and gaining nothing but Subway franchises and luxury condos. Since none of my editors would let me write about it, I became my own editor. I was gratified to soon find that there were a lot of people out there who felt the way I did. And it wasn't too long before there were other bloggers who took on a similar mission, like Jeremiah Moss at Vanishing New York and EV Grieve at the blog of the same name. Taken together, we made for quite a few howls in the wilderness. And, tragically, we never ran out of things to report.

But, in the end, they were just howls, as ineffective at Lear's on the heath. I wrote thousands of words, and posted hundreds of pictures for four-and-a-half years—nearly 3,000 posts, all told. None of them made any difference. Not really. The press paid a little attention to our windmill-tilting, but City Hall never did. The City continued on its inexorable march to glossy mediocrity. Bloomberg, the billionaire, city planner Amanda Burden, the millionaire, and their cabal of equally wealthy real estate and Wall Street pals forged ahead and got the metropolis they wanted all along: homogenous, anodyne, whitewashed, suburban, toothless, chain-store-ridden, ordinary, exclusive and terribly, terribly expensive. A town for tourists and the upper 2%. He took a world-class capital of culture, individuality and independent endeavor and turned it into the smoothest, first-class, gated community Houston ever saw. Walk down Broadway on the Upper West Side, Sixth Avenue in Chelsea, Third Avenue in Yorkville—or look at the gaping hole of Altantic Yards—and you will see the administration's legacy.

My father, a nearly life-long New Yorker, warned me of its pending demise when I was just a kid. Why? The middle class increasingly forced out by ludicrous rent prices, small businesses forced out by ludicrous rent prices, everything good forced out by ludicrous rent prices... Well, let's face it, it's only gotten worse and more ludicrous. New York is a cautionary tale of what happens when an economy produces only rich and poor. And the darkness is spreading.