I like Seinfeld, but he’s wrong. Having an insane amount of money makes it easy to simulate the NYC of the past (or of fiction), especially in TriBeCa or uptown. When you work like a dog to afford your tiny, shitty walk-up, it’s another story.
But 20 years ago, it became unaffordable for people who don’t have a lot of money. These people created the things you like about NYC—especially downtown.
I know, because I lived this life. There was a whole class of people who do essentially gig economy stuff and small businesses—they’re not the people who make a city work, but they make it interesting. The difference between NYC and a prefab shopping center in the suburbs.
At a certain price point, it’s just not viable. I lived in New York at the tail end of this (leaving in 2003), when most of these people long ago balked at the prices in Manhattan and even the closest Brooklyn neighborhoods.
To the deluded folks who point to the 70s and 80s as evidence NYC will bounce back:
Don’t be silly. Prior to 2000s, parts of NYC were always affordable or within reach of the middle class, the artist class and gig economy people.
NYC had a governance problem, an easier fix.
Go back and watch Billy Wilder’s great masterpiece, “The Apartment.” Or really any other film from the 60s or earlier. Some of the geography is the same, but it’s a completely different city. And you don’t even need to go back that far.
There’s a tendency of people on the Right to imagine that the only important people are Titans of Industry—especially in the conservative movement. This is so tiresome and dumb.