Sunday, March 8, 2009

New York: New York

Another typically excellent interactive map from the New York Times; this one reveals New Yorker's attitudes about their city across a number of dimensions.

Overall, according to the accompanying article, 51% of the 25,000 New York households surveyed rated quality of life good or excellent, but that obviously varies considerably across neighborhoods.

The article discusses one of the "happy" neighborhoods, Greenwich Village and environs:
There are more street fairs in the square bordered by the Hudson River and the Bowery, from Canal Street to West 14th Street, than in any other place in the city. The area has the highest concentration of civic organizations in the five boroughs, and among the highest number of sidewalk cafes. Sixty percent of the buildings here have landmark status, according to Bob Gormley, district manager at the local community board.

The neighborhoods within this square — SoHo, Greenwich Village, the West Village and Little Italy — are among the city’s most visited and photographed, and their names are virtual synonyms for New York.

“This is probably the best part of Manhattan to live in,” Daryl Wein, 25, a filmmaker, said as he savored a burrito from the back of an empty U-Haul truck parked on Hudson Street, not far from his apartment. “It’s the prettiest and most relaxed, and it’s cool. You have restaurants. You have the river and the jogging path that runs along it. You have everything.”
Thirty-seven percent rated the area an excellent place to live (though you sort of have to wonder about those other 63% - where, exactly, do they believe would be a better place to live? And why don't they live there?) The article also discusses one of the least satisfied neighborhoods, which is rated poor by 43% of residents:
This swath of the Bronx — roughly bordered by the Cross Bronx Expressway to the north, East 159th Street to the south, the Sheridan Expressway to the east and Webster Avenue to the west — has endured the fires of the 1970s, the crack epidemic of the 1980s and the crime wave that accompanied it. It survived the recession of the early 1990s and now faces another one, with the borough now posting the city’s highest unemployment rate.

Atayla Suazo, 21, a math and reading tutor who lives on East 164th Street, said that the police chase away bands of youths who go around making noise and causing mischief in the summertime. But what she does not understand, she said as she folded her clothes at the Laundry Day Superstore on Boston Road, “is why the city doesn’t give these kids something to do.”

The area has no malls, no bowling alleys, no movie theaters and only a handful of community organizations that offer summer programs, she lamented. There used to be a skating rink nearby, but it closed “because there were too many fights,” Ms. Suazo said.

The streets offer a mix of hope and despondency: newly built homes across from fenced-in lots sprinkled with garbage and roamed by rats. At the intersection of Union Avenue and Freeman Street, prostitutes walked the sidewalks on a recent frigid afternoon as mothers passed by escorting their children home from school.
To paraphrase Frank Sinatra, New York is a commendable locale. But then, he was rich.


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