Once Upon a Time…
New York City was the land of opportunity. No matter which part of the world you were from, NYC was the destination goal, and what was believed to be the city where your dreams could come to to life. That is no longer the case.
My family was born and raised in New York, they saw it in it’s glory days- or at least what they describe the glory days to have been. I can sit around the table for hours listening to their tales and tribulations of being a New Yorker, but converations always end with someone muttering the same sentence; “It’s just not the same anymore”.
Most of the world still believes it to be the land of opportunity, but that is no longer the truth. Those who know it the best- New Yorkers- understand that if NYC is to be labeled as anything in present day, it should be labeled as the land of lost hope.
Why has the city that never sleeps fallen from glory? The possible explanations are endless. If you’re confused at why so many believe the Big Apple has rotten from the inside out, just take a look around. You probably walked over one of the reasons while pompously sipping your Starbucks with your phone glued to your face this morning.
The Great Depression was noted as the point in history where New York City experienced the most amount of homeless people, that is no longer the truth. Present day has stolen that title. NYC is 305 square miles; there are over 60,000 homeless living on the streets of the city today. That’s roughly 200 homeless people EVERY MILE. Think about that. Children, families, and Veterans of this country are lining the streets without shelter or food so that you could have the freedom to walk over their nearly lifeless bodies.
Many will argue it’s drugs or prositution that caused these people to fail in the city of dreams, but that is not the case. Every person claiming the five feet of filthy concrete around them as their home, has a different tale. To judge them is not only cruel, but unjust. The ignorant argue that they choose to be homeless by not trying to get a job or change their lives… my question to those people is this: When was the last time you tried getting a job in NYC? Or anywhere for that matter.
Thus, leading to the next point. There is massive difference between landing a job in NYC and landing a job you can actually survive off of. No- fast food workers should not be protesting for $15 an hour while you have people with college degrees who are barley making $8- however- did anyone ever stop to think why these people were fighting for a higher wage? It’s because you cannot survive in NYC or many of the surrounding areas on the wages that companies have deemed acceptable.
Of course you don’t have to live in Manhattan, but let’s review what it costs to even live close- without luxuries, without pricing the movie star penthouses. These are the average rents in areas where people are just looking to be safe:
Even trying the commute from New Jersey won’t spare you the pain of rent. Places like Hoboken and Jersey City have their cost of living skyrocketing even higher than some locations in New York. Between the the cost of the commuting and living, surviving the concrete jungle is nearly impossible.
Homeless rates on the rise, laughable rent prices, horrid starting salaries; it’s starting to seem a lot less promising, isn’t it?
Pride has seemed to vanish from the city as well. Now, we’re not speaking of the pride for the Mets or the Rangers, we’re referring to the actual pride of the city. If you visit places like Boston, Washington D.C. or even Philadelphia, the streets are seemingly clean for a busy metropolitan area. Yes, trash will always find a way onto the ground, but in NYC trash in the ground. The city is absolutely disgusting with overflowing trash cans, litter on every corner, old news papers falling into gutters and food carelessly tossed where ever people finish it. It’s seems as if no one really cares what their city looks like anymore, including the state’s government.
People have complained that sanitation workers can have salaries well into the six-figures with benefits and 401K’s, but if you’ve seen the mess they have to keep up with, you’d realize they deserve it. You may even consider a career change- I know I am.
New York City is setting up society for failure. Whether it’s Millennials with student loans trying to live with 6 other people in a 1,000sq. ft. apartment or families just trying to make ends meet, unless you’re clearing a cool $100k, you really have no hope, and I’m not just saying that. It’s been estimated that you need to take home (after taxes) $169,944 per year to comfortably survive in Manhattan. In other words, unless you’re in the medical field, a government worker, have a trust fund or are apart of Wall Street’s unscrupulous thieves, you really don’t have a shot.
Here’s the truth- unless you’re lucky or get discovered for some talent, you don’t have a snowman’s chance in hell of making it in the big city. New York isn’t what it use to be. Most can’t even afford to see a concert at MSG or their team play in the playoffs because their salaries just don’t make the cut.
Sacrifices need to be made when venturing into adulthood. Happy hours will be skipped, brunches will be missed, rooftop bars every weekend will soon become a thing of the past. You simply can not live in New York City and live in New York City, but at this point, would you really want to?
Frank Sinatra created a long lasting anthem for Capital of the World, but if he was still around today, it’s safe to say he’d be singing a different tune. Is New York still the “concrete Jungle where dreams are made of”, or were Alicia and Jay-Z singing of distant memories when there was still a chance?
New York City has fallen from grace. The streets have become cold and unfriendly, and dreams have been destroyed by allowing people to believe they have a chance. There are many other reasons Gotham and the rest of the boroughs are lack luster, open your eyes, you’ll see them all.
One thing does still hold true today: If you can make it there, you really can make it anywhere. Good Luck.