Wednesday, June 25, 2008

New York, New York

It's interesting being in a city where virtually everyone is different. I come from a place where most of the people look and think just like I do. But one of the things that makes New York the world's greatest city is that there is such a diverse group of people here.

Don't get me wrong, I always realized that New York was very different from Florida; I'm not that naive. But what has amazed me is how this city has grown. For those readers who don't know, I got a minor in Urban and Regional Planning from the University of Florida, so I have a general idea of how cities have developed over the last couple of centuries.

But what I find most fascinating about New York is that while it is so different from every other city I've ever been to, it has developed in much the same way as every other city across America. Not to mention it faces the same social and cultural problems that many other cities do too.

What I've noticed most is the rebirth of New York's inner city neighborhoods. For example, following 9-11, residents were petrified to live in Downtown Manhattan or anywhere near the Financial District. Simply put, they were afraid. Similar trends were seen in areas like Harlem, Washington Heights, and various parts of Brooklyn. However, studies have shown that younger Americans are craving city life and are actually beginning to move back into these once desserted areas of our cities. This is just as true in New York as it is in Miami, Atlanta, Chicago, or even certain parts of Los Angeles.

I was walking through the streets of Harlem the other day and was amazed about how much it had changed in the few years since I had last been there. 125th Street, considered Harlem's main street, now has a Chuck E. Cheese across the street from the Apollo Theater, as well as a Gap, Children's Place, and a Starbucks. Some scholars refer to this process as gentrification while others call it community revitalization. Either way, for social observers, it's interesting to see how New York really is like other cities in the United States.

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