Thursday, October 26, 2006

New York, New York

Having reflected on The Death and Life of Great American Cities, particularly in light of The Women of Brewster Place, I've come to the realization that a prospectus of American cities based on New York City is, at the very least, slightly flawed.

Simply put: there is no city in the world, much less in the U.S., like New York.

Having never been there (and yes, I realize the shame and ridicule this fact opens me up to), I can only imagine the seemingly endless urban valleys where the sun sets an hour early. The countless neighborhoods that only barely resemble one another. Every other aspect of the sprawling metropolis that separates it from every other American city.

I have been to Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Chicago, San Fransisco, Washington D.C. and a handful of other large American cities, and while its clear that each has its own identity, the common threads that unite them throughout each are not, to the same degree, apparent in New York. Instead, NYC is the financial, legal, and migration capital from the United States. In that it lacks the governmental center, as cities like London, Paris, and Moscow have in serving the big-city role for their respective countries, New York has been able to grow in such a way that it can serve its citizens unabated--that is, despite the fact that it happens every day on a small scale, New Yorkers on the whole have never been steamrolled out of their role as findamentally determining the fate of the city by the system, as has happened in so many other places.

This admirable revelation harkens scenes from Black Rainbow, because in New York, unlike possibly anywhere else, the street kids have been able to choose the town's path.