Another View of New York – Manhattan
A week or two ago I was again on the train and wandering back down to Grand Central. This time meeting a business contact who happened to be in the city on a Saturday. He was staying at the Palace, which is behind St Patricks. certainly seemed to live up to its name; an opulent place but the thing I noticed is that the New York is not what it once was.
Earlier this year, Walmart conceded defeat regarding Manhattan. It had tried and tried to bring a store into the city and in 2007 it waved the white flag and confirmed that it was no longer pursuing such a goal. It had enough of negotiating with community groups, various city boards and God knows who and what else-all required for opening a giant megastore in the city limits.
That said regarding Walmart, they are the only megastore. NYC might have kept Walmart out but every other retail, mall, and outlet store appears to now be downtown or midtown. Not only do we have every retail store in the city today, but we have multiple versions of these stores-every few blocks. So New York really is like one giant mall today, with multiple versions of the same mall stores. If you missed the H&M over in Lexington, well you can find another over on Fifth or Sixth Avenue. and the same is true of the Gap and Bed Bath and Beyond, Victoria Secrets and every other store you find at the local mall.
At one time, and I am not sure when it was, but New York was that which preceded the rest of the US in regard to fashion. Today, however, New York is basically as bland any mall. I am sure there is still something unique about New York, but I am not sure what or where it is. It was certainly hard to see among all the mall stores i saw in midtown. I do wander into the city now and again but never really realized what filled all that space. I remember reading of how midtown was becoming a giant mall. What was it before? Maybe it was not all retail space, though I doubt that. What was NYC before the Gaps and H&Ms and the Victoria Secrets moved in?
On top of that you have the Starbucks all over, but that is a different article, a different essay. No today, I leave with curious observation that in my travels through NY, on my way to the Palace, I took in a dizzying number of retail outlets, all of which I have seen before in any mall in NJ, CT or CA. I feel something has changed regarding NY. My vision of what New York is and what I found just do not mesh. Maybe it is me. I do not think that New York was always a giant mall, but I really do not know what it was before this transpired. I am pretty sure it was not that, but damned if I know what it was.
So I leave it that it was simply strange that the city I have been circling for the past forty years had somehow evolved into that which I thought it was not-that which I was in part trying to escape. . .the burbs.