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I really think you infer the opposite trend from this. LI is not booming because people are prefering it over Manhattan.. Demand to live in Manhattan is so high that prices have gone up so much that even the affluent can't afford to live there. That isn't Howard's problem of course... but the story is evidence of the increasing demand for downtown housing (in NYC that is, don't get excited), not evidence of it's decline. It is so expensive that it is virutally impossible to have a family and live in Manhattan any more. Thus the stories of new schools or higher enrollments in Nassau and Suffolk.

Sam M

Yes. But if ANYONE can afford to live in Manhattan, it's these people. And they are choosing not to. Which has always been the case to some extent. Wealthy people love their enclaves. BUt there are a few trends worth exploring here. There always have been a few things keeping velvet-rope people in line. Like work. Really good schools for their kids. And "buzz" elements like nightlife and great restaurants. Sure, the family in Sabrina could bolt to Long Island. But for the most part, they still "lived" in the city.

These people don't. Because they don't have to. The Internet helps that along immensely. And then someone figured out that all those rich kids needed prep schools. And lobster dip that costs $100 per pound. Then... presto, who needs Manhattan? Note that all the celebrities were gathered for "premiers." In the Hamptons.

Seems to me that a lot of the benefits that people associate with density aren't necesarily attached to density at all. They are attached to wealth. (People crammed into tiny apartments don;t necessarily need fancy prep schools. Rich people need fancy prep schools.)Now, in the American experience, those two things, density and wealth, have often coincided in urban centers. So no problem.

I don't think this article offers any evidence of a sea-change. Or that it indicates NYC is losing its... mojo? Or whatever. I just think it's an interesting case study. And obviously an anomoly, as NYC often is.

This just kind of reminds me of some kind of perverted version of Atlas Shrugged, with Howard Stern as John Galt, taking his hot-model girlfriend and abandoning us all for the Gulch.

It sounds like amuich better version.

OK. I think I have a new book idea.

Jonathan Potts

Well, there may come a tipping point at which, even if people can still afford to live in Manhattan, they may decide that they simply aren't getting enough for their money. In other words, they are no longer willing to pay for whatever benefits density conveys. In that case, both of you are on to something.

It is true that many American cities that are now considered prosperous (as opposed to Pittsburgh) do seem to cater largely to the wealthy, a critique leveled by Joel Kotkin and something that Michael Bloomberg embraces in New York. But I think that density has plenty of advantages that have nothing to do with wealth.

Sam M

"But I think that density has plenty of advantages that have nothing to do with wealth."

I agree absolutely. It makes sense for people to live across the street from where they work. In terms of efficiency. In terms of the environment. Etc.

Now, if people want to live farther away and sacrifice certain things to pay what that costs, fine. But it's obvious that untying that knot will be well-nigh impossible at this stage. Everyone claims to want to do just that. And claim that the other side wants to stick it to (insert aggrieved group here.)

Extremely tough thing to deal with. Especially if you fancy and position yourself a consistent and principled thinker. There are no easy answers for libertarians, for social democrats, for city-lovers, city-haters, suburbanites, etc.

What a huge mess. I blame it on Howard Stern.

For the most part, all this indicates is how popular Manhattan now is. The amount it now takes to have a lot of space/privacy in the city is a bit much for movie stars now.

You can't really call this a suburb-- these people are not commuting too much. Also, the particular movie star -- especially -- movie star with kids- is not a normal demographic. These people have big demands for safety and privacy.


well well. USAToday points out that "New York City ranks No. 1 in attracting new residents since 2000. There may indeed be a sea change in how people perceive living in the city:


but I do agree, things are just not the same out in West Egg.

Sam M

I am not contesting the fact that a lot of people like manhattan. Or even that they like density.

What I am saying is that a lot of people confuse "density" with cosmopolitanism. Specifically, they argue that the denser something becomse, the better the restaurants will be. The better the theater will be. The whole SCENE will become more of a "scene" if we add more people. Because density=urbanity.

But there are clearly exceptions. As I have noted before, most agree that the best restaurants in DC are in the nasty, vile suburbs of Northern Virginia. Which is where many of the immigrants to the area (African, Asian, Hispanic, etc.) are moving. Such people used to move downtown and live right on top of one another. Really pack it in. But they can't afford the city anymore. So the wealthy people who like to chase them around for authentic cuisine and "diversity" have to look beyond the city. That is, the dense urban core is no longer more diverse or authentic or gritty than the 'burbs. And it is no longer the only (or even the best) place to go for good naan.

The article I link to here is a similar phenomenon. But different. One of the other things people like about cities--forgetting arguments about efficiencies and stuff like that--is access to beautiful people. Cities are glamorous. But to a lot of people, Manhattan is... played. They took their glamor-ball and went home.

So... cities still make sense. And NYC's population offers a good example. But as dense as it is, downtown is not necessarily the most "vibrant" or "diverse" or even "cosmopolitan" place in town. And in most cases, it is not even the most dense.

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