Archive for the Bill de Blasio Category

Who Is A Native New Yorker?

Posted in Bill de Blasio, General, NY/NJ, Print, Society with tags on March 20, 2014 by Lupa

NYC

The native New Yorker is one of the definitive archetypes of our time, emulated ad nauseam to a possibly unprecedented extent.  Perhaps no identification is as self aggrandizing and loaded.  To proclaim one’s status as a native New Yorker is to align oneself with the classic depiction of New York as a labyrinth of concrete and brick where there is no tolerance for nonsense and one can endure harm at any point.  Oh, and the universe moves time differently, hence the term “New York minute”, which means you think faster than you can actually think and pack more into your time than anyone else.

What exactly is a native New Yorker?  It’s not as easy to define as one may think.

New York City in the classic sense is Manhattan, “the city.”  Every other borough is considered a suburb of Manhattan, regardless of how urban the environment may be.  All the outer boroughs are on a distinctly lower level of status; at some point if you had anything going for you or big ambitions, you moved to Manhattan.  The “City That Never Sleeps” is not Queens.

Today the idea of Manhattan being the extent of NYC is outdated, as it should be I believe, possibly due to the success (or infamy) outer borough natives had in the city and their impact on NYC.  The outer boroughs came up – though without confusion – they still have a lower status than Manhattan.

For all intents and purposes outer borough people generally were always native New Yorkers, it’s just the recognition of those places on a level approaching equal to Manhattan was lacking, and it still is (minus the recent emergence of Brooklyn as being superior to Manhattan to some).  However, are all the natives of the outer boroughs native New Yorkers?  It’s hard to say.

What is typical in the Bronx and Brooklyn is less common in Queens and somewhat rare in Staten Island.  Queens is kind of like if you combined Brooklyn with Jersey, and Staten Island is interchangeable with Jersey.  I’ve heard Staten Island described as being “more Jersey than Jersey.”   Can a person raised in the suburban parts of these boroughs really relate to those from the aforementioned brick and concrete jungles?  Moreover, do the natives of these areas have more in common with people from New Jersey than with classic NYC?

One can argue a person from the direct NY metropolitan areas in New Jersey has a greater connection to Manhattan and thus can also be considered NYC natives possibly more so than anyone from Staten Island.  Let’s remember, Staten Island as a whole lacks a number of elements present in every other borough and in these parts of Jersey: a direct bridge or tunnel to Manhattan and train service to Manhattan.  Let’s also remember that these parts of NJ are just as geographically close as the outer boroughs (and closer than Staten Island).  Staten Island is unquestionably more isolated from Manhattan than these places in NJ.

I hate to rail on Staten Island (or not) as I know a number of people from there, but it also lacks any appeal that exists in the other boroughs.  Manhattan is Manhattan, Brooklyn is now battling Manhattan for relevancy and has the Barclay’s Center and Coney Island.  Queens has the Mets and US Open.  The Bronx, the Yankees.  There is literally no attraction that would bring the average person to Staten Island.  You only go there to see people you know, people you didn’t meet there because people don’t go there.  The Ferry is free for a reason.

Having included Jersey in the conversation, I would be remiss to not comment on places in New York state geographically close to NYC but not a part of it i.e. Westchester and Long Island.  In my mind none of those people can really claim to be native New Yorkers.  At the very least you have to actually be from a place in NYC.   I will acknowledge some of those areas feel just like NYC, like Yonkers, but then again so does Jersey City.  Someone from Montauk or Scarsdale is not fooling anyone.

It then presents the question, what does it mean to be “from” a place?

For me, a person who has spent a substantial part of their formative lives (childhood/adolescence) can claim nativity to that place.  Also, I think a person can have spent so much time in NYC and become a quasi native New Yorker.  For example, DJ Premier is from Houston, but he spent so much time in Brooklyn and absorbed so much of its influence it’s hard not to think of him as a native New Yorker.  Having full fledged New Yorkers co sign you helps also.

Extended further, does this mean a transplant old enough to have experienced the old, grittier NYC and spent a considerable amount of time there is just as much a New Yorker as natives who grew up post Guiliani?  Again hard to say.  What NYC is about isn’t exclusively related to the stereotypical qualities of traditional NYC.  Just because a neighborhood is safe, doesn’t mean it’s not New York City.

The End… for now.

(The Cartel does not believe in necessarily having concluding paragraphs which tidily summarize all the preceding ones.)

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