Rat Race

April 4, 2011

While musicians and artists continue to flock to the Metal Apple, I will always support their “dreams” by stating that New York equals LOW QUALITY OF LIFE. Apartments are small and shitty. And, most of all: they’re expensive. In New York, rats are not just a rodents – they are the people themselves. Here’s a great article that speaks to this idea – articulating the history of this kind of matchbox living. From “Sardine Life” in NY Magazine:

New York didn’t invent the apartment. Shopkeepers in ancient Rome lived above the store, Chinese clans crowded into multistory circular tulou, and sixteenth-century Yemenites lived in the mud-brick skyscrapers of Shibam. But New York re-invented the apartment many times over, developing the airborne slice of real estate into a symbol of exquisite urbanity. Sure, we still have our brownstones and our townhouses, but in the popular imagination today’s New Yorker occupies a glassed-in aerie, a shared walk-up, a rambling prewar with walls thickened by layers of paint, or a pristine white loft.

The story of the New York apartment is a tale of need alchemized into virtue. Over and over, the desire for better, cheaper housing has become an instrument of urban destiny. When we were running out of land, developers built up. When we couldn’t climb any more stairs, inventors refined the elevator. When we needed much more room, planners raised herds of towers. And when tall buildings obscured our views, engineers took us higher still.

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