Thursday, February 18, 2016

The Plague of Colossi Comes to Brooklyn

Oh joy!  Brooklyn is about to get it's first 1000+ foot tower!  This thing will be even taller than the Chrysler Building.  It will loom mightily over downtown Brooklyn putting everything else in its shade.  As usual, it will be mostly luxury housing, investment bullion for international billionaires from Russia, China, Saudi Arabia, and the Gulf States, with about 20% allotted for "affordable" housing (whatever that means anymore).  Sit back and watch those Brooklyn rents and leases rocket to the moon.

More construction and ever more people moving into and around in the city with no corresponding effort to expand utilities and public transportation to accommodate them.  I look forward to more brown-outs in the summer when the mercury climbs to 88F.  The L train is already so packed that people sometimes have to wait for 3 to 4 trains to go by before they can get on during the morning rush.  A subway system built to carry 4 million people a day now carries 6 million people a day. 
Most of our tax money goes to Washington and Albany, two capitals that are always delighted to spend money on New York City.  Visitors should think about that next time they complain about how dirty and crowded our subways are. 

Meanwhile, there are neighborhoods in Manhattan that are literally too expensive for anyone to live in them.  There are parts of Tribeca and Greenwich Village that have been entirely bought up by investors (foreign and domestic) who maybe visit these places once a year, or have a son or daughter spend the summer there.  Businesses in these neighborhoods are perishing from sky high leases and disappearing customers.  While these neighborhoods remain crowded with visitors on the weekends, during the weekdays they are ghost towns.  

There are times when I think that New York and other large cities in the USA are shit storms waiting to happen.  While the Lords of the Universe inhabit palaces that dwarf the Tower of Babel, 90% of the rest of New York's population struggles to pay the rising rents on the tiny fire-traps that they live in now.  The homeless population is at an all time high here with subway stations turning into barracks on cold nights.  That population is getting younger with a lot of kids living out of backpacks alone or in small groups, always with a dog.  Unlike the hippies and slummers of the old days, these kids do not look happy.  They look pretty miserable.  Also unlike the hippies and slummers of old, not all of them are unemployed.  Some of them work in the food and retail businesses and do not make nearly enough money to afford a roof over their heads.  The well heeled are already complaining about the hostility that they feel on the streets.  Eventually those feelings will be much more than hostile.  Public officials and the Famous wring their hands publicly over this situation.  But some people are making too much money to change direction, and governments are too starved for revenue to resist.

There are times when I think Fritz Lang's Metropolis is about to become reality.
Perhaps some day, we'll all be living in the Workers' City deep underground.

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