Born and raised in Queens, I lived a good portion of my life in New York City before moving to the suburbs of New Jersey. After 10 years of living a sheltered New Jersey life, one where I lived and worked mainly in the burbs, I have come to see New York City in its truest light. I have come to see that it truly is one filthy city.
No longer accustomed to seeing garbage piled so high on the sidewalks amongst dirty snow or liter all throughout the streets, I now have to brace myself each time I go into this untidy city I still somewhat call home. To say the least, I am now totally skeeved out by what I see. There are times I wish I could walk down the street with my eyes closed, or at least without looking down. But then I realize that I have to keep my eyes peeled to the ground for fear of what I may step into. So I’m damned if I do, and damned if I don’t.
If you are not from this area and have never been to New York, don’t be fooled by all the pretty picturesque postcards and images of Central Park, Times Square, and the Empire State Building. They do nothing to show you what truly goes on in the streets and subways.
Yes, it may still be a vibrant, dynamic city with tons of people, much to do, and much to see. But couldn’t it be a lot more vibrant if we weren’t so surrounded by grime and trash all day?
Sure there are those posh, quaint, and somewhat revered sections of New York. Such as the Upper East Side, Brooklyn Heights, Greenwich Village, Chelsea, and the like. These are the more honorable, more posh residential neighborhoods of NYC, all decked out in old-world charm, brownstones, shops, cafes, tree-lined streets, amazing views, and sidewalks full of dog crap.
I’ll admit we’ve made some strides over the last 20 years or so. I remember conditions being much worse back in the eighties, with crime much more rampant and graffiti all throughout the subways. Bloomberg has done much to help beautify the place during his terms as mayor. Ten years ago much of the Manhattan subway stations did get major makeovers. I won’t discredit the effort put into making it a better place. But fast-forward ten years later, they’re just as filthy and grimey as they were before the renovations. As maintenance is always key, this certainly is a virtue that New York lacks. No matter how much money one spends to renew a place, it’s neglect will always lead to deterioration.
I won’t say that this problem is the fault of everyone. Not every New Yorker drops trash in the streets and subways. Not every New Yorker vandalizes public property. Not every New Yorker fails to pick up after their dog. I speak of only the blatant few that make it miserable for the rest of us. Those that take no pride in their community. Those that have no sense of excellence. Those that have no sense of beauty. Those that have no accountability to others. Those that could care less about the welfare of the whole. Those who abhor their responsibility as a divine/human being. And those for whom destruction is all that they’ve come to know.
I can only think of one thing to say to such individuals, and that’s, “Please don’t sh*t where you eat.”
As a child and young adult living in New York, I had always known it to be a dirty city. It just never grossed me out as much as it does now. I suppose I was used to it. Either I tuned it out or perhaps it was simply all that I knew at the time.
Quite frankly, everyone knows it’s a dirty place. If there is one common agreement among all New Yorkers, it’s that this is just how it is, and there is nothing one can do about it. Thus making not only the perpetrators responsible for the mess, but the remainder of the population as well.
The tolerance on everyone’s part is exactly why the problem remains. It has become acceptable. In fact, they say New York wouldn’t be New York without the filth.
The state of our homes are always a reflection of ourselves. They are a reflection our consciousness, our cleanliness, and what we tolerate. The same goes for our cities and neighborhoods.
I suppose when New York finally wakes up to realize that this is a reflection of itself, then things will change.
Perhaps when it becomes unacceptable to dwell in doom and gloom, things will change.
Perhaps when people learn to honor and embrace beauty, things will change.
Perhaps when people demand that they live in cleanliness and make noise loud enough for everyone to hear, things will change.
Until then, I won’t be moving back anytime soon.