Pat Gunn (dachte) wrote,
Pat Gunn

NYC's Rivers are Psychological

Living in NYC, I've come to see the rivers as being more psychological barriers than physical ones, at least in the time of modern transit. It's not hard for anyone in the 4 main boroughs of NYC to get around, and provided one isn't in the outer bits of any of them (maybe Jamaica in Queens, or Coney Island in Brooklyn), the whole city is pretty accessible. The rivers provide a minor hassle and a line in the sand, and that's enough for us to use as a start for larger groupings of neighbourhoods. It perpetuates as people choose where to live or where to place businesses on these perceptions. Maybe sometimes a bit like race, but with sharper differences.

The fascinating thing is how much stronger the perceived and created differences are than is justified given the ease of communication; Manhattanites generally don't go into other Boroughs without a lot of arm-twisting, people don't generally like to move from Queens to Brooklyn or vice-versa despite similarities of many communities, and so on. There's little good reason not to build tech businesses in Brooklyn or Queens, but only recently have select parts of those Boroughs seen significant growth of those industries.

I've seen parallels of this in other cities I've lived in, although generally without the level of connectivity that NYC has. My constant thought experiment is to wonder, if the rivers were to be erased, how long would the current barriers exist? Would there remain a scar like the path of the Berlin Wall, years later?


  • CMU, the First Amendment, and Indecent Exposure

    Earlier on my G+ stream, I commented on the matter of a CMU student who protested the Catholic church's coverup of sexual abuse by dressing as the…

  • Dilution

    I've been thinking about an issue that's been raised in the secular community; I'm not sure it's a good issue, nor a bad one. Let me lead up to it…

  • Commentary on the Human Rights Campaign

    I recently was pointed at a blog post suggesting people reject the Human Rights Campaign, a large social justice organisation that focuses on…

  • Post a new comment


    Anonymous comments are disabled in this journal

    default userpic

    Your reply will be screened

    Your IP address will be recorded