You Can Take Manhattan; I’ll Take The District
It’s pretty much a certainty here that whenever we post something that questions a new development proposal – any new development proposal – for our little neighborhood, some one will respond by saying “I can’t wait for DC to become more like New York City!” If not those exact words, then something darn close.
It’s always puzzled us a bit, this adoration of Manhattan. We say this having been a resident of both cities: then, Second and A in the area they used to call Alphabet City, and now 13 and U in the hood they called “Black Broadway.” Manhattan was good to us, but DC has been even better. That’s why we chose to live here. DC is its own place, with its own style, pace and culture. If someone really yearns to live in Manhattan, it would seem the easiest thing to do would be…to move to Manhattan. Rather than trying to convert a totally different place into their foreign ideal.
Now comes a new study from Economist Intelligence Unit – whoever they are – that ranks the world’s most (and least) livable cities. The top U.S. city comes in at 14, behind such places as Amsterdam, Stockholm and Paris. And guess which one it is? Yeah, that’s us. As a friend would say, “Now we know who’s really hood!”
DC ranks higher than Chicago, San Francisco and New York on such measures as scale, sprawl, assets, pollution, green space and a host of others. (We even surpass such utopia as Seattle and – gasp! – Portland.) Yes, traffic in Northern Virginia on the weekend is worse than kidney stones, and yes, we have a regional tendency to fall flat on our face at the first snowflake, temblor or bolt of lightning. We’re comically self-important when it comes to all politics except local issues, which get pathetically limited coverage save for independent publications like the CityPaper or neighborhood blogs, like the excellent Borderstan. There’s still far, far too little accountability from the City Council straight down to the ANCs…or especially at the ANCs.
But all in all, this is a city we like. It’s a city that works at the scale it’s at. It’s not a place that needs 100 new high-rise apartments, because it would no longer be DC anymore. Development can be good, as we’ve consistently pointed out with any number of projects in the U Street area. But it can also be bad, and lead to even worse consequences.
The point is: next time you find yourself wanting to tell us how much you can’t wait for DC to become more like Manhattan with 24-hour dog washing and a dry cleaner on every corner, pause a moment to consider what makes DC so valuable as it is. And if you don’t agree, we would respectfully encourage you to follow your dreams, and live in the city you truly want to be in.