Perhaps you have seen the recent debates about New York City and whether it will ever bounce back from the coronavirus pandemic. The global center of culture, commerce, and finance has been a shell of its former self since a wave of shutdown orders and COVID-19 infections swept through the five boroughs earlier this year.
Are these changes permanent? Will people ever feel safe on the subway again? Whatever your feelings about New York, the city is facing an unprecedented and hard-to-predict situation.
The latest person to weigh in on the debate is hometown comedian Jerry Seinfeld, who penned an op-ed for The New York Times arguing that the city’s best days are most definitely ahead of it. In the piece, the TV star takes aim at one particular post on LinkedIn, in which entrepreneur James Altucher expressed the opposite view—that NYC is “dead forever.”
These debates can make for compelling online theater, but they can also obscure the more urgent issues facing the city, including record job losses, increasing crime, and an ongoing public health crisis. While many readers applauded Seinfeld for urging New Yorkers to stick with the city through the worst of times, others were quick to point out that the rich celebrity is not exactly feeling the same economic pain as the average New Yorker.
That’s why the most resonant part of the article was not the article itself, but a response in the comments section. It came from a reader identifying as a cab driver, who described the exhilaration of driving a brand-new New Yorker across the upper level of the 59th Street Bridge and into Manhattan for the first time. Here’s a snippet:
“Touching down on E. 62nd Street, my newly minted New Yorker is experiencing for the first time the ‘energy’ that is so often spoken of. It’s like watching a child approaching a roomful of birthday presents. All things are possible.”
Even better than the comment was the response it inspired—countless commenters recounting their own first-time experiences seeing the city. Those anecdotes are continuing on Twitter, where the cab driver’s comment went viral after it was reposted by a user who said it made her “tear up.” Some Twitter users are even responding to say they’ve actually been in this driver’s cab before.
If you love New York for what it was, is, and will be again, I encourage you to read the thread below. It might just make your day.
—Morgan Von Steen (@mvonsteen) August 25, 2020