Friday, January 16, 2015

Bruising the Big Apple

I grew up going to New York City fairly regularly in the 70’s. The city was hardly recognizable as the city it is today. Buildings have come and unfortunately gone, but the heart of the city has grown like the Grinch’s did.

In the 70’s New York was on edge.  Crime was rampant, the theatre district doubled as the porno district, and every inch of the subway was covered with Graffiti.  I distinctly remember taking the train from Brooklyn into Manhattan and seeing the signs that read “fight crime, hide your jewelry.” It wasn’t a nice place.  It was cold, dark, sad, and violent.

I always loved New York.  I knew that underneath the trash, rats, and edgy people there was still a great city.  I knew they just needed an extreme makeover.

In the 90’s that makeover happened.  Giuliani came in,  and cleaned the dirt off the city, and made it the shining apple it once was.  The streets were cleaned, the subway was graffiti free, crime went down, and people seemed more relaxed…for New Yorkers….Hey, it’s still New York, not L.A.!

I have taken my kids to the city almost every year to visit.   We regularly see the sites, ride the horse and carriages (another city gem de Blasio wants to ban) and see a show.  It has only been a year since de Blasio took office, and what a change I can see already.

To my utter shock, there were topless women in thongs walking up and down the street in Times Square taking pictures with tourists for money. This is taking place in an area heavily trafficked by families with small children.  These women are “working” in front of several theatres running Disney productions such as Wicked, The Lion King, and Aladdin.  This area also has flagship stores for Disney and Toys R Us. These girls are working alongside others who are dressed up as characters from kids shows such as Elmo, Batman, and Cookie Monster.  They are all targeting the many families touring this area.  Think about it, Elmo and strippers are soliciting patrons side by side.  After seeing all of this, I asked myself…with de Blasio in charge, is New York starting down a path to that city of the 70’s?  Is Times Square going back to its checkered past?

New York has always had very liberal laws on the books.  The reason these women are not getting arrested is that it is legal for women to be topless in public on New York City streets.  This is considered “art.” Amazingly, this “art” and other trash seemed to disappear under Giuliani.   As a result, New York has profited greatly from cleaning up their act, tourism has been increasing steadily in the city for years. Will families be willing to pay the Disney prices of $250 per ticket to go see The Lion King if they don’t have the Disney atmosphere they expect to go with it? I doubt it.  For the same price, you can fly your family to Orlando and vacation stripper-free.

I guess in the end, New Yorkers are going to have to decide what kind of city they want to be.  I think many have either never known, or have long forgotten the New York I grew up with in the 70’s.  I love New York.  It is a city like no other.  I hope the people living in the greatest city in the world fight to keep it that way.



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