One of the aspects of Manhattan that I have always found interesting is how Gotham has successfully achieved a social contract between the rich and the average person. You see this played out in residential housing, where next to a $4,000 a month loft is a "little old lady" paying rent controlled $400 a month.
Rent control violates every tenet of my political and economic ideology, and economists across the political spectrum agree that rent control is destructive to a city. Indeed, Assar Lindbck, the Swedish economist of some note said that "In many cases rent control appears to be the most efficient technique presently known to destroy a city—except for bombing." However bad it may be, the agreement that New Yorkers have seems to work.
The other aspect of this social contract (and remember that I am a Bay Area native, never lived in NYC) is how businesses have accomodated this arrangement as well. Next to an art gallery in Midtown might be a plumber, and that stitch-and-sew factory in the Garment District could well be next to an advertising agency.
There does appear to be a shift in recent years, part of a glacial move to gentrify and sanitize Manhattan. I was saddened to read that one of my favorite stops whenever I found myself in NYC is moving.
First a little background, I collect woodworking hand tools, vintage and new. It’s a booming business sector as woodworking is enjoying a resurgence and appreciation for small run high quality hand tools is booming. Companies like Lie Nielsen, Adria, and Clark & Williams are growing impressively while not succumbing to mass produced "made in China" strategies, and vintage tools, as in old tools or old brands, are booming as well. Some people like stamps or coins, I like tools.
Tools for Working Wood was located on West 20th Street in a warehouse; you rode the freight elevator to the 5th floor and entered the showroom/warehouse with little fanfare. I loved this place, made it a regular stop while in NYC and could easily spend hours there.
They are moving to Brooklyn and that means my ability to just stop in will be greatly impaired. As these businesses move out of the Manhattan I can’t help but think that the texture of Manhattan will change in a meaningful way.
From a catalogue retailer’s viewpoint, New York City is a disaster. Sure, we’ve got great food, great museums, and great stores, but what New York doesn’t have is affordable warehouse space. Our lease is up in Manhattan in a few weeks and we are moving to Brooklyn. It’s still New York City (if Brooklyn were its own city, it would be the 4th or 5th biggest in the country) but we’re going to be in an industrial area. No more models and actors heading to auditions and portfolio reviews in sharing our elevators.