Is SF Overtaking NYC?

Mar 14 2014 @ 8:39pm

In New York magazine, Kevin Roose suggests that “in many ways, San Francisco is the nation’s new success theater”:

It’s no secret that New York is having a bit of an identity crisis these days. Wall Street lost its swagger during the crash and hasn’t gotten it back despite the market’s broader recovery. Big banks are adding employees in Bangalore and Salt Lake City while cutting them in Manhattan. New York City’s budget wonks expect the city to add only 67,000 jobs this year, a sluggish number that faster-growing cities like Denver and Austin will look upon with pity. The city’s culture seems to be changing, too: Greenpoint and “normcore” are in, stilettos and pinstripes are out; junior bankers now get Saturdays off; “work-life balance” is no longer a euphemism for sloth.

Meanwhile, certain pockets of San Francisco have become the sort of gilded playground that New York once was. Brand-new Teslas with vanity plates like DISRUPTD drift down the streets of the Mission District, where pawnshops and porn stores used to be. Paper millionaires spend their nights at the Battery, a members-­only club with a tech-heavy roster and a $10,000-per-night penthouse suite. … It’s the city where dreamers go to prove themselves – the place where just being able to afford a normal life serves as an indicator of pluck and ability.

In SFist, Jay Barmann retorts:

I’m still not clear on the part about how we “don’t quite know what to do with [our] wealth,” apart from the digs about how SF men don’t dress up very much. We clearly spend all of our money on rent, food, and booze, and many of us do buy nice clothes and cars and things, and those with lots of money go buy houses in Napa or in Tahoe. But it’s true, we are less inclined to embrace asshole behavior, unapologetic displays, and the giddy capitalist fervor that has made Manhattan a bohemia-free retail Disneyland where no one ever thought twice about bulldozing a building to build something newer and bigger.

It’s hard if you’ve lived in both cities not to compare them, but I would argue that while most San Franciscans might long for the nightlife of certain eras of New York’s past, they’ve never wanted the city to become New York. And while many a trapped New Yorker who has visited or lived here dreams of an easier life in the west, they usually resign themselves to the fact that economically, and career-wise, there isn’t enough happening here. If that changes permanently, and there are more and more opportunities here, what excuses will they have left for staying in New York?