Meanwhile, the locals engage in fierce, unending debates with each other: Is the Bronx the next (and final) frontier for those seeking affordable housing, or just a “dump” and a “ghetto” where no sane person would choose to live? Has New York City lost its soul due to rampant gentrification? Are New Yorkers racist? Are new immigrants and/or minorities the “cause” of the city’s downfall? Should yuppies go back to where they came from, or do they help New York City rejuvenate itself?
Although real estate is a hot topic all over the country, no where is it hotter than in New York City, where the first question you’re likely to encounter after “What do you do?” is “What neighborhood do you live in?” Nowhere else can your answer define so much of what you are, and what your experiences and perceptions will be as a New Yorker. Despite being part of this quintessentially cosmopolitan, international mecca, most New Yorkers have a gripe about one or another group whom they feel ruined “their” city.
Some complain about new Dominican immigrants who have loud parties till 3 am; others about the new monied whites who move to Harlem and try to get the locals to stop their long standing tradition of playing live music in the local park. Some hate the yuppies; others loathe the innumerable posters who want to come here despite their lack of money and can’t afford it. Old timers can’t wait to move out; young hopefuls can’t wait to move in.
It’s a crowded, competitive city, with obscenely expensive rents. Not everyone can handle it. New Yorkers who stay are a tough, resilient breed. They have to be prepared to handle constant change — for better and for worse — especially when it comes to dealing with the reality of the latest batch of recent arrivals who want to claim a precious piece of this legendary turf.
The history of NYC is a history of waves of various immigrant groups. The flood of Italians, Jews, German, and Irish who "invaded" the city like a tsunami in the early part of the 20th century, and even before, have now been established here for generations. When they first arrived, they faced poverty, hardship, and teeming, squalid tenement ghettos. They also faced rampant discrimination from those who had settled here before them.
Assimilation might not truly take place until their children’s generation became established, but despite the fact that we have a viable African-American presidential candidate, fear and loathing of immigrants and even long time residents of color is still going strong.