Lately, angry Manhattanites have sent a barrage of letters to Time Out New York, bemoaning a prolific focus on Brooklyn in a magazine clearly about New York:
“The best restaurants are in Brooklyn, the best drinks are in Brooklyn, the sun is in Brooklyn, the moon is in Brooklyn…Either create a separate damned Brooklyn magazine already or keep annoying the crap out of your longtime readers.”
That is an actual quote.
Rather than get their panties in a wad, TONY decided to address the issue head-on with with a series of 11 articles aptly titled Brooklyn vs. Manhattan. There’s a quiz, an editor debate, a hypothetical tome on what would happen if every bridge was destroyed, highlights from each hood, statistics and even a slide-show that lets you judge where people are from based on the way they look. Judgers unite.
As most of TONY’s work, the feature is sometimes incredibly obvious and sometimes also incredibly comprehensive, filled with a slew of interesting facts that did, actually, sway my decision on where I should live (did you know BK has almost twice the number of street trees than Manhattan?)
The apex is, by far, the editor debate between Billie Cohen (a recent West Village-BK transplant) and Kate Lowenstein (East Village). Unfortunately, Lowenstein flubbers, fizzles and ultimately fails. Other than her horrifying facts on commuting from Brooklyn to Manhattan, her defense of the central borough was reactionary and empty. Even she admitted it:
there’s nothing edgy or interesting about being a supporter, especially now that it’s been overrun by rich people and chain stores. Lately, though, as my Brooklynite friends have started chiding me for “still” living across the river, I’ve felt moved to stick up for my mainstream home. I was born and raised in midtown; I love living in the East Village now. I’m going to come right out and say it: Manhattan is better than Brooklyn.
Where’s the meat?!
Cohen, meanwhile, spouted off facts on community, happiness, price, trees and the cultural innovation that ultimately fuels and fills Manhattan’s art scene. But it is the end of her thesis that encompasses the whole of this series. “The best thing about Brooklyn,” she writes, “is that it’s next to Manhattan.”
She goes on to peg Manhattan elitism as the root of Brooklyn’s rage, but her first point holds the lesson of TONY’s article: one borough cannot exist without the other. Brooklyn needs Manhattan, and Manhattan needs Brooklyn, like clownfish need sea anemone. Or something like that.
Overall, it’s an interesting piece and one that, I’m afraid, may not be over. Check out this comment from “George:”
The debate being exclusively over Brooklyn & Manhattan is almost as elitist as saying Manhattan is better than Brooklyn simply because it is Manhattan! This thread runs through everything TONY does. What about Queens?