In the late 90s, the perfectly wonderful film “Pleasantville” was released in theaters, about the adventures of a brother and sister who miraculously found themselves inside a black and white TV series about the life of an American town. Every day, the main character of the series would come home from work, hang up his coat and hat on a hook and say, “Honey, I’m home!” He would be met by a sweet and cheerful wife and equally happy children. The house was always cozy and smelled of a delicious, freshly prepared dinner. The residents of the town had no problems: you could safely walk the streets, enjoy burgers and Coke in a clean cafe. Even the firemen were only busy saving cats from trees.
Once a fairy tale, real world teenagers destroy it, organizing a revolution against this quiet emasculation. Young people always and everywhere tend to wait for change. And under this pressure, the black and white world is changing. Once lovely and smiling, citizens turn into neo-Nazi thugs. The neat cafe is destroyed, there is no hot dinner, and the wife leaves the husband for another. Life is filled with all colorful things, but for some reason, people impetuously leave their once-cozy town.
And now, 22 years after the release of this film, the characters of the TV show unexpectedly turned out to be New Yorkers. An increasing number of citizens are leaving the Big Apple—and, according to the Census Bureau, residents are leaving New York City at a faster rate than almost any other city in the country. Interestingly, this trend is not new: the population of the state as a whole has declined for the fourth year in a row. In 2019, the number of residents in the state decreased by 76,000—about 0.4% of the population —the largest decrease among all states in the United States. To a large extent, these statistics are the result of migration from the megalopolis. Previously, it was due to a combination of economic reasons: high taxes and insanely expensive housing. But no one could have predicted the speed at which New Yorkers are now running away.
According to real estate experts, the number of requests to rent or buy a house in the suburbs has increased by more than 300% since the beginning of March. Families with children who had previously watched and thought about the advantages of living in a private home with a backyard have been proven right about their decision. White collar workers who once boasted about apartments in the city within walking distance of their offices can now work remotely from any city or even state.
Avid party goers have nothing to do any more in Manhattan; theaters and museums are closed, and it is unknown when and under what conditions they will reopen. Sitting in an expensive and cramped, even if prestigious, apartment, when you can move into a house for the same money and enjoy the safety of peace in your garden, this, I will tell you, is about the same choice as go to the countryside or lose your mind.
Overall, according to the Corcoran Group, real estate prices in Manhattan have already fallen by 26% compared to last year, which is the largest drop in the past few years.
Much, of course, will depend on whether schools will open in the new academic year. If educational institutions prefer to operate online, more people will want to leave the city, and those who have already left are unlikely to return.
It’s been a busy year. At first, New York saw a cluster of outbreaks and turned into a ghost town. Then, racial protests followed with rioting and police actions. From the beginning of June to the beginning of July, unidentified people set off fireworks in different parts of the city (especially in Brooklyn and the Bronx) every night. Of course, we all love fireworks, but not every night! And here, on schedule, it started at 8 p.m. or 9 p.m., and finished at 2 a.m. or 3 a.m. And this entertainment is not at all harmless; several people were injured from the explosions, and buildings and cars were burned. Imagine how it feels to be a citizen who is afraid of an unknown virus, riots, an economic crisis, is under constant stress and thinking about the prospects of education for their children – and on top of everything else, has not had enough sleep!
Where is the money coming from to buy so many fireworks, and who is behind all this? It is an interesting question, and we are unlikely to get an honest answer. It was only after angry residents held a late night car rally at the mayor’s house and hurled complaints at state authorities that Gov. Andrew Cuomo demanded the creation of a police special unit to combat fireworks, and everything stopped.
But the police are not particularly interested in fireworks. After City Hall cut the police budget, as demanded by supporters of “racial justice,” homicide statistics increased sharply in New York. So, in the last week of June, 112 people were injured in criminal shootings. New York Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said the city’s murder rate has reached a five-year high, the number of people killed in shootings has increased by 42%, and the criminal justice system is falling apart.
Not a day goes by without another horrifying video appearing on social media. Here is a father with a small daughter crossing the road, and in front of the child he is shot at point-blank range from a car that has slowed down next to him. Here, they knock down an elderly woman and forcibly tear off her sneakers. Here at the subway station, a madman tries to break into the booth where the cashier is sitting, banging on the glass and shouting, “I will kill your family!” Here is a self-contained tent area, set up in front of New York City Hall (and with the permission of the city authorities), where young people of all colors hang out merrily, painting graffiti around the neighborhood. Who would have thought that in New York there would be tags glorifying Marxism?
The city, of course, has experienced something else. And there is no doubt that sooner or later the former gloss and glory of the “world’s capital” will return. The only question is when.
In his time, President Richard Nixon coined the term “silent majority.” He contrasted it with the “loud-voiced minority” who protested the Vietnam War. The American “silent majority” is a middle class that does not participate in protests and political movements, and is hard working and patriotic. The silent ones are not represented in the media, but they are the ones who decide the outcome of the election.
And judging by the fact that petitions calling for the New York City mayor’s resignation are gaining tens of thousands of signatures, an increasing number of New Yorkers want to return to that cozy house and say, “Honey, I’m home!”