I don’t mean to be unkind, but after speaking with several fellow New York students, it seems clear to me that when we arrived slightly less than two years ago there was still a significant wellspring of Post 9-11 mutual goodwill in New York City. The New York Attitude is a well known phenomenon, but it was not a part of my experience. When I arrived, I found New Yorkers were willing to offer simple courtesies and assistance whenever it would be welcome, often without needing to be asked.
It now seems that the well has run dry, or at least very nearly. During the last few months, I have noticed a subtle but perceptible change in the average denizen of The City. By way of example, it now seems that the overwhelming majority of pedestrians will assume that the other party should yield when space is insufficient for everyone to pass comfortably. If you’ve ever seen the average NYC sidewalk, you know that there are almost always more people than available space for walking.
This is just one of the more salient aspects of the appreciable change; there are others. It makes me sad, but I guess all things considered, five years is a significant amount of time for an unintended benefit to last. New York City is the epitome of what is best and, equally well, what is worst about our country. I return home May 27th. Though I do not think I shall ever want to call NYC my home, I also cannot imagine that I will not visit again.