Was it always this expensive to live in New York City?

Discussion in 'The Observation Bar' started by The Good, May 10, 2013.

  1. The Good

    The Good Call Me a Cab

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    After having read an article, I wonder if it was always this expensive to live in New York City, especially Manhattan? I am not very familiar with the history of the city or that area, but at the turn of the last century, was rent particularly high compared to any other city in the US? What about during the mid-century, or after? Are the astronomical costs of today just a modern phenomenon?

    Here is the article:
    http://homes.yahoo.com/blogs/spaces/homeless-man-dismal-n-y-housing-blog-goes-225903039.html

    I am asking this to get insight into the history of New York City, this isn't motivated by politics.
     
    Last edited: May 10, 2013
  2. Stanley Doble

    Stanley Doble Call Me a Cab

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    Always. Cities have always been expensive, noisy, dirty, dangerous, exciting and enticing.

    Your question reminds me of an anecdote from the time you mention, about an earnest young man who had a job offer from a New York firm. Not being familiar with the city, he asked his minister, who came from the city, if it would be possible to live a Christian life in New York on $6 a week.

    The divine replied that it would be impossible to do anything else.
     
  3. Stanley Doble

    Stanley Doble Call Me a Cab

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    I must say though, that the difference was not as marked then as it is now. New York is worse than other cities because, being on a island, it is impossible to expand beyond certain limits. A hundred years ago the city was not as crowded as it is now. Harlem was more or less the where the city ended, and was a working class, largely Irish area.

    See "A Harlem Tragedy" by O. Henry.

    "The Dakota" got its name because when it was built its location was so remote that some people doubted it would ever be filled. They remarked that if you were going to move that far out of town, you might as well move to Dakota and be done with it. This was in the early 1880s. The Dakota is located at 72nd Street and Central Park West.
     
    Last edited: May 10, 2013
  4. Stanley Doble

    Stanley Doble Call Me a Cab

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    Incidentally last year I looked at some ads for New York City apartments in a decent area and was not shocked. They seemed to be about the same as Toronto.
     
  5. As a native, I can tell you no. It only became unbearably expensive to the middle class once Giuliani got into office. Good or bad, he turned NY into a 'nice' city, and that's when all the hipsters moved in and drove up the rents. In the early 90s, you could buy a house in Williamsburg for under 200K. Now you can't buy an apartment with that much.
     
  6. dhermann1

    dhermann1 I'll Lock Up

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    Actually, from what I've read over the years, New York was always a lot cheaper to live in than many other major capitols, like Rome, Paris, Tokyo, or London, at least as far as housing in concerned.
    Over the last 20 or so years Manhattan has seriously caught up. It's absurdly expensive to find livable space there now. The outer boroughs, especially, of course Brooklyn (the hippest place in the universe, these days), have also gone up, but not as badly.
    You can still get reasonably affordable housing in New York, if you're willing to ride on the subway for an hour or more to get anywhere.
     
  7. GoldenEraFan

    GoldenEraFan One Too Many

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    I've read and been told time and time again that NYC used to be affordable before the 1990's. The pricing has skyrocketed since then, and neighborhoods where most people once never wanted to go through have now become unaffordable. Also the other reason most people can't afford rent in this city is not only because of rising markets, but because the wages we make don't coincide with the price of living, at least, the wages of recent college graduates like myself make. A lot of people I know moved to New Jersey where the rent is better, but since that has become the new gathering place for middle class workers, the prices are already starting to go up to. My neighborhood which was once mainly Italian, has now become a cesspool of rich yuppies and trust fund hipsters.
     
  8. Tomasso

    Tomasso Incurably Addicted

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    NYC has always led the nation in housing costs despite having a myriad of apartments under rent control/stabilization for decades. My family has owned various comparable properties (residential and commercial) in both NY and Chicago for nearly a century and NY has always been at least 30% higher than Chicago, which ain't a cheap town.
     
  9. Guttersnipe

    Guttersnipe One Too Many

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    There have been periods when NY was downright reasonable. I hear tell at one point entire boroughs could be had for a box of beads ...

    All joking aside, I have heard that, in the early to mid 70s, when suburban flight was at its high tide, parts of NYC were downright cheap. Specifically neighborhoods in Manhattan like Alphabet City and the Bowery. Of course, those areas were pretty rough places back then.

    San Francisco also experienced a similar trend in the 80s to early 90s. Interestingly, SF only surpassed its previous peak population number (set in the mid 40s) in the last decade or so. Similar to NYC, areas that were once some of the cheapest (and roughest) areas in SF like the Mission District, the Western Addition, and the 3rd Street corridor, are now the most stupidly expensive.
     

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