Let’s get this out of the way. I’m a born and bred New Yorker. That being the case, I already know what you’re thinking … here comes another damned elitist hipster Yankee to graciously explain to us what a s***hole Jacksonville is compared to The Big Crapple — which is a fair assumption!
However, after I moved here last summer, it didn’t take much time for me to ditch my snooty attitude and be won over by the First Coast. But that doesn’t mean I can’t still recognize some things I miss about living in NYC that it wouldn’t hurt for Jacksonville to adopt. And, just to prove I’m not one of those assholes who thinks the entire universe revolves around the five boroughs and anywhere north of Westchester and south of Rockaway Beach might as well be comprised entirely of thatched roof and bamboo jungle encampments, I’ll also list a few advantages Jax has over my hometown.
Three Things I Miss:
Being able to walk everywhere. Due to its compressed size, grid-like layout and extensive sidewalk network, Manhattan, where I grew up, is a breeze to navigate on foot. Considering there are few things in life I hate more than sitting in traffic, this is ideal. In Jacksonville, while one can walk around isolated pockets of the city easily enough, you can’t wander too far before coming across an impassable roadway, unfriendly blight or other stretch of ground-based infrastructure that was clearly not designed with any regard for pedestrians.
Takeout options. I love living in Riverside, but man, my adopted ‘hood would feel a lot more like home if I could find some decent takeout Pad Thai. Is that really too much to ask? While the dizzying array of delicious cuisines within a 10-block radius of where I grew up is perhaps an unrealistic standard, I would appreciate more than the precious few options I have for finding a happy medium between Burger King and Black Sheep.
Bigger music venues. NYC is home to world-class venues (from ornate historic theaters to character-filled DIY stages) that artists would want to play even if they were located in the middle of the Sahara. Jax has weird dive bars with dark stages off in the corner and atrocious sight lines. Attracting high-quality touring acts starts with giving them appealing places to play.
Three Things That Are Better:
Cost of living. Even if I did think NYC was quantifiably and definitively superior to Jax in every respect, it wouldn’t matter because nobody besides Chinese manufacturing magnates and smelly hipsters who live in 300-square-foot closets with 19 roommates can afford to live there. It’s not worth it. In Jax, my affordable rent nets me a spacious kitchen and a prime location smack dab in the middle of a cool neighborhood. The average cost of such amenities in Manhattan? $3.2 billion a month. It’s true. Look it up.
Actual character. The historic funkiness of Riverside. The sandstone of San Marco. The laid-back party vibe of the beaches. These neighborhoods have the sort of offbeat sense of individual character that different areas of NYC used to have before most of the city became a corporatized playground for the rich.
Taste in music. God, hipsters in New York have the worst taste in music, with all their annoying EDM and s***ty indie rock bands. People down here actually stop me on the street to comment on my Drive-By Truckers T-shirts. This is a very good thing.