I recently read an article about the death of New York City where the author explained why he felt the pandemic had damaged NYC so much that it would never recover and was dead for good. He highlighted how the three most important reasons to live and work in NYC; business opportunities, culture, and yes the most important aspect, the food/restaurants, were all so affected by the pandemic that they were never going to be as they once were! Some of the points in the article made sense and I particularly agreed with the one about the commercial real estate paradigm in NYC being changed forever. But overall, I felt the assessment that NYC was dead for good was a bit overstated and found the article to be a depressing read to the say the least.
I worked in NYC (often referred to simply as the City) for over 10 years and it was the most interesting time of my life. I worked in Midtown Manhattan and commuted from the suburbs into the City daily with over 6 million of my best friends! The commute alone would scare most people but working in the City required a mental and physical toughness that's hard to explain but was necessary to function in the high-speed environment. The buzz and energy of the City was like nowhere else and I knew it was somewhere different and incredibly special. When you hear about America being a melting pot, I think that reference is really about the City. It is truly the most diverse city in the world; on some mornings, I would hear five different languages (not including English and Spanish) on my 25-minute walk from Penn Station to my Midtown office. I never pretended to be a New Yorker for two reasons, #1 I was not (I was and am still just a country boy from Fitzgerald Georgia) and #2 true New Yorkers knew who was from the City and who wasn't and would call out "pretenders". But I did feel like a New Yorker once when a tourist stopped me and said I looked like I was from the City (which I took as a compliment), asked for directions and I was able to direct her to where she wanted to go! (BTW--Midtown Manhattan is laid out on a remarkably simple grid and it is easy to figure out) In a weird way it made me feel like I was finally a part of the City and belonged there.
The City is far from perfect; the traffic can be horrendous, it is too crowded, too noisy, too expensive, in the winter it can feel like Antarctica, and sometimes the people can be just as cold. I met some of those people and had the worst of times and the best of times in the City. But the imperfections of the City are what give it it's unique vibe and spirit. I met and work with some of the smartest people I have ever met in the City. I know these smart people and smart people like them will be the reason the City not only comes back but will thrive! New uses for the now empty high-rise office spaces will emerge, Broadway will figure a new way to deliver top quality shows and performances, and the restaurants that survive will find a way (BTW in my opinion, Italian food in the City taste better than Italian food in Italy). It's going to be tough and challenging but the City will overcome, recover, and be the best version of its old self. Yes, like every other city in the world, the pandemic has and will reshape the "normal" and change the vibe of the City. But I contend "the reports of the demise of New York City are greatly exaggerated"