New York City is a city of greed.
New York wasn’t really”settled” until the Dutch arrived in 1609. Unlike the settlers who founded other parts of the “New World”, the Dutch weren’t seeking any sort of religious freedom. The Dutch came to trade and to profit. In their way, this was a religion of its own. A religion still widely practiced, so to speak, in the city as it exists today.
New York City is a city of forgotten history.
While vastly different from the bustling hub that New York has become, the city has always been an important puzzle piece in American History. The city served as a base of power for English Loyalists when a young United States of America fought for independence. And then briefly served as the nation’s capital from 1785 to 1990, was the drafting place of the United States Bill of Rights, and held the first Supreme Court. And this doesn’t even begin to cover the history of this chunk of land before it was “discovered”.
New York City has always been a city of dreams.
And then people started selling the idea of the ‘Great America Dream’ to a world desperate for something to hope for again. Immigrants came in droves.
People shoved themselves elbow to elbow in every available space. Tenement spaces offering small living at rates that kept people living with their extended families and friends in quantities beyond unhealthy and working back breaking labor jobs until they died.
But they never stopped dreaming.
New York City is a city of territories.
The influx of people from all these different cultures created vast networks of neighborhoods that were dominated by one culture or another. Some of these remain today, Little Russia and China Town, but it wasn’t until 1898 that the five boroughs were consolidated.
These were often places that qualified to be small towns in their own right, but got swallowed up by the rapid expansion that New York City needed to sustain its ever growing population.
But beyond neighborhoods and boroughs there were also territories divided up on the street. Gangs formed quickly, fighting to keep what was theirs (be it jobs, land, or rights) from threats real and imagined. These gangs rioted multiple times, sometimes to defend themselves from things like an unfair draft, and sometimes because the city stirred up their hatred of each other to a boiling point, causing race riots.
Some gangs were bigger than the span of a few blocks, more powerful than any elected official, led by men who pretended to be something other than thugs. Men like Boss Tweed, who looked down on a starving city and told them to try harder while he stole from them, and then asked them to thank him for it.
And there have always been wolves.
New York City is a city at war.
The Glasswalkers, wolves of the corporations and high rise towers, live in the towering spires of metal and glass above the city. But they still wage war against the Gutterrunners, the wolves of the streets and alleys, and against the Rat Hosts.
Even today, packs form alliances, alliances that are only viable as long as each party is still useful to the other. In a city like New York, your allies are often as happy to stab you in the back as your enemies.
New York City is a city forged in fire.
Literally. Entire swaths of the city have burned down, on more than one occasion. The tight design of the city allowed for more people but also allowed fires to spread rapidly, and didn’t allow for people to escape quickly enough. But every time it burns, the city comes back.
Because New York City is alive. It feeds on the greed, hate and death. It devours dreams whole, letting just enough good come through to keep you thinking you could be the next big thing.
And while it does, it keeps whispering… “Hello dreamer…what can New York City do for you? And what can you do for it?”