Over 40 percent of all New Yorkers today were born outside the United States. This was true at the beginning of the 20th Century, but there was very little immigration after that. Only recently has the city re-opened for immigrants.
I can testify to that. The neighborhood I grew up in, Flushing, has become almost entirely Asian -- Chinese and Korean mostly. Much bigger than the Chinatown in Manhattan with lots of great places to eat, and what appears to be a booming economy. Russians have settled in Brooklyn, Indians in Jackson Heights.
I left New York in the 70s, and I never wanted to come back. I remembered big parts of the Bronx reduced to rubble, and the rest of it on its way. When I left, Brooklyn was in very bad shape. I always assumed my rejection of NY was more about me than the city, but it turns out that's not true. The city was in decline, it's only recently coming back. Things work now that never did when I was young. It's mostly safe, people go places that would never have been considered safe when I was growing up. Haven't heard anything about strikes. In the 60s and 70s all kinds of city workers, sanitation, transit, would strike.
You can definitely live in NY without a car. I've only driven my car twice since April, and that was just to move it from one place to another. I don't think there are any other places in the US where you can get by without a car.
However, I wish they could reduce the presence of cars in the city. I'm pretty scared to ride my bike here since the accident in September. That was caused by a car. I now live in the middle of the island, far away from the Hudson River bikeway. I know it sounds radical, but I wish we could give one avenue to bikes, and completely ban cars, buses and trucks. It would take a revolution to make that happen. But it would be transformative. Not proposing it, but thinking "what if."
Business-wise, there is a huge opportunity here, but the more I get to know people in business here, the more I hear them clinging to the ways of the past. It happens in California too. But the sooner the media, or some portion of it, fully embraces the new channels of communication and cuts its dependency on the distribution system of the past, the sooner New York can resume its central importance in the US economy. It could happen. It could be an extension of the rebound we're seeing here now.