Do We Need Big Cities?

It’s been two years since I came to New York City. An endless source of inspiration. A place that has taught me to be overconfident to get what I want.

Once the global epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic, NYC has finally flattened the curve. However, a general sense of grief and loss has shut down the joy that makes this place so special. I see people moving out of state, sheltering in their vacation homes (the wealthiest and oldest ones), or relocating in the suburbs, where life is easier and more affordable.

Many of those who remain here are reluctant to use mass transportation as the MTA. They choose driving, biking, scootering, or walking instead. Others are scared to go out. Many are unemployed and the luckiest ones are working from home.

I can’t stop asking myself: Do we need big cities? Do we need a big city to think and do big? Are we still willing to pay a higher price to live there, which has become a kind of ‘luxury’ good that doesn’t translate into a high-quality life?

As a die-hard new New Yorker, I still find meaning in this city, even if that means to sacrifice a lot to live here. This is a great time to galvanize the Big Apple into change. To rebuild itself in a more friendly and resilient way. That’s the story I have in mind.

That entails to prioritize affordable housing, expanded sidewalks, bus and bike lanes, and public spaces. It also involves to become more friendly toward seniors, kids, women, and low-income people, who often feel the threads of urban life most profoundly.

When things get tough, I don’t walk away. I want to witness how New York City can still be tough, as its reputation claims, to build a new more safely, equitable, livable, affordable, and sustainable place. To come back better than before.