New York is supposed to have learned from that and from similar errors of the past, and to have understood that Brobdingnag is all very well—indeed is very desirable and impressive—in Wall Street and Midtown, whereas a touch of Lilliput is necessary on the Lower East and West Sides. And the strange and interesting thing is that all three other great bohemian quarters—the ones in London, Paris, and San Francisco—have already confronted a version of this mistake and resolved never to make it again.
I live in the East Village, and hideous new buildings are going up all around. They all look like college dorms; they don’t fit the aesthetic of the neighborhood, and they’re generally horrible eye-sores. Even worse are the high-rises being erected throughout the Village. They push out older residents, and they change the whole dynamic of the neighborhood — not everyone wants to live in a place where every building looks the same and all the stores are chains. As Hitchens says, it’s easy to brand that kind of thinking as “elitist” — which is funny, because it’s not exactly the downtrodden who are making money off of building high-rises and luxury condos — but we all have a stake in preserving diversity and Bohemia, as opposed to a one-size-fits-all model:
Those who don’t live in such threatened districts nonetheless have a stake in this quarrel and some skin in this game, because on the day when everywhere looks like everywhere else we shall all be very much impoverished, and not only that but—more impoverishingly still—we will be unable to express or even understand or depict what we have lost.