Capital of twenty-first century?
The Manhattan Project is dedicated to the capital of the twentieth century. It doesn’t pretend to have a position on life in contemporary New York. But I can only imagine that if, a hundred years from now, someone were to take up the task of writing a similar book about New York in the twenty-first century, it would probably be titled The Brooklyn Project.
Brooklyn was designed as the first American suburb and it cannot escape its original telos.
For the past 15 years I’ve been living on the wrong side of the East River. Increasingly, Manhattan felt like a deserted island, at least as much as my milieu was concerned. I often joke that riding my bike over the bridge on the way to meet someone in Brooklyn feels like Whitman’s ferry ride in the opposite direction. As if both are trips to the truly pumping heart of the metropolitan matter.
But I never considered actually moving there. Here’s why: Brooklyn was designed as the first American suburb. Though it operates very differently from the iconic iterations of suburbia built after World War II, Brooklyn cannot escape its original telos. It has no way to become a genuine urban center. No matter how much it will be revitalized, how much capital will be pumped into its tree-lined streets, this borough can only offer its inhabitants a sub-urban experience.