New York Magazine

Streets Paved With Silicon

The tech business will remake New York even without Amazon.

IF AN INSTRUMENT could measure the level of New Yorkers’ complaints about their city, it would probably register a constant, four-century-long roar increasing with the population. Vocal discontent is an unreliable indicator of how we actually live. Say, then, that a computer could grind through the city’s history, compiling photographs, newspapers, art, and piles of data into a quotient that measured the richness of urban life. When, precisely, would that number have peaked? In 1999, when crime had plummeted from its highest point a decade earlier but the words Times Square were regularly hitched to Disneyfied? In 1979, when the city had emptied out into the suburbs but a rebellious creativity broke out amid broken glass and empty lots? In 1959, when the middle class took center stage but black and Latino neighborhoods were being bulldozed for

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