The corona virus pandemic made some people consider leaving the densely populated city center to spread the suburbs. Athena Jones reports from CNN.
A moving truck came to Rebecca Stevens-Walter’s New York apartment this week.
But he wasn’t there to help pack boxes or keep an eye on the crew.
In mid-March, the 39-year-old priest flew to New Mexico with his husband and two children. They left so suddenly that they barely had time to prepare for the trip.
“We ran away,” he said. “Our apartment looks like the rapture has come. … And we are clearly chatting, ‘What if we don’t return?’ “
The streets of the city he loved – and many major cities across the US – were empty when the pandemic left most of the country locked.
This is a frightening sign from the times, and that reminds me of the big question: After the pandemic passes, will some people choose to leave the life of the big city?
The trend has begun to emerge in several parts of the country, even before coronavirus attacks.
Now the pandemic is changing the way we talk about life in big cities. And some experts say it can change who chooses to live in it.
Stevens-Walter said his family plans to return to New York. But other people who had just left town told CNN that they were not sure.
“It’s hard to think about living in New York when we don’t have our presence and career there,” said Ashley Arcement, a dancer, singer and actor who headed to a friend’s house in Florida with his girlfriend, a pianist, after Broadway closed in the month March.
“Before this,” Arcement said, “we are not the type who want to live outside the city and travel. … Now it feels, will it be the same?”
The Governor of New York said density is to blame
With Broadway closed, the restaurant is open only for takeout and many people are working from home – if they still have work – today the city that never sleeps seems totally inactive.
But that didn’t happen a few months ago, when coronavirus began to spread The largest and most populous city in America.
New York quickly became the center of the spread of the corona virus in the country, spur stay at home orders from officials to keep transmission at bay.
While the number of new corona virus cases is reported every day in New York already started to decrease, death rates continue to increase. More than 12,000 deaths from the corona virus has been confirmed in the city so far.
The Governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, has not revealed words when he explained the reason he saw the rapid spread of the virus.
“Why New York? Why do we see this infection rate? Well, why are cities throughout the country? “Cuomo said to last month’s news briefing.
“It’s very simple,” the governor said. “It’s about density. It’s about the number of people in a small geographical location that allows the spread of the virus. … The dense environment is where it eats.”
He sees sprawl as a saving grace
On the other side of the country, said Joel Kotkin the ongoing situation is very different.
Recently opinion articles published in the Los Angeles TimesKotkin praised the city’s extensive development by slowing the spread of the corona virus. The title: “Angelenos likes to squash their single family. Coronavirus proves it correctly. “
The executive director of the Urban Reform Institute based in Houston, Kotkin believes that cities are already in trouble. And in the era of social alienation, he said, crowded cities in particular have many things that are in conflict with them.
“How would you open an office with expensive real estate if people had to be six feet apart? How would you have a city dependent on the subway if you would have no social distance at all?” He told CNN. “People will continue to move more to the outskirts and to small towns, where basically you can get around without taking (public) transit.”
The epidemic has made people move before
The epidemic has historically played a large role in shaping where and how people live in New York and other cities, said David Rosner, co-director of the Center for History and Public Health Ethics at Columbia University.
After a cholera outbreak hit the city in the 19th century, for example, people started moving from lower Manhattan to other neighborhoods – if they were able to do so.
“You are starting to see suburban communities rather separate by class and movement of people,” he said. “You begin to see land marketing based on experience with disease. … you begin to see the land really advertised as healthy or unhealthy. “
That was the pattern that Rosner saw reappeared.
“Travel and movement from the disease center is also a reflection of such social prejudice. “Somehow we still believe that being in the country must be safer,” he said. “This is more a reflection of our attitude towards the urban environment and the fear of our neighbors. That’s the sad reality of this epidemic. “
This economist says ‘density is not destiny’
Joe Cortright says people who consider it safer in rural villages are subscribed “The old theory of public health at large” – and he said that wasn’t true.
As director of The City Observatory, a think tank that focuses on data-based analysis, he has calculated numbers for weeks as the pandemic spreads.
And Cortright said they revealed an important difference: “Density,” he said, “is not destiny.” Translation: There are many densely populated cities around the world that have never seen a corona virus case rise as much as New York has. Cortright pointed to Tokyo, Taipei and Seoul, and to Vancouver, one of the most populous big cities in North America.
“Some people think,” Can I run away to avoid this problem? Then when you look around you, it is a pandemic. “There is no place you can go to where you are free from it,” he said.
“I think that’s one of the lessons here: With smart information and policies, there is no reason why cities will inherently be hit harder.”
‘Gen Z’ will play a key role in what happens next
But even before coronavirus struck, there were already signs that more people in the US were moving to the suburbs.
After years of growth, The population of New York City began to decline slowly in 2017.
Chicago and Los Angeles have also seen their population decline in recent years as the economy increases in the suburbs and elsewhere. Other large cities experienced stagnant growth.
“This is not just a New York problem,” said William Frey, a demographer and senior at the Metropolitan Policy Program at the Brookings Institution. “It’s a kind of softening of growth among cities across the country.”
But even so, Frey said it was too fast to press the panic button in the city.
New York rebounded after 9/11 and after the 1918 flu pandemic, too.
“People always return to the city during some of the greatest disasters we have experienced in our history. … When we look forward in the next year or two, I am not so worried that we will see a decline in city population in the long run, “he said.
If the past is indicative, Frey said in fact, more people might eventually move to a post-pandemic city.
Immediately after the Great Recession, Millennials flocked to cities and pushed for periods of growth and revitalization. And after this ongoing economic crisis, Frey said Generation Z could take the same steps.
Members of that generation, born from 1997 to 2012Has strong city roots and tends to be attracted to cities, Frey said.
“If they follow in the footsteps of the millennium during the same dim period, they can help refresh the growth of the city – especially if opportunities dry up elsewhere,” Frey wrote in the latest analysis on the Brookings website.
How to work remotely can reshape the market
Alison Bernstein said she had seen a shift in another direction.
He fielded three phone calls this time last year from the family in search of greener pastures – fewer people, more space, and a better quality of life.
Bernstein’s company, Suburban Jungle, helps city residents move to the suburbs. And the pandemic, he said, has encouraged more people to consider taking steps.
“People are scared, and that’s not something to be swept away,” he said. “And I think people will reevaluate the quality of life they are looking for. So I think we will see a big migration to lifestyle-rich cities like Nashville, Austin, South Florida. “
What’s more, he said, the pre-pandemic trend is intensifying: an increase in remote work.
That could play a greater role in reshaping the housing market going forward, said Skyler Olsen, senior chief economist at Zillow.
Already the millennium is increasingly turning to the suburbs, small towns and places on the outskirts because they have largely been appreciated from purchases in big cities.
“If we can provide other options such as distance work, then people can make new and different decisions,” he said. “Your work and your home were tied together so we all know they don’t have to be that way.”
Moms Group asks questions about moving
Chloé New York for a lifetime, Jo Davis, had never imagined leaving her beloved city – until now.
Davis and her husband are used to working from home, but for weeks in their two-bedroom apartment rented on Upper East Side in Manhattan – educating their three small sons and caring for four rescue pets – has changed his calculations.
“I feel like I’ve been through the rainy season every day,” he said.
“If we are here in New York City, and the reason we are here, the reason we are willing to sacrifice all kinds of basic life benefits that many people have … is for art, culture, diversity, friendship with the environment,” he said. “And now, without that, what do we have? We stacked in boxes. “
Davis said his family is now looking to leave New York City overcrowding for suburban space. Already, he said, rental prices outside the city surged with increasing demand. But he knew they were lucky to have the means to consider such a move.
A number of groups of mothers who are part of Facebook make him believe that many mothers in New York are in the same position. The same three questions, he said, kept popping up:
Who knows good movers who move social distances?
‘Which Burb do you like better?
Does anyone want to take over the rent for my two bedrooms?
So many friends and neighbors have left town, at least temporarily.
“It seems like it’s just a mass exodus,” he said.
But speaking with CNN on the telephone from his in-law’s home in New Mexico, Stevens-Walter said he also knew many people who could not leave the city, and many were determined to remain there – including himself.
“I really miss New York. We stayed there for a reason, for many reasons,” he said.
As artists and musicians, she and her husband feel inspired there. And he said the city made his multi-racial, multi-ethnic family feel welcomed.
“New York provides security for us that we really can’t get anywhere else,” he said.
For this reason and more, New York will always be at home. But he steeled himself for new reality.
He knew the city he returned to would be very different from the city he had left.
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