A lighthearted look at news, events, culture and everyday life in New York.
By Nina Pajak
Well, I never.
Travel & Leisure magazine conducted their annual poll of 35,000 readers, and New York City—our New York City—was voted America’s dirtiest city. Not to mention the loudest and the rudest.
I beg your pardon!
I, for one, would love to know where these 35,000 readers reside, and just how many times they’ve actually been to New York. And of those times, how many neighborhoods did they venture into beyond the obvious tourist traps? I mean, sure. If I lived in some Tim Burton-esque suburban town and I was dumb enough to spend my entire trip to New York in Times Square, Herald Square, and on Canal Street, yeah. I’d think this city was dirty too.
Frankly, I’d also think our city was filled with rude, noisy people if I only spent time in areas choked with tourists and those who make their livings taking advantage of them. I’d also think that if I’d never actually visited New York but like to participate in surveys despite the fact that my opinions are based on stereotypes. Hypothetically.
However, contrary to frustratingly popular belief, this city is not solely made up of designer impostor fragrance stores, bead shops, people who hawk comped tickets to comedy clubs asking, “do you like to laugh?” and counterfeit handbag sidewalk salesmen. Nor is it clogged with people who litter, spit, yell maniacally, panhandle, and sell phony mix CDs.
Okay, yes, we have some of those people scattered all about. This is a city, after all. Cities are all sort of dirty. Case in point: I have also lived in Paris, which is widely regarded (by me, as well) to be one of the most stunning cities on the planet. But I stepped in more dog poop and watched more homeless people defecate and smelled more urine in the streets during my five months there than I ever have in NYC. These things are what they are.
I will concede that our subways leave something to be desired, aside from that raw, “vintage” charm. But mostly, those people who live here can attest to the fact that the city is mainly made up of neighborhoods filled with people who love where they live, take pride in it, and want to do things to support and maintain and even improve it. Like help direct visitors to restaurants worth trying, or tell them which way is east. Or pick up their dogs’ poop. Or, you know, not drop a bunch of food and junk all over the streets like some groups of people who may or may not live around these parts do in certain populous areas because they are under the impression that they are visiting an amusement park with an endless budget for assiduous cleanup. Just saying.
Because I work in a particularly touristy neighborhood, I am constantly tormented by the idea that people who visit our city see nothing but the various armpits of New York. This study does nothing but confirm my suspicions. Boooo. Booo, I say.
What do you think? Was Travel + Leisure wrong to rank us the dirtiest city?