How New York City is not an American City

A Few Reasons why NYC isn’t America

Remington Write
Ascent Publication
Published in
7 min readMar 18, 2019

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Taken by me from a helicopter in 2010

Spalding Gray said it before I thought it: “I knew I couldn’t live in America and I wasn’t ready to move to Europe so I moved to an island off the coast of America — New York City”

I was born and grew up right smack dab in the middle of America. Ohio. The town I grew up in was a real Mayberry kind of place where everyone knew your business and loved talking about it. I fled to the safety of Cleveland when I was 18 and it was better but it was still America.

What do I mean by that?

It was still a place where people unquestioningly bought that crap about American exceptionalism. Land of the Free. Home of the Brave. Support our Troops. Most people didn’t have a passport and, for the most part, only those from other countries spoke anything but English and there weren’t many of them. People lined up for the latest Hollywood product, regularly ate at Appleby’s or Olive Gardens, and viewed foreigners with distrust.

Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Detroit, and a hundred other Rust Belt cities all around the Great Lakes and beyond have been struggling mightily to regain traction. As manufacturing got sent to countries without unions and men with high school educations could no longer raise a family, buy a house, and keep a decent car on the road, these places got more and more resentful and fearful. This after decades of waving the ol’ red, white, and blue in patriotic fervor.

Lawn sign in Cleveland, 2016

Scapegoats had to be found. The politicians, always most interested in reelection, pointed to the easiest: brown people from other countries. They are the problem. They took our jobs. They’re having too many babies. They’re going to erase us!

The rising fear and resentment that blamed immigrants was just a variation on a long-played out theme in rural areas and smaller cities. Anyone who was different, who didn’t fit in, who wasn’t ready to settle down and start popping out babies every two years; those people were suspect.

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