Overall Ambiance and New York City Culture
New York City's culture has been molded by centuries of immigration, the city's size and the broad ethnicity of the residents. The overall ambiance is one full of juxtapositions: old-world charm next to the best of the modern world, restaurants serving caviar and $200 bottles of wines and a hot dog vendor on the corner, and luxurious residences versus run-down brownstones. One thing is certain; New York City is a unique and awe-inspiring place.
New York City has a rich history that helped form the city of today into one influential in worldwide commerce, finance, culture, fashion and entertainment. From the time the US was settled by the Europeans, New York City played an important role in the formation of the country. New York City was declared the national capital, and the Constitution of the United States was ratified there. The first president was inaugurated, the first United States Congress met, the Supreme Court assembled and the United States Bill of Rights all took place in New York City. In the 19th Century immigration and development transformed the city and made New York the city it is today. Many different cultures began to look to New York City as a migration destination. The city offered promise and chance. In the 1960 New York suffered from economic problems and rising crime rates. But the city of today is safe and stable.
New York City is hard to describe as a whole because the five boroughs have developed somewhat different cultures. For instance, the northernmost borough of the Bronx is the birthplace of rap and hip-hop culture. Manhattan is the most densely populated and is home the skyscrapers, major corporations and the theater district. It includes Central Park, Greenwich Village and Harlem. Brooklyn is known for its cultural, social and ethnic diversity, plus an eclectic art scene. Queens is the most ethnically diverse and is overtaking Manhattan population-wise. Staten Island is the most suburban; it is still historically rich as the home of the Statue of Liberty.
No other city in the world is as populous, meaning people literally live and work on top of each other, leading to both productivity and the negativity of living without privacy or space. There are reportedly 26,400 people per square mile. It truly is "the city that never sleeps". This leads to both a constant whir of excitement and activity and a certain stress that comes from living in close quarters. New Yorkers learn to exist privately amongst a plethora of neighbors. Tourism is a huge industry for New York City, which brings money, but also adds to the confusion of the hustle and bustle.
There can be a certain pressure in New York City - the pressure of the bright lights, the big city and money, money, money. There are many residents that live well and have all the finest things one can buy. People will often just assume that you have money. You aren't expected to talk about money - just to spend it. But rest assured that in those thousands of people are also the starving artists, the couples that stay home and cook dinner in sweatpants and those that live a life not tied to money. Although New Yorkers are often caricatured as loud and unfriendly, this really is only a small percentage of the residents.
The ambiance of the city is greatly affected by the fact that New York City is home to the most diverse population you can find anywhere in the world. 37% of the city's population is foreign-born, and in New York no single country of region of origin dominates. It is truly a melting pot. This leads to a fantastic sharing and inclusiveness but can also lead to occasional between different groups. Certain ethnicities have large enough populations to maintain their own culture. However, many neighborhoods have borrowed another culture's food, music, language and values. This truly leads to the term melting pot For newcomers, a variety of education, entertainment, traditions and activities that are multi-cultural can be found. The city's immigrants strongly influence many things in New York City including the pervasive themes of hope and ambition.
Culture encompasses New York City. Many historical cultural movements began in the city. For instance the Harlem Renaissance, jazz, abstract expressionism, hip hop, punk and hardcore were all influenced heavily by the city. The city is also vital to the film industry, second only to Hollywood. There are many arts centers and cultural organizations. New York is a global center for the largest media forum in North America. These facts contribute to a both a vibrant job market and a booming atmosphere for creativity.
The social scene becomes more vibrant in the big city; one can easily break out of the normal scene to find multi-racial bands, artsy movies, vaudeville shows, interesting date locations and museums for almost any taste. Creative groups including artists, designers, filmmakers and woodworkers can be found at venues that allow art production, exhibitions and parties. The underground, although it has changed, is alive and well; desperate artists still need a venue. Shopping in New York can be as ritzy as Bloomingdales or as unique as independent dress shops that also offer sewing and belly-dancing classes. Walking into a bar in New York, you may not know whether you will find an alternative beauty pageant for lesbians or an extremist political poetry reading.
Due to the diversity and population, New Yorkers are extremely inventive. Residents have learned how to remain fitness enthusiasts and pet owners in a city covered in concrete. They have learned to plant gardens in boxes and on top of high-rise roofs. They have learned to turn 600 square feet into an entire living space. They have learned how to find 300 species of birds in Central Park. They have learned to appreciate the best of other cultures. Most importantly, they have learned to truly experience New York City to the fullest by adapting, learning and experiencing some of the things that they thought they wouldn't ever do.
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