Train Wreck: Wealth Towers Over New York’s Crumbling Subways | Freddie
Look up, and somewhere in the near distance you’re likely to see a towering new apartment building. The rise of the ultra-tall luxury apartment tower has been coming to New York City for a long time and has seemed inevitable for ages, but its arrival somehow still seems sudden. When I came to the city recently for the first time in a little while, I knew exactly what to expect when I looked out on the skyline, and yet I was still shocked as my taxi made its way in from LaGuardia. Those hideous, gleaming towers, looking down on the old symbols of New York, are still mostly unfinished, but they are an unavoidable reality for the city and its denizens. The shadows they cast are both literal and symbolic, and they remind everyone who walks beneath them that the city, the country and the world have bent to serve the needs of the ultra-wealthy.
Look below, and within spitting distance you’ll likely see the signs of the subway system below, grates and station entrances and sundry parts of the infrastructure that makes up the vast catacombs of transportation that lie under your feet. The contrast with the luxury towers above could not be starker. The former permit only a few thousand residents, at most, to enter them, with their scowling doormen and elaborate security systems intended to keep out whatever random interlopers are not already excluded via social expectation and geography. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority is open to everyone who wants to ride. The luxury towers are ostentatious by design, conspicuous consumption taken to a ludicrous degree. Their massive heights are not merely a means of stuffing more multimillion-dollar units into the space; they also signal to everyone who passes by that Very Important People live within. The subway, meanwhile, simply hums along underfoot, as unobtrusive as such a massive system could possibly be. While the elite preoccupy themselves with how to be even more visible in their ambitions, regular people underground simply want to get to work.