Tuesday, October 9, 2012
Traversing the BosWash Megaopolis
I've now lived for at least a time at three of the main points of concentration of the BosWash megapolis, so coined by a 60's social scientist of urban studies of some sort: Boston, Greater NYC (i.e. NJ) and now the Washington area.
Taking a bus or train between any of the cities, it is somewhat strange how urbanization never seems to end, at least between NYC and DC. Depending on your route, the trip from NYC to Boston can get somewhat rural in Southern Mass, Rhode Island, or Western CT. However, If you follow the golden coast in CT, beware of hours stuck in traffic undercutting the quasi-rural feeling of the Connecticut coast.
Going South from NYC on Amtrack, you essentially pass simultaneously from Greater NYC to Greater Philly, which quickly succumbs to Wilmington/Baltimore, and ultimately D.C. before the true American South begins.
Contrast this to the experience of leaving Indianapolis, IN which is surrounding by endless cornfields and tiny towns for hours in every direction, as you make the three hour trip to Chicago.
This amazing concentration of humanity and economic activity has its pluses and minuses, I suppose. While NYC proper seems to have solved its crime problem, surrounding communities in NJ such as Newark and East Orange have not been so lucky. Passing through North Philly, Baltimore, or even areas of D.C., one can encounter much of the same uran blight found in Detroit or St. Louis, sometimes on an even more massive if less acute scale.
This contrasts with pockets of absurd wealth throughout the region, frequently not too far from impoverished areas. While the level of wealth is perhaps matched by certain areas of California and Chicago, I do not think it is on the same scale. Witness NYC's insane trillion plus estimated GDP to support the conceited New Yorker's insistence that Manhattan is indeed "the greatest city in the world."
As winter approaches, however, doubt begins to grow in my mind. Why should we suffer this yearly pain -- not to mention, ridiculous cost-of-living -- when another megapolis with mild weather year round exists across the country exists just a short plane ride away?
As for the great ignored interior, they are perhaps having the last laugh as our inflated housing values refuse to budge despite the great correction seen across much of the country. Mit Ach and Krach...