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New York's Tomorrow: 12 Visions, The Hispanic Bagel?

JANUARY 5, 2003
Copyright © 2003 THE NEW YORK TIMES. All rights reserved. 


The Face of the future: A city increasingly dominated by Asians and Latinos, especially Dominicans.

PHOTOS: Brian Stauffer

Earl Wilson/The New York Times


AS NEW YORK confronts momentous questions - about the rebuilding of Lower Manhattan, its budget woes, the danger of terrorism, the prospect of the Olympics in 2012 - there is no shortage of predictions on where the city is headed in the next few decades.

To peer into the future, the City section has consulted a dozen historians, sociologists, political scientists and urban planners who make such forecasting their business. Such prognosticators are rarely household names, but the changes they envision are striking. They speak of developments ranging from the rise of Red Hook, Brooklyn, and the birth of a new sleaze district to the emergence of the Hispanic bagel.

One expects an Asian-Latino mayor; another predicts a rise in individual vehicles, like motorized scooters. Here's the face of the future New York, as they see it.

The Hispanic Bagel


Professor of sociology and Latino studies, Hunter College and the CUNY Graduate Center; author of "From Bomba to Hip-Hip: Puerto Rican Culture and Latino Identity''

We're approaching a time when a Latino will have just as much of a chance to become mayor as someone of any other nationality. If there's a Latino mayor, it will probably be a younger person, and probably a Colombian or Dominican, not a Puerto Rican. Puerto Ricans are still the largest group here, but Dominicans are catching up fast and by 2015 could be the largest proportion of Latinos.

We already have lots of overlap and fusion in food, like the old Chinese-Cuban restaurants with their divided menus. There's a place in my neighborhood in Brooklyn, Park Slope, called Convivium that's Portuguese and Italian, and another, called Tamari, that features Japanese tapas. I could envision an Indian restaurant that also serves Latin American food in Jackson Heights or Elmhurst, Queens, where many Latin Americans and Indians share the same neighborhoods.

We could see a Hispanic bagel, something between a tortilla and a regular bagel. But instead of cutting it in half and putting cream cheese and lox on it, it could be used to scoop up pico de gallo or mofongo.

Some Traveling Music


Director of the Van Alen Institute: Projects in Public Architecture; author of "Beyond the Edge: New York's New Waterfront''

The city will become known for its healthy, active lifestyle, not just the night club-drug addict-rock and roll-art opening culture. People will move around the city in different ways, in individual, motorized ways, maybe using Segways, the motorized scooter.

We'll need ways for people to move around the city that are faster than walking. We'll have some amazing safety suits that we haven't even imagined yet, something head to toe, beyond bike helmets or elbow and knee pads. We'll gear up when we leave our apartments.

Lattes, Dockside


Broeklundian Professor of Sociology, Brooklyn College; co-editor of "After the World Trade Center: Rethinking New York City''

Because of Brooklyn's growing visibility as a cultural center and high rents in Manhattan, the area around the Brooklyn Academy of Music will become even more of an alternative cultural center. The BAM area will be bigger, and all along the Brooklyn waterfront there will be colorful places to shop and eat. I see Dumbo becoming an alternative to Madison Avenue, the way BAM is to Lincoln Center.

At least in the short term, every neighborhood will be formed around a hub of Starbucks, Banana Republic and Barnes & Noble. Multistory stores like Bergdorf's and Macy's will shrink to one story because no one wants to go up in an elevator to shop anymore. People have gotten used to the suburbanization of city shopping. That means one-story shops with big windows facing the street. You go in, you see what you want, and you leave.

Hello, Red Hook


Henry Hart Rice Professor of Urban Policy and Planning, New York University's Wagner School, and director of the Taub Urban Research Center

As Manhattan becomes increasingly attractive as a place to live, we'll see more reverse commuting, something that already exists in San Francisco. And because New York has such a strong sense of place, the city and the suburbs will forge stronger ties and will be more intertwined, not less, and increasingly share places of work and play.

All along the East River, from Greenpoint to Red Hook, we'll see the revival of the waterfront as a place to live. This development will lead to greater use of ferries and will connect people to the water in a new way.

Red Hook, Brooklyn, will be the most interesting up-and-coming neighborhood. It has the best sun and light in all New York. People are buying old buildings and fixing them up. If the neighborhood can be linked to Manhattan by ferry, Red Hook could be the Sausalito of New York.

The Flower Lane


Director of the Graduate Urban Design Program at CUNY; co-editor of "After the World Trade Center: Rethinking New York City''

One thing I hope we can look forward to is a system of "greenfill" that would reclaim at least one lane of every street in New York from the automobile. This would open up room for tree planting, gardening, public toilets, day care centers, playgrounds, bike lanes, and offer a way of reforming our insane waste disposal system - heaping mountains of garbage bags on our sidewalks. Streets are far and away the city's main public space, and they should support more people and plants and a lot less roaring metal.

Mom-and-Pop Power


Professor of history at New York University; author of "The Unfinished City: New York and the Metropolitan Idea"

The future of New York is in the boroughs. Those are the centers of immigration. That's where you have multicultural entrepreneurial communities being formed and re-formed. They'll transform themselves and ultimately transform Manhattan - its economy and culture. The proportion of immigrants in the city today roughly matches that at the turn of the century. Unless the city tries to freeze history, we can expect a repetition of the cycle of immigrant transformation that the city experienced between 1890 and 1950. The announcement that Deutsche Bank will stay downtown is nice. But I'm more interested in new, locally generated businesses, like the old Emigrant Savings Bank, now a part of an international banking corporation.

We'll see many instances of small beginnings - often working class and immigrant - becoming big. We'll see new social movements, led by a new generation of leaders. Typically, they'll be of immigrant backgrounds, like Roger Toussaint, a Trinidadian of talent and drive, who benefited from the city's inexpensive system of higher education and is now a figure in the city, helping to shape its future.

Olympic Impetus


Director, Pratt Institute Center for Community and Environmental Development

We have a real shot at being the host for the Olympics in 2012 if we make the city function better and if we leave a legacy for the future, as they did in Barcelona. The Olympics would be the impetus to develop a waterborne transportation system and a network of public spaces that will help bring about greater social cohesion. I'm talking about sports facilities, parks, swimming pools, and a stadium not on the West Side but near Shea Stadium, a more rational place.

The No. 7 line would be extended to the far West Side of Manhattan to serve new offices, existing manufacturers and residential neighborhoods. These would be mixed-use buildings, because the reality is that many people will work in their neighborhood, often at the local coffee shop, and go out at night, also to someplace in their neighborhood. Telecommuting will create social places like cafes where people can socialize and interact with other people.

I see more places like Ozzie's, the locally owned coffee shops in Park Slope, Brooklyn, rather than Starbucks. People are shying away from chains. They want something more reflective of New York and its indigenous communities.

Taxpayers' Revolt


Professor of political science and a specialist in New York government, College of Staten Island

One national trend I see hitting New York in the next decade is the direct democracy movement that we see in other states, like California. New York, both city and state, is the last stronghold of strong interest groups, and they're melting.

We've seen this trend with term limits for the City Council, and I think that pressure will spread to Albany. Things will look more like California, where the most important decisions will be put before voters on a ballot referendum. I could see a ballot measure for major capital investment in new housing. There could also be a groundswell of Californian-like opposition to the Olympics on the grounds that they will still require significant capital outlay.

Asian-Latino Mélange


Associate professor of history and director of the Asian/Pacific/American Studies Program and Institute at New York University; author of "New York Before Chinatown''

The Asian and Latino populations will continue to increase dramatically and together will become a majority of the city. In 10 years, we'll have an Asian-Latino mayor.

Among the chic? Soon, with foreign policy prerogatives and global cooling/warming, Central Asian cuisine and fashion will become popular. Kebobs will be like tacos. Finer Central Asian "court cuisines'' will become popular in Manhattan, and the boroughs outside Manhattan will offer more authentic, down-home cuisines of these populations.

The mixing of cultures, creolization, will accelerate. There will be more interracial marriage, especially outside Manhattan. New immigrants will move to neighborhoods like Sunset Park, Brooklyn, where I live. Besides Latinos, there are also many Chinese, Vietnamese and Arabs, and on my block the older Italians and Scandinavians and Irish, who stayed. Sunset Park is the future.

The New Caretakers


Associate professor of urban studies and planning, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; author of the forthcoming "Double Trouble,'' on black politics in New York

The new elderly population, which will be largely white, will depend heavily on young minorities to take care of them and to pay for their care through new forms of taxes. These younger minority workers will want to be better paid. And because they'll be American citizens, they'll be able to vote and be much more politically influential. Home health aides and other domestic help will absolutely be unionized. I imagine that now about 40 percent of those workers are immigrants and can't vote. In the future, nearly all of them will be able to vote, which will have a dramatic impact on politics.

We'll also see campuses that combine high school, community college and graduate schools, all in the same place. And we'll see these integrated campuses become neighborhood centers, just as public markets and village square were neighborhood meetings places in the 19th century. As a result, we'll see neighborhoods differentiated less by race or class than by profession and intellectual interest.

University Smorgasbords


Anthropology professor, Barnard College; author of the forthcoming "Colonial Encounters in Native North America''

We have three big universities here - Columbia, N.Y.U. and CUNY - and because faculty are becoming more specialized, graduate students especially are beginning to circulate among them. A Columbia student can take a course at N.Y.U. or CUNY. So advanced students could do this kind of boutique thing, shopping for courses among schools that fit their particular interest.

Times Square II


Parr Professor of Comparative Literature, Columbia University; author of "Terrible Honesty: Mongrel Manhattan in the 1920's''

A new Times Square will develop. There will once again be a part of the city where you have a creative low life. Great world cities will always produce vice because they have every kind of human being in them. The vicious and degraded are not only a significant portion of the population but we all have a little bit of that in us. And a city is a universe, not just a place.

No place has symbolized that more dramatically than New York, with its skyscrapers going right up into the heavens and its underground culture, where many of our greatest cultural movements began. Bebop is an example. The Beats not only cut their teeth in Times Square, they lived in decaying parts of the Upper West Side. It's bohemia; it's where artists go.

Despite the rise of the Internet, E-books never took off, and so we'll still have agents and publishing parties. I'm reminded of a poem by Louise Bogan in which she asks, "Why go to a party?'' And the answer is that there she finds "malice, wisdom's guide.'' To me, that's the essence of publishing and publishing parties. You go to see who's there, who's not, what kind of party your agent or editor was willing to throw for you. It's our world of Balzac or Jane Austen.

Some things we need to do face to face. There are kinds of interaction you can't have with a computer screen. We're all in bodies that live and thicken and die. That gives us an attachment to perishable things. And New York is home to some of the most wonderful perishable things.

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