Defenders of the so-called 15 Minute City should spend more time in New York.
In some respects the idea, which has gained increasing traction among urban planners and well-meaning liberal politicians in recent years, is a good one. Everyone who lives in a metropolis should be able to buy quality, affordable food within a reasonably short walk or bike ride from home. They must have access to well-maintained parks and playgrounds, decent childcare, and good schools. And public transport.
But in a giant ecosystem like New York, many comforts and even some necessities will always be outside of that arbitrary orbit. as it should be A nanny from southeast Queens needs to be able to get a job at the Brooklyn brownstone. Doctors, nurses, and patients need access to world-class hospitals that are almost always more than a stone’s throw from where they live. A young man studying design has to be able to get to FIT or Parsons or Pratt from wherever he rents an apartment.
Those who love art, theater and cinema know that they need to travel a bit to reach museums, Broadway and specialized cinemas. It’s a welcome trip, not a burden, to travel to Flushing for great dim sum or Sunset Park for tacos. And in the summer, the beaches on the outskirts of a big city are natural magnets for the people who inhabit them.
In fact, it’s fair to say that while our neighborhood street life is unparalleled, it’s what’s beyond the 15-minute radius that makes New York inimitable, a place of endless and unpredictable possibilities.
In recent weeks, opponents of the 15-minute city have gotten drunk, howling at the top of their lungs that the concept is a globalist conspiracy to limit economic growth, ban cars and track people’s movements. That’s crazy. But if New York ever really tries to reinvent itself into a bunch of 15-minute cities, well, then it won’t be New York anymore.