Shake Shack began in my local park as a glorified hot dog cart. After seeing the popularity and hundred person lines, Danny Meyer opened his first shack location in Madison Square Park, and unwittingly began turning my neighborhood into a psuedo Disney for tourists- Times Square Light if you will.

Eataly came next, bringing people to my once quietish neighborhood where formerly architecture nuts would come to see the Flatiron building. Now the Flatiron building triangle is the least known thing about my area.

Lego store, whose windows impress me.

Friends Experience, which I freely admit I went to within a month of its opening.

And then the Grand Dame…The Harry Potter Store…which was so popular in the beginning you needed a ticketed number to come in and shop.

Of course, more food chains came to visit 23rd Street: Wendy’s, Dippin’ Dots, Krispy Kream…

Tourists. Tourists. More Tourists…

Which is very good for the very local economy. And not so good if you liked your neighborhood on the quiet side. You see, I’m torn as to whether or not your neighborhood becoming really popular is a good thing or a bad.

My neighborhood has always been a draw for TV and movies- many things have been filmed in my neighborhood, and while I delight in seeing my local haunts on screens both big and small, I don’t know if I want tour busses in here showing the “sights”- after all, this is the place where I live, not a Kodak moment sort of place. Sometimes having to walk Betty three blocks out of my way because they happen to be filming “Billions” could get a tad annoying. And yes, I realize how precious that sounds, my tough life of having to maneuver around film shoots, and have locals wonder if my hat and sunglasses are hiding a famous face (because seriously- the best way to spot a celeb in Manhattan is to look closely at the person in a hat and sunglasses trying to walk by unobserved) but seriously, try walking down the street and having to avoid the line to Friends and then run into a large group taking up the entire sidewalk…when you have fifteen pounds of goods from the Farmer’s Market and your little dog too, it’s not exactly the happiest moment on earth.

And every time something new and marvelous opens up within five square blocks of my little world, I begin to think how Times Square was once just hookers and drugs…and now literal costumed characters walk around, and there’s an M&M store (Ok- I think it’s still open, but I can’t guarantee it’s not a COVID casualty) Is my neighborhood going to morph into that?

I think about how Taxi Driver was filmed literal blocks from my apartment on streets that I wander every day…

And I’m glad crime is down from that era, and my biggest fear is it rising again to those levels…

But do I want it to be because we’ve become some sort of Theme Park attraction…the happiest dirty place on earth?

So I remain unsure as to how I feel about the changes in my neighborhood- first gradual now seemingly all at once. I want my local purveyors to live long and prosper, but I don’t know if I love the cost.

But I do want you to come and see the Flatiron Building, because it is wonderful. And while you’re at it, check out the view of uptown and downtown from that spot, because that is what differentiates us from other cities, other places. And then walk about eight blocks north to find the best Korean places, or northeast for some awesome Indian, south for all sorts of other ethnic cuisine…Get a doughnut from Dough. Ice Cream from Van Leeuwen. And do try the original Shake Shack- it’s clearly the best of the chain. If you want to see New York, you should see New York…as well as all that other stuff.

44 thoughts on “Disneyfication

  1. If you believe social media, where minority fire-brand keyboard warriors should the loudest in pursuit of reaction and traffic, Harry Potter was cancelled long ago. If you put your fingers in your ears, the world still loves the stories of the boy wizard and his friends – and rightly so 🙂

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  2. I can honestly say that I have never had that problem. The only things filmed in my neighborhood were Animal House (in the 70ies) and all our National track and field things at Hayward Field. Hardly ever a celebrity in sight! Although, the Chargers new golden boy Justin Herbert is a local boy.

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  3. I hear you. That is the motivation behind a blog post I wrote several years ago, on why you don’t want to come to Iowa. The week leading up to Christmas 2014, we spent in New York City. We were hosting a writer @ the time in our B and B suite, and she asked if we were interested in going back East with her over Christmas to see her mom. She offered to show us the City, as only someone who lives there could. I came home with a wealth of great memories.

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  4. Do you think you would ever consider moving to a more suburban/rural part of NY? As someone who could never, ever be happy in the midst of a city like yours, I get the sense that you are at your best there. I don’t see you happy or content anywhere else.

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      1. That would be perfect! I wonder if I could get the city government here to encourage higher ed over warehouses as our industrial area seems to be going crazy. Ironically, history shows that the street I live on was home to a small college/academy around 1900. Time to bring that idea back!

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  5. An Eataly opened up next to where I work (when I’m not on a Covid-work-from-home) and seems to be doing well; but for some reason I hate it, and I’ve never been inside. Was it seeing people queued up to go in when it first opened? I’m not sure. Is it that I walk past the glass walls looking through at people sitting together at tables laughing and sipping wine when I’m on my homewards commute (on my rare commuting days)? Maybe.

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    1. Eataly has many amazing things. However….I don’t know if it’s worth the hype. Except for the rotisserie sandwiches…which are some of the best sandwiches ever…


  6. I’m thankful you continue to show us the real NYC with your weekly recaps. No movies shot here, although I could find some places in SF I’m sure. Wonder if I could do an A to Z of movie locations?

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I adored the flat iron building! In fact I fell in love with NYC and it’s incredible energy.

    As for you, get that make up on, look glam and get a side hustle as ‘glamorous dog walker’ extras get paid well!

    I’m ready for my close up Mr De Mille x


  8. I felt the same way about Palm Springs. The past few years it got extremely popular and my quiet walks downtown a few blocks from our house were nearly impossible. All the Los Angeles and Bay Area people swarmed the town filling up the sidewalks, restaurants, etc. I’m glad to be gone and don’t want to be back. I like the quiet memories I have.

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  9. I was born in the suburbs, raised my kids in the suburbs, and I’ll probably die in the suburbs. My little quiet oasis (aside from my quiet street) is our lake house in Lake County. It’s a three hour drive, one I gladly take, to arrive at “my happy place.” It’s not Lake Tahoe (the flashy fun lake with lots of restaurants, noise, and confusion), Clearlake is very unpopular and that’s what I like the most about it. I’m a fan of change, our downtown Campbell has drastically changed for the better during the last 5 years, I can now walk to fine restaurants and wine bars, but most of the time I find change to be not for the best, especially when it challenges long standing memories. Great Post LA, hugs, C

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I was reading about a small place just 20 miles from NYC-town-Oyster Bay, sounded lovely. I was reading about the teacher who offered a COVID shot to one of her high school students in her home. WOW!! A science teacher and I came across information about the town near Manhattan. It sounded lovely as did the highly rated school district nearby. I was amazed by the story. Unbelievable.

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    1. There are positives. People visiting the neighborhood means services like busses and subways and trash pick up and extra cleaning crews will remain in effect. Plus, if storefronts are occupied there is mlimited chance for squatters or building being allowed to fall into disrepair. The sidewalks in front will be kept freeish of trash and snow will be removed. Also, less people hanging out in front of buildings because theres active business. That’s all good.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. So there is an upside. That’s good. Because I do know what it’s like living in a tourist town. We have more restaurants, arts and entertainment, for sure. Things are not run down. We do have an issue with homelessness and overpriced real estate, though. These are not good things and aren’t improving.

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  11. Now I understand better why you often extol the virtues of living where you do, while giving very short shrift and only occasionally entertaining even any mention of the downside! How long have you lived in that particular location and/or district? Were you born and/or raised there or did you find this pretty close to ideal location in some other way?

    I’m asking because a good friend of mine from college here was born and raised in Brooklyn and then spent most of her adult life in the Los Angeles area. After her divorce she moved from LA to Boston because she thought she couldn’t afford to live in NYC now. Clearly she had reached the conclusion that she was not a California girl (as I am) and now realizes she may truly be a NYC girl.

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