There's Something Oddly Familiar In This 1853 Article About NYC Rent

It's no secret that New York City rent is too damn high.

It's no secret that the rent in New York City is too damn high. Thanks to rapid gentrification, rent has shot up in many once-affordable enclaves of the city. Still, it may be of some small comfort to know that this problem has been plaguing New Yorkers since, approximately, forever. Or, according to this New York Times article, at least since 1853:


The article sums up the apparently eternal New York dilemma:


Can we get an amen? Today, finding an affordable apartment within walking distance of the Subway is a Herculean feat. (And if you do, expect it to resemble a minimalist's prison cell, except with less natural light.) The same Times article also bemoans the difference in lifestyle available to those who lived in less expensive European metropolises of the era:

"Every one sees, on comparing our City life with the European, that small incomes here do not have a fair chance. In Florence, or Munich, or even Paris, a man and his wife can live handsomely on $1000 a year. They will have rooms in a good quarter; they will be able to see socially the best people--that is, the most intelligent people; they can enjoy concerts, galleries, and operas, and have means now and then for an excursion to the Alps or the sea."

Replace "have means now and then for an excursion to the Alps or the sea" with "have the means to pay for utilities and buy groceries," and you could approximate the current New York dilemma for many. Indeed, it's no wonder that more and more people have simply given up on trying to "make it there."

Those who stick it out in New York City, though, may find small comfort in the fact that, at least nowadays, their lives would probably not be any cheaper in Paris.

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