I’m never seeing my Astoria friends again!
May 21, 2015 9:40 AM   Subscribe

But as the city transformed into an exceedingly safe and exceedingly expensive place to live over the past two decades, it’s not only the crime and the pervasive decay that have fallen away, but the close proximity, creating a social commute that echoes and exacerbates a work commute that, at more than six hours a week, is the longest in the nation. People have always traveled to see their friends, of course, but rarely has it been so frequent or far to qualify as a commute
The Social Commute: How the Big Schlep Is Changing the Way New Yorkers Live
posted by griphus (148 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
 
This seems to me not unlike the New York Times BS "Style" pieces. People didn't walk 7 blocks home in the 80s? Sorry, I don't buy that.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 9:42 AM on May 21, 2015 [4 favorites]


I live in Brooklyn off the A/C train, and I prefer not to even date other Brooklyners off the JMZ - which requires a trip out to Manhattan to transfer, and then back into Brooklyn - much less freakin Queens.

In terms of commute time - one hour each way - living where I live and dating someone in Astoria (7 miles away as the crow flies) would be like living in Greensboro NC and dating someone in Durham NC - 55 miles away.
posted by showbiz_liz at 9:46 AM on May 21, 2015 [4 favorites]


Get a bike.
posted by ReeMonster at 9:57 AM on May 21, 2015 [8 favorites]


And here in the provinces, if one of your friends moves to Jamaica Plain and you're in Somerville? Nice knowing you.
posted by overeducated_alligator at 9:57 AM on May 21, 2015 [19 favorites]


my friends moved up to inwood after they got married and no one has seen them since. they call morningside "downtown" and everything else below that might as well be maryland.
posted by poffin boffin at 9:57 AM on May 21, 2015 [7 favorites]


Get a bike.

I have one, but I'm too scared to use it for anything beside pleasure jaunts with friends, because I like my skull un-crushed thank u very much
posted by showbiz_liz at 10:00 AM on May 21, 2015 [6 favorites]


yeah nothing says dating as an adult like getting a ride home from red hook on some guy's handlebars.
posted by poffin boffin at 10:00 AM on May 21, 2015 [23 favorites]


It's not just NYC! I lived in intown Atlanta (Cabbagetown) and if anyone lived in, say, Buckhead or really anywhere OTP, I was like, "Ugh, fuck that, I am not braving traffic for this shit. Call me when you're in L5P or something manageable and meetable."
posted by Kitteh at 10:01 AM on May 21, 2015 [5 favorites]


liz we should get vespas and start a gang
posted by poffin boffin at 10:01 AM on May 21, 2015 [27 favorites]


Hell yes
posted by showbiz_liz at 10:01 AM on May 21, 2015 [6 favorites]


And here in the provinces, if one of your friends moves to Jamaica Plain and you're in Somerville? Nice knowing you.

Yeah, crossing the river is enough of a hassle that we don't even bother usually.
posted by backseatpilot at 10:03 AM on May 21, 2015 [2 favorites]


You should try moving outside of 95. Framingham might as well be East Berlin.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 10:05 AM on May 21, 2015 [13 favorites]


I still picture Boston only as the background of AC3 so I'm just like ugh, you guys, just steal a horse or use the fast travel marker.
posted by poffin boffin at 10:07 AM on May 21, 2015 [18 favorites]


So much of this can be laid post the fret of the MTA and the overburdened infrastructure.

I've got this weird situation where I'm right on top of a major express stop and rail link but I feel weird asking people to come over cause everyone I know lives way out in the outer boroughs and it's basically asking them to commute for an hour each way just for the heady rush of seeing me in person.
posted by The Whelk at 10:07 AM on May 21, 2015 [3 favorites]


Why is it that so many people living in one of the most bustling American cities have such a hard time going JUST A LITTLE out of their way to see friends? I lived in Inwood from 2000-2006, Washington Heights from 2006-2012, and now Sunnyside, Queens ever since. Maybe because of that I've always been accustomed to taking a train/bike ride to see people, and the inevitable slog home at the end of the night. If you don't want that, move to the burbs, get a car, and find someone who lives around the block. I just don't get it. We're becoming so selfish and inconvenienced by things that haven't really changed in decades.

Then again, one of the reasons I was excited to move to Queens is because all of the transients who come here to be cool factor (most of them leaving soon after because it's SO DIRTY here!) seem to want to move to Brooklyn. Good, they can stay there, and continue to think Queens is like some backwater place light years away where they heard there is good international food, but no artisanal toast restaurants so why go there?

Please, Queens, don't change your zoning laws, and keep the disgusting yuppiification in Long Island City.
posted by ReeMonster at 10:07 AM on May 21, 2015 [8 favorites]


The current subway layout gives me a commute that, on paper, looks utterly ridiculous.

I live in a neighborhood that is just under a mile west of the Brooklyn end of the Brooklyn Bridge. The East River is about two blocks north of me, and across the East River from that is the East Village. It is only a seven-mile drive to get to my job.

However - the nearest subway to my apartment is the G train, which only runs from Brooklyn to Queens. So I have a choice of the following commuting options:

1. Take a bus five stops; transfer to first subway, go four stops; transfer to second subway, go five stops. 45-50 minutes door-to-door.

2. Walk just over a mile (25 minutes) to the subway that will actually get me to work. Ride that 8 stops. 45-50 minutes door-to-door.


And the crazy part is that sometimes I've contemplated moving to a neighborhood in which there are no subways and never will be subways.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:09 AM on May 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


EC have you looked into the East River Ferry?
posted by showbiz_liz at 10:12 AM on May 21, 2015


Why is it that so many people living in one of the most bustling American cities have such a hard time going JUST A LITTLE out of their way to see friends?

Connivence is the tide which erodes all things.
posted by The Whelk at 10:12 AM on May 21, 2015 [13 favorites]


Get a bike.

I have one, but I'm too scared to use it for anything beside pleasure jaunts with friends, because I like my skull un-crushed thank u very much


Did you even read the stats? Only 17 cyclists killed. You're way more likely to die simply crossing the street on foot and getting slammed by a taxi or bus than by biking. And I bet more than half of the cycling deaths were due to poor bike riding, lack of helmet, running red lights, poor brakes (or no brakes like on a fixed gear).

Can't tell you how many bikers I see out there riding irresponsibly, unsafely, and disrespectfully. I don't wish harm on them, but I certainly hope their negligence doesn't kill somebody else, if not themselves.

Stop reading articles like that, put your helmet on, attach your lights, keep the headphones low and your wits about you, and open the city up. It's amazing how much ground you can cover on a bike, and the amount of time and money you save is drastic, even over a single week!
posted by ReeMonster at 10:12 AM on May 21, 2015 [9 favorites]


Did you even read the stats?

Literally every regular bicyclist I know has been in an accident. Not like a life-threatening accident, necessarily, but I don't think I know a single person who bikes as their primary means of transportation and hasn't taken a spill, or gotten doored or whatever.

Biking is great and I envy my friends with the fortitude to do it regularly but holy shit is it absolutely not a panacea in NYC.
posted by griphus at 10:14 AM on May 21, 2015 [40 favorites]


Yeah an associate of mine just broke his collarbone cycling and guess who doesn't have great insurance? Freelance cartoonists! And this is like the 5th painful/expensive accident I've had happen in my social group in So many years so all of my biking will be indoors, away from poorly maintained streets and cars.
posted by The Whelk at 10:18 AM on May 21, 2015 [6 favorites]


Yeah if I fell off a bike I think landing on my helmeted head would be the least of my worries, way behind excessive road rash and also maybe never walking again if I hit a spot on maybe 50% of my spine.

stupid spine why are you made of cheetos

Also tbh it doesn't matter what your skill or lack thereof is on a bike in nyc as much as it matters whether or not you are near any of the creepily large number of nyc drivers who become furious rage machines at the thought of sharing the road with cyclists. I'm not even a bike person and I can still see how many people in cars will get get irrationally furious at totally normal, non-aggro, totally mindful and law-abiding cyclist behavior.
posted by poffin boffin at 10:21 AM on May 21, 2015 [8 favorites]


I am a wretched ball of anxiety in my everyday life and I am a cyclist to and from work. I don't even live in NYC so I can't imagine the constant fear I'd have cycling every day there. (I mean, I would but my teeth would be ground to bloody nubs and I'd cry all the time.)
posted by Kitteh at 10:22 AM on May 21, 2015


The article correctly cites that a good amount of this owes to the hub-and-spoke nature of the subway system. It's the same here in Boston--if you live in Cambridge and you want to visit a friend in East Boston, you have to take the T downtown, walk a little bit (or do two transfers), and then get on another line going out of the downtown area. I think most transit systems, at least in the US, are the same. Is there any good example of a well-implemented 'spiderweb' rail system in a major city somewhere in the world?

It seems like something we just won't get in the US anytime soon, considering the substantial amount of engineering work that would be required, and the unwillingness of most of the American public and the politicians that represent us to spend money on any transit mode that's not related to cars.
posted by Kosh at 10:22 AM on May 21, 2015 [5 favorites]


EC have you looked into the East River Ferry?

$$$$$$$ Yeah. $$$$$$

Plus, in that case, the commute would turn into: "Take a bus 6 stops, walk two or three blocks to the ferry stop, ride the ferry 4 stops, transfer on to the shuttle bus that goes in a loop to get you to your workplace, ride that bus for the entirety of its 31-block route." It'd add about a half hour or more to my commute.

I did use the ferry during the Hurricane Sandy aftermath, however, when the power was still down in the East Village and the only other option was to elbow for space in one of the three jam-packed shuttle buses they had ferrying people from three hubs in Midtown across into three other random hubs in Brooklyn - an experience which, the one time I did that, reminded me of footage I'd seen of the evacuation of the embassy in Saigon.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:22 AM on May 21, 2015 [2 favorites]


I can't bike because of a sight issue. We live on the UWS, not far from Central Park, and it has actually spoiled me from ever living in a borough.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 10:22 AM on May 21, 2015


Is there any good example of a well-implemented 'spiderweb' rail system in a major city somewhere in the world?

Doesn't the Moscow subway have that one line that goes in a big circle near the endpoint of all the lines?
posted by poffin boffin at 10:24 AM on May 21, 2015 [2 favorites]


Why is it that so many people living in one of the most bustling American cities have such a hard time going JUST A LITTLE out of their way to see friends?

Two hours round trip when you work until 6 or 7 isn't a little out of the way, especially once you get old enough that sleep can't be ignored. Throw in kids and the trade off is almost never worth it. This is as much a story about shifting priorities over time as anything. Sadly, I've found it easier to just make new friends.
posted by snickerdoodle at 10:24 AM on May 21, 2015 [18 favorites]


I go to visit my Brooklyn and Manhattan pals on a regular basis. And, fortunately, I coincidentally have former co-workers as now-friends who live across the street from me.
posted by droplet at 10:25 AM on May 21, 2015


I'd agree with roomthreeseventeen except for the dire eating out situation -- although being able to waltz into Zabars for any little thing is a luxury beyond price.
posted by The Whelk at 10:26 AM on May 21, 2015


dire eating out situation

Well, yeah. We cook a lot, or get on the subway.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 10:28 AM on May 21, 2015


Sadly, I've found it easier to just make new friends.

The one thing that does work is meeting up in lower Manhattan, but then you start having to spend a bunch of money on a likely-mediocre bar...
posted by showbiz_liz at 10:28 AM on May 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


Just moved to Jersey City, 2 stops out on the PATH train. It takes me 15-20 minutes to get to midtown, but ask someone over? I might as well be living on the fucking moon.
(PS, the best way to get around Manhattan is Rollerblades...sidewalk when traffic, street when pedestrians, smaller target than bike.)
posted by sexyrobot at 10:29 AM on May 21, 2015 [4 favorites]


It takes me 15-20 minutes to get to midtown, but ask someone over? I might as well be living on the fucking moon.

I think at least part of the problem is that everyone who wants people to move there always pitches Jersey City as JUST STEPS AWAY FROM MIDTOWN and never mentioning that for maybe 90% of NYC, midtown is a pain in the ass of a commute no one wants to make all on its own before taking the PATH train even comes into question.
posted by griphus at 10:31 AM on May 21, 2015 [13 favorites]


I understand this thread was always going to bring out the I-can't-be-bothered-anymore brigade in disproportionate numbers, but may I just say that I live in Astoria, and I have all-over-Brooklyn & Uptown friends visiting regularly, and have no problem taking the trouble to visit them too.

Also, if you're being so insular in NYC that you'd rather lose friends than change a train every once in a while, then (and I don't say this lightly) you're New Yorking wrong.
posted by chicobangs at 10:31 AM on May 21, 2015 [6 favorites]


[A few comments deleted. This thread needs to not be a fight about bicyclists vs everybody.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 10:31 AM on May 21, 2015 [3 favorites]


Plus taking the PATH is an extra expense.
posted by showbiz_liz at 10:31 AM on May 21, 2015


does the PATH still close down at night like a train for foreign savages
posted by poffin boffin at 10:32 AM on May 21, 2015 [23 favorites]


This article actually made me really miss New York, in large part because at one point the author described a $700/mo studio on a major 24h(ish) subway line.
posted by en forme de poire at 10:32 AM on May 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


The PATH is also hard to use late night. Ask me how I know.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 10:33 AM on May 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


Not wanting to go see friends who no longer live in your immediate area gets weirder and worse when you live in other large cities, but ones that don't have anything like a subway (but they do have buses). If it's a weekend night, okay, I totally have the time to factor in a bus ride coming and going, but on a work night, it just can't happen.
posted by Kitteh at 10:33 AM on May 21, 2015 [4 favorites]


Please, Queens, don't change your zoning laws, and keep the disgusting yuppiification in Long Island City.

Right on.

Signed,
Just moved from Woodside to Jackson Heights and was pissed off to see an article about the latter in the Times yesterday

NB: It's not cool to want to shut the door behind you after you move into a neighborhood. I understand this. But in NYC, people discovering a neighborhood means that in two or three years, the place you moved to 15 years ago before the Times had written about it will be too expensive for you to afford anymore (hi, Sunnyside) and I'm fucking sick of having to move farther and farther east.
posted by holborne at 10:33 AM on May 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


EC: from Cobble Hill/Carroll Gardens (where one of my closest and most-visted friends lives) I've all but given up on dealing with the G at all, or the F for that matter. Just gotta walk it to the Union St. R train or the Hoyt St. 2/3 or, if it's nice enough, straight to Atlantic.

The G is a lot better than it used to be, service-wise, but the bigger problem with it was always that it is 100% useless for transfers to anything else. That hasn't changed.
posted by Navelgazer at 10:33 AM on May 21, 2015


I understand this thread was always going to bring out the I-can't-be-bothered brigade in disproportionate numbers, but may I just say that I live in Astoria, and I have Brooklyn & Uptown friends coming by all the time, and I'm happy to take the trouble too.

Also, if you're being that insular in NYC to the point where you'd rather lose friends than change a train every once in a while, then (and I don't say this lightly) you're New Yorking wrong.


Time is not infinite. If just the train to visit someone takes 2 hours, and you want to see friends more than once a week, that adds the fuck up real quick. I have shit to do besides sit on a train, after all the other hours of sitting on a train I already have to do for work.
posted by showbiz_liz at 10:34 AM on May 21, 2015 [9 favorites]



Just moved from Woodside to Jackson Heights and was pissed off to see an article about the latter in the Times yesterday

Don't worry, NYT has been writing the same bi-annual jackson heights article for the last 15 years,
posted by lalochezia at 10:35 AM on May 21, 2015 [3 favorites]


Yeah, like I'll go see a friend who lives a three-hour round trip from me, but there's no way I'm doing that regularly.

In high school, a friend of mine from Homecrest dated a girl from Staten Island and they saw one another basically every day and I mean that is practically the definition of going to the ends of the earth for love.
posted by griphus at 10:37 AM on May 21, 2015 [12 favorites]


honestly i think it would take less time for me to get a cab to newark airport and fly to brunch in another country than it would for me to get to astoria by train.
posted by poffin boffin at 10:39 AM on May 21, 2015 [19 favorites]


At least the ferry has beer.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 10:39 AM on May 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


Agreeing that Jackson Heights is pretty safe (from pricing out). So is Sunnyside, as much as everyone wants to think it's not. Sure rent is going up, but there isn't room for development or building new buildings. The apartments may get a bit pricier, but they are doing that everywhere (ahem, Inwood????). As long as Queens never becomes legitimately cool then I think we're good.
posted by ReeMonster at 10:45 AM on May 21, 2015


if apartments can cost more in williamsburg than they do in the west village then literally anything is possible
posted by poffin boffin at 10:47 AM on May 21, 2015 [4 favorites]


I no lie arranged a social outing last night based purely around the concept that if sharing a set of keys was going to mean that my girlfriend and I had to meet up in Park Slope then by god we were going to make a night of it.
posted by Navelgazer at 10:49 AM on May 21, 2015 [5 favorites]



I think at least part of the problem is that everyone who wants people to move there always pitches Jersey City as JUST STEPS AWAY FROM MIDTOWN and never mentioning that for maybe 90% of NYC, midtown is a pain in the ass of a commute no one wants to make all on its own before taking the PATH train even comes into question.


Hi, it's not like the PATH train has one stop in midtown (which yes, rush hour nightmare)...there's also 23rd, 14th, 9th and Christopher street, take your pick. (Or don't, fine, I will have ALL the homemade ice cream from the place a block away, none for you :P) And nights/weekends are better now...you just have to take an extra stop in Hoboken, bro.
posted by sexyrobot at 10:49 AM on May 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


from Cobble Hill/Carroll Gardens (where one of my closest and most-visted friends lives) I've all but given up on dealing with the G at all, or the F for that matter. Just gotta walk it to the Union St. R train or the Hoyt St. 2/3 or, if it's nice enough, straight to Atlantic.

Yup. I actually don't mind the adventure out of my way to visit people in other neighborhoods, and my friends are also usually of much the same spirit. Although, the neighborhood we seem to meet up in most often is Red Hook, which has no subway access and only two bus lines. We're usually able to only tempt Manhattanites to visit if one of my Brooklyn friends who has a car offers to give the Manhattanites a ride to the nearest express subway stop (and then he runs me up to Clinton Hill before returning to his own place in Crown Heights, bless him).

The G is a lot better than it used to be, service-wise, but the bigger problem with it was always that it is 100% useless for transfers to anything else. That hasn't changed.

Eeeeeeexactly.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:51 AM on May 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


As long as Queens never becomes legitimately cool then I think we're good.

Well, but serious question: what's keeping it from getting that way? I mean, I'm NYC born and bred, and I very well remember the time when people honest to god, literally would not travel to Brooklyn, and would say it in those words: "I don't go to Brooklyn." And of course, there was the "bridge and tunnel" sneering. And now, starting in, what, 1999 or so, it became more and more of a desirable location, and now, you literally cannot afford to live in much of Brooklyn. So why won't the same thing happen to Queens?

Of course, when I moved to Sunnyside in 2003, my law firm colleagues asked where I was moving and I said "Queens." I'll never forget the reaction: to a one, it was "QUEENS??!?!?!?!" complete with nose-wrinkling. You'd think I'd said I was building myself a grass hut with an attached outhouse out on the BQE. So, who knows.
posted by holborne at 10:54 AM on May 21, 2015 [6 favorites]


I feel like this is just a city thing in general, particularly with the hassles of city living? Like I have friends that live in Ballard but getting there from work in Bellevue is such a goddamn hassle I hate doing it because I have to take the interstate into the city and then go through surface streets and find parking and uggggh. In the meantime I live in the northern suburbs and people act like I live in the unexplored heart of the jungle. Sometimes I go driving around outlying cities that are maybe an hour's drive away and they act like I'm in one of those islands by New Zealand that are still inhabited by Stone Age tribes.

I think it's just the way not having access to a car (or having a car but having it be a hassle) shapes your perception of travel and time.

It's nothing on my San Francisco friends that act like crossing the Bay to Oakland is a spirit quest to be undertaken once in your life and then you may never return and gasp in horror when I'm driving through Concord or something.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 10:57 AM on May 21, 2015 [12 favorites]


This is an issue in Chicago too. To me, people who live in say, Wicker Park might as well be living in Iowa for as often as I'm going to be seeing them. Maybe I'm lazy but to me me it feels more like tired from working and commuting each weekday and not wanting to spend my evenings and weekends doing the same. Bikes are fine and dandy, but only under certain weather, distance and wardrobe circumstances. If I can walk to you, though, you're golden.

The spread-outedness of everything sucks though and is one big reason I want to move to a smaller city.
posted by Jess the Mess at 10:57 AM on May 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


I get the impression that basically everyone uses the subway/buses/taxis/bikes/walking to get around NYC already anyway. I think the article does a good job of acknowledging that in its suggestion of addressing transit overload and the hub-and-spoke pattern with dedicated rapid bus transit lanes and infrastructure.

I would add that there isn't really room for on-street auto parking to take up public space beyond loading and unloading, and that if you want safe, accessible biking, dedicate 10'+ lanes for them. If that makes the streets too narrow, alternate car streets and active transportation streets, the way some cities have alternating one-way streets.
posted by aniola at 11:02 AM on May 21, 2015 [4 favorites]


Brooklynites like to harp on the G and moan about the L, but the most inherently hilarious line is the M. It starts in Forest Hills, Queens, runs with the R into Manhattan, down into Brooklyn alongside the JZ via the Williamsburg Birdge, and then back up to Middle Village, Queens, terminating just over 2 miles from where it started, separated by not much more than a cemetery. When we lived in southern Kew Gardens, we could just walk 20 minutes or so to the J, but man, why not connect the fucking loop on the M and serve the neighborhoods north of Metropolitan for a relative cost of zero dollars? It baffles me every time I think about it.

There's all sorts of other nonsense going on near the Queens–Brooklyn border. Why does the A stop so short of Sutphin Blvd? Why is it necessary to change trains to keep going south at Sutphin? Why is the bus hub six blocks away at Jamaica Center serviced by three different lines when a even shuttle train would probably be overkill? Why does the 3 merrily hop over the L and terminate 5 blocks from the A like it's allergic to transfers?

Speaking of transfers, why are Queensboro Plaza and Queens Plaza even separate stations, much less separate stations that disallow walking transfers? And why does the G terminate one stop away from either of them, requiring you to transfer to the 7 and then immediately to the train you actually want if you're looking to get to most of Queens?

Brooklyn and Queens could be connected so easily, and it's shameful that instead they're dumping money into East Side Access and the T.
posted by WCWedin at 11:07 AM on May 21, 2015 [19 favorites]


I live on the JMZ. My So lives in Morningside Heights. So it can be done. But you have to factor travel into your plans. I generally go up Friday evenings and return home on Saturday or Sunday. The Friday trains are during rush hour, and the weekend ones, well, I make sure my phone is charged.

Also, I feel that New York actually has the least hub and spoke structured subway I've seen. At most you find a circular line like in London or Moscow, but there is always a central point where the trains converge on all other subway systems I've seen. The Tokyo Metro actually looks like this, not this. In the US, Boston and DC are worse, and going size wise, London and Paris are similar. The New York Subway map is unique in more or less showing the actual location of stops, not just showing a diagramatic map.

I think this is a factor for any modern mass transit system that is designed to get people to work in the downtown/center/financial area of the city, first and foremost.
posted by Hactar at 11:09 AM on May 21, 2015 [3 favorites]


So why won't the same thing happen to Queens?

In part, it already is. I know people on the verge of being priced out of their apartments in Queens and I'm pretty sure newspapers and blogs around here are under some sort of contractual requirement to run "Long Island City is the new Williamsburg" every so often. But Queens never hit the contemporary zeitgeist the way "NYC" (read: Manhattan) had for time eternal, and the way Brooklyn did in the late-90s/early-2000s. So the same thing isn't going to happen to Queens in the same way, but it might happen in a different way, as everyone priced out of Manhattan runs there because they're priced out of Brooklyn too.
posted by griphus at 11:10 AM on May 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


Speaking of transfers, why are Queensboro Plaza and Queens Plaza even separate stations, much less separate stations that disallow walking transfers? And why does the G terminate one stop away from either of them, requiring you to transfer to the 7 and then immediately to the train you actually want if you're looking to get to most of Queens?

Fucking seriously.
posted by showbiz_liz at 11:12 AM on May 21, 2015 [6 favorites]


That "six hours a week" work commute comment; it's some kind of NYC in-joke thing, right?
posted by scruss at 11:12 AM on May 21, 2015 [3 favorites]


This is where I get to brag about my courting of ThePinkSuperhero when she was in Astoria and I was in Washington Heights, right? And I was commuting to Union Square for work at the time. I thank Jesus that I discovered the M60 bus (which I should have known about already but why learn about LaGuardia unless you have to?)
posted by Stynxno at 11:17 AM on May 21, 2015 [8 favorites]


Well, I personally have a 30 minute commute each way, making me the envy of my entire office, so that amounts to 5 hours. But a couple of people who work here have a 1.5 to 2 hour commute each way, so that's 15 to 20 hours - close to half again the time they spend at work.
posted by showbiz_liz at 11:18 AM on May 21, 2015


This is giving me flashbacks to when I was in law school. I lived in Northern Queens with my parents in Bellerose, just slightly west of Nassau County. I went to Brooklyn Law School. To get to school, I had to walk 10 minutes to the bus, take the bus 30 minutes to Kew Gardens to transfer to the F train, then take the F train through Queens, into Manhattan, south through Manhattan to Brooklyn, out at Jay Street. I have repressed how long it took, but that F train ride was great for a nap or doing my homework. If only I had gotten in to St. John's instead of getting waitlisted. I passed that school every day on the bus on my way to Brooklyn.
posted by ceejaytee at 11:20 AM on May 21, 2015


my commute is 1h/wk and it still feels like an ordeal when it's 100 outside.
posted by poffin boffin at 11:21 AM on May 21, 2015


The answer to "Why don't these two obviously close lines connect?" is almost always traceable back to the subway being cobbled together from three different private companies with different standards, including different gauges of track.
posted by ocherdraco at 11:22 AM on May 21, 2015 [10 favorites]


New York City: It's one big LDR.
posted by JanetLand at 11:22 AM on May 21, 2015 [2 favorites]


As long as Queens never becomes legitimately cool then I think we're good.

Well, but serious question: what's keeping it from getting that way?


Honestly, I don't know. I'm NYC born and bred too, and kidding aside, I think Queens is super cool, especially Sunnyside (and if you live here and haven't tried the new Sole Luna cafe on 40th and Queens Blvd it's great) so whatever. But Queens somehow stayed out of that "desirability" radar for a long time. Moving out here made me feel "at home" again among real New Yorkers. No scenes, no hipsters (although that is slowly changing ugh). Aside from Goodfellas, there hasn't been any kind of romanticization of this borough. Only annoying articles in the NYTimes every once in a while talking about the great bakeries in Jackson Heights/Elmhurst or whatever.
posted by ReeMonster at 11:24 AM on May 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


I live in Astoria and go visit people all over the city and they come to my place and literally - literally! - the only time I ever see people bitching about the trip to Astoria is on metafilter.

I guess my friends are all doing it behind my back.
posted by gaspode at 11:24 AM on May 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


That "six hours a week" work commute comment; it's some kind of NYC in-joke thing, right?

Uhhh...I commute like ten hours a week for work. Although my New York miracle has finally happened: all of my friends moved to my neighborhood. I can finally walk to my social life!
posted by the_blizz at 11:27 AM on May 21, 2015 [5 favorites]


My commute week is basically six hours.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 11:29 AM on May 21, 2015


I live in downtown Manhattan and work in midtown. If I take the subway and I'm not dropping either of the kids off at school, my commute can be as little as six hours a week.

If I am stupid enough to get in a cab, say because I have a morning call and can't be underground, the trip that would be 20 minutes and $2.75 instantly takes and hour and costs thirty bucks.

There are CitiBike stations literally outside the doors of both my house and my office, but there is not enough accidental death and disability insurance in the world.
posted by The Bellman at 11:39 AM on May 21, 2015


After riding the bad joke that is Muni for about a year and a half, I can tell you I would gladly run back into the G train's stubby embrace any day of the week.

Re: the M line, in addition to what ocherdraco said, metro loops are hard on their drivers and are more difficult to keep running reliably.
posted by en forme de poire at 11:40 AM on May 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


Moving out here made me feel "at home" again among real New Yorkers. No scenes, no hipsters

You know what they say, if you can't identify the hipster in the neighborhood, then it could be you.

Honestly, I live in a much much smaller city than NY. I can walk and/or bike nearly everywhere and even I sometimes find myself unwilling to make a cross-town visit if it takes more than that.
posted by octobersurprise at 11:53 AM on May 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


I don't think I know a single person who bikes as their primary means of transportation and hasn't taken a spill, or gotten doored or whatever

I've been using a bike as my primary means of transportation in famously cycle-friendly Atlanta for like 7-8 years now, including a few where I literally did not own a car. My "worst" accident was getting bumped by a car merging over, then having her insurance pay me $500 not to sue. I put worst in quotes because my actual worst crashes have been of the "hold my beer" variety. Bikes are not the man-manglers they're being made out to be here.

I'm not saying cycling is for everyone -- it takes a certain level of nonchalance towards bodily injury to keep riding after the innumerable close calls I've had -- but if you can drive through Manhattan without hitting something, you can ride through Manhattan without getting hit. I've done it, and I'm one of those damned tourists!

Plus, my commute time is the same on the bike as in the car. But if I do it by bike, I get to bike.
posted by Panjandrum at 11:53 AM on May 21, 2015 [5 favorites]


My grandparents live in Queens so for me it's totally not cool. But the food there is pretty awesome.
posted by cazoo at 11:54 AM on May 21, 2015


Framingham might as well be East Berlin.

Well served by a reasonably priced U-bahn?
posted by biffa at 11:58 AM on May 21, 2015


Also chiming in to say... a six hour a week average is some kind of national high? This LA resident has trouble believing that.
posted by weston at 12:00 PM on May 21, 2015 [2 favorites]


My friends who worked in downtown LA and lives in the suburbs outside of LA considered their 3-hr-each-way-in-traffic commutes to be normal so I think you guys might be whatever the opposite of spoiled is about that.
posted by griphus at 12:03 PM on May 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


Yeah, 3hrs/wk in LA seems like it would be on the low end. Also the "social commute" is definitely an issue in LA as well - if you live in Highland Park, chances are you'll very rarely see your friends who live in Venice. Same for any combination of roughly east side and west side.
posted by heisenberg at 12:10 PM on May 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


it's kind of like stockholm syndrome.
posted by poffin boffin at 12:10 PM on May 21, 2015




NYC commute is just as bad as any trafficy city, difference is that you can read a book.
posted by wcfields at 12:11 PM on May 21, 2015 [5 favorites]


I've been saying for a while that LA is really hard on friendships for pretty much exactly this reason - if you don't live in the same part of town, you're not going to have spontaneous get togethers very often.

I just planned meeting for tacos with some friends six days in advance, FFS, because that's when I was going to be near a bar we wanted to visit anyway.
posted by flaterik at 12:12 PM on May 21, 2015


My friends who worked in downtown LA and lives in the suburbs outside of LA considered their 3-hr-each-way-in-traffic commutes to be normal

They are insane and that is not normal, at least not amongst anyone I know.
posted by flaterik at 12:13 PM on May 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


I've been saying for a while that LA is really hard on friendships for pretty much exactly this reason - if you don't live in the same part of town, you're not going to have spontaneous get togethers very often.

I'm also kind of wondering if this just isn't the new normal no matter where you live. It seems like it's terribly hard to pin down plans with anyone anymore, regardless of where you are. Like, some friends of ours are house-sitting two blocks away and we're seeing them more frequently, but when they lived three or four blocks more away, we hardly ever saw them at all except to schedule a hangout a week or two in advance. I dunno, it just seems like unless you live next door or one street over, get ready to make the neighbours your besties because everyone else you know (and yourself included) finds it incredibly difficult to make plans at all.
posted by Kitteh at 12:16 PM on May 21, 2015 [2 favorites]


Six hours a weeks seems pretty minimal to me, that's only 36 minutes each way which is pretty close to my car commute of seven miles across a smallish city. If I were to take public transit, it would be ~50 minutes each way which would come to over eight hours a week.
posted by octothorpe at 12:28 PM on May 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


Even in manhattan, sometimes, it seems too much of a botheration to go to some place away from subway station.

I have caught myself checking whether I really want to be there once I saw how far it is from the nearest subway.

\distances, commute times are all relative... its just the mindset.
posted by TheLittlePrince at 12:31 PM on May 21, 2015


Try living somewhere that's sprawling and also hasn't got a decent public transit system (and when you don't drive other than when absolutely necessary). Friends? Ha. What a laugh.
posted by blucevalo at 12:36 PM on May 21, 2015 [4 favorites]


I'm also kind of wondering if this just isn't the new normal no matter where you live.

I have a very vibrant community of friends on FB, and we use it very frequently to plan seeing each other in person. Posts from people I don't get much outside-of-an-event time with led to me seeing Mad Max twice this week (well, that an the awesomeness of Mad Max) with people it would never occur to me to just pick up the phone and call!
I'm not how we'd accomplish that without social media, really, and when I see people complain about how FB has replaced physical interaction all I can think is that they're doing it wrong.
posted by flaterik at 12:37 PM on May 21, 2015


I CitiBike all the time. Worst accident: broken hand (in a cast for six weeks) when a teenaged skateboarder knocked me off my bike. Largely my own stupid fault: I was going the right way in the bike lane, he was going the wrong way, and I did the incredibly dumb "why should I move over, I'm in the right" thing.
posted by holborne at 12:38 PM on May 21, 2015


the time i saw a 2 bike crash between a guy zooming the wrong way down w13th street and a guy blasting down 7th avenue both against the light and through a heavily crowded crosswalk is a moment i will cherish forever.
posted by poffin boffin at 12:41 PM on May 21, 2015 [6 favorites]


I'm not how we'd accomplish that without social media, really, and when I see people complain about how FB has replaced physical interaction all I can think is that they're doing it wrong.

Maybe? My husband and I are part of our local vegetarian group but we're having trouble getting the founding members to understand a huge part of the people who signed up online via the actual group's website might not all use FB to be notified of group events. I think it might depend if you're someone for whom FB is a constant need/use. I rarely check mine anymore as does he. I'd rather text to get in touch with folks for actual plans.
posted by Kitteh at 12:42 PM on May 21, 2015


I'm also kind of wondering if this just isn't the new normal no matter where you live.

Sure seems that way to me here in Seattle; everyone I see with any frequency has moved into a neighborhood roughly one mile in diameter. People who live in West Seattle tend to complain that nobody will ever come to visit them, when "it's really only 15-20 minutes away!", but the only route there is a famously clogged freeway, so those of us whose social lives do not routinely involve freeway travel see it as practically a different city.

Of course we don't have a subway in this benighted hellhole of a transit-deprived wannabe city, so that might affect things a little.
posted by Mars Saxman at 12:58 PM on May 21, 2015 [2 favorites]


um I think our refusal to spend our limited free time on traveling to visit friends who don't live right by us might in part be traceable to the fact that our average working day has been gradually lengthened over the course of the last 40 years, ensuring that we have as little time possible for being at all human.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 1:04 PM on May 21, 2015 [21 favorites]


Yeah, I'd buy that this is just "normal" in cities, particularly for less-affluent people who tend to be flung to the perimeters of cities (and to places that are less served by rapid transit, because those tend to be oriented to bring people in and out of $bigmoneydistrict). Like, SF is tiny, but everything northwest of Market Street might as well be in Canada as far as I'm concerned -- it's easier for me to get to the South Bay than it is to the Sunset or Pacific Heights.
posted by en forme de poire at 1:06 PM on May 21, 2015 [4 favorites]


It's nothing on my San Francisco friends that act like crossing the Bay to Oakland is a spirit quest to be undertaken once in your life and then you may never return and gasp in horror when I'm driving through Concord or something.

I live in SF and I love Oakland, but I have taken transit on a weeknight to get from the Inner Richmond to visit friends in Montclair and it is a long, slow slog both ways. Since BART only runs from Rockridge once every 20 minutes(!!!) after commute hours, timing that and then transferring to the joy that is the 38-Geary... by the time you get home you want to forget you ever made the trek.
posted by psoas at 1:08 PM on May 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


Theory: maybe the apparent change in willingness to travel isn't increasing "selfishness", but more that people are staying in contact with friends that they don't live in the same neighborhood with, and therefore have more invitations for inconveniently-located events than they'd have in the past?

I suspect that Facebook et al allow people to stay in touch with casual friends of the sort that in a previous generation you might have just let fade away, once you didn't live in the same neighborhood anymore. That sort of geographic agnosticism is nice for staying in touch with people, getting invited to parties, etc., but it also means you tend to get invited to a lot of things that you might not have gotten asked to show up to in the past, when your circle of friends was probably more dominated by people who lived in the same neighborhood.

There are a ton of birthday parties, neighborhood cookouts, group dinners, and the like that I probably only get invited to by acquaintances because it's easy to send out a bunch of invites via Facebook or evite or just plain old email or text message. In a previous era I suspect I wouldn't have gotten invited to a lot of these, when you had to individually call people or send printed invitations or just invite people casually by running into them in person, and I probably wouldn't invite as many people to the same sort of events when I host them. It just wouldn't happen. So it doesn't surprise me if people feel more drawn to travel further for social events.
posted by Kadin2048 at 1:11 PM on May 21, 2015 [12 favorites]


I suspect that Facebook et al allow people to stay in touch with casual friends of the sort that in a previous generation you might have just let fade away, once you didn't live in the same neighborhood anymore.

Yup. I relied heavily on FB when I moved to Canada to keep in touch with all my friends back in Atlanta--at least the ones I wasn't on a daily texting basis with before I departed the Dirty Dirty--but now that I've been here six years, it feels less and less like a strong connection and more like a memory and brief glimpse of people I still love dearly but never see.
posted by Kitteh at 1:16 PM on May 21, 2015


My theory: "Last Mile" + plummeting crime rate in NYC + social media + maps-on-smartphones= explosion of more city-wide activity.

The speed of the subway vs. the speed of walking means that going a handful more stops is really not that much of a deal, compared to the time it takes to navigate once you get out of the subway.

The general sentiment that NYC is much more safer (already covered by the article) means that you're more open to wandering.

Social media to keep in contact is obviously a huge thing, but I find that Facebook also becomes used as a de-facto events platform by many events organizers that I know, like a shared internet calendar of sorts that's nearly guaranteed to have the vast majority of people on it.

Most importantly, the widespread use of smartphones-with-GPS (which is super recent, obviously) and the availability of maps / Yelp / Foursquare let's you navigate easily in unfamiliar neighborhoods, and find restaurants in places you've never been before.

Remember the time when you had to draw little maps of places you were going to go to, beforehand? The Queens grid is such a clusterfuck of confusion (avenues! places! roads! drives! terraces! lanes!) that I'd imagine that the grid system alone would have been a reason not to meet in Queens ("I'm at 21st Drive and 21st Avenue! Or did you mean 21st Avenue and 21st Drive?").

Manhattan as a coordinate system was probably much simpler / easier to default to. Maps-enabled smartphones do away with this issue.
posted by suedehead at 1:27 PM on May 21, 2015 [2 favorites]


Is there any good example of a well-implemented 'spiderweb' rail system in a major city somewhere in the world?

Paris is maddeningly well-networked if you're coming from the U.S. Mexico City ain't too shabby neither.
posted by psoas at 1:30 PM on May 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


It's Seattle, too. It takes me two hours to get from Wedgwood to First Hill on public transit. This is any time of day or night, and only seven miles.
posted by JLovebomb at 1:46 PM on May 21, 2015 [2 favorites]


In two hours, you could walk seven miles pretty easily.
posted by octothorpe at 1:54 PM on May 21, 2015


Yes, then I can have zero energy to spend on helping my fully paralyzed partner through his day at his physical therapy rehab. I'll take the bus, thanks.
posted by JLovebomb at 2:05 PM on May 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'm sympathetic to you guys and your "too far to see my friends!" woes because here in Peoria, if someone wants me to drive twelve minutes to the new mall, instead of eight to the old one, I have to seriously consider whether we can still be friends, because guys, that's faaaaaaaaaaaaar! People here all the time refuse to go see friends "across the river" (5 minutes, on the freeway) because, well, it's across the river. Far!

griphus: "Literally every regular bicyclist I know has been in an accident."
The Whelk: "Yeah an associate of mine just broke his collarbone cycling "

My husband, the avid cyclist, broke his collarbone cycling (for a SECOND time!) when we had a two-week-old infant and I was recovering from a C-section. He could not pick up either of our children and I could not lift the toddler. We had to have my teenaged brother come lug the kids around for ten days. (Teenaged boys love spending 10 days of their summer vacations at the beck and call of their older sisters, lugging fussy babies around around the clock!)

What I'm saying is, had I killed my husband, as I was tempted to, it would have gone down in the stats as a murder, but it would have been an entirely bike-accident-caused death.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 2:15 PM on May 21, 2015 [24 favorites]


I have taken transit on a weeknight to get from the Inner Richmond to visit friends in Montclair and it is a long, slow slog both ways

On a weeknight? That would be awful, no question, although another option would be Muni to downtown and then a Transbay bus. Still ugly, though.

I go into the city from the East Bay about once a week, and I end up driving about half the time because getting to my friends' place in Noe Valley on transit is so unpleasant and unpredictable.
posted by suelac at 2:17 PM on May 21, 2015


I used to be friend with a co-worker at my last job. I lived in West Seattle and we hung out in Georgetown all the time to drink at this bar. Well, he decided he wanted a workshop, so he moved up to Bothell and rented a house.

It was a weird conversation, like he was going off to certain death in a battle or something. The wistful, "I'll see you soon" was so knowingly hollow....

I haven't talked to him in 2 or 3 years.
posted by lattiboy at 2:38 PM on May 21, 2015 [5 favorites]


Hilariously I just found a restaurant a bunch of my friends might be interested in and announced ROAD TRIP. It's in Burien. Like an hour south of us all.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 2:39 PM on May 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


Literally every regular bicyclist I know has been in an accident. Not like a life-threatening accident, necessarily, but I don't think I know a single person who bikes as their primary means of transportation and hasn't taken a spill, or gotten doored or whatever.

Ehhhhhh... I have mixed feelings on this one. Do you know anyone who hasn't been in some kind of car accident? I realize those are less likely to cause injury, but it's not riding a motorcycle or anything.

I've cycled pretty much nonstop since childhood, and biked to work for years. I've had several stupid accidents and a concussion, but most of them and most of the ones i hear of my friends being in are kind of just... your own fault. Inebriation, stupidity/carelessness/distraction, ignoring posted signs or breaking the law or something(like riding down a street with embedded light rail tracks despite signs saying to detour).

Operator error is much more likely to cause injury than in a car, but the actual danger is very much overplayed if you're not being a doofus. I always wonder how much of those statistics is guys on brakeless fixed gears who treat red lights as stop signs. I know a bunch of bike messengers and polo players who ride like fucking stuntmen.

I don't think either of my old bosses, both of whom bike to work over 90% of the time, have been in any kind of accident in years because they're careful and don't do stupid shit. I really wish there were real statistics on what percentage of the injuries and fatalities were just drunk or careless 20somethings, because this has got to be a sharp dropoff sort of thing if you plotted it.

I agree it's not a panacea, but the risk of it is pretty overplayed.

It's Seattle, too. It takes me two hours to get from Wedgwood to First Hill on public transit. This is any time of day or night, and only seven miles.

Ugh, the fucking bus system here. It's reliable and goes basically everywhere, but good luck getting some places after 10pm, or in a reasonable amount of time.

When i was in high school it was a 20-25 minute drive, or like no shit 90 minutes on the bus. It was just one bus too, but your ass would get numb. It took kids who lived WAY further out less time to get there, like west seattle or mercer island. Then i moved, and it still took an hour unless the buses lined up perfectly. Checking now, yea, it was 7 miles. From the other place it was more like 5.

The slow bus system and no one i know having cars has created a sort of funny thing, in which there's many places no one will bother to go and many places you can move where no one will ever visit you. It's about like what's described here. People frequently go "woah, you went ALL THE WAY DOWN THERE?!?! to get something off craigslist?!?". Or someone moves to deep beacon hill and i see them once every two months.
posted by emptythought at 2:54 PM on May 21, 2015 [4 favorites]


Jarrett Walker at Human Transit had an interesting point comparing Paris to, of all places, LA:
Los Angeles may still seem hopelessly car-dominated today, but it's fortunate in its urban structure, in ways that make it a smart long term bet as a relatively sustainable city, at least in transport terms. Two things in particular: (a) the presence of numerous major centres of activity scattered around the region, and (b) the regular grid of arterials, mostly spaced in a way that's ideal for transit, that covers much of the city, offering the ideal infrastucture for that most efficient of transit structures: a grid network.

Because Los Angeles is a vast constellation of dense places, rather than just a downtown and a hinterland, it's full of corridors where there is two-way all-day flow of demand, the ideal situation for cost effective, high quality transit. In this, Los Angeles is more like Paris than it is like, say, New York.
posted by en forme de poire at 2:55 PM on May 21, 2015 [5 favorites]


Remember the time when you had to draw little maps of places you were going to go to, beforehand?

Some of us still do this because of the time their phone died on their way to a friend's new place in deepest industrial Brooklyn and there where no road signs or street lamps and I was surrounded by dark block-long warehouses thinking well this is exactly how people die in the opening minutes of a serial killer movie I'd better make my peace with God now
posted by The Whelk at 2:57 PM on May 21, 2015 [8 favorites]


Yeah, I still draw dumb little maps on sticky notes that I attach to my wallet. Especially when I go to Queens. 35th and 35th? Is this a joke?
posted by Blau at 3:03 PM on May 21, 2015 [3 favorites]


People who live in Queens always try to explain the grid numbering system as if I just don't understand it. I understand it. It's still STUPID
posted by showbiz_liz at 3:08 PM on May 21, 2015 [6 favorites]


I haven't talked to him in 2 or 3 years.

I live in Bothell! My personal neighborhood is actually great, very walkable, very accessible to transit, and the transit is great as long as where you want to go is 1) downtown 2) during business hours. There's a park and ride a 2 minute drive from my house that feeds an express bus that stops literally right in front of the symphony hall where I perform, and I never take the bus there because after the show lets out I could be standing on 3rd waiting for a bus for nearly an hour.

On the other hand, I do drive into the city three times a week for various rehearsals -- the Symphony chorale rehearses mondays on Queen Anne (45 minute drive down Aurora, not so bad), Opus 7 rehearses Wednesdays at St. James (usually about 45 minutes unless both 405 south and 520 east are completely borked), and my daughter sings in the Seattle Girls Choir, which rehearses near Volunteer Park from 4:30 to 6:00. We come down 405 and shoot across 520 and get there in about 35 minutes. Everyone is always so amazed that we come in from Bothell, but it takes longer to get there from Wallingford than it does from Bothell. (Getting home, on the other hand? Oy. Better part of an hour.)
posted by KathrynT at 3:32 PM on May 21, 2015


JLovebomb: "Yes, then I can have zero energy to spend on helping my fully paralyzed partner through his day at his physical therapy rehab. I'll take the bus, thanks."

Sorry, I wasn't suggesting you use that as a standard mode of transport, just agreeing with you that 2 hours for a 7 mile trip is pretty terrible for transit.
posted by octothorpe at 3:34 PM on May 21, 2015 [2 favorites]


Is this the part where those of us who grew up in a rural area wax rhapsodic about loading several beer coolers into the back of a pickup truck before driving into town to buy bags of ice to pack our groceries in for the ride home, because it was a 2-hour round trip to the store and back?

Honestly, I get it. But having any kind of public transport available in a major metropolitan city beats the hell out of buying a four-wheeler so the kids can pick the family's mail up, since the mailbox is a six-mile ride across a field from your farm house (or down a dirt road you call your driveway, provided it's not too muddy).

I guess distance is relative when there's neither a city nor suburbs to measure from, but dating when you live that far out in the country's also... uh, challenging. Both cousins I'm thinking of met someone online in a different state and both got married within the past year, so "dating" was more of a "let's meet up every other weekend in alternating destinations" type of deal.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 3:52 PM on May 21, 2015 [2 favorites]


I've lived in Queens most of my life (with the exception of a few years in Brooklyn), and I've always travelled to all parts of the city to do stuff, be it to play softball, catch live music, or go to a warehouse party - it's just what you did if for one reason or another you couldn't (or didn't want to) live in the city. What I did notice was I had disparate groups of friends who didn't comingle simply because of geography - I was the only common thread between those groups on the rare occasion there was an event that brought a whole bunch of them together. Some people did find it odd that I didn't have an issue doing that, but my flexible work schedule, nocturnal nature, and willingness to ride my bike everywhere made it OK. Some others did note that when they were doing a "which one of these things isn't quite the same" inventory of their social group, I kind of stuck out.

I've noticed that most of my friends that are younger than me are more willing to go to other neighborhoods to socialize - the Manhattan based refuseniks who won't do anything off the island tend to be the ones who aged in place and didn't realize (or are in denial) that a lot of the fun stuff migrated away a long time ago. High cost of living = old people + finance bros + Eurotrash.

Now that I'm middle aged, I am getting lazier - I'm tending to only go out a short distance from home.
posted by Calloused_Foot at 4:29 PM on May 21, 2015


I should note that I do have friends who live far from me - I just almost always prefer to meet them in the city or somewhere else in between. But there's nothing like having a few friends over for beer and TV, and who wants a 2 hour round trip for that? For a barbecue or something, sure, but just to chill? It's just too much to do on a regular basis.
posted by showbiz_liz at 4:37 PM on May 21, 2015


I’m never seeing my Astoria friends again!
Don't you realize?

The next time you see sky, it'll be over another town.

The next time you take a test, it'll be in some other school.

Our parents, they want the best of stuff for us. But right now, they got to do what's right for them. Because it's their time. Their time! Up there! Down here, it's our time. It's our time down here. That's all over the second we ride up Troy's bucket.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 4:58 PM on May 21, 2015 [2 favorites]


I really hate it when articles write quite specifically about educated, professional- and 'creative'-class people, but think or claim that they're just writing about "people" in general. There's no reason you can't write about a specific demographic, but good god, just be explicit about it. Does the discourse of middle-class people really have to be so nakedly hegemonic?
posted by threeants at 5:44 PM on May 21, 2015 [7 favorites]


Do you New Yorkers ever...meet each other at points equidistant from each others' homes? Here in flyover country, that's how I often see friends.

This whole thing is actually deeply reassuring - everyone I know in New York can't seem to get a date to save their lives and it used to make me feel inadequate by proxy, and I never understood that it's because y'all don't date outside a ten block radius.
posted by Frowner at 5:45 PM on May 21, 2015


I moved from NYC to New Jersey and now I have no friends. Accepting applications for anyone in or willing to travel to Bergen County. I'll be here waiting, alone...
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 5:48 PM on May 21, 2015 [3 favorites]


"Is there any good example of a well-implemented 'spiderweb' rail system in a major city somewhere in the world?"

London now has the Overground, which does a pretty good job, although the trains aren't as frequent as one would like.
posted by 43rdAnd9th at 5:50 PM on May 21, 2015


Do you New Yorkers ever...meet each other at points equidistant from each others' homes? Here in flyover country, that's how I often see friends.

Well sure, but would you rather put on adult pants and ride a mere 30 or 40 minutes to an equidistant point to drink $7 beers in a place that is probably loud and shitty, or chill on a couch in your lovingly decorated home?

This is why the friends I see most often are my local neighborhood Television Friends. I don't know what we'll do when Game of Thrones and then Hannibal are over for the season...
posted by showbiz_liz at 6:00 PM on May 21, 2015


When I visit my friends in London, the neutral ground for everyone to meet for drinks is usually the Blackfriars pub. It used to be Ye Olde Chessie Cheese but that soured pretty quickly once the bankers came pouring in. This time out, I convinced people to meet me in Islington but that was an easier sell once everyone knew where the pub we were meeting at was and the proximity to certain bus lines.
posted by Kitteh at 6:00 PM on May 21, 2015


Frowner: "Here in flyover country, that's how I often see friends."

WAIT WAIT WAIT WAIT, Frowner lives in FLYOVER country? I just assumed San Francisco. Are there anarchists in Omaha? Subversives in Sioux Falls?? Insurgents in Iowa City??? Revolutionaries in Rockford???? Disestablishmentarians in Des Moines????? Communists in Cleveland?????? MIND BLOWN. I AM DELIGHT.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 6:00 PM on May 21, 2015 [3 favorites]


I mean I know there ARE because I take them cookies when they have protests, but Frowner talks about so MANY of them! I didn't know they were Legion!
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 6:02 PM on May 21, 2015 [2 favorites]


WAIT WAIT WAIT WAIT, Frowner lives in FLYOVER country? I just assumed San Francisco.

Yes, I live in a place known to all as "a cold Omaha". I don't want to blow up my spot or anything, but the rents are low, it's pretty liberal and we have a strong history of GLBTQ activism. Also it's very bike friendly.

I had this idle dream of moving to San Francisco right after the dot com crash but could never afford it now.

Also, have you been to San Francisco and looked about you with a careful eye? I can't speak about the tech bro end of things, but all the counterculture people are Well Above Average Good-Looking - talk about the difficulties of dating in New York? I would be single until the end of time if I lived in SF. If I want to feel poor and hick I go to Boston (also so I can visit the Harvard Art Museum and see all the arts that I am going to steal when I turn to crime); if I want to feel like I got hit with the ugly stick, I go to SF and have to drown my sorrows by eating All The West Coast Produce.
posted by Frowner at 6:09 PM on May 21, 2015 [5 favorites]


What I really want, for cities with subway systems, is a map of the city that is laid out so that destinations are spaced based on how long a public transport commute takes between them, instead of by as-the-crow-flies distances.

Here in Sydney, for example, East-West commutes are pretty good, but North-South are usually horrendous. I can get 20km east of here in about 30 minutes by train and bus combos, but to do the same distance south takes an hour 45. Until I had lived here for a while, that wasn't clear to me, and you sure as hell can't tell from the maps.

If you built maps based on commute distances, you could also have web versions of these that dynamically changed depending on time of day or day of the week, to account for bus delays and longer or shorter spaces between trains.
posted by lollusc at 7:27 PM on May 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


Well, this has to be one of the stupidest things I've read in a while.

New York City is the easiest big city to get around in - bar none. And the subways really do run 24/7.

If you and your friends live in different boroughs, meet in Manhattan FFS. Or go to an event somewhere and meet there. There are so many things that aren't bars... like museums, galleries, concerts, theatre, you name it...
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 8:34 PM on May 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


What I really want, for cities with subway systems, is a map of the city that is laid out so that destinations are spaced based on how long a public transport commute takes between them

Walk Score can sorta do this. You can enter in a commute destination (though no reason why you couldn't use any address) and it'll give you a map of places you can get there from within a commute time and method you set. It'll even let you do two addresses, so you can see the overlap.

And hey, they seem to do Sydney.
posted by asperity at 8:45 PM on May 21, 2015 [1 favorite]


good lord it's like none of you have ever heard of a personal dirigible.
posted by um at 10:08 PM on May 21, 2015 [13 favorites]


i am borne upon a gilded palanquin by strapping youths but it's still a fucking hassle getting crosstown around lunchtime

also my standard-bearers keep getting shat upon by pigeons
posted by poffin boffin at 11:29 PM on May 21, 2015 [2 favorites]


If you and your friends live in different boroughs, meet in Manhattan FFS.

People say it went for cheap back in the day, but uh that island is expensive these days.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 12:19 AM on May 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


That WalkScore tool is amazing! Unfortunately it just underscores the fact that there is no actual location we can live in that delivers a reasonable (sub-45 minute) commute to my two places of work and my husband's all at the same time. But it does seem very accurate, if perhaps a little optimistic about rush hour traffic.
posted by lollusc at 3:32 AM on May 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


I really hate it when articles write quite specifically about educated, professional- and 'creative'-class people, but think or claim that they're just writing about "people" in general. There's no reason you can't write about a specific demographic, but good god, just be explicit about it. Does the discourse of middle-class people really have to be so nakedly hegemonic?

Yep, this article is basically saying, "White people used to live in Manhattan. Now they live all over."
posted by ultraviolet catastrophe at 4:01 AM on May 22, 2015 [5 favorites]


The other thing it is saying is: nobody wants to go out in Manhattan anymore.

This would all be moot if it was easy to make friends in New York but I have been here for 3 years and haven't made a single new friend. Partially because I work the usual 8-7 corporate job, live in Astoria and have a baby which requires all my attention. But still. There's not a lot of friendly invitations to hang out among strangers or even coworkers.

We had an explicit Metafilter meetup to try and make friends and it was great but you're all too busy all the time.

But it's also just--people don't go out at all. When I come home from work I often want to hang out with those people I know the best--the internets. Which is fine up to a point but isn't quite the same and sitting on a bar stool vibing with your folks.

I'm moving to a suburb of Boston next month and I'm going to INSIST that everyone I meet become my friend. even if I have to become slightly less obnoxious to make it happen. That's how serious I am.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 5:32 AM on May 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


Potomac Avenue, I managed to be in your neighborhood for three years and never met up. Sounds about right.
posted by gaspode at 5:51 AM on May 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


Potomac Avenue, we're doing the "YES HELLO YOU WILL BE OUR FRIENDS" thing here in our new town as we were just sick of not being able to hang out with folks back in our old town.
posted by Kitteh at 7:45 AM on May 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


I moved from NYC to New Jersey and now I have no friends. Accepting applications for anyone in or willing to travel to Bergen County. I'll be here waiting, alone...

I'll come visit! My mother lives there.
posted by holborne at 8:11 AM on May 22, 2015 [1 favorite]


What I really want, for cities with subway systems, is a map of the city that is laid out so that destinations are spaced based on how long a public transport commute takes between them

You want an isochrone map.

Like these maps of the Netherlands which distort space based on commute time,
these maps of Europe distorted by rail travel times,
or a similarly distorted map of the London Underground,
or this project, titled Cartography for Subjective Maps Based on Dynamic Urban Data,
or Mapnificent, which doesn't distort the map but shows you where you can go in the city from a given origin point and a given travel time,
and a lot more examples.
posted by suedehead at 9:29 AM on May 22, 2015 [6 favorites]


I moved from NYC to New Jersey and now I have no friends.

my bff from high school moved out to the jersey wilds with her husband and 3 toddlers a while back and it's a 90 minute train ride plus another 30-45 min in a taxi to her place and i was just like, well it's been nice knowing you but now it is time we say farewell.
posted by poffin boffin at 9:37 AM on May 22, 2015 [2 favorites]


I wonder sometimes, how do people who didn't grow up in places like that even find out that they exist, in order to consider moving there? How would you think to spend 90 minutes on the train plus half an hour in a taxi just to look at a place you might want to live, much less think it was a good idea to sign on the dotted line?

I used to have a couple of friends, who disappeared a few years ago after announcing that they were going to buy a house with a big yard, presumably as a consequence of the small baby they had recently produced. They mentioned a town called "Skyway", which I'd never heard of. Turns out it is all of twelve miles away, just past the city limits. If I ever see them again, which I probably won't, I'll have to ask them how they found out that it existed.
posted by Mars Saxman at 10:24 AM on May 22, 2015


... the jersey wilds ...

Don't ever change, New Yorkers.
posted by octothorpe at 10:38 AM on May 22, 2015


I live in Federal Way and bus into Seattle, and my commute is typically ten hours a week. How is a six hour weekly commute the nation's longest?
posted by lhauser at 11:07 AM on May 23, 2015


Well, this study (PDF) was commissioned by the NYC comptroller's office, so take it with a grain of salt... but according to their data, the average commute in the NYC area is just over six hours, and is the longest among metropolitan areas of the United States. (Seattle clocks in at four hours and change.)
posted by en forme de poire at 3:48 PM on May 23, 2015


it's a 90 minute train ride plus another 30-45 min in a taxi to her place

She doesn't pick you up at the train? Boooooooo that's not a true friend!
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 5:24 AM on May 24, 2015


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