Why Do New Yorkers Make Such Weird Things?

New York City — I’m a New Yorker who’s been away for awhile. Every visit back produces a reacquaintance with both the novel and classic. The classic: bodegas, fast walkers, $1 pizza. The novel: whatever new concoction local entrepreneurs have managed to churn out the past few months, things that didn’t formerly exist in any known universe. Cronuts, rainbow bagels, lattes made from beet powder.

NYC is exciting because it produces such things. Jane Jacobs, in The Economy of Cities, described this process as import replacement. Cities import what they don’t have until they can create it. Simultaneously, they export what other cities don’t have. This enables cities to then design new exports. This cycle of creating, exporting, importing, creating, innovating, and exporting again continues in a beautiful rhythm. We see the result in any walk around Manhattan, where shops sell sushi burritos, underwater spin classes, women’s athleisure clothing, and in city-centric apps that find us therapists or roommates.

Maybe these ideas originated outside city limits, but NYC enables them to evolve, scale and get sent back out into the world.

Tiffany Owens
Tiffany is a city-loving freelance writer currently based in Providence, RI. A Brooklynite at heart, she's always exploring new cities, trying to understanding what she calls the "Urban Ecosystem."