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“If you are generous with New York, New York will be generous with you”: the possibilities of a city

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According to Ric Burns, the director of New York. A Documentary Film (1999) – a history of the city from its creation until the dawn of the 2000s –, with each ordeal that the city goes through, that is to say roughly every five years, the verdict falls: “New York is over. »

Certainly, with the pandemic, the city has hardened considerably, registering an increase in crime of more than 40%. The staggering increase in rents (more than 20% on average, according to the New York Times) and a delirious cost of living (5 dollars a coffee) push part of the population of Manhattan to migrate to neighboring cities (boroughs): in the east, in Long Island, Brooklyn or Queens; to the north, towards Harlem or the Bronx, but also towards “Upstate New York”, in the countryside. And, more recently, to the west, on the other side of the Hudson, in the state of New Jersey, long shunned by New Yorkers but where a whole community of artists, families and people tired of struggling to make ends meet.

Half an hour from Manhattan, Jersey City, with the upcoming opening of a new Center Pompidou, could well become the sixth borough of New York, as indicated by the American press for several years. “A new geography of the city is taking shape. There is a clear dynamic of gentrification, but always alternative spaces that resist or even appear”, observes Gaëtan Bruel, cultural advisor to the French Embassy. “New York remains a city of very strong opportunities. All the authorities of cultural prescription are concentrated there: museums, media, sales networks, art advisorscollectors, researchers…”

“There’s this incredible energy, the blue skies all year round, the sea air and the beach thirty minutes away by train… You can find everything in New York. » Catherine Servel, French photographer and jeweler

Gaëtan Bruel is also the director of the Villa Albertine, an artists’ residence opened less than a year ago, which has already hosted 70 French artists in fifteen cities in the United States. “In the cases we receive, the requests primarily concern New York (24%), ahead of Los Angeles (18%). » Because the city has lost none of its aura. “It’s a fact, there is this incredible energy, the blue sky all year round, the sea air and the beach thirty minutes away by train… You can find everything in New York, all the trades there. come together, it’s a melting pot of human resources, we meet people all the time”, summarizes the French photographer and jeweler Catherine Servel who, after twenty-three years spent in New York, nevertheless chose to settle in Arles. “But New York is still a little home to me, I come back to it all the time. »

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