On the Sidewalks of New York: In the city that never sleeps, spontaneity is on life support.

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  • 03/02/2023

On the Sidewalks of New York is a weekly feature at Human Events wherein Jacqueline Toboroff, a native New Yorker, will share her observations and candid commentary on the goings-on in our nation’s largest city.  Wherever you live, and whatever you feel, there is no escaping the fact that New York City matters.

I was born and raised in Manhattan. I grew up on the Upper East Side, then moved to Greenwich Village before going to NYU, transferring and graduating from Parsons and then, felt Greenwich Village was too gentrified so I moved further south to Tribeca. I’m raising my family here.

My move further downtown was a little over 20 years ago, when Tribeca was right on the cusp of exploding into being one of the coolest areas on the globe, inhabited by artists, designers, forward thinking individuals with their finger on the pulse of the next big thing, and irreverent small business owners taking a risk on a place once famous for having never been considered residential and that it would boom and become one of the most sought-after zip codes in the world. There were secret restaurants and bars that had no phone numbers and were only accessible going through adjoining buildings. Art galleries in cast iron walk-ups abounded. Night clubs with bouncers and long lines, after hour clubs with bouncers and longer lines were ubiquitous. We didn’t take rejection and couldn’t be deterred. I’ve been part of a human ladder scaling a wall to get into Bowery Bar, just for fun. One could get a bagel or slice of pizza in the middle of the night or enjoy a top dining experience; everything was 24/7 and everyone was 24/7. The mood; up for anything and physically and emotionally resilient enough to take anything. We had the constitution of a horse.

That’s all changed. It happened in March 2020, nearly 2 years ago to be precise. The no fun police known as radical Democrats took a sledgehammer to Manhattan. They killed industry after industry and hope after hope. But the most profound realization is how willingly and instantly NYers took to submission, fear, and being abject losers; losers in life, missing out on family gatherings, forgoing socializing with friends, and being at the vanguard of freedom and push back.

I had a meeting scheduled Wednesday at 5:30pm, Happy Hour, in Little Italy with a writer from a major newspaper. First, since covid, getting from point A to B is Herculean. Military-like planning is necessary because during the lockdowns, half the taxis lost their medallions, Uber and Lyft prices skyrocketed, and the subway is a no-go zone. Then, there’s the invasive and necessary question, “do you have papers?” To get in almost anywhere in NYC, you need a vaccine passport, sometimes proof of booster and same day rapid tests. Many proferring the passport, either because they’re vaccinated or because they’re not, are repulsed having to show proof in order to gain admittance so there’s usually a protracted back and forth finalizing a plan.

We chose to meet on a street, not at a specific establishment, which isn’t abnormal in Manhattan because there used to be so many choices. This was a mistake.  We were operating under a mindset, clinging to a way of life that no longer exists.

Vacancy after vacancy meant we had to walk blocks, actually leave the neighborhood and enter another. Then the strangest sight; many places were open but closed, their glass front doors bolted shut. Perhaps because of staffing shortages, with only a single server inside, restaurants were “full” with only a handful of customers.

It’s not just restaurants. Taking my kids to the museum (the first time in 2 years) made me want to drink - and I don’t drink. One no longer willy nilly walks around saying, “Hey, let’s go to the Met.” To go to a museum, we had to reserve a time slot online - many were sold out because of limiting the number of visitors. Then, we were directed to an app requiring photo uploads and private information, only to get to the museum and still have to wait masked in a line and show proof at the entrance. Quotidian life tasks are also degraded. Many dry cleaners no longer stay open late but close in the middle of a work day if they open at all - sometimes one arrives with bundles, confronted by a sign reading the store was taken down by covid until further notice. Shopping is an out of body experience. The remaining stores are kept empty - imagine - because of science.  Salespeople tail you like you’re either going to loot or need a mask minder, but even getting into the stores necessitates waiting masked in line like zombies paying for the privilege to be abused. 

I’m unsure how NYC can survive our elected tyrants if many continue to vote for Democrats that really operate as radical regulators. Policies emboldening criminals, burdensome regulations on small businesses, a mayor hellbent on flooding residential areas with more homeless shelters, and broken education means the tax base is leaving and taking their businesses and employees with them to functioning states. But worse than the tyrants are the taxpayers, the voters, that seemingly underwent a cult like metamorphosis whereby they not only question nothing but rat out neighbors, friends, and family, sometimes resort to violence, in the name of mask worship.   

Jacqueline Toboroff, Manhattan native, divorced mother of two, is throwing caution to the wind and raising her family in Manhattan.  A private citizen who ran for City Council as a Republican, she connects how policy shapes reality.  A published writer, rotating panelist on Newsmax, and guest speaker, Mrs. Toboroff is focused on NYC issues, finding solutions and providing a voice to the void.

Jacqueline Toboroff

IG @jacquelinefornyc

Twitter @jacquetnyc


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