Read the papers and blogs
and you will soon realize that we're in the midst of a huge identity crisis. Mobile America, land of chains and franchises, loves to see itself as having interchangeable parts – and it's always been that way. When Seattle's pioneers landed at Alki Point, they called the city-to-be New York Alki. So first there was York, then New York, and then new New York.
Geographic short-handing is a way of piggybacking on a brand identity. In the 19th century, real estate boosters called Kirkland the new Pittsburgh, which was a way of saying: "Build you factories here." It didn't work out that way. Instead, Kirkland become the new Sausalito.
With real-estate prices driving the creative class into the old blue-collar 'burbs, you find that the notion of being the new Brooklyn is a hot local trend. A little while ago, a Seattle Times story
floated the idea that Burien was the new Brooklyn because of its affordability and budding arts scene. The Stranger
was on to the idea years ago, but instead of comparing it to Brooklyn simply observed that Burien was the new Burien
. But Burien isn't the only new Brooklyn on the block. Some call Tacoma the new Brooklyn
or even Bellevue
, but there's debate about that
But the new Brooklyn
isn't only to be found on Puget Sound. Some say Nashville is the new Brooklyn
. Others say Portland is (and they have T-shirts to prove it
But wait a minute. It starts to get complicated
. Some also say that Portland is the new Seattle
. Others say Detroit is really the new Seattle
. Googling more, you find that others say Montreal is the new Seattle and that Seattle is the new Pittsburgh
(or would that be Kirkland?). And because so much time is being spent online, others argue that MySpace is the new Seattle
And then there's the guy from Brooklyn who says that Dublin is the new Seattle
To complicate things further, when it comes to music, one critic argues that Portland is the new Seattle, Austin is the new Portland, and Minneapolis is the new Austin
. Another argues that if Omaha is the new Seattle
– news to me – then Minneapolis was the old
The way I read this, a resident of the present Seattle is also simultaneously living in Portland, Detroit, Montreal, Dublin, Omaha, Minneapolis, and Pittsburgh.
No wonder density is a problem.
And Seattle is not
the only local city with civic whiplash. Redmond is also called the new Detroit
(which is also Seattle – see above). Luxumbourg is the new Redmond
, and to Democrats, Yakima is the new Bellevue
(which also, remember, is a candidate for the new Brooklyn). This, folks, is what globalization looks like. To a schizo.
Which brings us back to Brooklyn. If Burien is the new Brooklyn, then what is the old Brooklyn? New York
magazine says Brooklyn is the new Manhattan
. Which either means that Seattle (New York Alki, remember) is really the new Brooklyn, or that Burien is – drumroll – the new Manhattan.