New York City, NY

Why Manhattan & Brooklyn's Cultural Clash Reflects Today's Political Landscape

Genius Turner
For decades, the East River has symbolized Manhattan and Brooklyn's clash of cultures.(GeorgeLouis/Wikimedia Commons)

Manhattan & Brooklyn's different auras embody today's American politics

New York City — Years ago, a native New Yorker reminded me why "New York is not a city, it's a world." Indeed, NYC is said to be so nice that they had to name it twice. And such bipartisanism reflects a long-standing clash of cultures.

A Tale of Two Cities best captures this "split between two warring scenes," as Nick Burns puts it, "divided by geography, aesthetics and politics."

Manhattan is the old guard. The old money aura of the Upper East Side, with its chin-held-high residents strutting down manicured sidewalks, is the image some "left-wing Brooklynites" hold of their relatively "righty" counterparts.

Brooklyn is now home to a famed “hipster” movement — a movement spearheaded by Brooklynites such as Bernie Sanders. Yet the Manhattan media seemingly welcomes altering the moniker to "The City That [Usually] Sleeps" on Brooklyn's oversensitive "woke" culture. 

"Who wins in New York’s clash of cultures is high-stakes for the future of American political culture," Burns argues. Indeed, given that New York City has long served as the cultural, financial and media capital of the world, this tale of two cities serves as a microcosm of American politics.

Is the so-called "left-right divide between Brooklyn and Manhattan" real?

Days ago, I overheard a Manhattanite gripe she "wouldn't be caught dead in Dimes Square!" Indeed, some off-Broadway play about Dimes Square – yes, aptly named Dimes Square – serves as the old guard's latest dig. Snooty is as snooty does. Apparently.

The Village and SoHo once reigned among NYC's "hippest" neighborhoods. Yet today, just as the Nets in those oh-so-hip black and white jerseys supplanted the Knicks, black and white hipsters flood NYC's newly crowned hippest scene – Williamsburg.

In short, this long-standing cultural clash waged between the two "glory" boroughs in the nation's cultural capital merely reflects the latest political landscape.

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