NYU students can be inclined to stay in Greenwich Village, and this is an attitude that is not only indicative of many students, but also New Yorkers in general. Although some may believe that confining themselves to the Lower East Side is sufficient for their New York City experience, they actually are robbing themselves of the unique opportunity to explore the five boroughs. New York City is hailed as one of the most vibrant cities in the world, and even Manhattan has more to offer than just Broadway shows and Fifth Avenue museums. Stuyvesant Town is overflowing with energy, and Harlem feels just as alive as the streets of TriBeCa. Whether in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx or Staten Island, there are different ways to experience the same city.
To help New Yorkers become acquainted with the entire island, the ad agency New York & Company announced a citywide campaign yesterday aimed at locals. Called “See Your City,” the initiative encourages residents to explore beyond their figurative backyards. An estimated 54.3 million visitors traveled to New York City in 2013. But for many visitors, New York evokes only iconic images of a brightly lit Times Square, a towering Empire State Building or a glowing Brooklyn Bridge. While city life obviously embodies a more immersive and explorative lifestyle, many residents still seem to remain in fairly confined areas around their neighborhoods. The movement seeks to stimulate exploration of other areas of the city not just for tourists, but for residents as well, by advertising the appeal of the less-frequented boroughs on subway cars.
Given New York’s dense population, the campaign aims to encourage spending and travel between small geographic communities defined by implicit barriers. While the distances between Staten Island and the Upper West Side are relatively small, the density of each neighborhood serves as an oppressive, limiting force. “See Your City” seeks to overcome this restriction by advertising the appeal of all neighborhoods, not just a confined section of the city.
Campaigns encouraging residents to venture and enjoy local surroundings benefit both locals and city businesses. Students often claim that exploring all of New York City can be an exhausting pursuit and, in fairness, their assessment can be accurate. Still, their criticisms are based on a narrow definition of a sprawling city. It is important for students and native New Yorkers alike to remember that New York City is a collective of neighborhoods and cultures, not the 10-by-10 grid where they individually reside.
A version of this article appeared in the Thursday, Oct. 16 print edition. Email the Editorial Board at [email protected]