Miles From Fenway

The New York / Boston Rivalry
February 7, 2007, 2:01 pm
Filed under: Boston, NYC

The competition between Boston and New York transcends two baseball teams and their avid fan bases. Sure the Red Sox and the Yankees have a rivalry unlike any other in sports, but in all honesty it goes much deeper than that. It’s about two cities whose residents are fiercely loyal to the places they call home.

Typically, you choose one or the other. You’re either a Bostonian or a New Yorker. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m the odd-ball. I consider myself both.

It’s almost impossible to compare the two cities. Countless people have asked me to do so, and my stock answer is that it’s like apples and oranges. But now I have to compare them both. I have an interview in New York today and one in Boston on Monday.

New York, New York. It’s the place where dreams are made, and dashed, and made again. It’s the thing movies are made of, stories are written on. I love Boston and all, but let’s not joke, this is NEW YORK. When people ask me why I love it here so much, I hardly know where to start. New York has a palpable energy to it. The city is alive, vibrant, pulsating. There’s the feeling here that anything is possible. Hell, if you can make it here you can make it anywhere, right? So it’s a source of pride that I’ve made it here. Really made a great life here.

If you’re looking for concrete reasons, it’s the fact that the city never sleeps; I can order take out at almost any time of night. Stumbling out of the bar at 4am (another plus side for NYC) I will have no problem finding a cab to go home, while first stopping in the deli to get a sandwich. Sure they don’t know how to make clam chowder here (seriously, who thought it was a good idea to put it in a tomato based broth?!), but it is undeniable that the food here is some of the best in the country.

Another check mark on the plus side for NYC is the diversity. I know that that sounds stupid and arrogant coming from a “privileged twenty-something white” woman, but still. I adore the fact that I used to live in one of the most heavily populate muslin areas in the city. It’s great watching cultures collide, learning about each of them at some of the most random points (like on your commute to work). That kind of diversity, a subway car filled with Hasidic Jews, Arabs, Hispanics, Blacks, etc etc. was the kind of philosophy that this country was based on. America was supposed to be the boiling pot, and New York City embodies that more than anywhere else I’ve lived.

And then there’s the culture. You’ve got Broadway, Lincoln Center, some of the top music and dance schools in the country. You’ve got iconic architecture, the Brooklyn Bridge, the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State building. I can’t tell you how incredible it is to take the subway to work every day and come up out of the tunnel on the Manhattan Bridge to see the New York skyline, the Brooklyn Bridge and old Lady Liberty looming on the horizon. It’s beautiful, and still awe inspiring on a daily basis.

And then there’s Boston. If I said that New York has a palpable energy, Boston feels like a warm down blanket. Boston is comfort, home. Boston doesn’t have the same hustle, the same go-go-go-every-single-minute. And that’s a good thing. You can burn out on that sort of mentality real quick. Boston is also a much younger city, something that is due to the hundreds of thousands of college students that stream into its borders ever September.

Boston is a more laid back city in general. In New York, image is very important. What you’re wearing, where you’re eating, what bar your drinking your $12 martini in matter. Boston fits my Jcrew clad, not-a-stick-thin-waif appearance much better than New York. And speaking of overpriced martinis, did I mention that Boston is significantly cheaper when it comes to beers, food, well, just about everything other than real estate? Sure to someone coming from say, Alabama, Boston prices would seem outrageous. But to someone who’s used to paying $6 for a beer, Boston is a welcome change of pace.

Another pro in the Boston column is those students I mentioned earlier. Because where there are students there are schools. Call me a dork if you like, but I love the academic environment like no other. New York has some amazing colleges and universities, don’t get me wrong. NYU and Columbia to name just two. But Boston is far and away a much more academic city, and that shows in the abundance of lectures, book stores, readings, etc.

And I’m not going to lie, after the way New York has treated me of late, the idea of starting over in a new city with a completely clean slate is not entirely unappealing.

Boston is a more walkable city. New York’s subway system is more comprehensive. Boston doesn’t have as many museums. New York has so many, and I hardly ever go to them. Both cities are surrounded by water, but Boston’s is more easily accessible and much much cleaner. Boston is more historic, but New York is no slouch in that category either. Boston has the Red Sox. But it’s easier to get tickets to the Sox v. Yankees at Yankee Stadium than it is at Fenway Park, and it’s not like living down here has stopped me from seeing games. New York has my support network; a group of friends that I would lie down in traffic for. Boston is much closer to my family, and while I may not be as close to everyone up there, I have no doubt that I wouldn’t lack for people to hang out with. Boston is cleaner. New York bigger. The list goes on and on and on.

In the end, I guess I am going to have to go with my gut. See where I am offered a job. Where I think I’ll be happiest. It’s incredibly liberating to know that I could up and move anywhere I wanted to right now. I have no strings, am tied to nothing. It’s the kind of freedom that you can only find at this time in your life. But it’s also amazingly scary to think that in a month’s time my life could be completely different.

So stayed tuned, folks. This could get very very interesting.


10 Comments so far
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First: What about Chicago? Middle of country, really friendly people, amazing architecture, great sports teams, seasons, beaches, culture, entertainment, bars until 4…Chicago, it’s my kinda town.

Second: You are coming to LA for a long weekend, it is now my mission to make you at least consider the left coast. I’m going to throw so many beaches, palm trees and scenery at you that you could be the next person to come to Hollyweird. What’s your dream, everyone in Hollywood has a dream.

Comment by Steddy

obviously, the huge X factor is the job – which one you want most, which one you get, etc.

however, with all things being “equal” on that front, my instinct is to advise staying in NYC. i have never lived there and thus am not terrifically qualified to be making proclamations, but i do know this: boston is essentially small town living on big city rent. you end up paying through the nose (real estate wise, and the other prices – while not NYC level – are still a bit painful) to live in a place without the kind of infrastructure and offerings that a city should provide its citizens.

i mean really – the T stops running before 1:00 am. need i say more?

but seriously, having lived in boston, i sense that in the end, the continuing flux and visceral nature of NYC will suit you more than the essentially provincial, insular nature of boston.

/my two cents

Comment by kate.d.

Good luck on the interviews!

I have no advice on the Boston/NYC question, I only hope that you get offers from all the jobs you’re interviewing for and that you make the right choice for you. And when I say “right choice” I mean choosing Boston which is clearly superior in every way. 🙂

Comment by BlackJack

Good luck on both of your interviews. I’m sure they’ll love you. And when they both make offers, then I’ll do my thing and plug New York. Cuz we love you here and want you to stay :-).

Comment by Esther

Hey best of luck, and follow your heart the rest will take care of itself.

Comment by Ari

Enjoyed our chat very much. I will stay tuned.

Your affectionate cab driver.


Comment by CharterJames

Being that I’ve lived in both cities, I would take NYC hands down. I didn’t find Boston to be very diverse (i.e. race, religion, views) and living around college students can get a bit old if you’re not in school. However, I know my relationship with NYC turned into a love/hate type of deal. I’m sure you will make the best decision for yourself and will have a lot of supporters.

Comment by Elisabeth

“Muslin” is a fabric. I think you meant Muslim. For what it’s worth, I would take Los Angeles over Boston or New York. You get diversity — people, food, culture etc — but with mountains and sun. If it’s public transportation you want, stick to the east coast. Everything else? LA is the ticket.

Jim H.

Comment by Jim H.

Wow, lots of feedback on this one. Which I really appreciate since I am having such a hard time with this. First, to Steddy: what you trying to get me out to LA right before you move to NYC? And you wonder why I don’t believe you’re actually moving here.

As for the West Coast issue, it’s a complete non-starter. DC is probably the furthest that I’d be willing to go – strictly because of my family. I could never be more than a day trip away from RI. I’m just too close to them.

Oh and Jim H. yup – complete mistype. Thanks for pointing it out.

And I realize that Boston has less of the big city amenities, but then again, it’s still easy to get a cab and typically they are cheaper than NYC.

The thing is, they both have their ups and downs. And I think at this point, it’s going to have to come down to whatever job offers I get (and hell, that might be none for all I know!). I’ve got another NYC interview here next week. So that’s two interviews in NYC, one in Boston. I think it’s just going to have to come down to who offers me a better career opportunity.

That said … I’m still freaking a little. Ok, a lot.

Comment by Finy


When I went to see The Red Sox play The Blue Jays on September 2nd, ’06 at Fenway Park, it was for me the Experience of “The BROOKLYN Which I’ve Read About, But never really Knew”;

The Ride on The Green Line from Park Street to Kenmore, was like a Streetcar Ride to Ebbets Field, which I never got to experience in Brooklyn as a child;

& with Fenway Park, so nicely-renovated, it was for me, the Ebbets Field, I never had the chance to see, nor experience a ballgame inside of;

& with the sea of Red B Caps of the Boston Red Sox, it was for me, reared in Brooklyn, as if I was in Ebbets Field of The Dodgers, who’re dead to me, as they’ve moved to LA LA Land, so the Red Sox are that Brooklyn Experience, which I never knew. Shea Stadium in Corona, Queens is a sort of Modern Day Home In Exile of Red Sox Nation in NYC, but it’s too impersonal & modern day, which I hope that Citi Field will address, with that Old Brooklyn Charm in the Jackie Robinson Rotunda in the new park;

I know that I said streetcar, for now the term is Light Rail, hence even our lingua franca changes over the years;

& I thank Boston for putting me in a “Brooklyn” State of Mind.

Comment by Michael Leggett

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