New York, New Jersey?
Which city? Every New Yorker will tell you that there's only one -- and it's hard to argue with them. The wealth. The crime. The dirt. The crowds. No other city will ever be like it. New York is the ultimate "great place to visit but." Good dinners, the theatre, sight-seeing, and shopping easily fill every spare minute. Of course, that's both good and bad. At 21 I didn't think there was a better place in the whole world, and I often still feel that way. No other city has as much of everything and anything you want. No other city has as much splendor, as much squalor, as much excitement. Or as few parking spaces. I liked New York a lot more before I learned to drive, and may like it more again when I'm smart enough to leave the car at home. For now it's a city of mixed blessings.
The biggest problem is the high cost of housing in the city -- $2,000 for a studio in the village, $1,200 for the sofa bed in the living room. Of course, it was the former clients who had top legal jobs in the city who were able to pay those prices. Current clients commute from the 'burbs to their less lucrative jobs.
The destruction of the World Trade Center does not seem to have become one of the defining moments in the city. Nowhere was there the sense of reverence or grief that should accompany such a great loss, not even at Ground Zero. For a moment I felt like a time traveler viewing the site from an entirely different perspective from the people around me. The site itself - the vastness, the number of workers, the number of jobs, all happening simultaneously - is beyond my poor powers of description. I hope that some enterprising author will undertake the task of putting words to the enormity of the project, all controlled by a dozen or two trailers dotting the edge of the site.
One thing I did get a sense of is that New Yorkers adjust to change. New subway stations diverting traffic around the collapse, new parks and memorials, are already just part of the daily life of the New Yorker. Something built six months ago "has just been there for ages," and life goes on. Perhaps their view is better; it probably is if you have to live in the middle of the metamorphosis. But I think that as an outsider, I'm better off with the need to ponder the philosophical and historic significance of it all.
In August of 2004, I traveled with my client Erin up and down the east coast looking at law schools and their surroundings.
There are five law schools in Manhattan, each one unique. And for each one, the architecture says a lot about the character of the school.
The undergraduate campus is gated and locked; this may be necessary given the neighborhood, but it helps to reinforce the sense of exclusiveness frequently associated with the schools in the Ivy League. The bridge across Amsterdam Avenue, connecting the law school with the library, is both fanciful and another expression of Columbia's power; the bridge is a small park crossing the eight lanes of traffic below it.
[So few people use the full name of this school that if you say "New York University," some people won't know what you mean!]
Instead, it has chosen to hide behind a nearly anonymous door, creating a divide that helps keep students sheltered and safe while in one of the busiest parts of this busy city. The inner atrium as well as the garden accessible only by passing through the building, provide quiet places to commune with other students, so one need not deal with the traffic of 62nd St unless one chooses to.
Fordham is a "closed" institution: one cannot enter the library and classroom sections of the building without identification and permission. While this helps keep the school safe, it also limits the opportunity to visit before one is admitted. Another drawback is the University itself. One exists, but not in Manhattan. A shuttle bus running a few times each day will take you to the main campus, but you may have to wait a bit for a return bus.
NYLS is the "downtown" law school, below (south of) the Village, below Canal -- in fact, that's what "TriBeCa" means: Triangle Below Canal. "Downtown" means more than just a direction, as that fine old 1960s song indicates.
NYLS is about to move to a new building. With construction scheduled to complete by Spring of 2009, it seemed silly to publish my 20-year-old photos. NYLS apparently agrees; they have hardly a picture on their web site, except some architect's drawings of the new building. But the architect's drawing is very appealing -- see?
Along with the five schools in Manhattan, there are three more in the rest of the city -- Brooklyn, CUNY and St. John's -- and another three in the suburbs -- Hofstra, Touro, and Pace.
I'm embarrassed to admit I've never seen Touro or Hofstra; twice I've been
to Long Island, and twice I've become so lost I gave up and went back to
Manhattan. And my visits to Pace and CUNY are so ancient that I hardly remember
them. What I remember is best captured in a photo I took landing at
Kennedy Airport in 1988. As you can see, Queens is decidedly not Manhattan.
Brooklyn Law School is my favorite of the schools surrounding Manhattan. The facilities are tasteful and elegant, practically at the foot of the Brooklyn Bridge and a few blocks from a delightfully eclectic middle-Eastern community.
This photo that I cribbed from their web site (notice the attribution at the top), shows just what I mean: beautiful wood, elegant flooring, extravagant windows -- aren't you glad I don't know any songs about Brooklyn?
Some of you may think of New Jersey as a separate place from New York. There is no reason at all to make this distinction, at least as far as law schools are concerned. Newark (with its two law schools) is closer to Manhattan than are Hofstra and Pace, and the PATH train runs to lower or central Manhattan from Penn Station Newark, within spitting distance of Seton Hall.