New York City without Amazon

I’m just back from working with a team at an 850-lawyer firm (as an expert witness in a software and hardware patent infringement case). Despite the top pay, none of the associates were able to afford living in Manhattan. Most lived in New Jersey and would cross the Hudson River by train or bus every day. An associate who lived in Jersey City said that a PATH train on at least one line came approximately every four minutes and that he could take either line to get to work. Awesome, right? “I usually can’t get on, though,” he said. “The trains are already full when they get to Jersey City so there is at most room for 3 additional passengers.”

Given his experience of infrastructure pushed to its capacity limit, of course I couldn’t resist asking what he thought about migration and population growth. He said that he was “neutral” and had no opinion on the merits of expanded immigration.

Crosstown traffic was predictably horrific and made worse by construction. The city definitely needs an Elon Musk tunnel every five blocks.

Starbucks was packed at 9 am in Midtown, with 50+ people in line at both the Starbucks and the Starbucks across the street from the Starbucks. Maybe this is a peak hour phenomenon? Every retailer in New York could make money with a coffee robot in the corner, assuming that the quality were guaranteed consistent?

I am not sure that the packed-like-sardines public transit riders of NYC will mourn the loss of Amazon HQ2!

10 thoughts on “New York City without Amazon

  1. def a peak phenomenon. Your nephew who worked at SBUX one summer said they did 90+% of their business from opening to 12 noon, in spite of efforts to add sandwiches/food (and later even alcohol after 4 or 5 pm) to the offerings. & highest traffic on weekdays was from 8 am until 10 am. More disparate volume on weekends & holidays

  2. > I’m just back from working … as an expert witness in a software

    Please tell us that you’re one of the good guys, squashing obvious/trivial/obfuscated garbage?

  3. I remember when lots of workplaces (and convenience stores) had their own coffee making machines, bags and jars and cans of various kinds of coffee, sometimes even coffee grinders if you wanted to make a custom blend, filters, creamers of various kinds including whipped cream, flavoring, even bottled water, etc. People made their own coffee! The coffee was great, you could even get hot chocolate or just use the hot water and make tea, but none of the cups had logos on them. Then coffee became a lot more chic and people decided it was better to leave the building, walk across the street and stand in line to buy something that cost a lot more. Why? The coffee wasn’t really any better.

  4. Does “full train” in New York mean that there are no free seats, that standing passengers are only standing in front of seats, that there are also people standing in the middle hanging onto ceiling mounted straps, or full-blown Tokyo rush hour packed and touching each other crowded?

  5. I have been and spent time on the subway of NYC (6 months) and Boston (4 years) and I can tell you there is a big different.

    NYC subway is far more crowded and far more dirtier compared to Boston’s (even at Boston’s worse stations and times). Not only that, the commuters in NYC are also tenser and you will see far more varieties. Just like in NYC, I have experienced times when the train (and the bus for that matter) will stop and you could not get on it because there is no room.

    It’s funny that you post this in this blog:

    > I am not sure that the packed-like-sardines public transit riders of NYC will mourn the loss of Amazon HQ2!

    And just today I see this on CNN: “NYC officials plead with Jeff Bezos to win back HQ2
    ” [1]. So maybe NYC officials will sweeten the deal for Amazon even more now?


    • That might be true but the T and commuter rail at rush hour these days is far more crowded than any time I’ve seen in the past 25 years. The frequency of equipment failures also seems higher, which wouldn’t be surprising given the ever-growing backlog of deferred maintenance.

      The prisoner’s dilemma is that the right (or what passes for it here in Mass., mostly suburban Reagan dems) doesn’t want to invest anything in mass transit, which is needed in dense old cities, while the left refuses to do anything to rein in the immense waste and graft that’s at least equally responsible for the system’s sorry state.

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