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Look East, Young Man…

More and more, San Francisco just annoys the hell out of me. However, so does everywhere else I go. When we went to Seattle, it just bored me. Washington, DC? Cold and ugly. Colorado Springs? Don't even get me started. So, when we decided to take a quick vacation and go to New York after visiting relatives, I was sure that I would leave feeling that it was OK… but just as annoying as San Francisco.

I was wrong.

In comparison, San Francisco and New York both have great shopping… New York just has more of it. Both cities have exceptional restaurants… again, New York just has more of it. Yeah, New York has better theater, but San Francisco has better weather. From a standard of life issue, it's easy to enjoy all of the hedonistic pleasures equally in San Francisco and New York City.

The one thing that I really appreciate about New York City is the fact that NYC knows that it's a big city. You see, in San Francisco… they have an infrastructure built around a small city feel. There is only one real east-west artery going through the city, and it is only two lanes wide in each direction. Throw on top of that an excessive amount of traffic due to unplanned growth and almost no parking, and you have a traffic nightmare.

San Francisco's Rapid Transit System (MUNI&#41 was designed for a population of about 20,000 riders. The primary method of moving people through the city is an antiquated electric bus system. San Francisco has a light rail, but it uses the same major city streets that the cars use (except downtown where it is all underground&#41. The result is that the buses are rarely on time, and the light rail just adds to the congestion of the major city arteries.

Add overcrowding and expensive housing to this mix, and you end up with a very nasty, hostile city population that's going nowhere… and they're not even going there quickly.

New York City, on the other hand, is a large city that was designed to be a large city. They built an efficient underground subway system that is supplemented by a bus system. They had the foresight to realise that if the streets are getting crowded, the last thing you want to do is have the rapid transit system bound by street traffic. For $1.50, you can get almost anywhere in New York City in about 15 minutes. The trains come quickly, they have timed transfer points, and they run on a regular and reliable schedule. The buses are clean and plentiful.

In addition, they also have an extraordinary number of cabs running along the streets. Even at midnight in a residential neighborhood (1003/Bway&#41, we were able to get a cab in less than 3 minutes.

The result is that since the infrastructure is constantly getting better in New York City, the people are getting happier. The angry, hostile New Yorkers of the late 1980s are being replaced by content, civilized city dwellers.

San Francisco, with its 700,000 residents, 500,000 out-of-town commuters and 30,000 tourists and conventioneers (at any given time&#41 is just getting ready to explode.

Posted in Scowls.

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