NYC v LA Round 1: Culture & History

This massive multi-part post is spawned by the fact that I’ve been pretty mopey about missing Los Angeles lately (summer in New York does that to me), and Adam’s been pretty “Eh” when I talk about how great L.A. is.

Adam and I do plan to move back to LA eventually, but since life is currently in utter chaos i.e. I’ve recently started working again after a long bout of unemployment; my book is out to publishers…sort of, and who knows if or when it will ever sell; and the city of New York continues to build the Second Avenue subway right outside my bedroom window; and for some reason has been constantly shutting off our hot water, or just our water period, we really have no idea when we’re going to go back to LA.  And frankly, Adam is hot and cold..  He has always said he’s going, and that he wants to go, but he has other legitimate priorities some of which are best accomplished here.  The same way there is always another reason to add to the list for me going, I can see him finding another reason to add to the list for staying, which is only fair, he loves it here, and if we do ever move back I know he’ll miss the city like crazy.  It got me wondering what I would miss if we moved to LA?

So I thought I’d do a pros and cons for each of the cities based on 15 categories of my choosing – i.e the kind of things that are important to me about a place that I chose to live. For example, since I don’t have any children, so you won’t see “education” on the list, but I do love to eat sandwiches, so “food” will definitely be on the list.

The first one, CULTURE & HISTORY is below…but come back every day for a new round.

Keep in mind these are MY pros and cons…pros and cons that I have come to after living in LA for five years (2000 – 2005) and then living in New York for five years (2005 – present).  This is intended to be a fun list, and is not to be taken seriously, but I hope some of you, especially those of you who have lived in both places (or experienced them) will enjoy it.


LA is a much more culturally rich and diverse city than many people think, but at the end of the day I just don’t think it can compete with NYC.

NYC is older and more beautiful in everything from its buildings to its parks.  It seems to have more museums, more history, more preserved culture, more diversity, more historic landmarks, more festivals, more street fairs, and even more film festivals – which is kind of embarrassing considering LA is a city built on movies.

I would say that while pound for pound it’s possible the cities are equal if someone did a scientific study, the difference is that in NYC you feel it without even trying, whereas with LA I feel you have to seek it out a bit.

Even without being a person who deliberately tries to experience culture you feel it here in NYC – whether it be a trip to Ellis Island or just driving down Fifth Avenue and experiencing the architecture.  For example, if you walk across the Brooklyn Bridge from Manhattan (an iconic, historic, and culture rich experience in and of itself) you can see the Statue Of Liberty to your right, the seaport to your right and below you, Brooklyn stretching out in front of you, and probably a million other things I don’t even realizing I’m seeing.  And then on your way back you can see the whole massive impressive breath of Manhattan.

There are other ways in which LA can totally hand NYC it’s ass (like Mexican food!), but this just isn’t one of them.  In my five years in LA I never had an experience like that…like walking the Brooklyn Bridge and feeling both the history of the Statue of Liberty and then the immediacy and potency of the city skyline full of life.

LA is a fantastic city and there truly is no end in sight for the culture available to explore if one is so inclined, but it just can’t compete with one of the most culture rich cities on the planet, in NYC you don’t have to want to explore it…it’s at your front door, on your street, in your walk to work, at your favorite lunch spot…you can’t escape it if you wanted to.  Advantage: NYC



  1. Brooke’s avatar

    I’m afraid you’re never coming back….but I see totally see your point on this one. You definitely have to seek out culture here (and I always seem to find out about events after the fact).

  2. Brooke’s avatar

    I’m afraid you’re never coming back….but I totally see your point on this one. You definitely have to seek out culture here (and I always seem to find out about events after the fact).

  3. Tara’s avatar

    Ahh I love reading about this kind of thing– I’ve never been to LA and maybe someday I’ll take a trip out there, but I can’t picture myself actually living there–not any time soon, at least. I go into NYC at least a few times a year–since I’m only about 45 minutes away from it and for the most part they have been pleasant experiences (despite catching pertussis and despite the unsavory folk I shared the experiences with)–


    I’m looking forward to reading the rest of these!

  4. kfugrip’s avatar

    In New Yoooooooorrrrrrkkkkkk!

  5. 1979semifinalist’s avatar

    @Brooke: I’m definitely coming back…eventually, with or without Adam…hopefully with. Ideally I’ll be back there in spring/early summer 2011, as I really don’t want to do another summer in NYC…but I see problems with that plan (several) so am hopeful for Fall 2011. Regardless we’ve planned to visit before we commit to moving back, so I DO hope that will be spring 2011 at the latest.

    And don’t worry about LA…it’s going to win plenty of these. :)

    @Tara: Well then don’t forget to keep coming back…there will be 15 of them for you to peruse! If (when!) I move back out to LA you should definitely come visit – it’s actually a great city that gets a really bad rap I think.

    @Adam: Yes darling. We know your vote.

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