DC: A Suburb of New York City

by Will Smith

DC: A Suburb of New York City: Figure 1

Richard Florida, renowned urban theorist and author of The Rise of the Creative Class, has made a splash with this month’s cover story in The Atlantic entitled How the Crash Will Reshape America. In the piece, Florida analyzes the changes, by geographic region, that he believes will come as a result of the current recession. Specifically, he predicts that certain cities and urban regions in the US will suffer a “body blow” from which they may never fully recover, while others will emerge stronger and more strategically relevant than before.

In a 45-minute NPR interview, he makes two comments about the DC area in particular. The first is complimentary:

“…Greater Washington, DC … I still think is a boomland. In fact in our ratings and rankings, it comes up as a great place for singles, a great place for families — and I’m not just talking about the city. Maryland and northern Virginia and the whole environment there.” (Minute 21:15 in the audio)

His second comment is more provocative:

“Part of Washington DC’s resurgence is not just that it’s a government town and has AOL high-tech. DC in a very real way has become a suburb of New York. And a lot of the media and broadcast — NPR functions that are there, XM Radio, many of the documentary film producers, many of the writers for The New York Times — have actually relocated [to DC] because of the affordability and connectivity.” (Minute 16:00 in the audio)

DC a suburb of New York?! Only if your definition of suburb extends 200 miles beyond a city’s borders.

In all seriousness, clearly Florida does not mean suburb in the conventional sense. And his point is an interesting one: technology enables some of New York’s elite to call DC home.

We’re curious, do you know anyone who “commutes” between DC and New York? Or for that matter, do you know anyone who commutes between DC and any other city outside the immediate metropolitan area? Please let us know in the comments.

This article originally published at http://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/dc_a_suburb_of_new_york_city/614


  1. Craig Colgan said at 10:05 pm on Wednesday March 4, 2009:
    Someday, the media will lose this obsession with Richard Florida. On, and on, and on it goes with this guy ... D.C.: affordable? Only if your only standard is Manhattan. Which of course, is a good example of how Richard Florida thinks about everything.
  1. Washingtonian said at 5:27 am on Thursday March 5, 2009:
    It really is not an irrational thought. DC and New York are very interconnected, and when you've lived long enough in Manhattan, yes this town is extremely affordable. I make the trip back and forth approximately a dozen or so times a year. This has always been home, but the big apple is a close second.
  1. JNo said at 1:43 pm on Thursday March 5, 2009:
    I kind of agree although this is not on a mass scale. Commuting between DC and NY is very common especially for the person who does business in both places. Which seems to be (if you take the ACELA or the Shuttle)a growing number of people.
  1. DC-NYCgirl said at 6:44 pm on Thursday March 5, 2009:
    While the word suburb is anathema to me (some of my best friends live in them, but DC simply isn't one) - I can live with the concept of DC as a bedroom community to NYC. My husband and I did a bi-city commute for 18 months before settling here, and for the last year a major client of mine has been in NY and I am there once/week. My relationship with them is no different with them than it is with my clients in NoVA, whom I also see once/week ...
  1. JT said at 7:39 pm on Thursday March 5, 2009:
    Love the corporate examples he cites - AOL & XM Radio. AOL hardly jumps to mind when I think "high tech" and XM was bought buy a New York company, Sirius.
  1. ET said at 8:46 pm on Thursday March 5, 2009:
    Not totally irrational but maybe getting less so. I knew someone who worked for AMTRAK on the Metroliner back in the early 1990's. He had regulars on his train every AM going from DC to NYC. This was before laptops and cell phones became ubiquitous and they had been doing it for years.
  1. Andrew said at 7:26 pm on Tuesday March 10, 2009:
    Doesn't DC own most of New York's "creative class" now? We certainly have bought and paid for the financial sector. Power, money, and culture is concentrating where the government is. It is actually an anomaly that they've been seperated for 200 years. What other major power has a capitol that has lagged so far behind? By lapping New York, we're just catching up to London, Paris, etc.
  1. Mermaidian said at 5:39 pm on Wednesday September 30, 2009:
    I guess I'm the only person commenting who actually commutes between Washington DC and New York City every single week, 52 weeks a year. I am a creative communications professional working for a large international institution. My work in new York dried up, and I have been forced to broaden my search for employment outside the geographical range of NYC. My husband refuses to move and he has good reason - he has has great career prospects in NY. I wish I could afford to take the Amtrak every single day, but that would be almost impossible. So, I pay rent twice instead because DC does have more reasonable accommodation than New York and the cost of living here is cheaper than at "home" in Brokklyn, NYC.

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