While I was back in NYC for (Canadian) Thanksgiving weekend, a free street newspaper ran an article about a facet of the uptown divide. There has always been the whole EAST SIDE vs. WEST SIDE rivalry. Whoever has lived in the city gets it. However, this article was brief and distinguished itself by discussing how the two sides divided themselves vis-à-vis the upcoming presidential elections.
A recent study shows that the folks of the Upper West Side are voting blue, whereas the reds (no, not the Soviet reds) are found in the East. Ironic?
In case of a codification problem: blue is for Democrat and red is for Republican. I have set out to propose my theory which elaborates upon this: Let’s start with the UES: what was formerly known as “Billionaire Row” is now more modestly called “Museum Mile.” Rightly so, considering the fact that the MET, Guggenheim, and Whitney museums are all in that area, not to mention the fancy-pants art galleries. The residents of this
neighborhood are generally of the sort that aligns with Republican ideals. On this side of town, everything must be “state-of-the-art” and “meticulously crafted,” from the storefronts to the Tory Burches on every other woman’s foot. It’s the kind of mentality that fits the likes of Rupert Murdoch—the media mogul who has recently plunged into the presidential election through Twitter between his other tweets about “great birds” and how-to-pick-a-hooker advice to Prince Harry; Larry Gagosian—the millionaire contemporary art dealer with gallery spaces all over the world, who has donated at least $5,000 to the Romney campaign; and finally—this one comes as absolutely no surprise—the Koch brothers. All of whom reside in the UES. When you think UES, think of a square: STRAIGHT LINE, RIGHT ANGLE, METICULOUSLY CRAFTED.
What do these individuals have to say as ambassadors of the UES to the election? With Larry Gagosian as an example of a self-made tycoon trying to save his fortune, the mogul-figures of the brothers Koch and Rupert Murdoch are in a different category. They are the typical 1% businessmen who remain convinced their job is to save the rest of America, by “providing jobs.” The Koch brothers in particular have made a few headlines in recent months for actually sending emails to their some thousand employees reminding them to “vote for the right candidate,” because otherwise they may be out of a job. Glossing over the ethical issues associated with a move like that, those ideals represent the sort of nostalgia longing for an America that has all but withered and died. The “American Dream” type, which the Koch Brothers and Rupert Murdoch epitomize, is now almost completely irrelevant. This kind of demographic still stands as a strong conservative voice and ideal, and for historical reasons, is prevalent in the UES.
The UWS tends to be more supportive of politics in blue. With a past including the former home of John Lennon, the UWS side of town always
seems to house the more liberal, DIY, be-cool-stay-fancy mentality that generally seems to poll with Democrats. During the 2004 presidential elections, the UWS accounted for a significant portion of donations from the NY-state area to Democratic candidate John Kerry. Particularly in
terms of history and development, the Upper West Side has always been considered more bohemian and diverse, whereas the Upper East is where all the money settled. The UWS initially never held the sort of elite status that the the UES held. This isn’t relevant anymore, considering both areas currently boast some of the world’s most expensive real estate. However, the older generations and their descendants from the original settlers
of both sides maintained their respective mindset–just look at their politics– which is now inherited through the voter divide.
– Veronica Aronova