The most wonderful time of the year?
New York, like many cities where the weather changes with the season, is a different animal in the summer.
As the temperature rises, life slows down. Make no mistake: By the standard of most cities, the pace is still frenetic. But the streets are just a little less full and the constant background hum of ambition is muted somewhat. The animating question for much of the city is less “How can I get ahead?” and more “Where can I find some water and some shade?” This is the New York of barbecuing in the park, hitching a ride to Rockaway Beach, taking in a doubleheader and hanging out on the stoop.
As the temperature rises, things also heat up. And with soaring heat comes flaring tempers. “Don’t push me, ’cause I’m close to the edge,” warned Melle Mel in “The Message,” a song partially inspired by the transit strike of 1980. Indeed, many researchers have documented that hot weather contributes to increased violence. But would-be shooters are not the only New Yorkers living on a precipice. Summertime also brings real hardship for the elderly, for those without air conditioning and for working parents scrambling to find programs for their children. For people confronting these hardships, and many more besides, the summer is to be endured, not enjoyed.
In this issue, we take the measure of summer in the city — the good, the bad and the in-between. We take a look backward, identifying some of the key summer events that linger in the collective memory of the city. We also peer around the corner, asking questions about what the future might look like given the inexorable realities of climate change.
But the bulk of the issue is very much grounded in the present. Taken together, the contributions to this issue offer a sketch of what thriving urban life in the summer looks like right now: pools, trees, outdoor food and meaningful summer programming for young people.
Enjoy the issue and enjoy your summer.
Greg Berman and Elizabeth Glazer
The Public Square