In general, the blue-state model makes life more difficult for lower-income residents. The Census Department’s Supplemental Poverty Measure adjusts state poverty levels by the local cost of living, essentially measuring how many more people wind up in poverty based on state costs. Under that measure, California has the nation’s highest poverty level, at more than 20 percent of the population. More pointedly, of the 12 states where the poverty level has worsened based on local costs, seven are solidly blue, including Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York; the rest are politically neutral. The blue-model states leave not just their poorer residents behind, but also whole regions. Areas that specialize in highly productive industries like finance or technology can absorb the impact of high taxes and intrusive regulations easier than cost-sensitive manufacturing or agricultural sections. While the greater San Francisco–Silicon Valley area has prospered in the latest economic expansion, five of the nation’s ten metros with the worst unemployment rates are in California. New York’s economic rebound from the last recession was powered almost entirely by New York City. The state has added about a million jobs since the recovery began, but about 730,000 have been in Gotham. Four large upstate areas have actually lost jobs. Higher state spending can bring some apparent advantages. Blue-model states spend gigantic sums on their public schools, from 50 percent to nearly 100 percent above the national average per student in places like New York and New Jersey. That’s paid off in terms of quality, according to a study by the financial website 24/7 Wall St. The list of top public schools by state includes Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York. Government spending and quality may be more closely correlated in public education because school systems aren’t controlled by state bureaucracies but by local school boards—where parents, especially in smaller suburban towns, can demand accountability. Still, fast as some of these states educate young people, they’re losing them as residents. From 2011 through 2015, the three top states exited by millennials (people aged 23 to 38) were heavily Democratic: New York, Illinois, and New Jersey, according to one study based on census data. (Fourth on the list was politically neutral Pennsylvania, whose taxes and overall costs are relatively modest, except for property taxes, which have been rising to pay for schools.) That study also found that the five states attracting the most millennials were less costly, Texas and Colorado among them. A report drawing on more recent data by a New Jersey group found that young people, not retirees, were the biggest demographic group fleeing that state. The data belie the explanation of some politicians, like New York governor Andrew Cuomo, that blue-state out-migration is largely about retirees leaving for warmer climes.
From DUMBO we rushed over to the Brooklyn Bridge to walk along the pedestrian path. The scene here was similar to our experience at DUMBO. It was the golden hour and people were everywhere walking and using the magic of the light to take selfies and group photos on the bridge. It was too crowded for the tripod. I was worried that someone would trip over the legs. I switched to shooting handheld. I focused on capturing the vibe on the bridge with families and friends enjoying the view.
Designated a National Historic Landmark in 1964, the Brooklyn Bridge is a hybrid cable-stayed/suspension bridge that spans the East River and connecting the boroughs of Manhattan and Brooklyn. With a length of 1,825.4 m, the bridge is one of the oldest roadway bridges in the United States and was the world’s first steel-wire suspension bridge, as well as the first fixed crossing across the East River. Designed by German immigrant John Augustus Roebling, the bridge opened May 24, 1883; over 135 years ago! The bridge has 6 lanes of roadway with pedestrians and bicycles pathways.
As the sun waned we returned to Brooklyn Bridge Park for photos of the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges. I scrambled down the ice rocks to the beach. I slipped a few times. I struggled a bit to find focus in low light near the beach. I was tired and so were my eyes. I did my best with the focus-peaking feature of the Fuji X-T2.
I have photographed these two bridge before so I captured a few long-exposure images and called it a night. I made my way, slowly and carefully, back to the park and venture indoors for a cup of camomile tea. It was a great day. We piled into Loren’s white van and Loren drove back through Manhattan to Penn Station and Grand Central Station to drop off the Connecticut members of our group. Then it was time for the drive back to Bridgewater.
Next stop on the New York City Bridges photography tour was the area Down Under Manhattan Bridge Overpass, also nicknamed DUMBO. Despite the cold, the streets were packed with people most of whom seemed to be taking photos of the Empire State Building framed by one of the Manhattan Bridge towers. Which is exactly what we were there to do. After over thirty years living in the New York1/New Jersey area, I have finally become a tourist.
- When we first immigrated to the United States, we lived in East Elmhurst, Queens. ↩