NEW YORK—As Dr. Ruth Finkelstein stepped out of her home, jackhammers were tattering, and a garbage truck suddenly came by, splaying the contents of a juice bottle all over the sidewalk. She thought to herself, “Really, 84 percent of people love this city?”
A man then came out from the shop and washed the sidewalk, commenting that no one would like to see the mess. Finkelstein then went to pick up her morning coffee, where she met and chatted with a neighbor about his tooth pain.
Finkelstein is the senior vice president for policy and planning at The New York Academy of Medicine. She does qualitative research around the city and has learned from engaging with communities around the boroughs. She was also a panelist at an event on Thursday discussing a New York livability survey released by the Municipal Art Society (MAS).
The third annual survey, released at the 2012 MAS Summit for New York City, engages New Yorkers from all five boroughs in reflecting on the livability of their city.
The survey found that the main barriers to living happily in New York, for roughly one-fifth of respondents, are employment concerns, public safety, housing concerns, and the cost of living.
Eighty-four percent of residents surveyed were satisfied or very satisfied with living in New York City. Different boroughs showed varying levels of satisfaction. For example, 91 percent of Staten Island residents were satisfied with their living conditions, whereas 77 percent of Bronx residents were satisfied (and 23 percent of Bronx residents were dissatisfied).
Two-thirds of poll respondents from the Bronx were happy with their local supermarkets. However, on the surface, the services provided wouldn’t seem to inspire this satisfaction, said Finkelstein.
She said city residents feel that they have invested something as part of a community, even in neighborhoods that you wouldn’t expect people to love.
“They know people, people know them. They are imbedded in a deep social network. They’re imbedded in the retail, and service, and friendship-set of networks,” she said.
The survey also showed that the majority of New Yorkers are willing to endure personal inconvenience to allow for major infrastructure improvements.
Survey respondents were open to having their bus stops moved (62 percent), their subway stops closed for construction (57 percent), on-going street construction (65 percent), and street closures for improved transport services (62 percent).
On the whole, 81 percent of the New Yorkers surveyed held a sense of optimism for the future of the city, an increase of 5 percent from last year.
The most optimistic borough this year was Manhattan (87 percent), followed by Brooklyn (85 percent). Last year’s most optimistic borough, Queens, came in third this year (80 percent), followed by the Bronx (75 percent), and Staten Island (69 percent).
The survey, of 1,324 New York City residents, 18 years of age and older, was conducted by telephone by the Marist Institute for Public Opinion from Aug. 28 through Aug. 31.
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