Demand for housing in the suburbs has exploded. Real-estate agents are reporting bidding wars and cash offers on even the most humdrum properties, provided they have space for a home office and access to a reasonable school system. As home sales in Manhattan fall by half, they are doubling in the ’burbs. All those families who once said they could never leave the gritty life of New York City now want nothing more than a two-car garage and a basketball hoop in the driveway.
In the 1950s and 1960s, they called this phenomenon ‘white flight’. As more black people moved into America’s major cities, white people ran for the suburbs. The cause of today’s fracture is not quite so simple. The bolters these days are more bound by class, affluence and their experience of the pandemic. But after a summer of protests about the treatment of black people by the police and a rise in crime, race is not irrelevant.
Many of the liberal progressives who voted for Mayor Bill de Blasio are now horrified by his handling of the pandemic and the rejiggering of the economic and social order. They think it’s going to be the 1970s all over again, with the city facing bankruptcy, fires in the Bronx and the Son of Sam butchering lovers in their cars.