An unhappy journalist has penned an epic 13,500-word tirade about his once-great city, branding it a 'pathetic imitation of what it once was'.
New York City has always been considered one of the world's most exciting cities.
Immortalised in movies, TV shows and music, and instantly recognisable even to those who have never been, the City That Never Sleeps is as big, interesting, diverse, and unpredictable as a metropolis could get.
Some 61.8 million tourists flocked to New York City last year, which confirmed its status as one of the world's most visited cities (it placed eighth on the 2017 Global Destination Cities Index) and the most visited destination in the United States, news.com.au reports.
Born-and-bred New Yorkers and those who chose to call it their home have long held a special reverence for their iconic city.
But one long-time resident says New York City is facing a slow, undignified death and — for the first time in history — it's become boring.
Veteran New York journalist Kevin Baker has written a scathing, but sorrowful, assessment of the city he's called home for more than 40 years.
In the detailed, 13,500-word essay for Harper's Magazine, Baker said affluence and gentrification have eroded the once-great city of its character and "all that was real and organic".
What was left was a place he barely recognised.
"I have never seen what is going on now: the systematic, wholesale transformation of New York into a reserve of the obscenely wealthy and the barely here — a place increasingly devoid of the idiosyncrasy, the complexity, the opportunity, and the roiling excitement that make a city great," Baker wrote.
"As New York enters the third decade of the twenty first century, it is in imminent danger of becoming something it has never been before: unremarkable.
"It is approaching a state where it is no longer a significant cultural entity but the world's largest gated community, with a few cupcake shops here and there.
"For the first time in its history, New York is, well, boring."
While he acknowledged New York City was wealthier, cleaner, safer, less corrupt and better-run than it has ever been — especially compared to the gritty 1970s, although poverty is still a big problem — it has lost its charm.
Iconic buildings like the Chrysler have become lost in a growing sea of generic high-rises.
Decades-old, family-run businesses that survived many dark periods in the city's history have finally fallen to the sword of high rent prices.
"Treasured" public spaces have become privatised, like the once free-to-visit Central Park Zoo, which now cost $86 for a family of four to enter.
"New York University has torn down much of the historic West Village, including most of what was the landmark Provincetown Playhouse and a home that Edgar Allan Poe once lived in," Baker said.
"Columbia University used (and abused) the power of eminent domain to kick out residents and small businesses at the western end of 125th Street, and is now stuffing that street with the huge, glassie, dreadful buildings of its new Manhattanville campus."
Baker's own multicultural neighbourhood, with all the interactions through which a "truly great city is made", was also vanishing.
"The street life — the warrens of little shops and businesses that once sustained our neighbourhood in the sort of "exuberant diversity" … is being eradicated as well: the botanics on 96th Street that Susan, my sister-in-law, always visited to buy her healing herbs when she was in town; the Indian spice shop next to it, with the protective elephant-headed idol of Ganesh mounted outside," he wrote.
"These stores, like so many others in my neighbourhood, have not been replaced. They are simply … gone. In an informal survey of Broadway, from 93rd Street to 103rd, I recently counted twenty-four vacant storefronts — many of them very large spaces, enough to account for roughly one third of the street frontage. Nearly all of them have been empty now for months or even years."
The other problem, Baker said, was tourists.
"New York is now jammed with some 62 million tourists every year, flocking to Disneyfied Broadway that is a pathetic imitation of what it once was," he wrote.
"At the same time, its favourite nooks and crannies are being annihilated, even the more upscale ones."
In conclusion, he said, while the wealthy would always be part of the city, it should be a mix of "the getting-there and the got".
"New York should be a city of workers and eccentrics as well as visionaries and billionaires; a place of schoolteachers and garbage men and janitors, or people who wear buttons reading 'is it fascism yet?' — as one woman in my neighbourhood has for decades, even as she grows steadily greyer and more stooped," he said.
"All helped to get along a little better, out of gratitude for all that they do to keep everything running, and to keep New York remarkable.
"Instead, our leaders seem hopelessly invested in importing a race of supermen for the supercity, living high above the clouds.
"A city of glass houses where no one's ever home. A city of tourists. An empty city."
Many people who read and shared Baker's piece on social media seemed to agree.
"I know there's a long history of people moaning about 'their' NYC dying, but having visited a dozen or more so times since 2001 I too have clearly witnessed this creeping blandification," one person wrote.
"The vibrant energy of the city has faded, at least for now."
"I've been saying this for years," another person tweeted, while another said: "I call it the Dubaiification of New York."
But not everyone agreed with Baker's bleak picture of modern New York.
Bloomberg business columnist Justin Fox publicly responded to Baker's piece, saying while he agreed with some points, he believed "New York City is quite alive".
He used statistics to show in the past few decades, New York City has seen a boom in jobs, a sharp decline in the murder rate, a longer life expectancy and more housing, with some of it empty.
"Now I too am something of a nostalgist, and as the author of an acclaimed trilogy of historical novels set in New York City, Baker does come by his fixation on the city's past honestly," Fox wrote.
"Nostalgia is a problematic lens, though, through which to view the challenges faced by a city that is by almost every reasonable measure a bigger, busier, healthier, safer, better place than it was two or three decades ago. Sometimes you need a few charts too."