What New Yorkers Are Thinking About the Greatest Depression: It Won’t Be Too Bad!

By
Charts
This is the "How Do You Like Me Now,
Moose!?" face.
Photo: Melissa Hom

So you know how we're getting all psyched for the Greatest Depression? But when we polled twenty members of the eclectic crowd of a Union Square lunch hour, their reaction was less "PARTY'S OVER! MARKETS IN CRISIS!" and more, well, "Eh." "Stop asking me such depressing questions," one artist quipped. Excuse us.

While most of them ceded that a recession was inevitable — already here, even — plenty were also excited about the prospect of more bike-riding and less megaspending. The majority of the students, business owners, managers, artists, and even a sullen, unemployed homeless chick (talk about depression) acknowledged that they would be at least peripherally affected by the pending/current economic apocalypse, but they were cautiously optimistic. The group's sentiments seem summed up by one working architect who said, "New York City will weather the storm." Oh, and Whole Foods is hiring!


Do you think we're going into a recession?

Yes: 18 No: 1 Not too sure: 1

"I think jobs are low, but it's not a recession. I think it's a ploy. It's a scare tactic for politicians and media." — Accountant, 28

Is this economic situation going to affect you?
Yes: 11 No: 9

"I think the whole world will be affected! All kinds of … life." — German Exchange Student at The New School, 24

"Hell yeah [this will affect me]! The price of produce is going up. Mushrooms are like $11.99 … a lot of people are already sleeping outside [looks around]. And I think that there will be a lot of riots." — Whole Foods Employee, 26

Do you think New York City will change?
Yes: 13 No: 7 (five observed that the city is, in fact, always changing)

"Yes, it'll change — for the better! People will use brown bags and bikes. Then bike prices will go up — $200 'vintage' bikes — but people will be smarter about spending. They'll spend less, and go out to eat less. Less being fabulous. Now, it's all about going out to eat at fabulous places. But it's going to be chic to be frugal. Also, Crunch Gym is going to come up with something — some sort of walking package. You know it." — Artist, Vendor, 32

Do you feel like you could explain what's going on in the economy?
Yes: 6 No: 8 Umm, sort of: 6

"I hear different stories each time." — Tourist from Wales, Artist, 28

"I get it to a degree. People were using credit cards to buy handbags that no one can afford, and they won't even be wearing them next season."— Artist, Vendor, 32

Do you believe that the government can fix this?
Yes, they can totally do it: 4
Yes, to a degree: 6
Yes, they could fix this — if they wanted to: 5
Nope: 5

"I'm going to be hopeful. There was FDR … public service projects … the only way out is a government initiative. I don't know if the bailout will work, though. Who knows? Maybe we're just fucked." — Seasonal Wilderness Instructor, 29

Do you think that America is going to be like it was during the Great Depression? What do you think that time was like?
No: 20

"It was a different country back then. We've developed so much, and there are too many good things now. Unemployment was 25 percent during the Great Depression; now it's 6 percent." — Supermarket Manager, 24

Well, let's say you're all wrong, and it is the Great Depression, Part 2. And you're not a student, and you're not employed. Now what do you do?
Sell my body for money: 4
Finally get out of this town and farm the land: 4

"I can tutor, or braid somebody's hair." — Whole Foods Employee, 26

"Whore myself! Whore my art! Or … freelance journalism." — Artist, Vendor, 32 [Girl, we hear that]

"I was actually thinking about that this morning. I'd go into goods and services. Chop wood, farm, live off the grid." — Seasonal Wilderness Instructor, 29

"Sell apples on the street." — Computer Consultant, 32

"I'd organize movements for the awareness of social problems. Do community service. Or invest." — Artist/Musician, 23