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“I didn’t lead a life of any particular hardship growing up, but as a kid in New York in the 1980s, I did have to do without certain things that many of today’s middle-class parents deem essential — a yard, for example — and my dad tells me he and other neighborhood parents had to hover around the sandbox to swiftly scoop up any crack pipes or other drug paraphernalia we might accidentally unearth.
I wouldn’t have traded it for anything in the world. Most people I know grew up in one suburb or another, and their childhoods always sound awfully boring to me. It’s of course a ridiculous cliché to note that there are a lot of interesting things to do in New York City, but it’s as true for children as it is for adults.
As a little kid, my favorite place was a small museum maintained by the Forbes family that featured, among other things, Malcolm Forbes’ extensive collection of antique children’s toys. My grandma liked to take me uptown to the Metropolitan Museum of Art to see the suits of armor, and my grandpa took me to the USS Intrepid and told me war stories. As an older kid, I could walk — by myself — to grab a slice or see a movie or visit a friend. I got scammed by chess hustlers in Washington Square and later learned to have fun watching tourists get scammed by chess hustlers. I even learned some chess!
Now the father of a 4-year-old son, I live in Washington, DC, a city that is, mercifully, marginally more affordable than New York, and I wouldn’t want to raise a family any place other than the city.”
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