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Seven ways NYC is better now than it was 10 years ago

More parks and a healthy craft beer scene are just some of them

Shaye Weaver
Written by
Shaye Weaver

If you've lived in NYC for any amount of time, you can see that there's a lot that needs fixing—the slow subway service and the sheer amount of garbage on the streets are just the tip of the iceberg. It's easy to come up with a laundry list of things that could be improved here, but a lot of things have actually gotten better over the past 10 years.

There's been a big push to modernize the subway with OMNY, the Second Avenue Subway finally got built on the Upper East Side and Penn Station got a major upgrade with Moynihan Station. There's a wider variety of cuisine to check out, to-go cocktails have become a new staple and independent and BIPOC-owned bookstores had a resurgence from Cafe Con Libros to Bronx Bound Books.

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Last week, Reddit user heyguysayhi, looking for uplifting news, asked fellow New Yorkers, "What is better about NYC now than 10 years ago?" New Yorkers came through with marked improvements in NYC, from shopping to transportation and more. Scroll down to see if you agree!

1. There are more grocery store options

Trader Joe's
Photograph: Shutterstock

"Grocery shopping is a lot easier than it was 10 years ago," wrote flitwick.

Commenters pointed to Trader Joe's expanding the grocery shopping scene in the past 10 years (known for its own brand of goods and affordable prices). It has also physically expanded adding many more stores in recent years across the city, such as in Long Island City, Williamsburg and the Upper East Side and soon, Harlem.

2. There are more parks, green spaces and pedestrian-friendliness

"RockIt Black," by Tanda Francis, in Queensbridge Park, Queens
Photograph: Courtesy of Worthless Studios"RockIt Black," by Tanda Francis, in Queensbridge Park, Queens

"More green places and pedestrian friendly areas," said Buggythegurl. "I also love the outdoor dining. Tweaks still need to be made, but it is lovely. Overall, the city is becoming more friendly for the people rather than the cars, which is excellent, in Manhattan at least."

We've seen more water access and green space like at WNYC Transmitter Park in Greenpoint, at the High Line, with Little Island on Manhattan's west side, the opening of Pier 76 and the forthcoming upgrade of Marsha P. Johnson State Park. There's also been more open streets set up for dining and recreation.

3. Catching public transit on time is easier

OMNY subway reader
Photograph: Shutterstock/Chie In

From countdown clocks for every subway line to apps and websites that keep us updated from MyMTA to City Mapper, it's way easier to plan your commute and arrive on time barring sudden changes on the train or bus you're on. Even better, cellphone reception has gotten stronger and Wi-Fi has been added to every station so that we can check on things between stops. Plus, with the addition of OMNY, swiping through the turnstiles has never been easier.

"I do however miss when everyone had nextels and hearing the collective beeps when we all got service at the same time. It was oddly satisfying to me," iltfswc said.

4. There's free, universal Pre-K

After School Art activites
14th Street Y

"It’s a huge accomplishment, and they’re expanding to 3K as well," said OIlberger.

Hands-down this was probably the most helpful thing to happen to parents over Former Mayor Bill de Blasio's time in office and a major benefit to the children of NYC.

5. There's a ferry system

NYC Ferry
Photograph: Courtesy NYC Ferry

"They are a game changer if you can afford to live near one, though," wrote TalmadgeReynolds.

New Yorkers now have more commuting options and one that doesn't relegate them to the underground or vehicle traffic. The NYC Ferry by Hornblower operates six routes, plus one seasonal route, that connects 25 ferry piers in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, and Staten Island. It costs just as much as one subway ride—$2.75.

6. There's way more good beer

The Lab Bronx Brewery
Photograph: courtesy The Bronx Brewery

"Craft beer. 10 years ago there was pretty much just Brooklyn Brewery as far as taprooms go, and they didn’t even brew 10% of their beer here, but now there’s like a dozen good ones," said tinoynk.

It's true—there's been an explosion of taprooms and microbreweries on the local beer scene so much so that it's easy to stumble upon them, including in Gowanus, where Threes Brewing, Wild East Brewing Co., Finback Brewery and (a bit further away) Other Half Brewing all exist, user air- added.

7. Bike lanes and the subway system have expanded

bike lane
Photograph: Courtesy NYC Department of Transportation

"Bike paths. I can make it from Astoria to FiDi all on bike paths," said thisismynewacct.

Transit deserts still exist, but in the past 10 years, we've seen some marked differences. For one, the Second Avenue Subway finally opened on the Upper East Side (and hopefully will continue into Harlem soon), relieving massive pressure on the 4, 5, and 6 lines. It had been decades in the making! Likewise, the number of protected bike lanes has increased. As of October 2021, there were more than 570 miles of protected bike lanes in NYC, according to CBS. The Brooklyn Bridge now has its own protected bike lane—finally!

What do you think has gotten better in NYC over the past 10 years?

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