Amazon's HQ2 Would've Broken Long Island
(NOTE: Mere hours before this article was set to publish, Amazon cancelled their plans for Queens. They fear Cracked's invective and wrath, which is not unlike that of the Old Testament God. Here are the details of their machinations regardless.)
You may remember the real-life dystopian reality show that was Amazon making various cities beg for the presence of their new corporate headquarters, and the Queens neighborhood of Long Island City was one of two lucky winners. In exchange for enough tax breaks to fund most island nations, Amazon will bless the locality with 25,000 much-revered "jobs."
That's a good way to inject a bunch of people who will spend money and pretend to care about the Mets into New York City. But New York City, as dozens of sitcoms have told you, is an expensive place to live. Long Island City in particular is seeing a massive increase in both housing developments (people are pouring into the area faster than any other community in NYC) and income disparity. One apartment within five blocks of the new HQ has a median household income of $15,000. Go five blocks in a different direction and it's $133,000.
HQ2 is already wiping out earlier plans to build 1,500 units of affordable housing, and a sudden spike in local salaries could be devastating to lower- and middle-class families. What happens when rent inflates and grocery stores realize that they can quadruple the price of bread by telling tech bros it contains the "ancient grains" that fueled the programmers of old? There's a serious concern that the immigrants and people of color who made Queens hip will now be priced out of their own neighborhood.
Scott Olson/Getty ImagesWe guess they could always order their groceries from Amazon, but that might not really be a long-term fix.
There are also questions about schooling and transportation. Queens' high schools are at 117 percent capacity, and Long Island City's only elementary school is at 135 percent, but Amazon workers will have to cram their kids in somewhere. More schools are coming, but it's unclear whether they will provide anywhere close to enough seats. 25,000 new workers would also strain NYC's already oft-delayed and overcrowded subway system, and while we're sure that will inspire a new wave of hilarious open mic night observations, it will also keep people from getting where they need to be.
So in sum, a lot of people are going to show up and be given tons of money to make things more inconvenient. Amazon has talked about a vague commitment to sustainable development, job training programs, transit reform, and other long-term growth plans, and if those all work out, it could legitimately be great for Queens. But it's sort of like letting a dozen people come live with you rent-free because they've promised to help renovate your house one day. Maybe they eventually will, and that would be awesome, but will you even still be able to afford to live there when the time comes?
The First Iteration Of Gmail Was For Garfield Fans
When Gmail launched in 2004, it provided an invaluable service to countless Internet denizens looking to upgrade their addresses from firstname.lastname@example.org to something vaguely professional. But the service you route all of your Bed Bath & Beyond newsletters to holds a dark and terrible secret. In 1998, gmail.com was an email service for Garfield enthusiasts.