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Amazon Plans to Split HQ2 in Two Locations: NY and VA (nytimes.com)
271 points by tysone 8 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 365 comments





> Amazon executives met two weeks ago with Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo in the governor’s Manhattan office, said one of the people briefed on the process, adding that the state had offered potentially hundreds of millions of dollars in subsidies

> “I am doing everything I can,” Governor Cuomo told reporters when asked Monday about the state’s efforts to lure the company. “We have a great incentive package,” he said.

> “I’ll change my name to Amazon Cuomo if that’s what it takes,” Governor Cuomo said. “Because it would be a great economic boost.”

If these quotes are truly representative of Cuomo's attitude towards Amazon, that's an incredible amount of pandering for the governor of the state containing New York City to be doing. Isn't large amounts of incentives for Amazon essentially a trickle-down economics policy? Interesting to see that Cuomo, ostensibly a progressive, would be for such a thing.


> that's an incredible amount of pandering for the governor of the state containing New York City to be doing

Pandering is free.

I imagine infrastructure-based incentives will be popular in New York. Large tenants make big infrastructure possible. That enables further density, which means more jobs, more municipal budget and more demand for local commerce. Turning Amazon's HQ2 into the catalyst for building out Western Brooklyn and LIC infrastructure isn't a bad trade for the city. (Tax credits would be tone deaf, but if done in a budget-neutral manner could be okay.)

New York City is a commercial centre. Pragmatism wins votes.


>"I imagine infrastructure-based incentives will be popular in New York. Large tenants make big infrastructure possible. That enables further density, which means more jobs, more municipal budget and more demand for local commerce. Turning Amazon's HQ2 into the catalyst for building out Western Brooklyn and LIC infrastructure isn't a bad trade for the city"

What infrastructure is that exactly?

Long Island City and Greenpoint/Williamsburg have already been absurdly built up by developers over the last two decades.

It's hard to believe an influx of new tens of thousands of individuals to fill vacancies at Amazon is going to produce new train tunnels under the East River or new bridges over it. NYC already has large tenants - Google, JP Morgan Chase, Goldman Sachs, Verizon etc, and the city's infrastructure woes have worsened despite their presence.

I would also imagine that much of the gain in the local tax coffers by the additional work force will be offset by whatever tax deals the city and states extends to Amazon.


This is such a glib response.

- The G train can be elongated and run more often. Signal work can allow it to run more frequently with the F.

- The East Side LIRR extension can be expedited.

- The circumferential freight line can be restored to create a new transit line between Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx.

- The L train restoration can be expedited.

All these project are cheap and would increase the livibility of NYC outside of Manhattan, while also shortening commute time to LIC.


>"This is such a glib response."

It's ironic that you have chosen to call my comment glib when you offer nothing but "___ can be expedited." You can't get any more hand-wavey than that. Your comment is the very epitome of glib.

No they can not be "expedited." The highest priority for the MTA right now is upgrading the depression-era signaling, which even under the aggressive rollout that Andrew Byford is advocating will take 10 years. The L train shutdown is already being "expedited" the line will be completely shutdown for almost a year a half starting in a couple of months. You can't really "expedite" much more than that now can you? And even after the repairs its still the same single track tunnel it was before.

My comment was actually thought out and based on decades of observing growth and change in the city. Maybe you don't understand the meaning of the word "glib"?


Thanks for the shoddy dismissal and personal insult, I guess?

It took NYC one hundred years to finish the Second Avenue subway. The MTA is crumbling and can barely maintain the already existing service. The L train shutting down will be a huge blow to the functioning of NYC and if they could bring it back any faster, they would. I wouldn't count on a G extension anytime soon, or on the L repairs magically being expedited.

It's almost impossible to overstate how important the L train is. It is the main artery into the city for absolutely enormous swaths of Brooklyn.


Ferry transportation is also becoming mainstream

Ferry transportation doesn't scale to tens of thousands of commuters though. I think.

The system island ferry carries 70k per day [0]. The San Francisco ferries do almost 10k per day [1].

[0] https://www1.nyc.gov/office-of-the-mayor/news/225-17/mayor-d...

[1] https://www.bizjournals.com/sanfrancisco/news/2017/08/07/vid...


Do the people downvoting this live in NYC? It has massive infrastructure problems.

I took njtransit every day for the last 3 years. It has massive delays, cancellations, derailments, manpower shortages, etc, all the time. Probably at least twice a week you should expect a major delay. (an extra hour kind of delay)

The Subway also has major problems. It's falling apart, chronically late and costs a fortune. But there's no money for fixing it.

They're shutting down the L-Train next year, the main train you take from the most popular places in Brooklyn.

Commuting in NYC sucks and you shoud expect it to get worse.


> Commuting in NYC sucks and you should expect it to get worse.

The secret is to move to Jersey and take the NY Waterway ferry. $272/month, including bus transit on both sides if you need it. While your boat may occasionally be 5 minutes late (like every other mass transit option), they almost never shut down.

I can't speak to the East River Ferry.


I agree with the "move to Jersey" part, but NY Waterway is a truly terrible company.

They fraudulently overbilled the government for ferry services they provided after the 9/11 attacks. Really profoundly sick behavior. [1] [2]

More recently, they've sold their Weehawken depot to a developer -- and then used their lack of a depot as an excuse to shadily land-grab space in Hoboken. They're threatening to put an industrial refueling depot in a spot surrounded entirely by parks, housing, and a university. [3] [4]

[1] https://www.nytimes.com/2003/04/18/nyregion/ferry-operator-i...

[2] https://www.nytimes.com/2006/07/18/nyregion/18ferry.html

[3] https://www.nj.com/hudson/index.ssf/2018/01/hoboken_mayor_bl...

[4] https://betterwaterfront.org/?p=7820


I agree that it’s a shitty company run by a real life Montgomery Burns. But that whole dispute over the “land grab” strikes me as sour grapes.

Union Dry Dock has been courting buyers since at least 2000 when the Stevens Institute planned to buy it. If it was so important to the city of Hoboken, why didn’t they just buy the land in the intervening decade and a half?

Seems to me that the residents ought to be taking their own local government to task here. It’s like they were holding off indefinitely, under the assumption that they could avoid spending the money, then swoop in when someone else tries to buy it. And then their plan bit them in the ass.


My understanding is that NY Waterway's execs previously owned the Weehawken land where their current depot is, but chose to sell to a developer. Their entire predicament seems to be tied to this decision, of their own making, which they profited from.

Meanwhile in 2017, when Union Dry Dock announced they were winding down their business, Hoboken tried to buy the land, but they could not come to an agreement. Ditto for multiple previous attempts by Stevens, private developers, etc over the years. The value of some of these offers exceeded the amount eventually paid by NY Waterway!

And now the only reason Hoboken can't use eminent domain is that NY Waterway convinced NJ Transit to swoop in and buy the land from them. As a state agency NJ Transit is immune to municipal eminent domain. Yet, NJ Transit does not operate ferries, and never has, to my knowledge. And NY Waterway's execs have state lobbyists and make extensive political donations [1]. This smells corrupt.

[1] https://betterwaterfront.org/?p=7797


Yeah, I'm not sympathetic to either side. And while I have very strong feelings about using eminent domain against private citizens, I'm much less likely to object to it being used against a corporation (though I guess that ship has sailed thanks to the deal with NJ Transit).

From a legal and due process perspective, I'm ambivalent as to how the situation shakes out. There's been enough foolish, lazy and/or shady behavior on both sides that neither has much ground to stand on.

As far as my personal feelings go, I'd rather not see a refueling station built there, but nobody asked me.


Don't forget the best effect of all: even more insane housing prices!

Seriously, Amazon, kindly fuck off somewhere.


Indeed. Many people will say dropping a huge Amazon campus in Queens will adversely effect the character of the city, and exacerbate many of its issues.

I don't necessarily disagree with them, and if it was up to me, I'd rather Amazon land in Dallas that probably needs the jobs more.

However, this will be an objectively good thing for NYC as a center of commerce, and help establish it as a tech hub at a time its local job market isn't doing all too well.

Moreover, I doubt Amazon will game the system so excessively that it won't end up paying in taxes and investment and influx of business and salaries much more than it will receive in tax breaks.

It's unlikely they'll game the system so badly because it's not wise to screw the municipal authorities that can make your life miserable.


>"However, this will be an objectively good thing for NYC as a center of commerce, and help establish it as a tech hub at a time its local job market isn't doing all too well."

NYC is already a tech hub and has been for the last decade at least - Google, FB, Spotify, MongoDB, Pinterest, Bloomberg, Etsy, Salesforce, Seamless, Twitter, MLBAM, Square etc are all in NYC.

NYC's economy isn't doing too well? It grew by 2.7% for the second consecutive quarter in 2018[1]. It's expanding, how is that "not doing too well" exactly?

https://comptroller.nyc.gov/reports/new-york-city-quarterly-...


I am sure Amazon is also already "in" NYC. Having a presence in a important is not the same as moving/adding 50k+ employees/HQ there.

Out of the companies you mentioned I think only Etsy , MongoDB, Seamless are NYC based, all the larger employers such as Google,FB,SalesForce ,Twitter are valley based.


No the companies I mentioned don't just have a presence "in" NYC. Google owns an entire city block with some 5K employees. It's the biggest office outside of Mountain View. Spotify's headquarter are also NYC and that some 3K employees. Sales Force also owns a building in midtown. FB has 10 floors. These are not "satellite" offices.

And the point is that 50K people is not some magic tipping point that is going to fix NYC infrastructure issues.

JP Morgan chase has 15K employees in it new building on 270 Park Ave and guess what, NYC infrastructure woes didn't disappear.


I am willing to bet that Amazon also already has significant presence in NYC, while I don't know exact numbers, a reasonable proxy is their job site, it lists around 600 active openings in the NYC, which means they employ 5-10k employees already.

NYC is way too big for any material impact either way by Amazon on infra, however the tech scene could use the boost, while as you point out there is already significant presence from some major folks, this could be potentially be the start of something much larger


> NYC's economy isn't doing too well? It grew by 2.7% for the second consecutive quarter in 2018.

The economy has been growing at 3.5-4% during this time nationally, so a 2.7% is actually training the national growth by a significant margin.

I don't have have the article handy, but hiring in NYC has been down this year by 3% or so. My unscientific observation is that finance employment in NYC has been in a slow but steady decline since 2008, and unlikely to recover.


NYC was already doing better than most of the country economically. NYC recovered from the Great Recession rather quickly compared to much of the rest of the country.

Perhaps in past years. This year, with the lower growth and decline in job numbers, it's been doing worse.

> I'd rather Amazon land in Dallas that probably needs the jobs more.

Having lived there, disincentivizing jobs and thereby incentivizing emmigration is the best outcome for most people in the DFW area. What a hellhole. "I want to die in Dallas" said noone ever.


I grew up around Dallas, a lot of the suburbs around there are _really_ nice (All-American feel, everybody goes to high school football games, etc.), had a lot of the fastest growing communities in the nation, the economy is booming in Texas, lower taxes, family friendly, and the culture is a lot more neighborly/friendly than most of the places I've lived (our neighbors brought over cookies when we moved in). Curious what gave you the opposite impression?

There are plenty of nice people everywhere.

> cookies

Our neighbors in California let us stay in their house for 3 weeks. For free.

> a lot of the suburbs around there are _really_ nice

If you think suburban sprawl is a selling point for a city, you may want to visit some other places.

> fastest growing communities in the nation

When land is cheaper than free, you're sort of incentivized to build.

> lower taxes > the economy is booming in Texas

Who gets that money? Texas has a fairly regressive system of taxation: http://www.burntorangereport.com/diary/29392/texas-third-reg...

> family friendly

* Texas is in the bottom quartile of social welfare spending: https://www.urban.org/policy-centers/cross-center-initiative...

* The climate is brutal (at certain times in the summer it's actually cooler further south).

* The distance to anywhere else is unreal.

I absolutely agree many of the people are absolutely wonderful. I have also been to plenty of high school football games where a lot of racial slurs were muttered in the stands.


Totally agree that there are lots of nice people everywhere. I live in California now and I much prefer the weather, more to do too, and lots of nice people here too. I think you're criteria are a bit different than mine, and you interpret it differently, and that's okay. I'm mainly just pointing out that Texas is actually quite nice for some people and for lots of reasons. If you don't agree or think those reasons aren't important, that's totally fine, but lots of people who live there disagree with you.

It’s funny to me that your example of all American is changing pretty quickly, at least in places with educated parents, since it involves watching children get brain damage.

Hehe, I actually hate football, and my mom never liked it either since she wanted us to have brain cells and such (we all played basketball instead), but I give it as an example of a community thing people did and supported. Totally agree on that point though.

Dallas is not a hellhole, yea may be a couple of months in Summer. I am confused about Dallas being a contender, but Texas Enterprise Fund usually makes a hard to refuse offer. Still, do not think Amazon is going to land here. Having said that, Dallas in a logistical center, especially it has become a national distribution point for goods coming from Mexico to US. It also makes sense if Amazon is splitting HQ2 into two smaller one, instead of having two HQs in East Coast, might as well send one part to central timezone.

Given Amazon's workforce demographics the optics of a very Red state don't look good.

It does if they enforce their non-discrimination policies. The oppressed need jobs too.

Also, news media's love of simplification has really twisted people's view of states other than their own. Georgia is about as "blue" as California or New York, but most of it is concentrated in a few counties in Metro Atlanta amid 159 state-wide. People mistake resolution for politics.

If an alleged "blue" state had as many counties as Georgia, those county election maps would look awfully red too. But since they don't, the counties that lean D take up more space, and the extremes on both ends are attenuated in a larger pool so red doesn't look as red.

The south in particular is notorious for having lots of counties. It was a way to get more money during Reconstruction. There's a reason the most prosperous former Confederate states have more counties even if you exclude those formed post-Reconstruction.


But its perception that counts if your asking people to move to a new area especially if your recruiting internationally

And also living in a small liberal eclave isn't that appealing.


The aforementioned Atlanta metro is the 9th largest MSA in the US (just ahead of Boston).

So not really a small liberal enclave.


I think the person you replied to started working on their reply in the time I added everything after the first line.

Assuming that they don't want to import a bunch of blue folks to Seattle (college hires)

I suspect that a lot more people want to work in NYC "the city that never sleeps" than Dallas "home of Jr Ewing"

Dallas gets a lot of (imo, undeserved) hate, but I'm curious as to why you didn't like it?

> I'd rather Amazon land in Dallas that probably needs the jobs more.

Nah, jobs are definitely not needed and there is already an influx of large out of state companies moving in. I will say with the rapidly expanding suburbs coupled with the lack of culture or protectionist policies due to everyone around being transplants anyways, it could absorb it (assuming we're not talking about Dallas proper but outside of the city which is where most companies reside).


It effectively puts them in the heart of government and business. In hindsight it’s a pretty strong choice. Really wish they had chosen somewhere that really needed work though.

Cuomo isn't a progressive.

> Interesting to see that Cuomo, ostensibly a progressive, would be for such a thing.

Cuomo literally engineered a Republican majority in the state senate, even though the Democrats had been elected to the majority, so that he wouldn't be pressured to sign overly-progressive legislation before his 2020 run.


I would love for Amazon to actually take him up on this. It would be an great illustration for all time of politicians being in the back pockets of corporations.

I think we should tease all politicians offering tax breaks to corporations that they might as well say their first name is "Amazon".

I think we should have a federal legislation, (allowed under the interstate commerce clause), banning the current race to the bottom for states and municipalities to offer tax breaks to corporations. Sure we'd have to still deal with companies leaving the US but the leverage is different there and it'd be a start. Am I wrong?


Surprised to see Cuomo go on record with that quote given how it will be used against him when he runs for President.

Interesting enough, he did not have to make these concessions, Amazon wants to come to NY, regardless.

"This will be New York or it will be DC - Prof. Galloway, Feb 2018 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3baKe4B3eyI


It's conservative to let people keep what they earn. It's progressive to take from people (tax) and give to Amazon in the form of subsidies.

VA was chosen for its proximity to regulators.

Consider that if Microsoft had put an office in the DC area in the mid 1990s we would all be shopping at some e-commerce behemoth owned by Microsoft.

The reality is that for a company like Amazon, regulatory risk is the biggest existential threat to the company's future, and the only way to fight regulatory risk is through extensive lobbying and various legal forms of bribery that involve lots of face time with powerful officials.


I think you're right. Other commenters are forgetting that there's a lot of soft power in DC.

Yes, employing lobbyists is one way to flex your muscle in DC. But owning a newspaper and employing lots of people in the area is another way.

Imagine you're a mid-level bureaucrat facing a routine decision that could help or hurt Amazon. Now imagine that your spouse works at The Washington Post, your college-aged daughter is an intern at Amazon, and a local non-profit you care about just got a donation from Bezos. You can imagine how that could perhaps sway your decision.


It doesn't hurt that there's a lot of government work being done in the area, especially in defense, at a time Amazon is becoming a major contractor for the US government.

I second that. At my previous job we were looking at AWS and another tool in the FedRamp approved cloud.

From my perspective, Amazon wants a piece of government IT. Which is expensive due to regulations but also lucrative.


The best hedge against regulatory risk wouldn't be jobs in DC, but jobs that turn a light red state purple, or a purple state blue.

Maybe that's partly why Northern Virginia is a leading candidate, but it seems like there might have been even stronger options.

Having a workforce in a low population swing state could have disproportionate impact on national politics. It could elect Dems, or turn against them if they move to break Amazon up.

(I'm not saying this because I know which party would favor Amazon more, but just because polling suggests tech workers are mostly blue, so I think that's the direction you'd start.)

This is if politics were the only consideration, though I'd wager the main considerations are far more mundane, something actuarial.


>The best hedge against regulatory risk wouldn't be jobs in DC, but jobs that turn a light red state purple, or a purple state blue.

How so? If you turn a state purple or blue you're now at risk of being regulated by the state in addition to federally. Red states are generally hands off when it comes to business.


Imagine green and purple instead of red and blue.

If you give a state to green, with the power to turn it back purple any time green threatens your workers, you have the policy leadership in a bit of a hostage crisis.

Ideology is flexible in big tents, and everyone is a pragmatist with respect to their constituency. Ds in hunting states are more circumspect on guns and Rs near DC go much easier on federal employees.


I think they’ll get that angle through being an employer at the regional scale of Walmart or similar. Of course they’ll employ fewer people than a big box retail outlet, but they’ll aggregate to enough power for senators/representatives to take notice.

Every tech company is already like that in DC/Virginia with the amount of data centers that are kept (and continuously being built) in the state.

Amazon also has a lot of government work these days for DoD and intelligence services with AWS. So I imagine that's another motivator for the location. That area of VA will be a great spot to recruit people with the right clearances and backgrounds.

That's right. Tons of contractors want to build into GovCloud as well, which will be exploding in the near future. They already have tons of data centers in Northern Virginia due to its proximity to ISPs and the federal government.

They (data centers) are not in Nova because the government is there, but rather because it has the lowest insurance costs in the Continental US.

Is that the major factor? I'd thought it was more:

* Proximity to low latency backbone connections (originally located there due to government agencies)

* Tax incentives by VA

* Low risk area for disasters

* Cheap power

* Available land


Bezos bought the largest house in Washington D.C. early this year, it was a no brainer at that point that VA was getting it. Breaking it up into two is intersting though, it will probably seem less like HQ 2a and HQ 2b and more like "where does Jeff want to hang out his week?"

Meh. I'm as cynical as anyone, but this is a "just so" hindsight story. You don't need 10s of thousands of engineers near DC to get facetime with powerful officials.

My take on Amazon's political ambition was always that one main goal of HQ2 was to get 2 more US senators on their side. If they now are adding 4 instead, I don't exactly feel disproven :)


Agreed on the regulatory risk. But the biggest defense against that isn't lobbying. It's putting the business's interests in alignment with the governments. Amazon will take a page out of ATT's playback and become the technological arm of the government. THAT is how you avoid being broken up. When the military top brass tells Congress that Amazon can't be broken up because the company is critical to national security.

I mean, if you're talking about AT&T specifically, that didn't work out too well for them in the end.

Which part didn't work out? After the breakup, the pieces of Bell have re-accreted like some kind of Venusian slime mold.

Eh. Facebook and Google both have a lot of lobbyists in DC. You don't need to create a big HQ for that.

The threat is that if DC policy makers split up Amazon, tens of thousands of people in the local area could lose employment.

Isn't DC the only place in the continental US that has no representation in the Senate?

DC proper isn’t that big. It’s only the third most populous jurisdiction in the area. Most of these Amazon employees won’t live there.

Yeah most will live in Virginia, where the offices will be, where the housing is cheaper, and where the public schools are better.

Yes. In fact Congress has direct jurisdiction over D.C.

Or, you know, its proximity to the largest cloud operation it has on US soil? With easy access to light rail, metro rail, and National airport.

You can lobby from pretty much anywhere with a budget and a hotel ballroom rental.


I don't understand the argument that offices being close to data centers or warehouses gives a place an advantage. It does not.

Northern Virginia was chosen for it's proximity to existing data centers (us-east), proximity to a growing AWS government client base, the size of the workforce, and possibly the consideration that they will win and service the DoD JEDI contract. Companies like Amazon rarely lobby directly. They typically use industry groups.

Amazon had a chief lobbyist even when I worked there years ago and they now have the largest in-house lobbyist team in tech: https://www.ft.com/content/56ddca24-3752-11e8-8eee-e06bde01c...

Data centers can be anywhere. They just need cheap energy and high speed data connections.

They certainly don't need to be near the upper management or big engineering teams of HQ2.


You don't need engineering proximity to hire lobbyists. You need engineering proximity to win contracts on the basis of engineering proximity.

True, but winning those contracts is also a very good way to be viewed as too big to fail, too essential for antitrust intervention.

Northern VA benefits hugely from the Military Industrial complex. There is a large pool of engineers working boring-ish jobs in the security establishment that Amazon can easily lure away.

I think this trumps proximity to the federal apparatus.


Can someone explain how having 10-12k workers in NoVA influences regulators more than spending millions on lobbying...which Amazon already does..

If those regulators spouses, friends, family, children, etc all work at Amazon it could make them think twice before making decisions that could hurt Amazon.

An increasing number of decision makers will have family and friends that work there, which is a difficult bias to ignore even when acknowledged.

Microsoft learned the hard way that once you reach a certain size, you must pay Tribute to the Lords, or they'll crush you.

But microsoft was also doing almost everything they could to screw over competitors. It was not that the government made up a bunch of stuff. They made many clever anti-competitive agreements that did things like strongly incentivizing dell to only sell windows and not linux. They tied things together, the worked hard to make internet web pages only display "properly" on windows ie 3. They deserved to get shellacked. They had to change, and I say that as a microsoft employee at the time.

Microsoft made no political donations at the time, and was dismissive of the DoJ.

Political donations should be optional anyway - if you need to "donate" money to not get sued to fuck, there's corruption and mob practices going on.

You're right, that's the way it should be. But reality is different. Remember the video clip of Gates riding around in a golf cart with Clinton, and then the DoJ eased off?

The stunning transfer of wealth from technology companies to residential landlords through their employees will continue.

Don't forget though that that area in NYC has a ton of both empty space and low-value commercial space that can be torn down and redeveloped. It's also home to one of the biggest transportation deserts in the city, which will be functionally unlocked in the next five years or so once self-driving cars are a thing.

While stuff takes time to build, at the end of the day there is a lot more land to build buildings than there are people who want to live there. And unlike in SF, if there is new demand then those buildings will actually get built.

edit: Was referring to the LIC location, not VA.


What transportation desert? Within a few blocks of each other are court square, queensboro plaza, and queens plaza which together have seven subway lines. (E,M,N,W,R,G&7) Go a little further out and you also have an F stop and the LIRR at Hunters Point Avenue. There’s also a ferry terminal.

I can only think of four spots in the city that are better served by transit: Times Square, Grand Central, Fulton Street, and Atlantic Avenue.


If you look at the subway map, the area around Maspeth that's south of the 7, north of the L, east of the G, and west of the M. LIC itself has tons of transportation as you mentioned, I'm just saying that that area is only an 8 minute commute from LIC but is itself a transportation desert.

http://web.mta.info/maps/submap.html


To make things clearer, what is your definition of a transportation desert?

"A transportation desert is defined as an area greater than ½ mile from a subway station."

https://www.crainsnewyork.com/article/20170913/OPINION/17091...

https://www.politico.com/states/new-york/city-hall/story/201...


Is that quote your definition? I did not find the quote mentioned in either linked article when I used ctrl+f "transportation desert"

Well, as someone who use to live in that area. It sucked, I think “transportation desert” is very applicable. There are buses, but you only take them to transfer for trains into the city.

Page 15 of the embedded PDF in the first link. Some other definitions say 1/3rd of a mile:

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/27/nyregion/new-york-subway-...


Maspeth is pretty far out from LIC though. I'm not really sure how it comes into play here. Yeah, it's the driving-dependent suburbs. Barely even has any bike lanes yet.

Not just Maspeth. Look on Google Maps satellite view along Newton Creek and east of Sunnyside Yard. There is a ton of stuff that can either be relocated or built on top of. (If you drive through that area at ground level, it feels like you're in some post-apocalyptic horror movie.) It's not far at all, especially if you build a new road or light rail line connecting that area to LIC, which is reasonably feasible if the southern part of Sunnyside Yards gets decked over.

https://www.google.com/maps/place/Maspeth,+Queens,+NY/@40.74...


> in the next five years or so once self-driving cars are a thing

You have another thing coming if you think a) self driving cars will be here in five years or b) that they will make NYC traffic a dream to navigate when they do.


> It's also home to one of the biggest transportation deserts in the city, which will be functionally unlocked in the next five years or so once self-driving cars are a thing.

Self-driving cars don't magically make other cars, self-driving or not, vanish from the roads and they certainly can't match the raw throughput of moving thousands of people in a single train on a dedicated right of way.


> Self-driving cars don't magically make other self-driving cars vanish

I mean that's what they're supposed to do, if they can all drive one behind another at a constant speed without crashing or creating traffic jams. But more importantly, if you can be doing work while your car is driving itself then your effective commute is zero. And if your car can park itself in the suburbs, then that creates yet more space in the city that can be used to create housing. Self-driving cars, if they actually work, should radically reduce housing costs -- both by making formerly unlivable places suitable for residential buildings, and by freeing up significant amounts of land.


> if you can be doing work while your car is driving itself then your effective commute is zero

That’s a big if. I’ve commuted in an Uber pool many times and hardly ever see any of the other passengers working. Most of them seem to be going to/from the office like me.

Working on a rail commute seems more common. The smoother ride lends itself better to laptop work.


Another big if here is that your company considers that time to be on the clock. A commute that takes away family time without it counting towards your working time is still a commute. Getting more work done =/= not having a commute.

My point being that they don't make other cars vanish and they certainly don't make human-driven cars vanish in any sensible timeframe.

On a person-kilometre-minute basis, cars are absurdly inefficient. Stupendously so.

A typical subway train typically runs to about 157 metres. A 2018 Camry runs to about 5 metres. That gives about 31 car lengths for the subway car.

Assume that every Camry is fully loaded with 5 passengers. That's 155 people. In the ideal condition, driving bumper-to-bumper with no other cars, 155 people in 157 metres -- about a person per linear metre.

Here's the fun bit: the passenger capacity of an R142A carriage is 176.

Not the whole train.

One subway car.

One subway car, approximately 16 metres long, holds more people than an entire train's length of self-driving Camrys driving with zero tolerance.

Now add the fact that the trains have dedicated rights of way and note that even with the profound multi-decadal mess made of the MTA you simply cannot replace the subway with any other mode of transportation, not now, not ever. Self-driving cars don't repeal the laws of physics and they don't override Little's Law either.


> On a person-kilometre-minute basis, cars are absurdly inefficient. Stupendously so.

The problem is the subway comes maybe once every 11 minutes when it's working properly, and if someone tries to kill themselves by jumping in front of a train in south Brooklyn (or trips or gets pushed) then trains stop working all the way up through The Bronx. And potentially on both the east and west sides of both Manhattan and The Bronx if it happens at one of the stations where the 2/3 and 4/5 overlap. And this isn't an unusual occurrence, it happens once or twice per week during rush hour alone. Every time some minor thing goes wrong ('sick passenger', signal malfunction, track fire, etc.) then the entire city's transportation basically gets shut down. I agree that cars are absurdly inefficient, but at least they're somewhat more resilient. If we could use self-driving technology to at the very least increase the bus coverage then that would be a pretty good outcome.


You may have noticed that traffic jams occurs in NYC at rush hour. There are accidents, there are road closures, there are UN and presidential visits, there are special events, sometimes steam pipes blow up or a truck breaks down or it's garbage day and they're moving slowly or ...

The problems of the MTA aren't solved by switching to something that won't fix the problems of the MTA. They're solved by fixing the MTA. And even its currently-degraded state it can't be replaced by any other mode at rush hour. There is literally no physical way to fit enough vehicles on the road to replace even shitty subway service.


> On a person-kilometre-minute basis, cars are absurdly inefficient. Stupendously so.

You have forgotten about the human actually getting to the subway station in the first place. You need to include the distance from every person to the subway station they want in your length calculation.

You also need to include how long it takes the person to get there in your minute calculations.


The calculations work the same way. A sidewalk can hold far more people in the same space than a road full of cars can, no matter how intelligent the cars.

Your point is an argument in favour of extending subway coverage and doesn't change the basic physics of how cars and trains utilise space.


Yes, rail offers unparalleled efficiency at transporting people from one place where they don't want to be to another place where they don't want to be.

That's pedantic nonsense. If I took that argument to its logical conclusion, I'd point out that I also don't want to be in my garage or the city car park.

This thread is discussing self driving cars which would presumably not have either of those problems.

I think you missed the point.

If you don't want to be in place A or place B, how you get from A to B won't change things.

For my own self, everywhere I want to go is served by the subway system. Often poorly, but that's a rip on the political history of the MTA, not on the nature of subways in general.

If you closed the subways, New York would seize up and die. In fact we're going to get a taste of what a minor arterial clot is like when the L shuts down next year.


If you don't want to be in place A or place B, how you get from A to B won't change things.

You do that by not going there in the first place.

A properly-designed network of self-driving cars would be a train. One that is always there when you need it, one that inherits the vast scale of existing infrastructure, and one that isn't vulnerable to paralysis through single points of failure.

But as the posts on here tend to emphasize over and over again, no one has the vision to make this happen. HN's love affair with fixed rail is nothing less than one of history's great irrational obsessions.

Public transportation is the one engineering discipline where solutions based on technology are "pedantic nonsense," while literally binding and constraining entire cities with hardware straight out of the Civil War era is considered the height of progress.


> A properly-designed network of self-driving cars would be a train.

No, it wouldn't, for the reason I describe. Cars occupy too much space per person by a factor of about 11x times on the figures I gave further up. Self-driving cars will be part of the mix but they physically cannot replace the subway.


But those 11x as many people are only there because that's where the train is.

Useful mental exercise: next time you're out of the house, imagine that every automobile parking spot, parking lot, and parking garage you see is actually a transit depot. That's what optimal engineering and regulation of self-driving cars would buy us. Of course, being Americans, I'm sure we'll try everything else first.


Have you ever been to a city with a proper public transit system?

No. None of us has, because such a system hasn't been built yet.

You've described a train or buses.

If you have an infinite spreading plane of cars moving all in the same direction at the same speed, and if nobody wants to join or leave this infinite plane of cars, and if none of the cars ever breaks down or runs out of energy, then this works perfectly. Back here on Earth it's not going to solve anything.

They also don't make pedestrians or cyclists disappear from the roads -- these are ever-present in NYC. It's gonna be a hassle for self-driving cars.

Indeed, cars trained on data gathered in California and Nevada are going to need a fair amount of tweaking to understand that pedestrians are a bit pushier hereabouts.

I expect people to cotton on and jaywalk with impunity in front of self-driving cars, effectively always taking the right of way.

Hell, this is probably as it should be. NYC would be better off with fewer cars and further prioritization of other modes of transport.


I live in LIC. It’s not at all a transportation desert. It’s one of the most well-connected hubs in NYC.

There are general issues with transportation efficacy in NYC right now (subway reliability etc.) but none of them are LIC specific.


The parts of LIC immediately adjacent to Astoria and Queensboro plaza aren't too bad, but the closer you get to the river and further north you get the more of a pain in the ass LIC can be. I used to live adjacent to the sculpture park and that hike to the N was a serious workout in the winter (especially with groceries!). Great view of Manhattan, though.

Self driving cars are still going to be sitting in standstill on the LIE or BQE. And in 10 years when all those new LIC high-rise leasing offices open up it will be 22 year old fresh college grads bunking up two to an apartment like SF and senior employees will be riding an hour on the LIRR from their park and rides, wishing every day there was a line that ran from Westchester County to LIC.

Yeah. It comes down to river crossings.

People complain about Manhattan, but attempts to build out Brooklyn, Jersey City, Long Island City and Stamford always end up falling short of the original goals, because of the commute.

People from Long Island, Connecticut, Westchester and New Jersey can get to Manhattan with a single mode of public transportation (because they only have to cross one river.) When you move to any of those other locations, you eliminate a large chunk of potential employees, because their commute effectively goes up by >50%.


What? LIC is already, even before Amazon considered an HQ2, a very expensive and congested area. It is one of the prime examples of tech and finance gentrification.

Va? I'm quite close to Crystal City and the rent is already pretty high; not SF levels but amongst the highest in the country.

Also, Crystal City has two metro lines so not entirely a transportation despert.


Why would NYS/NYC need to subsidize Amazon in NYC?

If NYC is indeed confirmed, then rents for Queens are going to be absolutely fucked.

While Astoria is high, Sunnyside, Woodside, and Jackson Heights will likely see never-seen-before rent increases.

This would be greatly concerning because Eastern Asians from Flushing are already moving west towards Manhattan and are already encroaching on Hispanic minorities in Elmhurst and Corona.

(Source: was native NYCer for 24 years)


This is really silly...10k highly paid employees is a drop in the bucket in NY. The effect on rents will be negligible. They are absurd and will continue to be absurd, but 10k employees in a metro area of 20 million won't change that.

All that said, it's hard enough to compete with Google and Facebook and Spotify for local talent...this will only make it worse.


Given that at any time there are only a few hundred or so good houses available in any big city suburb, 10K new highly paid employees looking to get in can overwhelm real estate.

I don't know what you're talking about with "houses". This is NYC and LIC we're talking about, we're talking apartments, and the place is chock-full of new high-rises.

There aren't going to be 10k people looking for houses all at once. It will take them years to ramp up to 10k employees and many of them will already live in the area and will just be changing jobs. Many of them will also be young and single people who want a small apartment and not a whole house.

According to this article, just the Long Island City area of NYC added 9000 apartments last year.

https://www.bisnow.com/new-york/news/home/queens-long-island...

Add in the fact that potentially many people might room, and not everyone who will work there will be from outside the city, and many may want to live in other parts of the city, it looks like absorbing 10k new employees isn’t gonna be much of an issue at all.


Where are you getting the 10K number? 50K will be split evenly between the two HQs. That's 25K per HQ.

> This would be greatly concerning because Eastern Asians from Flushing are already moving west towards Manhattan and are already encroaching on Hispanic minorities in Elmhurst and Corona.

Why is it better for Hispanic people to live in an area than Eastern Asian people?


It’s shorthand for a whole range of economic factors, housing costs, school quality, local politics, etc. Most big US cities have had waves of immigration that concentrate themselves in various neighborhoods ands it takes too long to list out all the features I listed above characteristic to these neighborhoods so people tend to refer to them as “Ukrainian” or “Hispanic” or “Asian” when they mean, “Working class catholic with some gang problems, a very influential Alderman, dealing with school closures due to budget cuts and rising property values without corresponding rising property taxes because many elderly folks on fixed incomes would be fucked... etc etc etc”

I think the grandparent post is saying that Asians in Flushings are more likely to own their property and then it gets rented out inside the ethnic group moreso than outside the group. So Hispanics etcetera will be squeezed between that and rising prices from HQ2.

I don't know how much of these are true, but I've heard anecdotes/stereotypes like this a few times in New York. Just haven't seen (or looked for) any confirmed studies about it.


I can't speak for other areas of the country, but NYC native Asian Americans are notoriously obsessed with and very adept at purchasing property. Whether it's pooling money among friends, having very low living costs, or even helping their sons and daughters with a down payment, it's clear it's very important for the culture in a way it's not for other minorities or even white people.

> I can't speak for other areas of the country, but NYC native Asian Americans are notoriously obsessed with and very adept at purchasing property.

I can speak for other areas. To a first and second approximation, all Chinese, regardless of what country they live in, believe very strongly in owning property and will go to what you might consider ridiculous lengths to do so.

There's a reason the rhetorical enemy of Maoism was the "landlord".


> Eastern Asians from Flushing are already moving west towards Manhattan and are already encroaching on Hispanic minorities in Elmhurst and Corona.

Encroaching is such a strong word. Are they occupying property illegally or are they buying it at market price?


Not every moral issue can be encoded in monetary exchange, because of (among other reasons) unequal access to capital.

In general, yes, seeing trends in ethnic groups moving because they can no longer afford what was their home, even if to make way for another ethnic minority, is probably a bad thing.


Asians are the poorest racial group in NYC.

https://www.google.com/amp/s/m.huffpost.com/us/entry/us_58ff...


Probably buying it above market price and therein lies the problem

The purchase price is not above the market. It is the market.

I agree in principle, but the estimates for my own home on Redfin would beg to differ. The value of my condo at the time I purchased it seems to fluctuate every month. When I bought it I was below Redfin’s estimate by a few thousand, now it says I overpaid by like 30 thousand.

Huh? Estimates are just that, estimates. The market price is what someone is willing to actually pay for it right now.

And yes, it's perfectly valid for market price to decrease over time if an area becomes less desirable.


Just to be clear, I was referring to the estimate of the property at a certain fixed point in time (my purchase date) changing over time. I do expect current market price to change for my home. I was just saying that these sites will estimate a value that differs and shifts, even estimates of periods during which actual market price is an available data point. March 2017 may look like a great investment when you checked in January 2018, but really bad when you check in October 2018.

Anyway, I agree with you that the market is just what people are willing to pay.


It's not determined by their willingness, it's exactly what they pay -- no more and no less.

NYC is always in flux.

My old neighborhood in Maspeth and Woodside isn’t Italian, Irish and Polish anymore. I remember the old timers freaking out when Koreans started appearing in the 80s... people are people and life goes on. That’s the cycle of the city.


It hasn't always been the cycle of the city that it continues to get more and more expensive, though. I don't want the city to be taken over by luxury apartment buildings, banks and Starbucks on every corner, but sometimes it feels like it's going that way.

That is all about cheap money and tax policy. Real estate is the dumbest of markets and always booms and busts.

No matter what anyone says, eventually the business cycle will swing and everything will crash again. This is especially true of commercial development where things like depreciation and offsetting tax obligations drive profitabilty, but only for the first few years of a buildings existence.


> This would be greatly concerning because Eastern Asians from Flushing are already moving west towards Manhattan and are already encroaching on Hispanic minorities in Elmhurst and Corona.

Jeez, things haven't been this bad since the Huns forced the Ostrogoths into Lombardy.


Just because the campus is located in Queens doesn't necessarily mean all workers will want to live in that area...unlike the Bay Area NYC metro area is fairly well connected by public transportation. It would be just as fast to live in Manhattan and get to Long Island City by subway as it would to get there from other parts of Queens (perhaps even faster).

For those unfamiliar, Long Island City is across the East River directly east of Upper East Side in Manhattan.


>> "For those unfamiliar, Long Island City is across the East River directly east of Upper East Side in Manhattan."

This doesn't really help if you're not familiar with NYC geography...

I had to check Google Maps. It's across the river southeast of all the famous stuff in movies.


Fair - I think when people think of Queens they think JFK airport, which is 60-90m away from Manhattan with some traffic. Point is LIC is about as close as Queen gets to Manhattan and Brooklyn, which have traditionally been more desirable boroughs to live in.

LIC makes it pretty inaccessible from NJ in a reasonable amount of time.

Why is that concerning? Seems to be a pretty racist statement to make.

Agreed; hearing migration patterns inside a city described as ethnic groups “encroaching” on each others’ territory is pretty uncomfortable.

And the folks who bought up all those warehouses in Mott Haven and Port Morris just became billionaires (again).

Long Island itself is going to be affected even more. LI is already expensive, sure, but how many of those tens of thousands of employees will want to buy houses there they can easily commute from?

A day of happiness for those owning property along the 7 train and LIRR.


Long Island has almost 3 million people living on it. I think some posters here don’t recognize the sheer scale of the NYC metro area. If they pick LIC for half a headquarters NYC isn’t going to be a company town. They probably won’t even be the largest private employer.

Long Island has way more people living on it than that. Queens and Brooklyn alone are 5M. Now add in all the other counties in NY State and it's substantial.

You also seem to be confusing Long Island with LIC, which is the downtown neighborhood of Queens.


I was responding to the parent poster who claimed that Long Island prices would be strongly impacted. And when people say Long Island, 99.9% of the time they mean Nassau and Suffolk County, not the physical island.

They wouldn't crack the top 15 even if they put all 50k new jobs instead of splitting it. NYC itself is big as is, and the NY Metro area is unparalleled.

The 7 train stops at Grand Central so going North is essentially the same.

I really hope Cuomo didn't give Amazon huge tax breaks for coming to NY. Frankly Amazon needs NYC more than we need them. NYC is a boom town at the moment with a lot of jobs and skilled professionals moving in. Since 2010 the population has grown by 375k people which is about 40% the population of San Fransisco.

There are 20 million people in the NY Metro area, and NYC is a true global city. I know it will be some political coup for Cuomo who has sights on national office bringing Amazon here, but to win the Willy Wonka like contest by giving Amazon a lot of freebies is disapointing.


Unless he's caught tossing puppies into a wood chipper he will carry the NYC area and it won't matter what the rest of the state thinks. Cumo doesn't need to give anyone tax breaks.

It's humorous how willing they are to build HQ2/3 in areas already with high rent and income. They probably have the money and the will to create a new city and public transit system out of a pliable town. Why not do that?

It's not so simple and I'm not quite so naive... but it would be interesting if high paying jobs went to places with decent weather and reasonable land prices.


Talent doesn't want to work in the middle of nowhere.

I wish it did, but it doesn't.


This isn't an unreasonable generalization. But a) there's plenty of talent that wants to live somewhere other than an urban core, and b) if Amazon opens an HQ in a place, that place will become a somewhere, and c) Amazon is at the scale that they can afford to take raw talent and train it up.

Personally, I find Amazon's decision disappointing, and I regret getting caught up in the hype. I was hoping that they'd do something bold and interesting, not open a couple of satellite offices in obvious places.


More on this point, there were a number of perfectly reasonable second tier cities in their 'final 20' shortlist already, which were lagging behind first tier cities only in transit, or, for all we know, in the amount of incentives they were willing to throw at Amazon's feet.

Raleigh/Durham would have made for a fine urban or suburban campus and would've capitalized on the presence of tech talent already drawn to the area; Austin would have been another obvious choice for pre-existing tech talent. A pick like Nashville or Columbus would have been bold, picking a rising star midsize metro with diverse strengths and no strong background in tech and lifting it further. Instead, it's looking to be NYC and DC. Much ado about nothing.


It's amazing. All of those months of speculation about what secondary city or emerging tech hub will become the next Austin, gone just like that, in favor of Amazon deciding to set up shop in the super-obvious capitals of finance and government.

Guys, Amazon is not a charity.

They aren't looking to build up a city. It's a foolish business decision to put something with the needs of HQ2 in a place with no transit. Sure, you can build transit, but A - it's expensive, and B - it's not your job or expertise.

Instead of lamenting the jobs they missed out on with HQ2, a forward thinking city would get to work building out its transit system. Many cities are doing just that. Houston for instance.

If places like Columbus or Nashville have a better strategy than building attractive infrastructure for competing with places like Houston and NYC for such jobs, then let them pursue that strategy. The market will settle the issue in the end.


You're ascribing moral judgment to my post. I'm not criticizing for taking potential jobs away from a secondary city. Playing host to an HQ2 is both a big boon and a great curse; witness all the articles about Amazon's impact on prospective cities' real estate markets and traffic. But my specific criticism is in questioning why did Bezos put on this charade to evaluate cities throughout North America, if he was just going to choose the obvious choices? The only more unimaginative city than NYC and Washington DC, would be to build HQ2 in the Bay Area itself.

Was this all a ploy to test how far local governments be willing to bend over for Amazon? A PR spectacle to show how important and influential Amazon is to warrant that kind of kowtowing from mayors and governors? If you're going to claim that Amazon earnestly pursued the search for HQ2, only to decide that NYC and D.C. were the best choices at the end, then their strategists must have done a poor job in not figuring that out before the city talent show.

And for us HN commentators: these picks are just boring. So much for innovation, imagination, and daring. Ho-hum.


So much for innovation, imagination, and daring.

Maybe you shouldn't have ascribed those qualities to Amazon's search for a new HQ?


Maybe they shouldn't have framed the contest as finding "a city that is excited to work with us and where our customers, employees, and the community can all benefit", but rather a purely financial and strategic decision that would take their analysts less than a day to wrap up.

None of those things have anything to do with "innovation, imagination, and daring".

Maybe it's too much to ask a company to embody its professed values in every aspect of its operations.

> Personally, I find Amazon's decision disappointing, and I regret getting caught up in the hype. I was hoping that they'd do something bold and interesting, not open a couple of satellite offices in obvious places.

I share this sentiment. I feel sort of silly about thinking that the outcome would justify the groveling and begging that Amazon invited. But at the end of the day it is the same as it ever was.


A lot of people want to live in NYC, that's why it's so expensive to live in NYC.

Amazon cannot replicate NYC in the middle of nowhere, or even the middle of somewhere. The confluence of geography, history, commerce, culture and sheer verve can't be bought.


There are more people that don't want to live in NYC than do. What's your point? At no point was there an HQ2 requirement of "be as cool as NYC"

My point is that Amazon's making some place "a somewhere" is never going to be on the scale of NYC.

They want to attract talent and the way to do that is to go where the talent is or wants to be. The bay area is such a place. Seattle is such a place. New York is such a place. But they couldn't turn Mt Tinroof Springs into a world centre no matter what they did.


How does Exxon attract talent to Houston? How about FedEx attracting talent to Memphis? Weird how only software engineers seem to only be attracted to NYC or Silicon Valley (to hear us talk about it.) A desirable company can attract talent no matter where they are. Startups have to leach from the existing community because they don’t have the clout to attract talent to Amarillo, Texas. But Google or Apple certainly could. A Silicon Valley salary in a cheaper place: half of the Valley would jump on that chance. I live inMountain View and I certainly don’t see a huge value to being here outside of work. It’s basically one continuous traffic jam. Los Angeles is a heck of a lot more fun. I came here because my company is in the area. I certainly wouldn’t have picked this place as a first choice: more restaurants per capita in Houston, better weather in Los Angeles, better mountains in Colorado, lower taxes and cheaper gas almost everywhere else. Visiting San Francisco occasionally is certainly fun, but then again so is Miami, Austin, New Orleans. The only thing uniquely special about SV is the proximity of VC money — something that has no relevance to the Amazons of the world.

> How does Exxon attract talent to Houston? How about FedEx attracting talent to Memphis?

Two big differences:

1. The talent crunch for Exxon and FedEx isn't nearly as bad as the crunch for engineering talent that Amazon is facing. Simply put, engineers that can get offers from Amazon have many options, and moving to Buttfuck, Nowhere won't be the best of them.

2. Exxon and FedEx employees, especially the senior, harder-to-secure talent, tend to be older folks with families. The talent Amazon would typically go after is much younger, often recent graduates.


> The talent crunch for Exxon and FedEx isn't nearly as bad as the crunch for engineering talent that Amazon is facing.

Not accurate (IMO).

1. ExxonMobil is now, and has been for years, hurting for petroleum engineers. It's a discipline that isn't taught at many universities, so the supply is rather constrained. In recent years new grad petroleum and chemical engineers have been pulling in offers that rival FANG offers.

2. If Amazon, or any other FANG, was really hurting for talent they would do something about their false negative problem in interviews. That they aren't indicates to me that they are either passing enough people or just being choosing beggars.


1. ExxonMobil was established in Houston many decades ago, back when it was a crucial area for an oil company. It's not going to relocate a huge campus even if it did calculate that it can help recruitment somewhat.

Amazon on the other hand is opening a new campus, so they are more flexible to locate it in the most advantageous area.

Moreover, not sure how many petroleum engineers Exxon is hiring, but guessing it's far fewer than the amount of software engineers Amazon is looking to hire, which is in the tens of thousands.

Recruitment is a much bigger factor for Amazon. The article says basically the entire reason for opening not one but two new big offices is to tap into more talent.

2. FAANGs don't agree that they have a "false negative" problem. They think they are accepting and rejecting the right people. Right or wrong, this is their position.


> ExxonMobil was established in Houston many decades ago, back when it was a crucial area for an oil company. It's not going to relocate a huge campus even if it did calculate that it can help recruitment somewhat.

Houston is still a crucial area for an oil company, and will continue to be so until the Gulf Coast fields stop producing. Their "huge, now-misplaced campus it won't relocate" is their headquarters in Irving/Las Colinas (since Dallas is no longer very important to the industry). In fact, Chevron is moving their headquarters operations to Houston.

Also, the original point was about the perceived difficulty of getting highly-paid, highly-educated people to move to "uncool" places. This is only relevant if you think ExxonMobil would have chosen a different location if they got a free do-over again today.

> Moreover, not sure how many petroleum engineers Exxon is hiring,

As many as UT, TA&M, OU, and the few other schools that graduate them can pump out. I'd have to bug my wife for numbers, but I think it is in the thousands (if they can get them).

> guessing it's far fewer than the amount of software engineers Amazon is looking to hire, which is in the tens of thousands

You think Amazon is looking to increase their SWE head count by 50% or more in a short period of time? I question the "tens of thousands" assertion, as that is a fair description of the entire size of Google's software engineering population, and larger than Facebook's. Are you actually claiming Amazon is looking to hire multiple Facebooks worth of software engineers in a short period of time?

> FAANGs don't agree that they have a "false negative" problem. They think they are accepting and rejecting the right people. Right or wrong, this is their position.

Assuming your statement is correct, I would classify them as choosing beggars.

FWIW, the party line I hear from their engineers is that they know they have a problem with false negatives, but that it is OK because it is worth it to keep out the false positives. They also (sometimes) claim they have more qualified applicants than they have head count.


> You think Amazon is looking to increase their SWE head count by 50% or more in a short period of time?

Every article about the HQ2 project says it's an effort to recruit tech talent. Amazon is hiring 50K new employees for these offices. Assuming a very conservative 25% of them are going to be engineers, that's already over 10,000 engineers.

> Assuming your statement is correct, I would classify them as choosing beggars.

If FAANGs thought their recruiting practices are broken, they would fix them.

Also, while we're all aware of how much bargaining power top software engineers have in this market, it doesn't seem right to call a bunch of companies worth the better part of a trillion dollar each "beggars".


If you can't find anything fun to do in the bay area but visit SF, you're doing it wrong.

> If you can't find anything fun to do in the bay area but visit SF that doesn't require sitting in traffic on the weekends because everyone else had the same idea

FTFY


Sure, the traffic does suck but you run into the same issue in any big metropolis. LA has way worse traffic and places that have good public transportation still have way too many people trying to do the same things - so you might get there quicker but you'll just wait in a longer line.

Not sure why you were downvoted, other than typical HN myopia.

I actually wonder a bit about NYC in that regard. It's a distinctive place that definitely isn't for everyone. Obviously a lot of people want to live there. I know folks who could never imagine living someplace else. But NYC has improved (if you have money). So maybe it is a place it's easy to attract people to live in.

My view is you should live in places that create strong feelings. Living in a place that feels like the aftermath of a cosmic shrug isn't good for the soul. I grew up in Darwin and I still love it. I live in NYC and I love it. I've also lived in Perth and felt ... nothing.

You grew up in Darwin? Awesome.

You felt nothing in Perth because Perth is just... there. :)


For some strange reason, Perth feels much more isolated than Darwin. Even though they are both outposts, Perth is so far away from any other city or culture.

It was a different life.

>there's plenty of talent that wants to live somewhere other than an urban core

That's true. Although I'm not sure you can build a campus on this scale that doesn't need to function as an urban core in at least some respects. I'm not sure how you plop something like this down on a prairie someplace and expect it to function. (Especially given that employees may not want to live in an urban core but don't necessarily want to live in a company town in the middle of nowhere.)

I agree that, if something like this is as reported, it's sort of a boring outcome in that it was entirely expected and safe.


It's nice to believe that an Amazon could basically found a new city/locate in a small one or run-down one. But I tend to agree. The premiums they'd have to pay to attract people to work in effectively a company town would be significant. It would take years to build out infrastructure and amenities. And it would probably still end up as a rather unattractive monoculture under many circumstances.

You can probably bribe enough people enough to work just about anywhere but it's going to be an uphill battle.


> It's nice to believe that an Amazon could basically found a new city

given their history of labor violations in their warehouses, I don't see any reason to think that Amazon creating a city would be "nice".


There are a lot of places between "middle of nowhere" and NYC/NoVa...

The statements in this thread are the Hacker equivalents of "flyover country."

I definitely didn’t like working in NYC. NYC is a net negative for me, unless the wages are in the $300-400k range, it’s a non starter. If I could work in New Orleans, I would jump at the chance. I worked in NYC for years and got over it pretty quickly. Couldn’t afford to live in Manhattan so I commuted from Jersey City. And when it’s freezing cold, that gets old quickly. Then there is a NYC income tax along with higher prices for everything. If your goal is to recruit a bunch of naïve 25 years olds, sure, pick New York — or be prepared to pay some serious money. Talent goes where the opportunities are. If Apple’s HQ were Albuquerque or El Paso, you’d have talent moving to those places. For startups, obviously proximity to Silicon Valley, Austin or NYC is very advantageous because nobody wants to move across the country for a low percentage startup. But for a FAANG company— the talent will follow, perhaps even more merrily. There are a lot of talented engineers that would be great recruits for the FAANGs, but one look at the housing prices and tax rates in those areas sends them running. Wichita, Kansas isn’t particularly “hip,” but given that some important aviation work happens there, those in the aviation business live/move there. Hartford, CT is a shithole, but if you are in insurance, there are tons of opportunities there. Pharma companies are located all over the country, they don’t locate in New York because of talent, they locate where they want and the talent follows. Software and hardware engineers seem to think they are special and that the jobs should come to them; the real world is the other way around. Acting as if the entirety of software talent exists on the coasts is simply arrogant. For startups, of course, it’s different. For trillion dollar companies that can pay fat relocation packages and offer incredible compensation, there is much less incentive to care about Silicon Valley or NYC. A large portion of the talent recruited by Apple and Google, often come from somewhere other than SV. And, if the talent pool is so big in SV, why does nearly every company worth a damn bother offering relocation?

One of the biggest benefits of locating in NYC is access to colleges.

Besides, weather, why has California been so successful. An outstanding UC educational system. The same is true of the NorthEast with several excellent colleges spread throughout the region.

Of course, Boston would have been a strong candidate just because of that, but NYC gives you access to a bunch of ivy leagues, and a bunch of some of the best colleges in the country, while also giving you access to large successful public institutions like Rutgers, CUNY and SUNY.

In addition to that NYC is also an easier gateway to Europe and pretty much the rest of the US.

If Amazon is offering a job to a kid out of college in a place that is not considered exciting, and Google is offering the same kid a job in a place that is, why would they take the Amazon one.


> If Apple’s HQ were Albuquerque or El Paso, you’d have talent moving to those places. For startups, obviously proximity to Silicon Valley, Austin or NYC is very advantageous because nobody wants to move across the country for a low percentage startup. But for a FAANG company— the talent will follow, perhaps even more merrily.

Nope.

FAANG companies want top talent. Top talent has many options. Most top talented engineers, in this market, get multiple offers and can basically choose where they want to live.

Not to mention that all FAANG companies have offices in attractive locations. So the office in Buttfuck Nowhere would be competing against offices in cool cities like LA and NYC, for the same position with the same FAANG. Good luck with that.


The slight problem is that if top talent wants to live in Houston, there are fewer options of interesting companies to work for than on East/West coast. It's a symbiotic thing, not wholly controlled by top talent's desires.

It's a simple quantitative question:

How many candidates are already in or willing to relocate to NYC versus Houston.

That's all Amazon really cares about: the absolute numbers.

They're looking to hire tens of thousands of engineers and that's pretty much the only reason they're going through with this huge investment in new campuses.

Regardless of my personal preference, I think it's pretty obvious that the numbers work in NYC's favor.


Why do you wish boredom and reinventing something that already exists elsewhere on o

"it"? They're people.

this is insanely tone-deaf.

they're moving existing employees there. People don't want to live in the middle of nowhere. People don't want to be moved without their consent to start a new society.

This is painfully, ridiculously obvious if you stop thinking about people as numbers and start thinking about them as actual humans living full lives.


People don't want to be moved without their consent, period. It doesn't matter where the new office is.

There are plenty of people who do want to live in the middle of nowhere. I know a number of techies who have taken advantage of remote opportunities to finally live where they want, and at a much better price. And one could reasonably describe the whole trend of suburbanization as people moving to the middle of nowhere, so I suspect Amazon could find plenty of people who'd like a reasonably priced, new-built home in an up-and-coming area.


There are plenty of people who want to do basically anything you can imagine.

Statistically, we are as a society, drifting closer to urban cores. I too dream of buying 50 acres in the midwest for about 100k or so - so don't get me wrong I get the appeal. It's just more or less not what is happening.

> And one could reasonably describe the whole trend of suburbanization as people moving to the middle of nowhere,

I disagree with this. Suburbanization is a way for people to live close to urban centers with the employment prospects (although with a commute, contributing to congestion, emissions), without the benefits (and negatives) of living in an urban core. I have never been to a suburb that is in the middle of nowhere...if it was it wouldn't be sub-urban.


A lot of the Southwest directly contradicts your point: huge, almost endless tracts of suburbia with no urban core whatsoever. Phoenix (4.7MM people in the metro area, virtually no downtown) is the quintessential example.

I've never really been to the Southwest so that would be something I haven't experienced. It sounds a lot different than the suburbia I am accustomed to in other parts of the country.

For what it’s worth there are plenty of jobs in Phoenix. They’re just dispersed throughout the giant mass of suburbs rather than being located “downtown”.

Those poor, horribly abused humans living in fly-over country. How do they survive? It’s incredibly insulting to suggest that somewhere other than the coasts is the middle of nowhere.

the poster suggested Amazon -start a city-. If they're starting a new city, isn't that by definition nowhere?

out of a pliable town. Find a small-medium city with room to grow and decent wages, stable natural resources, and build on it.

Note the part where I said I wasn't that naive, but someone can dream. Are you really telling me I'm the one thinking of people as numbers, not Amazon?

My employer is planning on moving several hundred people about ten miles from their current location. The only reason aren't quitting is because there isn't enough competition in the tech sector this city.

It would just be nice if there were cities with livable housing costs AND a competitive tech sector.


I'm of the opinion they could have used Newark, NJ in lieu of LIC and had basically the same experience but cheaper.

Newark is maybe 30 minutes from Manhattan by train, has cheaper real estate, and contains a stop on the Amtrak NE Regional Line, which would allow access to their VA HQ in between 2-3 hours.

I'm probably biased because I'm NJ based and I want Newark to become a more attractive location to companies other than Prudential, but Newark was up for consideration and I'd argue the cheap real estate + proximity to NY combo is workable.


Why spend your own dollars when you can consume the infrastructure of other cities without having to pay for it? Property taxes will rise, slowly, as property values increase due to the greater demand in these cities, but not enough (nor fast enough) to offset the infrastructure burden incurred by Amazon.

And cities can in turn tax the people. Therefore, actually make your own employees pay for it.

Unfortunately, you'd be raising taxes on everyone in your taxing district (not against taxes, against poor economic abstractions). It's an indirect subsidy to large corporations like this. I'd prefer a headcount tax on the business; you demand a butt in a seat somewhere, you're paying for the infrastructure to get your employee to that seat.

Very similar to CDD fees (one time or annually [paying off bonds]) in the case of residential real estate development.


What’s special about the present moment? Was it improper to subsidize all the other firms operating in those areas? Do 1980 transplants owe 1970 transplants a higher tax rate to offset the undue burden they imposed?

Municipalities tend to pursue growth intentionally. Facilitating business activity is often the explicit purpose of an infrastructure investment.


> What’s special about the present moment?

Is today special? Must there be a special day when better decisions are made?

There is no reason whatsoever for Amazon to be provided any sort of subsidy or tax benefits at their size and scale, most especially from existing residents who were not involved in the selection process.


If we made “better decisions” from the beginning, would New York be New York, or farmland?

New York state has farmland, yes. What are you getting at?

New York City is New York City because of extensive government subsidies and public works projects facilitating private businesses and their transplant employees. If they hadn’t done that, had made “better decisions,” there wouldn’t be a New York City.

If true, I wonder if they did this so that their ability to play one city off the other doesn't have to come to a close when they make the announcement. Or ever.

Every year or so, you can call them up and say:

"Hey NY, we're thinking of expanding in VA, but maybe you could convince us otherwise."

"Hey VA, we're thinking of expanding in NY, but maybe you could convince us otherwise."


Why would NYC give a shit? Amazon represents a quite small amount of economic activity relative to NYC.

It's not even an entire office, just a small project representing a few hundred jobs at most.

Not my area of expertise, but I would guess all companies with multiple offices do this all the time.

It will be far more interesting to see the impacts on Queens versus Crystal City, IMHO.

Crystal City already has a strong tech presence - it's government, not industry, but still - no shortage of technology around. 25K new workers is about a second Pentagon in the area, but nothing more than that. Office rental rate pressure will slightly go up, but Amazon's a drop in the bucket compared to federal government buying power for office space.

Queens, though, is a dramatic change to the general landscape of that area. I can't even imagine an Amazon-style campus in the middle of Jamaica.


Arlington has been running a fairly high office vacancy rate for a long time. Amazon moving in doesn't really require new construction.

https://data.arlingtonva.us/dataviews/227253/vacancy-rates/


It seems the new HQ will be in or near LIC. That is already a super tech-and-finance gentrified and expensive area a station or two away from Manhattan. Not exactly groundbreaking.

Assuming that the campus is in or around LIC proper, there's a lot to work with in the immediate area. Given recent and future development of proper high-rises along the waterfront, plus further re-zoning of formerly industrial areas to the south and into Brooklyn, you could see the long-awaited revitalization of the old shipyards.

As an Amazon employee, I will only believe it when Jeff says it's so.

"Sources" that aren't specified or provide any evidence tend to have a poor track record.


> Amazon declined to comment on whether it had made any final decisions.

Speculation. Amazon is also talking heavily with Dallas according to CNN.

https://www.cnn.com/2018/11/05/tech/amazon-hq2-update/index....


I hate when people use the word bubble but I think we finally have a real bubble here. Google opening a new campus in San Jose, Amazon in NYC. I mean, how expensive can it be to live in one of these already expensive places? We’re at a breaking point where salaries offered by tech giants aren’t keeping up with the price of real estate. We’re talking engineers, etc. not even able to afford a home. Now if you don’t work for a google or an amazon etc. How do you survive in these places? We need stores, transportation, plumbers, gardners etc.

I see a bubble here. It’s gonna get ugly soon.


NYC is surprisingly affordable if you can make the mental gymnastics that NYC != Manhattan.

You can get single family homes within city limits for $450-$750k. If you can't figure out how to afford a home like that on a six figure salary (let alone with 2 income earners in family situations), what you probably really need is a financial adviser. If you don't want to live in the city, Jersey City is swimming in sub-million dollars single family homes.

The D.C. area is actually more expensive in many cases, but you can haul out to a suburb 30 miles away and get more affordable housing on an engineer's salary and metro/commuter train in. It's not the end of the world.

Your commute may not be a 10 minute walk door-to-door, but...well...welcome to living in a large U.S. city where the jobs are.

The problem these companies are facing is availability of qualified staff. It'll take years to build out the facilities, and cheap places just will never attract the talent pool.


> The D.C. area [...] haul out to a suburb 30 miles away [...] and metro/commuter train in.

That might as well be the end of the world. The commute from that distance can easily crack two hours; I'd have a shorter commute driving from DC to literally the capital of the confederacy (105 miles, 1.7 hours reverse commute) than I'd have driving from Dumfries, VA into DC (30 miles, 2+ hours traffic).

Source: lived/ing inside the beltway for decades until present. Also, I've made that DC-RVA drive more times than I'd care to admit, and it was less self-harm-inducing than my standard commute from inside the beltway into DC itself.


And it's been this way for a long time. In the mid-1990's I lived in Vienna, VA and my office was in Tyson's Corner just 1.5 miles away. Yet there was no way I could eat lunch at home and drive back to the office within an hour, and it was actually faster to walk to work than drive. The only bright side to that situation was that I lived a few blocks from the Orange Line (at Dunn Loring).

In 2020, would I want to be living in Vienna or Chantilly and commuting to Crystal City? No way.


Homes in decent condition and school districts are not in the $450k to $750k range, and the added time and stress cost of using a failing public transportation system should be taken into account also. In addition to that, you won’t get access to nice big parks or trails or gyms with pools and saunas.

Manhattan is great, if you’re a millionaire and can put your kids in great private schools and hire private drivers or are single and don’t mind small living quarters and can walk to work. But for those with families, I don’t see how the commute time and lack of access to uncrowded and well maintained public facilities is worth it.

It’s crazy to me that people commute for 60 to 90 min each way on unreliable public transit from NJ and CT and NY, all to give their kids a decent school district or yard. Wasting their entire Mon to Fri slaving at work in exchange for the job market and pay of NYC. Personally, if you don’t make it big (at least $250k+) in your 20s and early 30s in NYC, and you want to or already have a family, I would get out and live somewhere where I can have access to all 7 days of my week for something other than work, dinner, and sleep.


You’re only pointing out one little consequence of that bubble. It doesn’t fix the actual problem. Sure, I know people who live in Sacramento and work in Cupertino, I let you do the maths. Trust me it’s not about being an idiot who needs financial advise. Everyone is already doing that, obviously they can’t afford to pay $5000/mo on rent or to drop $1.5 on a 1bd apartment near their office. The real problem is that we are engineers, product managers, directors, etc making big money. We have to live at an hour away from places. How about the other people I mentioned in my previous message? What if Manhattan was a giant place full of office buildings with no homes, no stores, nothing but offices. Opening a Google campus in downtown San Jose is like throwing gas at a giant fire. Tech giants need to diversify their locations, starting probably with VC’s moving out of their little cocoons. People will follow them everywhere they go. They have to make the big move first.

It's not cheap and frankly speaking, it's infested with roaches, rats, and mice. Don't ever want to live in LIC or the surrounding area. It's expensive, to rent and own. you need to be making a very high 6-fig salary (180+ base) or greater to counter balance the mortgage/rent and taxes. Otherwise you'll be house poor. Plus MTA is going up in price per ride very often and the quality is going to shit.

good luck. Only the rich can afford to live in NYC and the surrounding boroughs. I used to live in Queens Village, Moves out 20+ years ago. Even in the late 90's and early 2k, queens village was becoming expensive the Neighborhood was getting worse. houses are old and they're asking too much for them, even then.. forget about today.. astronomical..

Peace


Commute time has a much greater influence on your day to day experience and happiness than things like restaurants and museums, or even salary. The median commute is 25 minutes. Going significantly above that is rarely if ever a reasonable trade.

Hahah ; actually living here and no ; it’s not cheep .

Living in NY certainly isn't cheap but two six figure earners can more than live comfortably. Hell, if your household income is greater than like 75k then you're pretty much fine -- not living the high life but no real financial worry.

From a foreigner point of view, it seems completely ridiculous that we are even debating if a couple with 1M per year can afford or not living in NYC.

This is not 1M+ per year, this is 100k+ per year. Six figures = 100k+

> two six figure earners

Since we are talking about Amazon highly paid engineers, could be 2x 200-500k.


Sure, but I'm assuming the worst case for six figures. If your household income is $200k then even in NY you can easily afford a nice house or high-end condo/apt in a good part of town, while living in comfort with no financial worry.

Amazon salary cap is 160k.


I think they recently increased salary cap to $180k specifically for Bay Area. It varies by location.

The link I posted shows Amazon salaries above $400k.

I'm somewhat playing devil's advocate here, but isn't it better to drop new FAANG campuses in already large, expensive cities where housing will only get a couple percentage points more expensive than in, say, an affordable mid-sized city where their presence could totally destabilize the local housing market for decades?

This is what I always thought was problematic about putting a Google campus in a place like Boulder, a smallish college town with geographic constraints to new housing. Adding over 1,000 Googlers with $200-$500K total comp might as well be a tsunami for a town that size.


Boulder's constraints are almost entirely political. You could even build up in the mountains if you really wanted to (but that would be awful). There's tons of land in a green belt around it that's quite buildable, and of course most of the city is your basic single-family home western american town with a ban on apartments or building even human-scale 2/3/4 story housing.

eigenvector's point still stands.

You choose Detroit, or Cleveland, or Birmingham, or whatever and you completely distort their local economy.


Detroit I'm sure has plenty of real estate waiting for a good use. Yes, a lot of the blight has been razed, but my understanding is that there's still plenty of underused urban buildings.

Playing devil's advocate to your devil's advocate play, isn't it better when a tech giant opens up a new campus in a not-so developed area? This brings new jobs, raises equities, increase resources, etc. We're talking places like Austin TX, Portland OR, etc. They are at a sweet spot today. They should stop here.

Because there's a fine line where it has to stop otherwise it becomes a disruptive machine like the Bay Area and NYC.


In New York, living in Queens or Brooklyn isn't too bad on an engineer's salary. LIC is actually a pretty good location (although I would have preferred nearer the Barclays Center in BK for the number of trains that go there).

One of the obnoxious things about Google's NY campus is that it's on the west side of Manhattan, which means that to get a cheapish rent and a 40-60 minute commute, you have to live on the expensive edges of BK or Jersey. Doesn't really seem worth it imho.


> One of the obnoxious things about Google's NY campus is that it's on the west side of Manhattan, meaning to get a cheapish rent for a 40-60 minute commute

I don't think this is true. 60 minutes on the A/C/E lines gets you all the way to Jamaica. 45 Minutes gets you all the way to Inwood.

It's not convenient to every location, but it is convenient to some cheap locations.


> One of the obnoxious things about Google's NY campus is that it's on the west side of Manhattan, which means that to get a cheapish rent and a 40-60 minute commute, you have to live on the expensive edges of BK or Jersey.

Inwood, Washington Heights, and the western half of Harlem are still pretty reasonable, and on super convenient train lines to Google.


San Jose is among the most affordable urban locations in California.

Tech talent doesn't want to live in the sticks. Especially young tech talent.

I understand them because I am one of them. What good is a nice compensation package if I have to live in the middle of nowhere?


Silicon Valley for instance is sitting on top of a giant swamp. In the 70’s it looked like the middle of nowhere. In 2018, it looks like a bunch of office buildings and strip malls. Is this attractive?

Young folks are looking for the fame that’s what it is. The google’s, facebook’s etc. Yes there’s always san francisco but these are just extensions of the headquarters just to make sure they get hold of everyone.

If the fame was in the middle of nowhere people wouldn’t hesitate a second to move to that place. If it’s not you, someone else will.


People mentioned multiple big offices being opened in various locations, none of them in SV.

I completely agree that SV isn't a very attractive place nowadays, especially not for young talent.


Sure, we just use SV as a great example of places located in the middle of nowhere with tones of potential for Tech Giants. Look at the FB campus in Menlo Park, the median employee age is 28 years old. Now look around the campus... it's a giant swamp and there's a free way. That's it... oh and it's next to East Palo Alto.

Young talented folks came en mass. It does work to open a campus in the middle of nowhere. Why Tech giants still go to large and expensive cities? It doesn't make any sense but to satisfy a few folks who for the most part share an apartment with roommates or rent a studio in downtowns making 6 figures.


The vast majority of employees who "moved" to the new Menlo Park office were old Facebook employees who worked for them in Palo Alto right before the move.

Facebook now has an NYC office too. My uneducated guess is that their candidates now have far more options than they did 10 years ago, and more people would rather not live in SV.


Have you ever visited their campus in Menlo Park? :) you’ll see young and fresh employees all over the place.. they finished their new campus next to their old buildings and are now building another campus next to the new campus. On top of that they’ve bought land around to build a Facebook village for employees. It looks like 5 college campuses in one. Offices in cities like SF are very limited in space and can hold only a few employees. This is true for google, FB, linkedin, etc. Majority of the folks are recruited on teir main campuses in SV.

No doubt many new hires are OK relocating to Menlo Park. Evidently, many are not. Facebook would not invest in an expensive offices in NYC, for instance, if everyone was just happy to relocate to its huge campus in Menlo Park.

My comment referred to the first proper Facebook campus was going to be very close to Palo Alto since that's where their first offices were. Just like has been the case for Google and a bunch of other SV employers.


I'm a young person considering job offers in the Bay Area right now - one of my major considerations is that I want to live in a city. One company is in Oakland, which makes that possible, and the other two are in SV, which makes it very difficult. It's really dissuading me from wanting to do stuff in SV.

If you want to live in a city, don't go anywhere in SF Bay would be my advice.

SF is not a normal city anymore. Oakland isn't much of a city.

I'd focus elsewhere.


I don't speak for all young folks, but at least for me I just want to be in a big city where there's a lot going on - people from all over, interesting events and new experiences. Oh and also good public transportation, most young people aren't super into owning cars. It's hard to say if people would move to the middle of nowhere for the big names, I'm sure a lot of people would but I definitely would not, and I believe many of my friends feel similarly.

It's a bit of circular logic. Big names are where big populations are. By that criteria San Francisco city has more "nowhereness" than San Jose.

New York metro area is much more nowhere than Tokyo metro if you want to go buy sheer population in a continuous urban conglomeration.

And to me, personally, NYC is just as nowhere as Boise, Idaho. Just a bunch of people living in groups doing things they find interesting, or can't leave due to financial/family/personal reasons. You can do lots of stuff in and around Boise that the same people can't do in NYC and visa versa, depending on individual preferences.

Many folks I know get bored quickly in NYC and SF. I do. I still love NYC and SF, though. I suffer from a bit of Stockholm Syndrome ;)


> NYC is just as nowhere as Boise, Idaho. Just a bunch of people living in groups doing things they find interesting, or can't leave due to financial/family/personal reasons

I am having difficulty thinking of any group of humans living anywhere that doesn't meet this definition. The same could be said for a mining town in Siberia, or an uncontacted tribe living in the Amazon, or prisoners in a prison.

> You can do lots of stuff in and around Boise that the same people can't do in NYC and [vice] versa, depending on individual preferences.

The list of things you can do in Boise that you can't do in NYC is effectively zero if you exclude "the outdoors" as a category. For people who don't prioritize the outdoors as highly as other things in life, this makes Boise effectively nowhere by comparison.


It's hard to definitively say, but I'd bet that the young people enjoy getting paid between 2x and 50x what they'd earn back home then retiring when they're 30 more than they enjoy the fame.

50x? FAANGs pay well, but you are wayyy off.

There are a lot of places in the United States that are well between "middle of nowhere" and current high housing cost markets like San Francisco and NYC.

Technology wise I have heard of decent activity (including in a few of these cities some startup ventures) in places like Austin, the North Carolina research triangle, Miami, Boulder, Phoenix, Portland, Boston, etc. (Internationally, I'm sure there's some other markets people can add.) I have heard of housing costs creeping up in a few of these locations, but as far as I know, most of these still have pretty affordable housing compared to the Silicon Valley as a whole currently. Yes, the culture varies considerably between all these cities, but none of them I would describe as "middle of nowhere".


One way to describe the difference between SF/NYC and all these other places is that the former have people from all over the place, and that makes them interesting and sort of mind expanding in a way that's hard to describe.

The latter have varying degrees of "melting pot"-ness.


San Jose is more expensive than LA and close to Boston in rent: http://d3exkutavo4sli.cloudfront.net/wp-content/uploads/2017.... Also it really is the blandest area I've ever lived in in California. I don't think there's another city with a higher CoL:QoL ratio.

More expensive than LA? Where exactly in LA?

I'd suspect the parts of LA you'd like to live in - Santa Monica, for example - are far more expensive than the livable parts of San Diego.


One impression I got of San Jose was that it IS the sticks. Climate is nice, but culturally it is about as exciting as Omaha (no offense to Nebraska meant).

Yes! It's super lame here, please move away or don't move here - I'd like to bring the orchards back to my hometown.

Fins has a point though.

I live in SF but was down in SJ recently and honestly... it's just nice suburbia with the same strip malls and everything that's copy-pasted across the US?

Am I missing something there that makes it... unique?


I absolutely agree that fins has a point, and I'm serious - if it doesn't work for you, move away. There is certainly no lack of people.

I also dislike the strip malls everywhere; I was serious about the orchards part too. I wish that I could rewind to having fewer houses and strip malls and more orchards.

But for people who like suburbia but also want to work for technology companies, it works out pretty nicely. If you take the "everything that's copy pasted across the US" and splash in world class semiconductor company HQs (in San Jose and surrounding areas, like Sunnyvale, Santa Clara, etc), you get San Jose. Seems sorta unique to me, but I won't try too hard to sell it to anyone else who disagrees.


> Am I missing something there that makes it... unique?

I would almost live in San Jose for La Victoria Taqueria... almost. Their orange burritos are so damn good.


There is no better place for growing apricots.

Apricots are simply divine. For this alone, bulldozing would be justified.


It used to be quite a nice place to grow up in.

Proximity to San Francisco.

Sarcastically, not everyone enjoys stepping into human feces and dodging used needles.

Less sarcastically, how is that an advantage?


Culture - shows, restaurants, museums, etc.

don't forget the landfill that tends to stink up every year when it starts to warm up.

Actually, just did., and being 1700 miles away from SJ already feel much better.

I guess if you move to SJ from some hamlet 3 hours outside of Cheyenne, it's probably exciting. When I got there from Chicago, I couldn't believe that people actually might think it is a great place to live. Other than some career considerations, it's really a bland suburbia with nothing exciting about it.


Affordable for whom? [1] Rent is extremely high and so is buying [2]

[1] https://www.zillow.com/homes/for_rent/san-jose,ca_rb/ [2] https://www.zillow.com/homes/San-Jose-CA_rb/


What good is a nice compensation package if I have to put most of it towards rent, live in a crap apartment, or both?

I don't understand how this constitutes a bubble? I totally understand how it is frustrating, even angering, that tech companies continue to do this. But, how's that causing a bubble? In other words, how is this going to "pop"?

You're probably thinking Manhattan but NYC has a lot of affordable areas.

Queens or Brooklyn are obvious alternatives to Manhattan but, with the right long-term planning and development, Bronx or Staten Island could make great options.

Staten Island has transportation headaches (no subway) but the Bronx is well connected to Manhattan. It's also close to northern suburbs like Westchester County and Connecticut where many people might want to live and commute from.


Staten Island has the SIR.

But that is not helpful in commuting to Manhattan, is it? You'd still have to use the ferry.

It gets you to the ferry or the express buses. You can easily take quite a few very very limited stop buses from SI to midtown.

I can't speak to home prices but my anecdotal experience is that rents in New York are not outrageous. They're high, but generally you get more apartment for less money compared to San Francisco. Particularly if you look at living in uptown Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens or Jersey City the rents can actually be a pretty good deal on an engineer's salary. And because New York is much more dense than SF, commutes are generally also much shorter given the abundance of public transportation options.

I suppose there are two models: blame successful companies and their employees for high housing prices and try to make them go somewhere else, or derive (huge) economic benefit from their presence by building enough housing to meet demand.

If you find yourself hoping that successful companies and successful people don't move to your area, that's a sign that you are doing something seriously wrong.


3 million people work in Manhattan. What will an additional 25,000 people do to the real estate market?

Many of the 25k being high-paid white collar professionals.

> Many of the 25k being high-paid white collar professionals.

Which is already a big chunk of NYC. Adding 25K tech folks into the current mass of financiers, hedge fund managers, and tech peeps in a city of 8.5 million isn't going to change much.


Brooklyn, Queens and even Jersey, are all fine, affordable, decent and nearby.
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