“Unless we’re way up in the score,” Frankie explains. “Then we leave. Gotta beat the traffic.”
Phil turns to Frankie and smiles. “Looks like we’re going to party, buddy!”
It seems like the perfect time to bring my question to these guys: Do you New Yorkers care as much about Boston as we Bostonians care about New York?
“No way. We have a lot of stuff going on in New York,” Frankie says, pointing out that the city hosts two of nearly every professional sports team. “You wear your Red Sox shirts into Yankee Stadium, nobody cares.”
By now, though, I’ve seen enough to believe that he protests too much. Why else would these guys, like so many of the Yankees fans I found, drive 400 miles in a single day at least once a year? None of the Yankees fans I spoke to make a similar annual trek to Camden Yards.
Believe it or not, part of the answer may be that New York’s baseball rivalry with Boston obscures the true distance in fans’ minds. For a recent study called “See Your Friends Close, and Your Enemies Closer,” researchers from New York University interviewed people outside Yankee Stadium, both Yankees fans and non-fans alike. They found Yankees fans were far more likely to estimate that Fenway was closer to them than Camden Yards, while non-fans tended to estimate (correctly) that Baltimore was closer. While Boston may be just another city in the eyes of many New Yorkers, its standing looms much larger when it comes to baseball.
But I guess no one really needs a study to prove that. Witness the ad from a sports radio station spotted on the New York subway earlier this year: “Always Offer Your Seat to a Pregnant Woman,” it read. “Unless She’s Wearing a Red Sox Hat.”
THE TALL, SLIM MAN sits at a table in an otherwise unfurnished office suite in the Helmsley Building, the garish, seemingly gold-plated office tower that hovers over Park Avenue. There are a few boxes near Dan Huttenlocher, but the 52-year-old won’t bother unpacking them. He won’t be here long.
Huttenlocher is the vice provost and founding dean of Cornell University’s new tech graduate school planned for Roosevelt Island, the narrow band of land that sits in the East River, just outside Manhattan and just under the Queensboro Bridge. Construction on that campus, on the 10 acres now occupied by the tired Goldwater Hospital campus, will begin in two years, with a planned opening in 2017. By 2037, the goal is 2 million-plus square feet of campus buildings hosting 280 faculty members and 2,500 students.
But the timetable for this CornellNYC Tech enterprise — a partnership between Cornell and the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology — is even more aggressive than that, since the new grad school will begin offering classes this fall. Huttenlocher isn’t bothering to unpack because he’s soon moving to space that Google is donating to the school in its Eighth Avenue building, also home to its largest office outside of the Mountain View, California, headquarters.
The Google gift is fitting, since Huttenlocher’s charge is to help New York close the yawning tech-sector gap between it and Silicon Valley. To do that, New York first must get past Boston, which has long been the Avis of the tech sector, perpetually second to the Bay Area’s Hertz.
Boston is already feeling the heat. In the first quarter of this year, according to Dow Jones, Silicon Valley captured about a third of all venture capital investment, while Boston snared 17 percent. Right on its heels, though, was New York City, with 15 percent. Statewide comparisons for venture capital investments in Massachusetts and New York over the past five quarters, compiled by industry tracker CB Insights, show that New York has already closed much of Massachusetts’s long-established lead, and has even passed the Bay State in the category of total new Internet companies funded.
Of course, given the difference in population, New York City should be posting figures that are more than 10 times Boston’s. Still, the trend line is a clear and worrisome one for Boston. In going hard after new tech business, New York is summoning its inner Dutchman. Once again, it’s a city on the make.
Why the push? For starters, there is a shortage of engineers in New York. (Who knew New York could have a shortage of anything except space and quiet?) Huttenlocher, who served as the computer science dean at Cornell’s main campus in Ithaca before being tapped for the Roosevelt Island job, says that even in these recessionary times, Cornell’s computer science majors have their pick of job offers — many from California — with starting salaries of $80,000 to $100,000. Continued...