If New York City were in the tropics, all Starbucks would open onto hillsides filled with coffee, and patrons would wait on line in the shade while employees wore baskets instead of aprons and picked coffee cherries from the trees, shelled, roasted and ground them daily to make lattes. The sugar would come from the sugar mill next door, and you’d pass the sea of 6ft stalks as you walked inside.
There would be no leash laws, but there would be plenty of lots overgrown with pesky, insistent star grass in which dogs could do their business.
Skyscrapers would have tin roofs, and CEOs would have to shout at each other over the sound of the pounding rain.
Corner offices would have screens, and higher ups would put down their Blackberries to enjoy the breeze.
Homeless people wouldn’t have to wait on line at soup kitchens; they would just grab bananas from trees. Homeless shelters would be replaced with rows of hammocks strung between palms.
The fruit cart men would trade their carts for ladders and hand you oranges with the leaves still attached.
Umbrella vendors would all be millionaires.
Central Park would have waterfalls, ravines, and the occasional landslide.
There would be chickens in Times Square instead of pigeons.
Roosters would replace alarm clocks.
All taxis would be four wheelers. Or pickup trucks. Drivers would never tell you that you can’t squeeze 5 into a towncar; in fact, they’d encourage you to fit as many people as possible into the bed of the pickup.
Instead of an iphone, everyone would have a machete. Instead of looking for cafes with plugs to charge their phones, everyone would be looking for a grinder to sharpen their machetes.
Yelp would become a site for identifying edible flora.
The Brooklyn Bridge would be rickety and you’d hold your breath every time you drove over it.
Straphangers would actually hang from zipline straps.
Custodians would have weedwhackers, and instead of waxing the front lobby, they’d aggressively weedwhack the front yard.
14th St would wash out and be impassible after a big rainstorm.
Lizards would outnumber rats.
There would still be cockroaches everywhere.
MacLaren would go out of business, because moms would carry their children.
Wall Streeters would put on their rubber boots, put down their Bluetooths, and learn the real prices of the commodities they trade.
Living in New York is by no means easy, living in the tropics isn’t necessarily paradise. People say of NYC that “if you make it here, then you can make it anywhere,” but maybe the saying should really go, “if you can feed your family in a place where the challenges posed by the natural world rival daily the persistent injustices exercised by local government and the fiscal reaches of first world corporate presence for the title of greatest threat, then you can make it anywhere.”