Paul Graham writes, “Cambridge seems to be the intellectual capital of the world. … And what US city has a stronger claim? New York? A fair number of smart people, but diluted by a much larger number of neanderthals in suits.” Harsh but true.
I’ve never been to Cambridge, and never lived in any city but New York, but I’ll accept Graham’s casual portrayals as plausible. New York is obsessed with money, although I believe that’s more influenced by the ridiculous cost of living than Wall Street. But it is also, I would argue, a city that values achievement, of any kind, above all else. Whether you’re a dancer, fashion designer, diplomat, programmer, or stock broker, New York is where you come to be the best at whatever it is you do. There’s a reason all the city services define their members in terms of superlatives — police (New York’s Finest), firefighters (Bravest), corrections officers (Boldest) and sanitation workers (Strongest).