New York Times columnist Timothy Egan was part of the paper’s Pulitzer Prize-winning team in 2001. Now he’s written an op-ed arguing Amazon “took Seattle’s soul.” An anonymous reader writes:
Since Amazon arrived “we’ve been overwhelmed by a future we never had any say over,” Egan writes, with a message for cities competing to be the site of Amazon’s next headquarters. Amazon now owns as much office space as Seattle’s next 40 biggest employers combined, according to an analysis by the Seattle Times, “a mind-boggling 19 percent of all prime office space in the city, the most for any employer in a major U.S. city…more than twice as large as any other company in any other big U.S. city.”
Egan notes Amazon is offering 50,000 high-paying jobs and $5 billion worth of investments, “a once-in-a-century, destiny-shaping event,” but “You think you can shape Amazon? Not a chance. It will shape you… What comes with the title of being the fastest growing big city in the country, with having the nation’s hottest real estate market, is that the city no longer works for some people. For many others, the pace of change, not to mention the traffic, has been disorienting… [M]edian home prices have doubled in five years, to $700,000. This is not a good thing in a place where teachers and cops used to be able to afford a house with a water view… As a Seattle native, I miss the old city, the lack of pretense, and dinner parties that didn’t turn into discussions of real estate porn.
Wages have risen faster in Amazon’s Seattle than anywhere else in America, and while Amazon changed the city’s character, it also poured $38 billion into the city’s economy. (Besides Amazon’s own 40,000 employees, it also attracted another 50,000 new jobs.) “To the next Amazon lottery winner I would say, enjoy the boom,” Egan concludes, “but be careful what you wish for.”
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