Alan Gerson’s ‘Struggling Immigrant Peasants’

In the random-but-noteworthy category, this, from Choire Sicha.

In this week’s New Yorker, Alan Gerson—SoHo, Tribeca, Wall Street, Chinatown, et al—gave Ben McGrath a tour of the street vendors of downtown Manhattan. At one point in the story, Gerson took a business card from an artist and made the following comment about the phone number printed on it: “Six-three-one is a Long Island area code. It actually includes the Hamptons. So these are people who are clearly coming in from far and wide and using our streets. You’re not a struggling immigrant peasant if you live in the 631 area.”

Nassau County, carved out in 1899 and later given the area code 516, is the sixth richest county in the United States, according to the 2000 census. But Suffolk County, with its chic 631 area code, is only the sixth richest in New York State, ranking below Rockland and Putnam—and Manhattan, where the per capita income is more than $16,000 greater than Suffolk’s.

As for the Hamptons: According to an AP story last month on class friction in the Hamptons, the Hispanic population in East Hampton’s public schools has grown from 1% in 1990 to 35% now. The article also related how protesters show up outside a 7-11 in Southampton to voice their anger about the struggling immigrant peasants who arrive each morning, looking for day labor.

— Josh Benson

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