The Whitney’s ‘New City’

98307092 The Whitneys New CityMaybe Leonard Lauder just doesn’t get out much. “Downtown is a new city,” he revealed to The Times this morning, “a new nation.”

Mr. Lauder, the Whitney Museum’s chairman and biggest benefactor, had also been the biggest roadblock to an ambitious plan to move the Whitney out of its outdated uptown home, which happens to be within walking distance of Mr. Lauder’s apartment. In recent days, he finally relented, and the museum yesterday announced plans to build a dramatic new Renzo Piano–designed edifice in the meatpacking district.

It is yet another sign of the molting of New York: The long-overdue move of a major museum downtown. The humbling of old-media moguls and the return of a start-up culture. The growing up of the creative class, as chronicled in this week’s Observer by Leon Neyfakh in his piece, BroBos in Paradise.

For two years now, the city has been stagnate, brought to a halt by a grinding recession. But that’s over—at least for now, if Wall Street doesn’t crash again and if our state and city can keep the lights on. (For what it’s worth, the real estate world seems sold: On the same front page as the Whitney story was news of plans to build the city’s tallest, and perhaps swankiest, residential skyscraper, financed by Abu Dubai.)

Bring it all on. New York has always been about replacing its old leaders and industries and institutions with things that are vibrant and new. It is, as Mr. Lauder would say, a new city.