Last winter, the New York City Department of Health released figures that told a surprising story: New Yorkers are living longer than ever, and longer than most people in the country. A New Yorker born in 2004 can now expect to live 78.6 years, nine months longer than the average American will. What’s more, our life expectancy is increasing at a rate faster than that of most of the rest of the country. Since 1990, the average American has added only about two and a half years to his life, while we in New York have added 6.2 years to ours.
All the boons of the nineties—the aggressive policing, the dramatic drop in crime, the renaissance of the city’s parks and street life, the freakish infusion of boom-time wealth—played a part. Take the miraculous evaporation of the homicide rate. In 1990, a stunning 2,272 New Yorkers were murdered; in 2005, that number dropped to 579.
When I ask what the X factor is—where the “excess life” is coming from—Frieden (NYC Commissioner of Public Health) goes over to his desk and returns with a clear plastic statuette. It’s from the American Podiatric Medical Association and Prevention magazine: BEST WALKING CITY, 2006.
You go, New York.