Toward a Theory of Manhattan's Surrender to Brooklyn


Nearby, Nick Krevatas, one of the workers who were to hoist the new 12-by-18-foot red, white and blue flags that arrived in a Transportation Department truck by early afternoon, pulled on an elaborate harness.

“I feel we’ve been tampered with on our soil,” he said, a fat cigar clamped in the corner of his mouth. (He was still smoking it as he walked up the suspension cable to the towers.)

His theory?

“Something political, I guess,” he mused. “It’s got to mean something.”

The supposed mystery of the white flag over the Brooklyn Bridge is itself deeply mystifying: While bleaching the stars-and-stripes to produce an all white flag, rather than replacing it altogether, is impressive, methodologically speaking—as was the use of “large aluminum pans, like those to cook lasagna for a crowd,” to cover the lights, according to the Times—the clear meaning is Manhattan’s complete and unconditional surrender to Brooklyn.

How it could possibly indicate the reverse? Brooklyn, producer of New York’s finest pizza, coffee, television, pickles, thinkpieces, bicycles, tattoos, beer (but not cocktails), and faux mid-century modern furniture, only grows more Manhattan-like by the day, rendering the island borough increasingly unnecessary for city essentials like unfathomable rents, finance bros roving in packs, a “downtown,” or even cabs?