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As the Wire noted last week, New York City recently got its census numbers back, and it was not pleased with the results. Mayor Michael Bloomberg and other city officials were incredulous at the finding that NYC has only grown by 167,000 people since 2000. There was grumbling that the Census Bureau must have missed wide swaths of immigrants, especially in the outer boroughs. Queens only added 1,343 people in a decade? "Inconceivable," said Bloomberg.

Yesterday, The New York Times ran a follow-up story that's mostly notable for the hilariously defensive reactions of the New York residents interviewed. "This is the city of the Yankees and Broadway, of Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty, of sky-high buildings and never-ending parks," writes the Times reporter, Javier Hernandez. "How could the world not be rushing to its shores?"

That's followed by some rich-and-connected-man-on-the-street quotes:

  • Charles Schumer, senior Senator from New York: "The numbers are dead wrong ... It makes you wonder if the Census Bureau is living on a different planet."
  • Phyllis Newman, Tony Award-winning actress: "Get a life ... It's more crowded than ever ... It always looks like New Year's Eve n Times Square. That's vitality. They made a terrible mistake."
  • Marty Markowitz, Brooklyn borough president: "This is still the place where legends are made and dreams come true ... We're not going to take it lying down. We know we're right."

Okay, then! Just for the sake of context, it's worth comparing New York's blustery reaction to that of Michigan, which got some really bad news from the census: its cities appear to be vanishing. Detroit, for example, lost a full quarter of its population in the past decade. And Michigan was the only state in the country to see its overall population decline.

Are Michiganders huffing and puffing? Not so much. An editorial in the Detroit Free Press said that the census findings "are a pointed invitation to address the cities' plight more urgently or prepare for continued statewide decline." Governor Rick Snyder said that "it's time to step up" because "we are in a crisis in this state." And a staff piece in the Flint Journal calls upon the governments of various Michigan cities to "abandon their blind, isolated sense of pride, and work for their mutual benefit." (Although Detroit mayor Dave Bing has called for a recount of Detroit's population, so maybe New York doesn't have a monopoly on defensiveness.)

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.

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