Before I start I want to take a shout out to my badass editor Melissa for giving me a semi-local insight into Brooklyn, and for a good majority of the research.
Oh my fucking god! I want to head desk forever at this point. Why? Because Cassandra Clare has once again gotten the basic details of her setting wrong. I stared at the highlighted sentence for nearly ten minutes, because I was sure I hadn’t just read what I thought I read? It’s one thing for Stephanie Meyer to get the minute details of her setting of Forks, Washington wrong when she has never stepped one foot in that town. I don’t excuse her lack of research, at all. However, Meyer’s mistakes are at least somewhat understandable. Meyer knows nothing about Forks, was too lazy to do the research, and thus got almost every detail about the location wrong.
But here is Cassandra Clare WHO ACTUALLY LIVED IN NEW YORK CITY FOR FUCKING YEARS! My bad ass editor (who has been on hiatus due to health issues) and actually lives in upstate New York knows more about the city than Clare does, and, Mel has only been to the city for day trips.
Once again, that sound you hear? Is me head desking all the way from Texas!
Let me break down this fail. Simon lives in Brooklyn near where Clary used to live with her mother. There are houses in the area, sure. However, in this day in age, if you are poor or hell even middle class all you can afford is a shack of a house. A house in Brooklyn these days cost up to a million dollars and up. There is no way that Simon’s family could afford a standalone house like the one Clary is describing. Simon’s mother is a psychologist, but she is still a single mother with one income. She would literally have to be the psychologist to some high priced clients to afford a house like that in Brooklyn. In reality, Simon’s mother should be renting (or buying) an apartment.
Again, Cassandra Clare wants Brooklyn to be Queens or The Bronx, but even I know that Brooklyn has changed a lot since the neighborhood’s gentrification in the early 2000’s. I’m going to let Melissa tell you more why this is all bullshit. Take it away, Mel!
*Mel: Hey guys long time no see! I’m doing better I promise. So, when Gigi asked me about houses in Brooklyn, I had a hard time finding any. At first I was trying to remember if I ever saw any during any of the times I have been there… I couldn’t. I know in New York City they build up, pretty much exclusively. There are some historical buildings, such as churches, and some diners that are a single story. For the most part though nothing shorter than two stories until you get out of the main part of the city.
The reason for this is how the underlying geology of the city affects the building and zoning requirements. I wont go into the geology, because I know most people do not care much for that, lets just say that there are areas where the bedrock is much closer to the surface and it’s more steady than the other rocks that NYC is on. That’s why NYC has two bunches of really tall skyscrapers with a dip in the middle and out the sides. There are also air zoning regulations and those create a maximum height and I think a minimum height and for the most part, when people build they just go with the requirements. Some places will sell their zoning rights for a better building footprint, and others like Trump Tower either buy up other places zoning allowance or found ways around the requirements. there is more to all of this but it\s complicated and NYC is just crazy.
Here’s some trivia: NYC is one of the most expensive places to live in the world.
So I did some quick research. I checked sites like Realtor and Zwillow to check for single story houses. It took a fair bit of digging and most of the single story houses I was finding in Brooklyn were way on the outskirts of the borough. Clare established in City of Bones that Clary lived in Park Slope, that’s prime area on Brooklyn that’s gonna cost a lot and there are no single story places anywhere near there that I was seeing. On Realtor I found a place that was about $500,000 for 966 square feet. It’s not in Park Slope but it’s about 2 miles away.
This is a single story home, with two bedrooms and two bathrooms, the place looks nice but it’s only half of a two family home. $500k for a tiny ass home is more than likely not feasible for a single parent in Brooklyn, on a psychiatrist’s salary unless she only works for super rich people and is making a couple hundred thousand per year. I checked average salary for psychiatrists in NYC in 2008, when these books take place, and the average salary is roughly $150K per year. The monthly payment just for this home is roughly $2,500. I don’t know exactly what the take home with taxes in NYC is but I know where I live in New York state I lose roughly 30% of my salary to taxes, and insurance. So the gross income she’d have is about $12,000 per month. With taxes and deductions she’d be taking home around $8,500 during the month. Home insurance, utilities, food, car insurance, if she drives, and most of the other $8,500 is gone, there’d be very little to work with for anything nice or fun. Simon’s sister is having college paid for by their mother and Simon goes to a private school, this just isn’t possible. I don’t think that Clare knows how money works and what it truly costs to live comfortably in New York state let along NYC. I just…. I give up with her and logic.
Melissa Out. *drops mic, walks off*
ETA: Sorry guys, I mixed up the panels on this post. I changed it, but please let me know if you find anything else wrong with any of my posts. Sorry about the inconvience!