New Yorkers know that the Upper East Side, particularly 5th Avenue, is known for its Old Money residents. When we think of these people, we think of a Central Park view, antique furniture, ladies who lunch, and family names that probably have a plaque somewhere in a museum or hospital. In short, many of New York’s prestigious and wealthy families that live in that area and have been prestigious and wealthy for a long long time. Many of their children have attended Ivy League schools and they would consider Fordham or NYU a trade school. In short, Old Money tends to have standards that are above the norm. And while standards are typically a positive thing, they may lose sight of how “the other half” lives.
For those that have money, there are certain expectations of how to act. For instance, one should know how to hold a fork, what to wear to a fancy restaurant, and how to throw a cocktail party. Old Money might say that these actions are part of having class.
Often at the dismay of Old Money, New Money does not follow such rules. New Money is often focused on fast cars, wild parties, new technology like flat screen TVs, and some nice bling bling. Does New Money have less class for not following the rules of etiquette created by an older generation? I would argue that class was never something that you can have by following those rules. Having class has more to do with a person’s character than it does their tax bracket or their possessions. A classy person gives up his or her seat for the elderly. A classy person remembers to call his or her friends and loved ones on their birthdays. A classy person sees a stranger drop a $5 bill and gives it back rather than putting it in his or her pocket.
This would not be NYCitylights if there were not some viewpoint that most of my readers will disagree with. So here it is. We owe a dept a gratitude to the New Money folks because they allow us to live vicariously through them and also teach us how to truly enjoy our money. Lets use the Hamptons as an example. The Hamptons is filled with enormous homes and large estates that allow the super-rich to have ample distance from you and me. Ahhh, the sight of a small group enjoying a 5,000 SF home and 4 acres of land. But alas, that doesn’t sound like living “the life” to me. Now lets compare that to P-Diddy’s annual White Party held in the Hamptons. P-Diddy’s party is nothing but beautiful people popping the Cristal and having a fun time. He isn’t trying to enjoy his wealth in a fortress of solitude. Peace and quiet are over-rated.
In conclusion, money and rules do not equal class. Old Money does not own the patent on the proper way to spend money. New Money seems to enjoy its money more than Old Money since it has a fresher memory of what life was like prior to the riches. New Money is more relatable to Joe Everyman. As Kanye says:
“The good life, better than the life I lived when I thought that I was gonna go crazy. Now my grandma-ma ain’t the only girl callin me baby.”
Lets be honest, we all know what he means.
Bright Lights, Big Wallet.