It is easy to understand why we associate the Seattle coffee giant so strongly with New York City. After all, there are more than 193 Starbucks outlets blanketing the island of Manhattan. That works out to more than 8 Starbucks per square mile, meaning that almost no New Yorkers are more than a short stroll from a decent coffee and free restroom.*
It didn’t always used to be that way. In 1994, Starbucks was unknown outside the swanky Upper East Side. But then the coffee chain decided to expand. Over the next decade the number of stores in the city exploded as New Yorkers abandon bodega coffee and hipper-than-thou coffee shops for the quality, free restrooms and credit card payment that Starbucks offered.
The whiny neighborhood-association types call the spread of Starbucks gentrification or homogenization. I call it progress.
God Bless Starbucks and God Bless America!
*Unless you live in vast un-gentrified swaths of the outer borrows, in which case you’re out of luck.