Excerpt from Al Smith’s autobiography Up To Now. Keep in mind that this was written in 1929!
One of the very striking differences between the New York of my boyhood and the New York of today is what I might call the absolute disappearance of neighborhood spirit. When I was growing up everybody downtown knew his neighbors– not only the people who were immediate neighbors but everybody in the neighborhood. Every new arrival in the family was hailed not by the family alone but by the whole neighborhood. Every funeral and every wake was attended by the whole neighborhood. Neighborly feelings extended to the exchange of silverware for events in the family that required some extraordinary celebration. Today on Manhattan Island, people live in large apartment houses and do not know the family living right on the same floor with them.