In his Bread & Brains Lecture on ‘The magic of New York’ on 19 December 2013, US-expert Willem Post emphasised that New York is a city of extremes. On the one hand there is the romantic story about the city: New York as a safe heaven for tolerance, the most culturally varied city in the world, the city of unlimited opportunities. On the other hand there is the incredible welfare gap. New York has hundreds of thousands of millionaires, yet at the same time one could find people sleeping under bridges and in parks because they cannot afford a roof over their heads. ‘If people say that New York is such a beautiful city I correct them: it’s the big contrast that’s so fascinating. Sometimes this is interesting, sometimes very sad’.

Embracing diversity is something that The Hague could learn from New York, says Post. The ‘city of justice’ has the profile to present itself as one of the major UN cities and should act accordingly. The Hague is a city with a message to the world: we are international, we are diverse, we are tolerant. ‘Some people in The Hague seem to be annoyed by the many expats in the city, but what is wrong with diversity?’, Post wonders.

In the subsequent discussion, Post answered questions about inequality and how to deal with it, the role of education in a metropole such as New York and a new generation of ‘globals’; youngsters for whom the world does not have borders.