Before 1950 or so, there was a quality of life in NYC that was much nicer, in my opinion. Since then the city became a place for the wealthy, the working poor, immigrants, young people, and a few demographics that gravitated to the city.
And, oh yes, tons of tourists; domestic and international. In my opinion, NYC is just a focal point of the east coast. Like the saying, "all cats look gray in the dark," so do all cities look the same in the dark, in my opinion.