July 19, 2024

New Year’s Eve arrives to an NYC that’s better than ever

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I hate to rain on the “New York is a hellhole” parade, but the jerks who make that claim online and in my emails — along with the professional pundits who ought to know better — can go to hell.

Best-selling novelist Kevin Baker asserted in Harper’s Magazine five years ago a “systematic, wholesale transformation of New York into a reserve of the obscenely wealthy and the barely here . . .   the world’s largest gated community . . . increasingly devoid of the idiosyncrasy, the complexity, the opportunity and the roiling excitement that make a city great.”

The worst of Baker’s analysis: “For the first time in its history, New York is, well, boring.”

Strange: I’ve lived here much longer than Baker’s 40-plus years.

Why do I find New York City to be a near-wonderland for those of us who work for a living, pay our taxes, make our rent and abide by the law?

Call me smug. 

But my daily experiences and data-reading confirm this perception of a remarkably safe and prosperous city in all but a few neighborhoods.

If Baker is bored by the changes, most of them improvements, that have come to  Mid-Manhattan, he should take a walk through the four other boroughs where 80% of New Yorkers live.

The vast majority of New Yorkers don’t live in Manhattan. AP

Yes, the whole city’s a wonderland, despite the anarchic impression made by illegal pot shops, sidewalk junk markets and out-of-control cyclists.

To stroll on Bensonhurt’s thriving 86th Street where John Travolta toe-tapped in “Saturday Night Fever” is to appreciate that much of this treasured past endures — and with better dining options than in 1979.

The new-and-wonderful are everywhere: the Perelman Performing Arts Center at the World Trade Center, the new Studio Museum in Harlem under construction on West 125th Street, Brooklyn Bridge Park in Dumbo.

There are “restaurant rows” and gourmet outdoor markets all over Queens, plus Wegmans at the Brooklyn Navy Yard and magnificent waterfront promenades in every borough.  

The new Perelman Performing Arts Center close to the World Trade Center is a monumental reminder of New York City’s greatness. Christopher Sadowski

The politicians and “scientists” who used the pandemic to punish the middle class with lockdowns and  school closures must rue that their insidious campaign had the opposite effect.

Rather than establish “equity” between the haves and have-nots, it widened the divide between them.

The poor, the disenfranchised, the marginalized, the underclass, the suffering inmates of Rikers Island, have more than enough advocates.

You could fill Yankee Stadium with the leftist legion of columnists, lawyers, “activists,” elected officials and regulatory thugs who champion the “oppressed” even as they worsen their plight by ham-stringing the NYPD and derailing much-needed new housing.

I’ll advocate for those of us who love it here.

I don’t have as much money as many. 

But I’m comfortably middle class in a city that rewards hard work and achievement  — no matter the multiple crises in housing, education, and social welfare.

My heart leaps when I see gleaming residential towers rise along the Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn, on the Mott Haven waterfront in The Bronx, and just about everywhere in Long Island City.

Gentrification is good.

It means the reclamation of wasted, often empty land parcels for the benefit of families and businesses.

“Displacement” is an unfortunate reality of necessary urban change that’s by no means limited to minorities or the poor.

Many issues that command disproportionate media attention don’t actually mean that much in our everyday lives, no matter how much we ID them as proof things would be better down in Florida.

Migrants?

A civic catastrophe and, for some, a human tragedy.

But do the government-fed unfortunates camped outside the Roosevelt Hotel truly scare me, or impact me at all?

The development known as 130 William Street is a major architectural addition to the downtown Manhattan skyline. 130 William

Hell, no.

Ah, the housing crisis.

There certainly is one — but the pitiable state of NYCHA and the lack of “affordable” (i.e., nearly free) apartments means nothing to the millions who own or rent homes in stable neighborhoods.

Every new development project sells out or rents up immediately, whether in Central Harlem, the South Bronx or the skyline-changing 130 William St.

Does this suggest a city in decline due to high taxes and fear of crime?

The 6% increase in felonies over 2022, cited in the mayor’s fiscal-year Management Report, was almost entirely due to an exponential increase in “grand larceny auto,” while all other categories are down or stable.

City gourmands cannot get enough of new foodie must-visits such as Manhattan’s first Wegmans outpost on Astor Place. Tamara Beckwith

Unless there was an unreported massacre this week, the year-end murder total as noted by the NYPD will come in below 400 for the first time since 2019. (The tally was 380 as of Dec. 24).

Lest anyone forget, there were 462 murders in 2020, 485 in 2021 and 434 in 2022.

In other words, the improvement is undeniable.

It’s much-touted that 2019 saw only 318 murders, but what of it?

The numbers go up and down.

We had 649 in 2001 and 536 in 2010; the latter were a big jump over 471 in 2009, yet nobody foresaw an “urban doom loop.”

Of course we had 2,262 — not a typo! — in the bad old days of 1990.

Thank God we don’t anymore.

Thousands of unlicensed smoke-shops selling illicit cannabis products remain a major city blight. Helayne Seidman

Any homicide is terrible, of course. 

But a high percentage of recent murders took place inside private homes, among family members or as a result of feuds between criminals.

The risk to most New Yorkers is less than minimal.

Oh, wait — it’s a hellhole.

How did I forget?

Happy New Year!



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