Is New York City an Empire in Decline? | NYT Opinion

[RATTLING OF A TRAIN] I went to the Rockaways
the other day. I was just thinking
about the kind of vision that it took to build a
subway to this slip of sand that you can get to with
just a single MetroCard ride. At Rockaway, I’m reminded
of how much vision it took to build this city. Where is that vision today? I’m Mara Gay, and I cover New
York for the New York Times editorial board. I’m a native New Yorker
from Brooklyn, where I still live, in a fifth-floor walkup. For the record, I am a
total New York booster, but sometimes, I
worry that New York is an empire in decline. Let me show you what I mean. It wasn’t just the Rockaways. Someone had the vision
to build a 7 train that went to farmland. You come out of the
subway in Flushing, then all of a sudden you
see the most opulent building around. Someone thought to
build that library and serve books to people
in 50 different languages. New York’s public
officials thought to put in 1,700 parks — 1,700. This is what our city
created for commuters. When you walk into
Grand Central, you feel like
you are somebody. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying I’m
nostalgic for the New York of 100 years ago. The city is safer now. It’s more diverse. Bloomberg gave us
those waterfront parks, and DeBlasio
brought us pre-K. Lately, the vision
just feels smaller. There’s an entire
generation that can’t afford to buy a house. Even our own mayor
doesn’t want to be here. Our city officials
are actually entertaining plans
to build a six-lane highway on top of a park. I don’t want us to just become
a playground for the rich. I used to live really
close to the Highline. One day, someone new
bought the building, and we saw a condo going
in across the street. And slowly but surely, over
the course of about a year, the construction began. Eventually, we moved out. I just kept
thinking to myself, if this is happening
to us, and we’re college-educated,
American-born citizens, what’s happening
to poor people? What’s happening to people
who don’t speak English or who aren’t citizens? It was heartbreaking. Tonight, more than
60,000 New Yorkers are going to be sleeping
in a homeless shelter. Hundreds of luxury
condos are sitting empty. Since 2005, the number of
apartments renting for $900 a month or less has
fallen by 400,000. That’s nearly half a
million homes where New Yorkers used to live. Part of the reason why
the rents are so high is because it’s renters,
not wealthy homeowners, who are paying the lion’s
share of the city’s property taxes. Vision on housing could mean
fixing our broken property tax system. Vision could mean
increasing train service to close suburbs like
Yonkers and White Plains. New York car culture
makes no sense. This year alone, so far, 69
pedestrians and 19 cyclists have been killed. Only 16% of our bike lanes
are protected in New York. I think we can do better. Starting in 2021,
New York will finally have a congestion tax,
18 years behind London. Vision on infrastructure could
mean roping off more streets just for pedestrians. It could mean building 50
miles of protected bike lane a year, instead of just 30. Our lack of vision is hurting
future generations, too. New York has one of the most
segregated school districts in the country. Last year, Stuyvesant, one
of our best high schools, admitted a freshman class
where only 1% of the kids were black. Vision on education
means tossing out an admissions test that shuts
out black and Latino students from our city’s
top high schools, rethinking and reimagining
admissions policies from middle school
to elementary school. We deserve big ideas. We deserve leaders with bold
change, who are brave enough to get it done. We can demand more
from ourselves, too. We can vote in
local elections. We can show up to City Hall. We can protest, maybe
even run for office. The president has called
cities burning and crime- infested. Those of us who live
in them know better. Cities are hubs of
imagination and innovation. I want kids 100 years
from now to peer out of their Hyperloop windows or
read through their VR history books and just see all that
vision that New York never lost.

100 thoughts on “Is New York City an Empire in Decline? | NYT Opinion”

  1. We have pretty much the same problems in Montreal (Canada) except for the school board issues. We have a combination of gentrification and crumbling infrastructures that are all either in need of repair or being repaired simultaneously. This turns the city into a giant nightmare for pedestrians, cyclists, drivers, residents, visitors, homeowners, renters, shop owners…

  2. So, it's not really "lack of vision" that's the problem, just a lack of your vision. I mean, the rich clearly have a "vision" for NY…it's called "gentrification."

  3. Why doesn't she tell the truth. The reason why so little Black and Hispanic students are being admitted to Stuyvesant is because they are lazy and unmotivated. It has nothing to do with diversity.

  4. I love this video, is the reality of our city now in days. I know this is one of the big city’s that our country has but is just out of control.

  5. It’s too late! NY is definitely a tourist destination. However, it’s not only in decline, it’s a mausoleum of its former self where the some of the rich decide to live. Because of the focus on emerging economies around the world, NY is no longer the center of creativity. Also, the super rich still prefer London.

  6. Am I the only one who didn't hear any "big" new ideas? 20 more miles of protected bike lanes a year and lowering admissions standards for competitive high schools seem like pretty modest ideas.

  7. I dont agree with congestion tax and the elimination of car culture..i have a car and the amount of people who walk in front of me while im driving and the amount of bicyclists i see blowing through red lights is insane. Stop jaywalking and maybe stop riding like the road rules dont apply to you. Now about the tax, why do we have to be punished for? Not everybody can ride a bike ya know

  8. Trust me, Westchester doesnt want the subway. Thats why they're out there. It's to get out of the city. I'm pretty sure the idea has been shot down a dozen times by its residents

  9. As a native New Yorker she should already know that New York is a police state.. A gilded one, but one with a resident gestapo that swaggers down its streets with its jackboots on. I got out in the late 90's.. and that knot in my belly that I never realized was there all my life up until that point, went away.

    All yoos renters are leaves in the breeze… you have limited control over your destiny there, you just hope and pray each year that you can hold on just another year, and another year, and another year, but you are not steering the car, your'e just a passenger.

  10. 1:14 neither am I lol I love the Highline, but Penn Station is just terrible. Even renovations are poorly put together.

  11. To me the big issue is this dichotomy between democrats and republicans. Democrats watch CNN, republicans watch Fox, both channels tell their viewers what they want to hear and everyone just falls deeper into their convictions. Just give us the honest facts and we would come to the same conclusions, Americans don’t need to be told what to think, which is what journalism has become, opinions over facts. Where I live the transit system won’t be finished until 2070! 50 years! Rents are up 60% in 10 years, from an average of $700 to $1200. Inner city is all gentrified and poor people are pushed out of sight… I don’t even know where they went honestly. How can there be a vision when at least half the population will be against it just because they belong to the other party?

  12. How old is this reporter? She’s giving redundant news like she just discovered it. Old news just younger folks opening their eyes to it. Says she’s a native New Yorker but when, the 90’s? That decade New York was being taken by yuppies replicating what they saw on the tv show friends. If you come from the 1970’s and 1980’s when New York was crazy and raunchy then you can really tell the story of how stale New York is becoming. Diverse girl please. New York (Manhattan) was always diverse just in different sections. And not with just race but economic class. Now it’s filled with wealthy folks because they push all poor into the Bronx and ignore the borough like a neglected step child. She’s not saying anything wrong but her story lacks substance that an older New Yorker can really lay out. My family was native New Yorkers since the 1950’s, layers of generations grown in Manhattan. I’m from the 1980’s and all this is really a tired conversation. Right now Manhattan is being a monopoly game for the rich and rich foreigners. It’s a game that we aren’t allowed to play and nothing we can do about. Sorry but life’s not fair.

  13. Once you talked about Stuyvesant and getting rid of specialized test that "shuts out Black and Latino kids from our cities top high schools," I instantly disliked. All schools should be at Stuyvesants level. Don't dilute the integrity and rigors of a school for the sake of "fairness." There is no fairness in this world, sorry.

  14. YES, SAY THIS LOUD AND CLEAR‼️‼️ they should completely block out cars in parts of the city, ACCOMMODATE FOR THE UNDERSERVED

  15. how about if you can't afford it
    don't live there.
    solved your homeless problem.

    the homeless are not entitled to live in nyc.

  16. Part of the problem is selling real estate to wealthy foreigners. It shouldn't be allowed. Overall IMO, NYC just doesn't have "it" anymore. Many other cities with diversity and opportunity to make it big. SF and NYC have been lost to the wealthy and just aren't cool anymore.

  17. It never mentioned that New York's population is going down, unlike most other cities! People are moving away because it's too expensive to live there!

  18. Yeah, just a few weeks ago I stayed 2 nights in NYC. Definitely noticed the increase of at least 1 homeless person in every block. I was even called a MOFO for ignoring one.

  19. NY city is over overpopulated. People need to stop reproducing unnecessarily. We live in a society where having more than one kid is just a waste of space. But you can't tell this to Americans. Its against their valuable freedom.

  20. If you love this country and for the well being of others and if you want change than vote or run for your local office, keep fighting this may sound Democratic but that was the ideal this country was founded on

  21. As someone who recently experienced the highschool admissions process, I found it shocking how exclusive access to good schools is. Test preparation classes for the SHSAT (the test you need to take to get into specialized schools such as Stuyvesant) are extremely expensive and not offered at many schools. Just to put it into perspective just 10 black students were admitted to a Stuyvesant class of 902 students. De facto segregation is a massive problem, only 15% of NYC students are white, but a full two-thirds of them attend majority-white schools. Top schools tend to be located in affluent, white areas and many of these schools have what’s called ‘location priority’ if you live within a certain distance to the school you have priority. So for children who live out of this range going to a top school is not even possible. I wrote an article about this during my application process in 8th grade, and as a freshman, I recently wrote a follow-up article, I was disappointed to find that nothing had changed, in fact, it had worsened. New York City is such a wonderfully diverse place and it’s horrible that it’s not reflected in our schools.

  22. The lack of humbleness and accepting other's strenghs and learning from them while thinking you are superior and pointing fingers at others problems while forgetting abojt your own. In short, mind your own business. GRINGO GO HOME, its burning…

  23. NYC is America's only REAL city. Its America's only TRUE melting pot. Its decline is representative of something larger at play. Major cities all over the world are seeing the same trends. The rich are hoarding money and property while the rich do their best just to maintain. Scary times

  24. You want to increase train service to suburbs like Yonkers and white plains meanwhile the whole East side of Queens doesn’t have train service at all

  25. The Revolution of the Proles is happeing all over the world now.
    EU Brazil Peru Ecuador UK Hong Kong Indonesia.
    A great mass upheval is almost upon us.
    Whether whats on the other side will be better or worse idk.

  26. I'm going to get criticized for this but Stuyvesant High School is 72.5% Asia (3/4 Asian) and most of these kids are from first generation immigrant families that prioritize hard work and education over everything else. If we're going to use statistics, let's be honest about them. Maybe instead destroying meritocracy, we can instead try to improve other schools.

  27. man when I first read decline empire I thought that NYC is actually dying in demographic meaning but these 2 problems are not that worst that this lady may think. Cheers from Poland ;]

  28. Exactly and native New Yorkers don’t get those high paying jobs. They be going to out of state people and foreigners. And Rich Chinese people be buying these real estate properties.

  29. Solution for the housing crisis: make a law that individuals need to prove you work/ conduct business within 30 miles on NYC In order to own a residential property in NYC. Make it a law that only individuals and not businesses can own residential properties. This will level out the housing prices to real value instead of the current investment priced prices.
    Solution for the transportation crisis: make it dirt cheap to use public transportation in NYC and make a NYC yearly car tax for all residents who can’t prove they have a private parking spot.
    Solution for the school inequality: just study harder if you want to go where you want to go. Sometimes it’s not about equality based on race and gender. It’s unfair to give someone credit just for their race. Instead of focusing on school segregation we should focus on school subjects. We need subjects to teach the future generations to have compassion, integrity, and common sense. We need to teach students to produce value and how to earn money and care for themselves and their environment. Too many young people give up too fast and lack discipline.

  30. I love this city, my city. But I got laid off from my job and because my single room occupancy South Bronx rent of $1500+, I didn't have the savings from my 74K a year teaching job. Rent, taxes, and materials for my students plus healthcare costs (uncovered) meant an immediate move to upstate NY. I could afford to pay my rent in upstate, but my joy is completely gone.

  31. Amazon HQ in LIC is a "prime" example of gentrification which would increase bumper-to-bumper traffic & local rent in a residential area. Keep big tech in Manhattan!

  32. Why do you think it's in decline? The White share of the population keeps going down. New York was one a Caucasian city. That's what it needs to be again. The very thing you praise at 1:27 is the root of most of your modern day issues.

  33. There is Detroit. And Providence, and Atlanta, you have a middle class exodus in Chicago. Hartford is a nifty city. Baltimore could use a shot in the arm. And if the whole USA does not fit the bill, São Paulo Brazil is affordable by New York standards. Thirty years of lag will help you to build up before they catch up with NYC.

    Go where you are wanted. If the Upper Duper Filthy Wealthy does not want to rub elbows with the genteel that actually serves them , then leave and let them to their own devices. Somewhere in that 4000 sf apartment of theirs they will have to carve space for the maid, if they want someone to actually service their needs.

  34. Oh and by the way… crumbling city infrastructure. Just tax developers with Air Rights Tax. Anything built with 3x the land where it is bought , have the developer to fork over development rights tax. That will help.

  35. Lack of vision is due to city and state budgets dominated by pensions , pensions not available to most people now a days

  36. Nobody wants a congestion tax. New Yorkers want to commute how they choose. And why is an admissions test racist? A test is probably the most objective way to test ability as opposed. That isn’t racist. I’m sorry, it isn’t. If Black and Latino students don’t perform as well it isn’t because the objective academic measure is racist.

  37. I am person outside US but on different scales and proportions itis happening at other places too… I think psychological and physiological reasons put people behind… Like a friend has ADHD and failed to build a career a guy lacked enough testosterone and couldn't get career or partner either…

  38. New York was at it's best in the 1920's. New Yorkers voted overwhelming for one of the most conservative US presidents in US history in 1924 … That was the last time NY voted conservative. It's basically gone down hill since the city turned left.

  39. Poor people are a cancer to any city and Democrat polices create more and more poor people … that is the problem.

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