Great stories in New York Magazine on NYC made (sorta/not really) in one man’s image. – R. T.
HIS TOWN: TWELVE YEARS OF BLOOMBERG
Shiny, Alluring, Ugly, Visionary, Inspiring, Incomplete
The physical city, remade.
By Justin Davidson
For two weeks in 2005, Central Park fluoresced. Along miles of pathway, bright-orange banners hung from steel frames, a chorus of bunting that flapped in the February wind and brightened the winter-brown landscape. The Gates, by the fabric artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude, may have been an overblown exterior decorating project, but at a time of year when dogs and joggers usually have the park to themselves, millions thronged to see it.
The installation cost the city nothing and gushed money, soaking hotels and restaurants and filling museums. Afterward, the frames were dismantled, the banners unwound into thread and shredded into souvenirs. But, for Michael Bloomberg, The Gates was a portal to the urban fantasyland that he was determined to mold.
During the Bloomberg era, the skyline was redrawn, industrial wastelands sprouted parks and towers, old neighborhoods shed historic identities and acquired new ones. A five-borough frenzy of change pushed the creation of a magnetic city. Bloomberg wanted everyone, everywhere, to love New York: plutocrats, busboys, CEOs, Brazilian tourists, immigrants, tech wizards, fresh college graduates, day-tripping suburbanites—anyone who could come for an afternoon or a lifetime, spend money, pay taxes, and tell their friends. He wooed the world so fiercely that Stephen Sondheim’s frenetic vision of new-arrivaldom, circa 1970—“Another hundred people just got off the train”—seems almost sluggish today. More than 52 million visitors streamed into New York last year—nearly 6,000 an hour, pumping billions into the city’s bloodstream.
Those travelers encountered a green and glittering city. Young trees lined the streets. Everyone seemed to live in glass houses, yet hardly anyone threw stones, or spray-painted subways, or even smoked. Those who returned after just a few years’ absence found themselves disoriented. The banks had cleared out of Wall Street; families lived there now. Children cavorted along a waterfront that was once a concrete wilderness. (Wasn’t it?) The East Village had turned deluxe, Bushwick—Bushwick!—was hopping, and the Brooklyn literary world now considered Manhattan an outer borough. It was as if a longtime New Yorker’s mental map had been tossed in the air and reassembled all wrong. …
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It’s the Bloomberg/NYC issue! Enjoy! Click on http://nymag.com/news/politics/bloomberg/