The way forward for New York City is being referred to as into query. Neighborhoods have misplaced residents to the suburbs. Businesses have closed. People are on edge about public security. And households are mourning the lack of family members.
This was the state of affairs within the fall of 2001, after hijackers destroyed the World Trade Center and introduced the town to its knees. And it’s the identical state of affairs right now, with a pandemic raging and tens of millions of individuals as soon as once more questioning if this metropolis’s finest days are behind it.
Unemployment stays in double digits, retail and workplace vacancies have soared, and the tourism trade is in dire straits, with the financial ache falling hardest on low-income households. Yet we have now good purpose to be hopeful, as a result of what was achieved as soon as might be achieved once more — and higher, by heeding the teachings of the previous.
Over the previous eight years, I’ve been cautious to stay to my pledge to not touch upon my successor’s administration. Mayors don’t want their predecessors chiming in from the sidelines, and I don’t intend to start out now. But I do imagine New York City’s success in rebuilding Lower Manhattan after Sept. 11 and revitalizing all 5 boroughs might help the following mayor as he takes workplace in January and confronts the identical two overarching challenges we confronted 20 years in the past.
The first is pressing: enhancing important providers New Yorkers depend on day by day, together with policing, transportation, sanitation and schooling. In the months after Sept. 11, we had been acutely conscious the general public wanted confidence that we’d not enable the town to enter a downward spiral, because it did within the 1970s, so we instantly targeted on enhancing high quality of life by making neighborhoods safer and cleaner, turning round public colleges, and decreasing avenue homelessness.
To hold residents and companies within the metropolis, the following administration should come out of the gate with applications and insurance policies to bolster those self same important providers. Funding might be tight, however manageable; the income shortfall we confronted was greater than thrice as massive, as a proportion of the funds, because the one the following mayor is projected to inherit.
The second broad problem is tougher, and inevitably in pressure with the primary: specializing in the town’s future years from now. Ultimately, the mayor might be judged not by the following day’s newspapers, however by the following era. It’s his job to look past the sunshine on the finish of the tunnel and begin constructing extra tracks, even when it’s unpopular to take action.
Two examples from Lower Manhattan come to thoughts.
Not lengthy after being sworn in, I canceled a deliberate subsidy for a brand new headquarters for the New York Stock Exchange, though it was threatening to maneuver out of the town. I didn’t suppose it was a sensible use of scarce assets, however the prospect of the trade leaving Wall Street raised fears that different massive monetary establishments may go, too, particularly with a lot of Lower Manhattan in ruins.
The simple and politically secure factor to do would have been to go away the subsidy in place. But for many years, the town had been overly reliant on the banking and monetary providers trade. When Wall Street caught a chilly, the saying went, the town bought sick. So as an alternative of bribing massive corporations to remain in Manhattan, we invested in initiatives in all of the boroughs that will appeal to new companies in numerous industries, together with bioscience, tech, and movie and tv. Years later, these and different industries — and the roles and income they created — helped us climate the Great Recession much better than most cities did.
The subsequent administration could face related calls for for subsidies from corporations that threaten to go away the town. But there are higher methods to retain and create jobs than giveaways, particularly by investing in vital infrastructure, beginning with the subway.
In partnership with the state, the mayor can work to get trains on a full schedule once more, which might assist employers in each trade carry again their staff. It would assist 1000’s of small companies and their staff reclaim their prospects. And it could present confidence to those that could also be fascinated with opening a enterprise of their very own.
Whatever insurance policies the following mayor pursues, the essential thought is that placing a metropolis again on its toes economically requires greater than aiding present companies. It requires creating the circumstances for brand spanking new ones to open and broaden, additional diversifying the financial system.
The second instance from Lower Manhattan considerations housing. In the wake of the assaults, many individuals needed to show the whole World Trade Center right into a memorial — or just to rebuild what was there. I assumed each can be a mistake, and I used to be pilloried for suggesting that housing be constructed on the website. But our administration needed to rework Lower Manhattan from a 9-to-5 enterprise district into a various, 24/7 neighborhood.
City leaders had been attempting to do this for the reason that 1950s, however their focus had been totally on creating buildings, together with the unique World Trade Center, reasonably than attracting folks. We flipped the script by encouraging new housing growth and creating the issues all residents need: parks, colleges and cultural alternatives, together with a performing arts middle on the World Trade Center that’s now nearing completion.
As our imaginative and prescient took form, extra households and younger folks moved downtown, extra companies opened, extra jobs had been created, and extra guests arrived. The final growth website of the World Trade Center might be a tower that features greater than a thousand models of housing.
The subsequent administration may have its personal alternatives not solely to recuperate from the pandemic, however to reimagine areas of the town. Of course, it’s by no means simple to tackle vocal and highly effective teams that say, “Not in my backyard.” But throughout New York, there are parking heaps, warehouses, rail yards and different properties that provide the following mayor alternatives to create housing for all incomes and jobs for all ability ranges.
Such initiatives require ambition and political braveness. As a candidate, Eric Adams has proven each. That’s why I’m supporting him within the mayoral election this fall. His pragmatism and willingness to tackle powerful points — and his expertise as a police officer who understands the significance of public security — will serve him effectively in City Hall. And I hope that Bloomberg Philanthropies may have an opportunity to assist his administration, as a result of that is an all-hands-on-deck second.
In authorities, collaboration is as vital as competence, and the redevelopment of the World Trade Center website — together with the development of the Sept. 11 Memorial and Museum — confirmed how essential robust partnerships are to reaching a imaginative and prescient. Working with 9 completely different governors of New York and New Jersey, we constructed the memorial and museum to function a robust tribute to these we misplaced, and to show future generations concerning the extraordinary heroism and sacrifices that impressed and united the world.
There had been tensions and obstacles, in fact. But a wholesome working relationship between the mayor and governor is essential to the success of main initiatives.
Now, even earlier than he takes workplace, Mr. Adams has an opportunity to start constructing a detailed relationship with the state’s new governor, Kathy Hochul. They is not going to at all times see eye-to-eye, however we want them to work hand-in-hand.
As the solar set on Sept. 11, 2001, it was laborious to think about the town might rebound as rapidly and strongly because it did. But by pulling collectively, considering creatively, planning ambitiously, and dealing towards a transparent imaginative and prescient of the longer term — one that’s true to the values of our metropolis, together with our welcoming embrace of immigrants and refugees — we started a interval of rebirth and renewal in contrast to any in historical past.
Now, we are able to do it once more. If we heed the teachings of the previous, I do know we are going to.
Michael R. Bloomberg (@MikeBloomberg) was the mayor of New York City from 2002 to 2013. He has been chair of the National Sept. 11 Memorial and Museum since 2006.
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