New York Remade: Before and After Bloomberg

Friday, December 27, 2013


On Jan. 1, 2002, when Michael Bloomberg was sworn into office, these things barely existed: iPods, Blackberries, pocket digital cameras. These things didn't exist at all: the Barclays Center, Citi Field, One World Trade, or the Gehry NY building.

People smoked, all the time, in restaurants and bars. Almost no one rode bikes, and T.V.-less yellow cabs drove down Broadway right through Times Square. Back then, a market rate apartment in Harlem was about $1,200 — about half of what it is today. Pizza was $1.50 a slice, same price as a subway token.

Carrie Bradshaw lived in a Manhattan brownstone, drank cosmopolitans and typed onto a black and white computer screen. The High Line was a rusted and weedy hulk, not the locale for furtive kisses for the "Girls" crew before they head home to Brooklyn. Adlai Stevenson High School still existed. The Success Academy and six hundred other schools did not.

You could be anonymous in 2001. Now, not so much. We are watched, everywhere, if not by security cameras, then by each other. 

New York has been transformed in the last 12 years, in ways that are wrenching and huge and intimate.

And though he isn't responsible for all the revolutions we've experienced, Michael Bloomberg leaves an indelibly large mark, both for his outsize personality and his vast reserves of power. In this hour, we take a look.

Technical Direction by Paul Schneider and George Wellington

Courtesy of the Bridge and Tunnel Club, Joe Geoghan
The Queens West development in Hunters Point, Long Island City, Queens.

Look closely and you can see the same Pepsi sign in its new location. 

NYC added more than 400 miles of bike lane under Mayor Bloomberg, none more contentious than along Prospect Park West, Brooklyn.
The New York on television shifted with the social center of the city, got tattoos and moved to Brooklyn.

Sex and the City branded an earlier era of NYC living, now Girls is trying to do the same. 

NYC Dept of City Planning, Joe Geoghan
Hells Kitchen shrunk and Midtown West rose high in waterfalls of glass.

Looking west from West 42nd Street and 9th Ave three new glass skyscrapers tower over the old brick mainstays.

What else has changed since 2001? Let us know @WNYC on Twitter, or leave a comment below.

Hosted by:

Richard Hake


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Comments [9]

Norman Oder from Brooklyn

A few lines deserve some clarification...

WNYC: "But increasing density has led to repeated clashes with the neighborhoods being rezoned: one famous example--the Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn."

Actually the project site was *not* rezoned, as hinted at in another passage in this piece: "But the Bloomberg administration arranged for a state agency to review the project... and Tish James was sidelined."

In other words, the Empire State Development Corporation not only sidelined the City Council, it overrode zoning regarding density, use, signage, and distance between a sports facility and a residential area, among other things, to enable Atlantic Yards.


WNYC: "It's a demand the mayor recognized early on, promising to create 165,000 units of affordable housing."

Actually, the plan was to create *or* preserve 165,000 units. The result: 50,111 units constructed, 107,119 units preserved.

Later on in the report, WNYC was more clear, using the phrase "building or preserving."

Dec. 30 2013 03:21 PM
Sammo from NYC

Loved some of the comments here, obviously from very educated, intelligent, AND objective individuals, who saw how very positive Bloomberg's accomplishments have been, and will be. Good thing that Mr. Bloomberg took only $1 for his compensation. So ain't nobody can criticize he didn't "earn" his pay. Of course, the time for De Blasio is here, since in any democracy, nobody should rule forever; new ideas must be introduced under new administrations (the beauty of democracy). Let's see if he can match, not hoping he'll surpass, what we have had for the last 12 years.

Dec. 30 2013 07:38 AM
don from Connecticut

I did not get to hear the entire broadcast but what I did hear surprised me.
For an organization that prides itself on "balanced and intelligent coverage" this was the most negative biased version of a great success story that I could imagine.
I think WNYC needs a serious dose of objectivity if they are to be taken seriously.
Pls consider this as constructive criticism.

Dec. 28 2013 11:06 AM
AL from NYC

Under Mayor Mike, NYC has become a vastly better place for wealthy New Yorkers, the international super rich, and tourists.
Meanwhile, teachers have become public enemy #1.
The poor, working class and lower middle class have taken it up the ass.
Rent, transportation, and other living expenses have soared while pay for everyone not on Wall Street or in Tech has either remained static or actually declined. Employers feel no need to raise pay when there are vast numbers of just out of college young people and over 50's either unemployed or under-employed.
Let us hope that Mayor Bill remembers all his campaign promises and does his best to make them a reality.

Dec. 28 2013 11:00 AM
Joseph from Manhattan

What happened to Car Talk?
Couldn't this have been broadcast at another time?

Dec. 28 2013 10:58 AM
Arthur Romano from Maywood, NJ

I wasn't around for his entire term. In fact, I lived in Florida for most of it. When I left NY for other opportunities, much of Midtown, Bryant (needle)Park was a wreck. One of the first things I noticed as I moved back to New York metro in 2010 and spending lots of time in NYC was just glaring to someone who walked in the city, rode bikes in the city from the Trades to the Goog and across the Park many times. I saw workers in rain gear scrapping gum from the sidewalks on corners of 5th Avenue. Gosh, I walked into the men's room at Bryant Park and there were fresh flowers in the old vases on the ledges. Someone noticed my surprise and just said, 'Bloomberg'.
I immediately thought of the business man Bloomberg thinking of the marketing angle to draw more people to the 'Apple'. I was pleased and shared that with many people. Hey, you do what works and he knows what works. Like wanting to be President, crazy! Wanting to be the mayor of New York,(fill in the blank)!

Dec. 27 2013 07:49 PM
A.L. from NYC

Smoking was not permitted in restaurants in 2002, except for the very smallest ones, less than 35 seats if I recall.

Dec. 27 2013 12:00 PM

I just love to love Bloomberg for everything he's done. This coming from a self proclaimed liberal activist who "strongly dislikes" (to put it midly) Comissioner Kelly. Bloomberg is far from perfect and I've not agreed with everything he's done but boy, I was even on board with the Cola ban. He is exactly the man we've needed during these years and I for one will miss him. For all the excitement I feel about the possibility of living in an even MORE liberal city, I'm not sure that De Blasio or anyone else can rein in this city as Bloomberg has.

Oct. 11 2013 10:12 AM
Gary from Greenwich Village

The biggest change is the thorough takeover of once-Bohemian Greenwich Village by the city's big-moneyed interests: Big landlords that pushed rent-stabilized tenants to the outer boroughs through buyouts or simple harassment, and the NYU juggernaut that transformed this piece of Manhattan real estate into a campus. Where they see progress and commerce, I see entropy and decline. Any NYU freshman who thinks they've signed up for a real New York experience is just getting a skeleton of the living organism my neighborhood used to be.

Jul. 02 2013 08:45 PM

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