Correspondence

Worse at What It Is

New York is always changing: It’s the city that never sleeps.  When local writer Kay Hymowitz wrote a book about Brooklyn recently she talked about “creative destruction” on almost every other page.  She had a point, and the city has seen both sides of the process.

Beginning in the 1960’s, the gales of creative destruction almost drove the place under.  Manufacturing moved out, “urban problems” accumulated, liberals lost touch with reality, and the cost of municipal salaries and social services soared.  People left town—the population dropped by more than a tenth—and New York faced bankruptcy.

Financial restructuring, Mayor Koch, and the 1980’s restored a certain stability, but the city didn’t quite right itself until Giuliani was elected in 1993.  Bridges and subways were fixed, streets and parks became safe, and businesses could have trash hauled without paying off the Mafia.  Ever since, with the help of globalization and other trends, New York has grown increasingly richer and more cosmopolitan.  Not even Bill de Blasio, a man symbolizing the reaction against 20 years of relative competence and ideological rationality in City Hall, has stopped the tide.  As mayor, he’s damaged relations between police and civilians, and brought derelicts and aggressive panhandlers back to the streets and subway platforms, but he’s...

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