The city Rudy Giuliani inherited on Jan. 1, 1994, was said to be ungovernable, which is the kind of thing that people west of the Hudson have always said about New York. They said it when Edwin Forrest and his friends broke up a performance by William C. Macready in the Astor Place Opera House in 1849. They said it when Union troops were dispatched from Gettysburg to Manhattan to put down the draft riots in 1863. They said it during the days of Boss Tweed and his successor, “Honest” John Kelly, whose nickname reminds us that postmodernists did not invent irony. They said it when immigrants of all kinds crammed themselves into the fourth and “bloody ould” sixth wards, when the B’hoys prowled the Bowery and the Dead Rabbits policed the Five Points. And they said it during Ocean Hill–Brownsville, during the fiscal crisis, during the summer of Sam and blackouts and riots.
And they were saying it again on Jan. 1, 1994, the day Rudolph W. Giuliani, a Republican in a Democratic city, was sworn in as the 107th Mayor of New York. It was a demoralized city that turned to this onetime prosecutor and would-be Savonarola. Children in the projects were getting shot through the head during gun battles between drug lords; Yusef Hawkins was butchered by racists in Bensonhurst; Patrick Daly, a school principal, was killed as he searched for a missing student in Red Hook; Brian Watkins, the tennis fan from Utah, was knifed to death in the subway by youths looking for money for a night of dancing; 87 people were dead in an arson fire at the Happy Land Social Club. More than a million people-one of every seven-were on public assistance. Municipal finances were in such disarray that the state’s fiscal-monitoring machinery began to kick into place. Times Square was a dingy and dangerous place, the crossroads of a world gone to seed. People said New York was ungovernable. It was a charge not without evidence.
Nearly eight years have passed since that day-eight of the most remarkable years any city has ever enjoyed. Mr. Giuliani didn’t believe the city was ungovernable, and he made New York believe that, too. When he said, as he did in 1996, “No place in America has this kind of excitement,” we believed him. And even when he tried to explain away unpleasant news-after an attack in Central Park, he insisted that “you don’t have conditions of safety like [New York's] anywhere in America”-we continued to believe. We didn’t hold the bad news, like the continued dismal and sometimes shocking performance of the Board of Education, against him. In a culturally divided city, public-school performance in the boroughs is somehow regarded as less important than public safety in Central Park. And on the latter issue, yes, we believed.
His methods were harsh, unprecedented and controversial. They were quite unlike any other Mayor’s in recent history. And, for the most part, they worked. Overall, crime and murders are at 40-year lows; 38 million people visited the city last year, compared to 22 million in 1991; the public-assistance case load has been halved, to 597,000, since 1995; the number of new AIDS cases has been more than halved, from 6,120 to 2,028, since 1993. The city’s unemployment rate is 5.1 percent. Wall Street has had the greatest run in its history during the Giuliani 90′s.
Now, as the first Mayor subject to term limits, Mr. Giuliani is in the final months of his lease on life at City Hall. Soon we won’t have him to annoy, enrage, cajole and challenge us. For more than a few of us, that is a frightening prospect. For, despite his achievements, Mr. Giuliani cannot say that he has exorcised the memories of life in this city a decade ago. Only the very young and the newly arrived have no recollections of that terrible, humbling time. Even after the exuberance of the Giuliani years-even after Disney arrived in Times Square, even after Seinfeld , even after a Subway Series-it is nowhere written that, in New York, townhouses will always command record prices, hotels and restaurants will always be packed with tourists, Wall Streeters will strut around town with high six-figure bonuses, and parents will feel comfortable when their children take the subway to and from school.
“People are worried that all this is going to change,” said Hedi White, a former president of the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce. “My family, my friends and colleagues, they’re all anxious about that, and they’re listening very closely to what these [Mayoral] candidates are saying now.”
For some of us, the end of the Giuliani era has been foreshadowed in the killings above the Carnegie Deli, in the reappearance of crack vials on chic downtown streets, in the obscenity-filled tirades of a homeless man outside Cathedral High School on East 56th Street and First Avenue, in the moving crates marked “Tokyo” outside a Sutton Place apartment. “The world is coming to an end,” said lawyer Ed Hayes. “I’m very negative about what will happen to the city after Giuliani. I think we’re going to have a major economic downturn.” The signs are there: Job growth, while still strong, has slowed from 2.9 percent last year to 2.6 percent. The cheery news of the last few years has been replaced by warnings of blackouts this summer, by anecdotal evidence suggesting that disorder hasn’t gone away; indeed, it has merely been hiding. “The trouble that we see, the little, nagging things that affect our daily lives-the Mayor … sets the tone, and Rudy set that tone more than others,” said M. Barry Schneider, a former chairman of Community Board 8 on the Upper East Side. “I’m worried that there might be backsliding.”
Few Mayors have left so deep an impression on the city. Mr. Giuliani didn’t stop with public policy; he told us to stop jaywalking, to stop driving at unsafe speeds. He took away the cars of people suspected of driving while intoxicated. The result: Traffic fatalities dropped from 267 in 1993 to 168 in 2000.
His was an administration of numbers. He was happy to be thought of not as a cheerleader, not as a symbol of ethnic succession, not as a disengaged chief executive, but as a hands-on manager who could measure his achievement with statistics.
New York wasn’t accustomed to such a Mayor. Now that it’s on the verge of losing him, the city has begun to contemplate life without Mr. Giuliani. And a familiar anxiety, born of experience, has returned. Perhaps it’s unbecoming in a city that has so enthusiastically reclaimed the title of capital of the world. But it surely is fitting in a city that has not entirely forgotten the calamities of the recent past, before Rudy.
-Additional Reporting by Petra Bartosiewicz , George Gurley and Alexandra Wolfe
A City Transformed, and Preserved, Too
If you want to get an idea of how Rudy Giuliani has changed the physical geography of Manhattan, take a look at 1 Hudson Square, a fully renovated office building at the corner of Varick and Canal streets.
It’s made of brick and limestone, not glass. It’s 17 stories tall and offers panoramic views of midtown Manhattan from its top-floor office suites, which are still under construction. It’s got a distinctive triangular shape, like the Flatiron Building. “This building,” said architect Paul Rosen, “has great bones.”
They don’t make buildings like it anymore. And that’s precisely the point.
One Hudson Square was built in 1930. For most of its life, it was known by its more prosaic postal address, 75 Varick Street. It housed printers, a safe company and a kitchen-supply store.
Over the last year, the building has been renamed and reborn. Mr. Rosen has overseen the gutting and remodeling job. Gone are the loud printing presses; the new tenants include advertising agencies, graphic-design firms and StarMedia, the Spanish-language Internet company.
Under Rudy Giuliani, New York is a city that has changed from within. For all the money that flowed into the city, developers frequently gripe that this boom brought fairly little new construction when compared to the slum-clearance 1960′s, or the Koch era’s skyscraper binge.
As much as you might think the city’s biggest landlords spent the Roaring 90′s drinking champagne from glass slippers, the truth is that a lot of them feel like they missed the economic party. Consider the numbers: According to statistics compiled by the Real Estate Board of New York, from 1947, the beginning of the postwar boom, until 1973, the beginning of the city’s crippling fiscal crisis, the city built, on average, more than 10 new office buildings a year. From 1981 to 1989, the Koch-era boom, the average was eight new buildings.
From 1994 to 2001, the average has been about one new building a year.
This is not entirely Mr. Giuliani’s fault, nor entirely bad: The speculative building spree of the late 1980′s, and the ensuing bankruptcies that went with it, made bankers wary to offer developers enormous construction loans. As a result, the coming-orcurrent-recession probably won’t be as bad as the last one, which left skyscrapers empty and their owners destitute. And during the boom, to be sure, landlords profited handsomely from the tight supply, which drove rents ever upward.
But many developers believe that Mr. Giuliani was parsimonious in the way he handed out incentives to developers, and unresponsive to proposals that the tax code be changed to encourage new development.
Instead, a city famous for tearing itself down every generation or so became a hotbed for a sort of conservation. Garment-district sweatshops were renovated as Internet incubators; Lower East Side tenements became million-dollar lofts; a developer announced plans to turn the Woolworth Building, the “cathedral of commerce,” into condos. Developer Jerry Speyer made a fortune reviving a couple of faded Art Deco stalwarts, the Chrysler Building and Rockefeller Center.
One Hudson Square’s owner is Trinity Church, which owns numerous buildings in the old West Side printing district. It’s an open question what will happen to these buildings now that the brash, fast-growing start-up companies that drove the downtown renovation boom are now contracting or disappearing altogether. (Last month, StarMedia announced that it was laying off 25 percent of its staff.) But Trinity Real Estate is plunging ahead with the renovation of several more buildings in the district.
“Years ago, people might have been afraid to come here,” Mr. Rosen said. “Rudy Giuliani created the climate where these other areas of the city are viable. And if they have the proper kinds of buildings, they can flourish.”
On the Street, Grudging Cheers
It was never a given that Wall Street would love Rudy Giuliani. Yes, his brash, shoot-from-the-hip style appealed to some in 1993, but for many, he was still the self-promoting U.S. Attorney who in 1987 perp-walked their pals from their corner-office suites to waiting police cars. “He is still reviled by many for his needless grandstanding in the 1980′s,” said one senior executive. But eight boom years have softened Wall Street’s opinion of its onetime nemesis.
Even beyond the money, though, many Wall Streeters are among the biggest fans of the Mayor’s crackdown on quality-of-life issues, like the squeegee men who menaced drivers with impunity. “Hey, I know it’s a small thing, but those guys holding you up at the Triborough Bridge-that stuff really matters,” said Damon Mezzacappa of Mezzacappa Management, himself a longtime Manhattan resident. “In those days, I wouldn’t let my wife walk the dog around the block after dark. Life in New York is a hell of a lot better than it was 10 years ago. I used to be ashamed to take my parents to the theater in Times Square, with all that pornography and smut. Now Morgan Stanley has its offices there. That would not have happened without a powerful guy in Gracie Mansion.”
Wall Street has had another good reason to forget the stormy beginnings of its relationship with Mr. Giuliani. It can be boiled down to one word: taxes.
Wall Street perennially represents one of the major streams of commercial tax revenue for the city, far out of proportion to its share of employment (although Wall Street accounts for almost 18 percent of the wages paid in the city, it employs only about 5 percent of its work force). In return for its contribution to the city’s economy, Wall Street has been lobbying for industry-wide tax cuts. Mr. Giuliani started moving in that direction-but now, with profits falling and the Mayor on his way out of office, people on the Street are worried that such favorable treatment will end.
“I think there’s considerable concern from those who have been in New York for a decade or more and have a sense of the trajectory of the city,” said Kathryn Wylde, president of the New York City Investment Fund. “Among the members of our board, the question of continuity has been coming up. They take very seriously what Giuliani has done …. And because of the economy, they’re worried that Wall Street will not represent the economic engine that it has over the past eight years, and that there will be a lot of pressure to raise taxes again.”
The fund’s board members-who include Henry Kravis, Goldman Sachs chief executive and co-chairman Henry Paulson, and Salomon Smith Barney chief executive and chairman Michael Carpenter-may have good reason to worry about the immediate future. According to the city’s budget office, Wall Street profits will decline by as much as 76 percent this year. And the Mayoral candidate leading in the polls, Public Advocate Mark Green, is a onetime Nader’s Raider who made a name for himself as a critic of tax breaks for big business.
-Landon Thomas Jr. and James Verini
Townhouse Brokers Are ‘Suicidal’
Politicians, because it is their business to think about these things, have been contemplating life after Rudy Giuliani since the day he was elected to his second, and last, term as Mayor in 1997.
The real-estate market, however, preferred to wallow in its prosperity, not giving much thought to the eventual turnover at City Hall. Last year, while Mr. Giuliani’s would-be successors were setting up their campaigns, the average price for an Upper East Side townhouse was no less than $4.7 million, according to the Corcoran Group’s annual report. Brokers were selling off the city’s old mansions for more than $10 million in fierce bidding wars.
Now, however, reality has set in-along with a sluggish stock market. There’s a glut of townhouses on the market, and brokers are beginning to believe that prospective buyers, leery about life after Rudy, now prefer doorman buildings rather than suddenly insecure townhouses.
While flipping through his files of properties on the market in early May, Leslie J. Garfield, who owns a firm specializing in townhouses, said that he counted 20 townhouses for sale from East 60th Street to 69th Street, off Fifth Avenue. “It is definitely more than we’ve ever seen before,” he said.
One broker said colleagues in the townhouse market were “suicidal” over Mr. Giuliani’s imminent departure. “The current townhouse market is showing weakness,” the broker said, “and part of it is possibly because of anticipation of losing Giuliani.”
“Giuliani was partly responsible for a sense of security and a strong townhouse market,” said Kirk Henkels of Stribling & Associates, who said that he, too, was concerned about the townhouse market under a new Mayor.
“There have been so many improvements in the city, we can only hope the next Mayor won’t let it go back to the way it was before Rudy,” said Michele Kleier of Gumley Haft Kleier, who thinks the townhouse market remains strong in prime neighborhoods.
“We own several townhouses in the city … and we bought them for next to nothing because nobody wanted to buy townhouses back [in the 1980's],” said Michael Heller, a 24-year-old nightclub promoter and law-school graduate who lives with his parents in an Upper East Side townhouse. (His father, Mark J. Heller, is a lawyer.) “There was Dinkins, and Koch, and people didn’t feel safe living in townhouses. People never thought they’d go up in value.” But they did. Now the question is whether they are about to fall in value, and by how much.
-Deborah Schoeneman and Deborah Netburn
A Decent Deal for Arts Groups
For a Mayor who once tried to cut the Brooklyn Museum’s funding over a controversial public exhibition and recently created a decency panel to monitor city-funded art exhibits, Rudy Giuliani still has a substantial reservoir of good will among the city’s cultural institutions. Although his battle with the Brooklyn Museum hasn’t been forgotten, the Mayor’s generous funding of the city’s museums and libraries has helped to salve any artistic wounds he may have caused.
“Ten years ago, the cultural funding was at an all-time low,” said Susana Torruella-Leval, director of El Museo Del Barrio in Harlem. “The last decade has been a period of recovery, and clearly the economic stability that Mayor Giuliani was able to bring to New York made it a mecca for culture.” David McKinney, president of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, noted that “the decline in arts financing has stopped during his reign, and it’s overall been positive.”
Historian Kenneth Jackson, recently named head of the New-York Historical Society, noted that not everything can be credited to Mr. Giuliani. “Is it community organizing, a better world economy, new attitudes about cities and their desirability, a new spirit of community? All these things have worked together; it’s interesting that it’s coincidental with the Mayoralty of Mayor Giuliani.”
There may be some skepticism, but there is no grudgery from the arts community. In fact, many curators, museum directors and arts patrons are worried that the next Mayor won’t have Mr. Giuliani’s appreciation for the economic impact of the arts on the city. And it’s not just the Mayor who will be leaving, but a generation of City Council members who took pride in bringing arts funding to their neighborhoods.
“With a massive change of government and people coming in without a lot of experience, there is the risk they won’t understand [the economic importance of the arts],” said Alan Friedman, director of the New York Hall of Science in Queens. “You see it happen with the freshmen in Congress. We argue that we generate $2 billion in economic activity. But there’s a real concern that none of the people coming in will understand this.”
In an attempt to outline their needs and concerns for the new administration, 25 institutions are putting together a survey of the state of the city’s cultural community. The findings will be disclosed in a few weeks. “We all felt the goal was also to get culture on the mind of all new and reelected officials,” said Kinshasha Conwill of the New York Foundation for the Arts, who is leading the survey’s project team. “At a time when the whole political landscape is changing, there’s a need for a united voice.”
– Elisabeth Franck
Institute Returns to Battle Stations
During the mid-1980′s and early 1990′s, the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research served as a gathering place for public-policy mavens who dissented from the city’s orthodoxy on welfare, taxes and a host of other issues. It was a conservative think tank in a city proud of its progressive reputation. The Institute and its quarterly periodical, City Journal , operated outside the mainstream, but it called attention to itself by the sheer force of its energy and its ideas, just as National Review began to challenge and change the national political orthodoxy in the 1950′s and 60′s.
And then, in 1993, Rudy Giuliani was elected Mayor. There was no mistaking the sense of intellectual comradeship the new Mayor felt with the Manhattan Institute. The Mayor obliged City Journal with a well-advertised endorsement, saying it “has provided a forum for some of our city’s-and our nation’s-most incisive thinkers.” The Institute and City Journal cheered the Mayor’s tough stands on crime and welfare, and cajoled him on education and spending issues.
As Hugh Carey once said, the days of wine and roses are over. The next Mayor will not, it seems safe to say, be doing any blurbs for City Journal , and the Manhattan Institute seems destined to return to its guerrilla roots.
“Well, we’ve had Mark Green over for lunch,” said the Journal ‘s senior editor, Brian Anderson. “And it’s possible we’ll have some sympathetic ears in the new administration. But I would say our most likely role will be a more oppositional one. We’re certainly going to have to shift our gears.”
“Of course, it’s been extremely exhilarating to have a magazine where you say ‘Here’s what the Mayor should do’ and, sure enough, he would get up and address it in his State of the City address,” added Myron Magnet, the heavily sideburned editor of City Journal . “It’s a policy person’s dream. But we came into being because we felt there was no opposing voice to the liberal orthodoxies of the left, so we’re used to opposing.”
And Mr. Magnet actually doesn’t mind returning to a war footing. “I don’t have to tell you, it’s fun to oppose, it’s fun to be impolite,” he said in his booming voice.
City Journal is preparing an issue devoted to life after Mr. Giuliani, which no doubt will set the stage for the Institute’s return to battle. “We have the feeling we’re going to have plenty of wide targets now,” said Mr. Anderson.
With Public Safety, You Get Prosperity
Michael Tong never thought he’d go into Chinese takeout. The owner of Shun Lee Palace, New York’s top-of-the-line Chinese restaurant for three decades, regarded the delivery business as an insult to his food. “Once you cover it with a cardboard box, the vegetables aren’t fresh,” he said. But about 10 years ago, he capitulated. “Rudy’s time has been booming,” he said. “More parents are working. The market is just getting bigger and bigger and bigger.”
Although the words “Giuliani” and “gourmet” aren’t often found in the same sentence, his Mayoralty has definitely affected the way this city eats out. For starters, thanks to an economy one might call sizzling, Mr. Tong has had more competition than ever before. “It’s a noodle shop, grilled noodles, Szechuan this, Hunan that, or Noodle Fun and this and that,” he said.
Moreover, steadily escalating rents have forced restaurants to plumb the periphery of the city, with cavernous, Los Angeles–esque spaces opening from the meatpacking district to Harlem, from under the Queensboro Bridge (Guastavino’s) to far West Chelsea (the Park)-spaces that will surely seem like cases of Rudy-era hubris in the event of a downturn. When Mr. Tong opened a second branch of his restaurant near Lincoln Center 20 years ago, the Upper West Side was still considered a little bit sketchy. “I signed a sweetheart lease that nobody can ever believe,” he said. “Five dollars per square foot.” That was before Seinfeld , Banana Republic-and Rudy. Last year, the sweetheart lease expired. Now the restaurateur pays $80 per square foot, with a 3 percent increase for the next 10 years.
“Rudy goes to the West Shun Lee a lot,” said Mr. Tong, who has served six Mayors. “He generally likes medium-spicy food, and he used to come in very late-11 o’clock, 10:30-with all the police around him.” Mr. Tong likes the show of force. “I want to make sure that whoever the next Mayor is, he should still be tough on crime, so this way in New York City people can go out at nighttime and feel safe,” said Mr. Tong. “Remember in the 70′s and the 80′s, people said they didn’t want to go to New York City? We need to make sure people feel safe.”
No Sex, Please: It’s the Village
On early mornings back in the bohemian heyday of Greenwich Village, it is said, the poet E.E. Cummings used to shout down the street to his friend, the novelist Djuna Barnes, after a night on the town: “You still alive, Djuna?”
But after eight years of Rudy Giuliani, this famously raucous neighborhood has grown up and adopted a more seemly comportment. Today, it seems, Cummings’ greeting would prompt a noise complaint.
Even in this arts-oriented, Democratic downtown neighborhood, the Mayor’s quality-of-life campaign has changed the residents’ priorities and sensibilities, as his most vocal detractors mimic his positions on such issues as jailing prostitutes, shutting down adult establishments and getting drunks off the sidewalks.
The constant back-and-forth over the problem of transgender prostitutes near the now-upscale meat-market neighborhood is a source of continuing tension, with the community’s vociferous free-speech liberals and gay activists doing verbal battle with the homesteaders who say that the wheels of their strollers are catching on crack vials and broken glass.
The tension was obvious at a recent meeting of Community Board 2, when members discussed a resolution concerning the Mayor’s crackdown on adult establishments. +At first, the board seemed split: Its zoning subcommittee presented a resolution that withheld support for the Mayor’s recent efforts to further tighten regulations on adult businesses. But the full board was positively hawkish on the issue: Michael Mirisola, who recently stepped down from the board’s executive committee, argued strenuously that more had to be done to rein in the sex shops and triple-X video stores, citing the presence of children in the neighborhood.
Board member Loren Tenenbaum concurred: “If it’s the right thing to do, we should do it.” And others spoke in favor of what they saw as their “last shot” at ridding the neighborhood of the blight of sex establishments before a more liberal Mayor took office.
In the end, the board voted overwhelmingly to support Mr. Giuliani’s crusade.
A Crime Wave? Like, Whatever!
Manhattan’s teenagers-the oldest of whom were 10 when Rudy Giuliani took office-have come of age at a time when New York is the safest large city in the world. They have no real memories of the late 1980′s and early 1990′s, when crime was rampant and parents had good reason to fear for the safety of their teenage children. Today’s teens aren’t sure whether their greater freedom is a reflection of Mr. Giuliani’s safer city, or of the fact that they’re older than they were in 1993.
“My growing up in New York City has been growing up under Giuliani,” said Sophia Constantinides, a senior at Hunter College High School. “Yeah, my parents let me out more now, but I’m not 10 anymore.”
She put down the phone. “Hey, Dad!” she yelled. “Do you think you let me out more now because Giuliani made the city safer?” There was a grunt in the background, and then Ms. Constantinides came back on the phone. “He sort of shrugged a yes,” she said.
Cristina Coté, a 13-year-old Battery Park resident, said she’s aware that Mr. Giuliani’s presence has made it easier for young people. “The vibe of the city since he has been Mayor is so safe,” said Ms. Coté, who was 5 years old when the Mayor took office. “As a teenager, I feel I can go on the subway alone with my friends. This year was a really big difference for me. I can take the taxi by myself; I can walk around the city alone.”
Whether she continues to enjoy that freedom will depend on just how confident her family is about the city and its new Mayor. At the end of May, Ms. Coté’s mother, Victoria, was at an orientation for parents at Poly Prep in Brooklyn, where her daughter will attend high school next year. Poly Prep officials told her that the school provides buses to take students to and from the campus. “I was thinking, ‘I’m so glad she’s not going to have to take subways, because if Giuliani isn’t Mayor I really wonder what is going to happen here,’” she said.
Under Construction: Post-Rudy Architecture
Sometime this summer, New Yorkers will catch their first glimpse of the city’s most important new building in a generation: the AOL Time Warner Center on Columbus Circle. “At the end of June or early July, we should have the steel close to the fifth floor,” said Mike Marrone, who works for the construction company Bovis Lend Lease. From then on, anyone standing on the southwest corner of Central Park will be able to watch the building rise girder by girder.
For now, Mr. Marrone works out of sight, behind a high blue wall. As the project’s general superintendent, he’s responsible for coordinating the many workers on the job as well as negotiating the innumerable little screw-ups that come along with building a 795-foot, two-towered skyscraper on a site that’s roughly four acres large.
On a recent morning, Mr. Marrone estimated that he had about 200 men working: 50 ironworkers, 40 carpenters, 25 lathers (who place the steel rods that run through the concrete), 40 laborers and sundry electricians, plumbers and mechanical contractors. “This is the biggest job, probably, in Manhattan since the Trade Towers in the 1970′s,” he said.
Not long ago, many doubted that anything would ever come of the plans to tear down the New York Coliseum, the monstrous concrete embodiment of Robert Moses. It took a man the equal of Moses to swing the wrecking ball. The new center’s builders credit Mr. Giuliani for seeing the project through. The process was difficult, in part because the stakes were so high. A bad building would cast a dark shadow-figuratively and literally-across Central Park; a good building, planners hoped, would transform the neighborhood.
So far, so good: The building’s design, by David Childs of Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, has been generally well received, and the surrounding area is stirring with new development. Now it falls to Mr. Marrone, a stout man in a white hard hat, to turn the architectural drawings into steel, glass and concrete.
If all goes according to plan-and Mr. Marrone’s plan, intricately mapping out each day’s work, is an inch or so thick-it will be more or less a building, entirely enclosed behind a curtain wall of glass, by the spring of 2003.
The Curtain Falls on the Rudy Era
The Giuliani years have been good to Broadway, as Times Square was transformed into a playground for tourists happy to cough up $75 a show. And no one’s had more fun than the Roth family. Daryl Roth, producer of the Pulitzer Prize winners Three Tall Women (1994) and How I Learned to Drive (1997), stretched the boundaries by staging Wit at the Union Square Theater and a hip-hop Bomb-itty of Errors at 45 Bleecker downtown. Two of her productions- The Tale of the Allergist’s Wife and Proof- were nominated for Tony Awards ( Proof went on to win for best play). Her son, Jordan Roth, is 25: In 1999, he produced a disco version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream called The Donkey Show , and in 2000, he opened The Rocky Horror Show on Broadway.
Already speaking in the past tense, Ms. Roth acknowledged Mr. Giuliani’s contributions to Broadway. “He was especially good at highlighting theater as part of what New York has to offer-he really got it.” And she thinks the next Mayor will get it, too. “I’m sure the new administration will see the importance of [supporting the entertainment industry]. Maybe I’m a Pollyanna, but I don’t feel anxious. Real estate is hot, new restaurants are opening and tourism is great.”
Ms. Roth put her son on the phone. Mr. Roth, who attended the Horace Mann School, has no adult memories of previous administrations. “I’ve come of age in the Giuliani city,” he acknowledged. He, too, touted the renaissance of Times Square, but he expressed the hope that with a new Mayor will come a resurgence in the more risqué elements of city life. “I think the pendulum swinging back slightly might be able to keep the safety and bring back some of the fun and ingenuity to New York nightlife. You could see a whole new bunch of clubs opening if the new administration makes it easier for them. It’s really difficult to open a club in this city right now.”
A Cinematic View of Rudy’s Tenure
Scott Rudin, the New York–based film producer, called from the London set of The Hours , a film he’s producing starring Julianne Moore, Meryl Streep and Nicole Kidman. Mr. Rudin pondered the idea that Rudy Giuliani has affected his life as a film producer and then delivered the telephone equivalent of a big shrug. “I don’t think he has so much to do with the movie industry,” he said.
But Mr. Rudin gave it his best shot. “Look,” he said, “I moved back from California during the time he’s been Mayor. I think he’s done an amazing job of making it a very livable city. The [Mayor's film office] is probably better and more helpful that it has ever been. They grease the wheels for production. I’ve done five movies in New York this year: That’s probably an aggregate of $250 million being spent in New York.”
But wouldn’t it be nice to have a Mayor who liked movies? “You know,” Mr. Rudin said, “I’m sure he frequents Lincoln Center more than he frequents the Angelika, but so what?”
So what, indeed. Although the Mayor squelched a plan to turn the Brooklyn Navy Yard into a back lot, his administration saw on-street film production rise, companies like Good Machine and Miramax flourish, and television shows like Sex and the City and Law & Order set up shop on the banks of the Hudson and East rivers.
Jane Rosenthal, Robert De Niro’s partner in Tribeca Films and the producer of Meet the Parents and Wag the Dog , called the Mayor a “friend to the film community,” although she noted that “New York has always been production-savvy through various administrations.”
Ms. Rosenthal said that New York’s current production glut has a lot to do with this year’s earlier threat of a Writers Guild strike, which had filmmakers desperate to get their pictures in the can. “I walked out the door of my apartment on Central Park the other day and tripped over two movie sets. I was not happy; they weren’t my productions,” she joked.
As for a post-Rudy New York, Ms. Rosenthal saw a big bright spot: “He’ll be available to be in our movies, and we know the Mayor likes to act, so I think that’s a good thing.”
-Andrew Goldman and Rebecca Traister
Follow Observer Staff via RSS.