Editorials

New York, New York

As the aftershocks of Sept. 11 continue to rattle the country, one mightexpect

that Americans would downgrade New York City on their list of most desirable

places to live. Images of a city under siege-its downtown partially in ruins,

its mailrooms possibly contaminated with anthrax-have become nightly fare on

national news broadcasts.

Yet the results of a recent online survey show that

the city has lost

neither its allure nor its status as America’s most compelling place to live.

The survey reports that 24 percent of respondents chose Manhattan’s Upper East

Side as the most desirable place to live-only Malibu, Calif., came out with slightly better numbers, at 25

percent. Next was San Francisco’s Pacific Heights neighborhood, with 18 percent,

followed by Miami’s South Beach and Beverly Hills, Calif., both at 16

percent. 

The presence of Manhattan among such cities as Malibu

and Beverly Hills-places of sun and wealth whose appeal lies in their ability

to dull the senses-indicates that New York still exerts a profound pull on the

national consciousness. Indeed, it’s striking that, given the choice between

living alongside Hollywood stars on the beach or living in a city recovering

from the worst terrorist attack in world history, essentially the same number

of Americans would choose the latter as the former. While no one survey can be

definitive, the numbers from Homestore.com, as reported in The Wall Street Journal , suggest that the grace and courage with

which New Yorkers have handled the tragedy have inoculated the city against

what could have been a significant blow to its standing.

While the rest of the country, and the world, regards

the city with a newfound appreciation, the fear of terrorism has temporarily

depressed the tourism and retail industries. A strong effort needs to be made

by the current and incoming administrations to showcase New York to the

international community. One of the city’s greatest selling points, of course,

is its stunning diversity-nearly 40 percent of city residents are

foreign-born-and the ability of so many different races, cultures and religions

to live peaceably side by side, in marked contrast to the strife which is

roiling much of the world at the moment. And it must be noted that New York’s

countless virtues-including the lowest crime rate of any large city in the

U.S.; a concentration of young talent and skills no other city can match; the

headquarters of the world’s most influential financial firms; a collection of

much of the world’s finest art, theater and music; and the deep and abiding

loyalty residents feel for the city-were left intact despite the trauma of

recent events.

As the city wakes up to a new

Mayor, some may feel a sense of

apprehension about the untested and the unknown, especially at a time when the

unknown has seemed to rule our daily lives. But the enduring greatness of New

York has only been confirmed in the weeks since Sept. 11, and it shows no sign

of abating.

The Yankees

The record books will show that the New York Yankees

lost the 2001 World Series in seven games to the Arizona Diamondbacks, a team

that didn’t even exist when the Bronx Bombers won the first of their

remarkable string of world championships in 1996. In fact, the Yankees-then known as the New York Highlanders-were playing

in the American League nine years before Arizona became a state in 1912. Still, statistics from the ’01

Series will paint a dismal picture of the Yankee effort: only 14 runs in seven

games, a terrible team batting average of .183 and an embarrassing 15-2 loss in

Game 6. The keepers of World Series numbers will not be kind to the 2001

Yankees.

But the numbers will have it all wrong.

While there’s no denying that this year’s Series was a

disappointment for Yankee fans, that’s only half the story. Forget the

statistics, and never mind the result of Game 7: These Yankees lifted the

spirits of the city they represent during a difficult, mournful time. They did

it with a combination of grit, elegance and class, reminding us that athletes,

at their best,

transcend the children’s games they are paid to play.

The dusty record books will not

present the 2001 Yankees in the

context of New York after Sept. 11. But, of course, it will be impossible for

us to remember them without thinking of the horrific attack on our city,

without recalling how they drew inspiration from our heroes-the firefighters,

the cops, the rescue workers-and how they, in turn, inspired us in our dark

hour. They represented New York to the nation with pride and dignity.

After Sept. 11, no Yankee would consider himself a

hero-not after we saw the sacrifices that legitimate heroes make. But if they

weren’t

really heroic, surely these Yankees were admirable, and then some. In their

dramatic comeback in the American League divisional series, when they fell

behind the young Oakland Athletics two games to none in the best-of-five set, there was a parable about determination and

fortitude. And, of course, those themes were revisited in Games 4 and 5 of the

World Series, when the Yankees scored the tying runs in the ninth innings and

went on to win in extra innings.

The defeat in Game 7, when Arizona pulled off a

comeback of its own to beat the Yankees 3-2, won’t overshadow all that came

before it. We’ll remember this team for all the thrills it has given us since

1996; we’ll treasure our memories of Paul O’Neill and Tino Martinez and Scott

Brosius, all of whom may be gone next year; and we’ll continue to bask in the

privilege of watching Bernie Williams, Derek Jeter, Andy Pettitte and Roger

Clemens at work.

Thanks, Yanks.