In less than a month, the city will pause to remember the terrorist attacks that destroyed the World Trade Center, killed nearly 3,000 people and threatened to devastate the city’s economy and spirit.
The Towers are gone and are a long way from being replaced. The grief of those who lost loved ones on Sept. 11, 2001, will never truly end.
But even as we remember the worst day in the city’s history, we must recognize that New York has rebounded in ways nobody would have predicted on that terrible day four years ago. The terrorists succeeded in taking down the towers and killing innocent civilians. But they did not destroy New York.
The latest evidence of New York’s extraordinary resilience came to light recently, when Goldman Sachs decided to go ahead with plans to build a $2 billion headquarters downtown, while a California-based development company announced plans to build a new biotechnology center at Bellevue Hospital.
The Goldman Sachs decision is especially significant. The headquarters will be built on West Street near Ground Zero, and so is a huge step forward in the rebuilding of that devastated area. What’s more, the firm actually had decided to walk away from the project earlier this year, a decision that deflated hopes for downtown’s rebirth. To their credit, the city’s political leaders immediately addressed the firm’s concerns about traffic and security. Mayor Michael Bloomberg was in constant touch with Goldman’s chairman, Henry Paulson, while Governor Pataki’s downtown reconstruction czar, John Cahill, addressed the firm’s specific concerns. Their hard work paid off when the company changed its mind about the project.
With the help of generous tax credits, Goldman will build an office tower with two million square feet of office space. Nine thousand Goldman employees will be based in the tower. It is a welcome investment in New York’s future, one that would have seemed highly improbable just a few years ago, when smoke rose from the ashes of downtown.
Meanwhile, on the East Side, work will begin next year on a venture that will be called the East River Science Park. The Pasadena-based firm of Alexandria Real Estate Equities will build the $700 million biotech facility between 28th and 29th streets, east of First Avenue. The complex will include laboratories and office space, and will help New York compete with and surpass competitors like New Jersey in the race to become a global center for biotechnology.
The science center is a natural fit on the East Side, with its concentration of hospitals and other medical facilities, such as the N.Y.U. School of Medicine and Tisch Hospital. And it marks an important development in City Hall’s efforts to keep the city at the cutting edge of medical research, a fast-growing and vital sector of the global economy.
As we turn our attention again to our terrible losses on 9/11, let us also remember that New York is in the middle of a dramatic and historic recovery from that awful day. Few would have believed it possible. And yet, the city not only has survived, but has grown stronger in the years since Sept. 11, 2001.
It’s Not Miller’s Time
City Council Speaker Gifford Miller thinks he has the wisdom and experience, at age 35, to be considered a serious candidate for the job of Mayor of New York.
It’s amazing how self-delusional some politicians can be.
Mr. Miller, who is running for the Democratic Mayoral nomination, has given us an unintentional reminder of just how ill-prepared he is for the job he wants: During the fiscal year which ended on June 30, Mr. Miller’s name and/or picture was featured on Council mailings that cost taxpayers $1.8 million. Incredibly, most of that money—about $1.6 million—was spent in early to mid-June. That’s significant, because by city law, such mailings had to end within 90 days of this September’s primary. As the deadline approached, Mr. Miller stuffed city mailboxes with ham-handed campaign ads disguised as official business from the City Council.
We’re used to seeing wads of junk mail from self-promoting politicians, who spare no expense to tell us how great they’re doing—as long as we’re picking up the tab. Mr. Miller, however, had taken this art form to new depths. During the previous fiscal year, the Council as a whole—all 51 members—spent a collective $1.2 million on junk mail. Mr. Miller topped that figure in just a few weeks in late spring.
Making matters worse, Mr. Miller’s aides at first insisted that the mailings had cost a mere $37,000! Later, they were forced to concede that they were off by, oh, about a million and a half dollars.
Mr. Miller and his aides clearly have a great deal to learn about politics. The place for such an education is not the Mayor’s office. Perhaps the ambitious Mr. Miller should have set his sights on an office more-appropriate to his limited experience and—let’s be charitable—youthful demeanor. Do the words “borough president” come to mind?
Time for an Oil Change
Trans fats are killers. And New York is trying to remove these dangerous substances from our daily diets. That’s a good thing.
City Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Frieden recently asked the city’s restaurants to voluntarily remove trans fats—that is, partially hydrogenated vegetable oils—from their recipes. In addition, he urged the city’s chefs and cooks to use olive oil and sunflower oil, both of which are healthier than trans fats.
For City Hall, this is yet another sensible campaign to make New York a healthier place for citizens and visitors alike. Mayor Bloomberg, you will recall, created a stir early in his tenure when he asked for a ban on smoking in bars and restaurants. Today, thousands of food-service workers—not to mention bar and restaurant patrons—are breathing easier, thanks to Mr. Bloomberg’s foresight.
The campaign against trans fats is a natural extension of City Hall’s concerns for public health. Trans fats contribute to heart disease, which kills more New Yorkers than any other ailment. With alternatives like olive and sunflower oils, there is no good reason for restaurants to cook with artery-clogging trans fats. That’s why the restaurant trade association endorsed City Hall’s request.
Individual restaurant owners would be wise to follow suit. As Mayor Bloomberg demonstrated with his smoking ban, he has the courage to take more aggressive action if owners resist.