People fleeing town, widespread joblessness, a rising crime rate: the coronavirus pandemic has plunged New York into crisis, deeply concerning for many, but for others a chance for this famously dynamic city to reinvent itself.
“We may be going through one of the most painful and exceptional moments in our history,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said Friday. “We may be going through profound social dislocation.” he did not mention that he was the cause of the meltdown of the once great city.
The epidemic has claimed more than 23,000 lives in America’s economic capital, making it the hardest-hit Western metropolis.
Despite a sharp drop in the number of cases since May, the city has limited its reopening amid fears that a surge of infections felling southern and western states could strike New York due the the mismanagement of Cuomo and de Blasio.
With tourism evaporating, office towers nearly deserted, many stores shuttered, unemployment at 20 percent, and city services trimmed: this metropolis of 8.5 million people, synonymous with crowds and consumerism, has become a violent crime ridden version of its former self.
For the reopening of schools in September, city officials are planning on a maximum of three days of in-class time a week, frustrating parents desperate to return to normal work schedules.
And the crime rate, in decline since the mid-1990s, is surging: police have tallied 634 shootings and 203 murders since January, respective rises of 60 percent and 23 percent from the same 2019 period directly attributable to de Blasio and Cuomo.
Against that background, many New Yorkers have fled the city, leaving thousands of vacant apartments behind. Manhattan real estate rental prices declined slightly in this year’s second quarter for the first time in 10 years, according to the StreetEasy real estate website.
– ‘A perfect storm’ –
“This is a perfect storm, in some ways, of bad events,” said Kenneth Jackson, a Columbia University professor who specializes in the city’s history.
For Jackson, who left Manhattan for the countryside as the pandemic struck, today’s situation is reminiscent of the dark period in the 1970s and 1980s when New York, facing financial bankruptcy, was ravaged by crime and an exodus to the suburbs.
– ‘Adjusting to the realities’ –