In "Above Exalted Cyclops," Rose, after being set up by Chelsea, now has moved on from Charlie and is stalking Alan, or possibly stalking both brothers. In "Gumby with a Pokey" her only appearance in Season 7 , she is still noted as Charlie's stalker, implying that she is either done stalking Alan and back to Charlie, or stalking both brothers. Gordon is unaware of Rose's brief relationship with Alan. This time it has become too much for Charlie's new girlfriend Michelle, who is convinced that Charlie loves Rose. Rose tells Charlie that she is marrying a guy named "Manfred Quinn," which appears to be verified when Charlie and Alan go to the church and peer through a door window to see a wedding in progress.
The two walk away, with Charlie confused and apparently heartbroken. At the end of the episode, it is revealed that, with the exception of the priest and Rose, all the other attendants are mannequins hence the name of Rose's purported groom: Manfred "Manny" Quinn. Later in Season 8, Charlie tells Rose that he loves her and they begin a romantic relationship with Charlie even taking her on a romantic getaway to Paris despite the fact that he still thinks she is truly married.
It is implied that Rose has something to do with Charlie's death in Paris after it is revealed she caught him having an affair. Charlie had proposed to her in Paris also which was mentioned by Rose at Charlie's funeral and Rose said yes to the proposal. Bill had since had sexual-reassignment surgery and was formerly living as Jill. Charlie comments during the episode that while the relationship was passionate, sex with Bill was "a little weird".
As the episode progresses, Bill begins dating Charlie's mother Evelyn she is initially unaware of Bill's history. Once Bill's identity is revealed to her, she faints, but decides to continue seeing Bill. Bill was never seen or mentioned again. Lisa Denise Richards was Charlie's favorite ex-girlfriend. She appeared in one season 1 and one season 2 episode. In "Merry Thanksgiving," Charlie proposed to her but she decided to marry another man. In "Yes, Monsignor," Charlie had to prove that he is good with babies when he found out she had one played by Richards' and Sheen's real-life first daughter Sam.
Notably, she was absent at Charlie's funeral. After running into each other four years later see "A Jock Strap in Hell" , Charlie feels guilty about this and hires her as Jake's private tutor, leading them to resume their romantic relationship. She quickly reverts to her religious self and Charlie breaks up with her again.
She was seen at Charlie's funeral, where she mentioned he made tea using her panties. She and several of her girlfriends "anoint" Charlie as their king in a ceremony, "bonding" them for life. It's revealed that she knows Evelyn from Pilates class, and Isabella was unaware that Charlie and Alan are Evelyn's sons. Isabella was at Charlie's funeral, where she mentions that Charlie gave her herpes. Charlie had a brief relationship with Kandi April Bowlby , credited as "Kymber" , after which she married his brother, Alan.
Kandi is depicted as hot and young half the age of Alan or Charlie , with a " dumb blonde " stereotype, even though she is a redhead. Mia Emmanuelle Vaugier is a ballet teacher, whom Charlie had a crush on, and was engaged to for a short while. Charlie decided not to marry Mia after she insisted that Alan and Jake must move out of the house, only to find out that Alan had married Kandi and moved out.
The Death of a Once Great City
Charlie later became sexually reckless and depressed, because he learned that Mia was going to marry someone else. Charlie blamed Alan for ruining everything, but later realizes that he was just looking for an excuse to get out of the marriage. They reunited in person at the end of season 6's "Baseball Was Better With Steroids," resulting in a cliffhanger for the season finale.
In season 7's premiere "jklpuzo", Mia appears in much less favorable light. Mia asks Charlie for help with a singing career, but in reality she appears to want him back. By this time, Charlie had begun a relationship with Chelsea, and is now torn between the two. While in the studio recording a demo tape, Mia asks Charlie for sex after revealing that she is a horrible singer. Charlie tells Mia she cannot sing, and chooses Chelsea. As Charlie rushes away he turns off Mia's microphone, so that he cannot hear her yell and swear at him.
Mia was at Charlie's funeral, demanding to see the body. Shortly after he cancelled his wedding with Mia, Charlie began dating a rude real-estate agent named Lydia Katherine LaNasa. Alan, Jake, Rose and Berta did not like her and made this clear to Charlie, but when she met his mother, Evelyn, the four realised that she and Evelyn were exactly alike in character.
Bobby, the waiter at Charlie's and Evelyn's favorite restaurant, was the first to recognise Lydia's similarity to Evelyn. When Lydia began bossing Berta around, Berta threatened to quit unless Charlie broke up with her. Lydia meanwhile threatened to break up with Charlie unless he fired Berta. In the end, Charlie broke up with Lydia, and Berta would only return if Charlie admitted his sexual addiction and attended rehab.
At Charlie's funeral, Lydia mentions that Charlie loved being spanked. She bonded with Charlie over their hatred of Judith. Judith did not want the two dating, and would take her frustration out on Alan. Judith did not want Charlie coming over to her house either, so Charlie invited Myra to his house. Even though she was supposed to be sleeping in Jake's room, Myra slept with Charlie, leaving Alan and Jake to hear them and find out the truth. When Charlie wanted to pursue the relationship, he was heartbroken to learn that she was engaged and he'd have to drive her to the airport after the wedding, and that he'd never see her again.
Greer again appears in Season 9 as Walden's ex-wife. Their relationship ended in the middle of the same season, after Linda concluded that she couldn't "be connected publicly to a guy like [Charlie]" after he publicly humiliated her under the influence of his mother's "medication" at an event held in her honor. The random songs which Charlie sang to her son Brandon while babysitting, essentially launched his show-biz persona, "Charlie Waffles". Charlie also fell for his future stepsister, "Courtney" Jenny McCarthy in Season 5, and after agreeing to stop seeing her due to their relationship to each other, he lends her a substantial amount of money and proposes moments before they become step-siblings.
She also forced Charlie to buy a car from her so the secret of their relationship would not get out to her father and Evelyn. Charlie is heart-broken to learn that she is actually a con artist named Sylvia, but he apparently retains feelings for her, telling her that he will "wait" for her to get out of prison.
She reappears in Season 8's "Ow, Ow, Don't Stop" as Courtney after being released from prison, and Charlie immediately falls for her again, even professing his love for her. Although surprisingly she holds a lot of resentment towards him at his funeral in the season 9 opener.
In the season 9 episode "Nine Magic Fingers", Courtney starts dating Walden Schmidt Ashton Kutcher , but their relationship is short-lived as Alan and Bridget, Walden's wife, successfully convince Walden that Courtney is simply a con artist. Near the end of season 5, Charlie met an older woman Susan Blakely named Angie who was also the author of a relationship self-help book that he was interested in reading.
Angie has been described as a mother figure to Charlie, more so than even his own mother, Evelyn. When Angie introduced him to her grown son Jeremy and his fiancee Tricia Virginia Williams , Charlie realized that he had dated Tricia earlier in his life. After Tricia revealed that she still had feelings for Charlie, Tricia dumped Jeremy, and Angie became, as Alan describes, a "mean drunk" who verbally lashed out at Charlie and furiously broke up with him. In a season 6 episode "The Flavin' and the Mavin'" , Charlie is annoyed that he has to drive Alan to work, until he meets Alan's spunky young receptionist, Melissa Kelly Stables.
Alan begs Charlie not to hit on her, as it will likely end badly and complicate their working relationship, but Charlie ignores him. Charlie sleeps with Melissa, then becomes annoyed when she constantly hangs around his house. Melissa becomes vindictive when she realizes that Charlie is not serious about their relationship. As Alan suspected, the failed relationship causes Melissa to demand a raise and health insurance. Melissa would later date Alan in several episodes of seasons 6, 7 and 8, becoming the third of Charlie's ex-girlfriends to later date Alan.
Chelsea Christine Melini Jennifer Taylor starts dating Charlie in season 6, and is the first woman to whom he confessed his love without prompting. He says this nearly by accident, but claims he meant it. At first, Chelsea was another one of Charlie's one-night stands, but it soon evolved into a relationship. The relationship comes to a rut with Chelsea wanting to break up, but after some couples counseling, the two remained together. Charlie proposed to her, ring and all, just to get her to say "I love you" back to him, and until the middle of season 7, they were engaged to be married.
When Chelsea moved into the Harper beach house, Charlie rented out her vacant apartment to get alone time. Chelsea has a cat named "Sir Lancelot", who was almost never seen on-camera two exceptions are in "Mmm, fish. Chelsea got along well with Evelyn, much to Charlie's chagrin, and had a very rocky relationship with her nephew-to-be Jake, until Charlie forced them to work out their issues.
Charlie had a telephone video of one of their lovemaking events, but when Chelsea found out, she erased the video herself. The two eventually broke up due to Charlie's jealousy towards her friendship with Alan's lawyer, Brad. Charlie then made matters worse by vomiting on a baby in public while apologizing to her, and subsequently slept with Chelsea's best friend, Gail Tricia Helfer. Chelsea's last appearance was in the first episode of Season 9, when she announced at Charlie's funeral that he gave her chlamydia ; Gail, who also attended, said Charlie gave her vaginal warts.
Betsy Katy Mixon first met the Harper brothers the day Charlie and Chelsea set the date for their wedding. Panicked over the impending end of his bachelor lifestyle, Charlie finds himself blacked out drunk in bed with Betsy and Alan shortly after their meeting in Pavlov's Bar. With little memory of the night's events, Alan and Charlie left her home before dawn. Only remembering flashes of himself, his brother, and Betsy fooling around naked, shortly after Alan performed a striptease in drag, Charlie went to his mother for advice.
To help wipe the disturbing memories from Charlie's mind, Evelyn told him of the time she cheated on her third husband with circus folk, including a clown, strongman, bearded lady, acrobats, and dwarfs, in one debased night. Traumatized by Evelyn's story, Charlie's few memories of the night were now replaced with images of his mother's circus orgy.
When Charlie and Betsy encounter each other again, they immediately run off to Las Vegas and have a "quickie" wedding. But the marriage is soon rendered invalid when it is revealed that Betsy is already married. Michelle Liz Vassey is Charlie's dermatologist.
They went to a movie and Charlie was surprised to learn that she is older than he is. After Alan telling him that he's probably gonna be dead for ten years by the time she turns 70 which ironically came true, as he died not too long after , he went to Michelle and told her that he was interested in being in a relationship with her.
He then met Michelle's year-old daughter, which led him to briefly think about sex with the daughter. But after finding out that she thinks "older guys" much younger than Charlie are bad to have sex with, he returns to Michelle. In "The Crazy Bitch Gazette," Michelle and Charlie went on a date where they had lunch with Evelyn and Alan, causing a few embarrassing details about Charlie's past to slip out. When they got to Charlie's house, Charlie introduced Michelle to Berta and told Michelle about his past girlfriends and other sordid details of his life.
To Charlie's surprise, Michelle still wanted to be with him. Michelle was upset with Charlie, because he did not mention Rose in any of his confessions. Nor did he mention the fact that she constantly stalked him. The next week, Charlie went to Michelle's house with flowers and begged her to give him another chance.
Michelle broke up with Charlie anyway, convinced that he still had feelings for Rose. At Charlie's funeral, Michelle builds on Lydia's remark about him by adding that he liked being spanked while wearing Michelle's panties. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Sheen's last credited appearance was That Darn Priest.
Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles, California: Tronc. Retrieved February 20, Archived from the original on March 23, Retrieved March 31, Warner Brothers Television website. Retrieved May 31, The New York Times. Retrieved February 10, Two and a Half Men. Season 1. Episode 9. Season 2. Episode Season 9. Episode 1. September 19, Season 4. Article at TVFanatic. Awards and nominations. Categories : Two and a Half Men characters Fictional characters introduced in Fictional pianists Fictional characters from Malibu, California Fictional gamblers Fictional alcohol abusers Fictional American people of Scotch-Irish descent Male characters in television.
Ridership has approached record levels in recent years, and on the first day of , Governor Andrew Cuomo led a giddy celebration to mark the opening of three new stations on the fabled Second Avenue subway, which finally became a partial reality after first being proposed in The self-congratulations were short-lived, as service on the remainder of the system began to decline precipitously.
An antiquated and misconfigured train-signaling system—one that, at the rate the Metropolitan Transportation Authority is working on it, will be fully replaced sometime in the late s, by which time nanobots will likely have been doing the job for a generation—began causing longer and longer delays, with both cars and platforms filling up with frustrated, angry passengers. In one of the many byzantine quirks of how we are governed in New York, the trains and buses are part of the MTA, which is controlled by Governor Cuomo.
But the more telling lesson here is that a tax on the wealthiest New Yorkers to restore even the most vital public good cannot be so much as entertained. T he decline of the subways is just the latest diminution of public life in New York. Over the past few decades, what used to be regarded as inviolable public space has been systematically rolled up and surrendered to unelected private authorities.
Even the streets are no longer fully under public control. But before that could happen, Sonia Sotomayor, then a federal district court judge in Manhattan, found the business districts guilty of breaking minimum-wage laws, using their newfound source of almost free labor to undercut competition—and handing the money they made as a result to their already well-paid executives. Everywhere now, private institutions have largely taken over the neighborhoods around them, repurposing them solely to meet their own needs.
Our tax-free universities have been among the most shameless offenders. Cooper Union—a cultural landmark founded in as a night school of the arts and sciences for working men and women—abolished its legacy of free tuition after clotting the Astor Place area with disturbing glass boxes and nearly driving itself into bankruptcy. New York University has torn down much of the historic West Village, including most of what was the landmark Provincetown Playhouse and a home that Edgar Allan Poe once lived in.
NYU partially re-created the facade of the Poe house. Quoth the raven: Fuck you. Columbia University used and abused the power of eminent domain to kick out residents and small businesses at the western end of th Street, and is now stuffing that street with the huge, glassy, dreadful buildings of its new Manhattanville campus, courtesy of its own international vandal, sorry, starchitect, Renzo Piano.
This has become an accepted way of proceeding in New York, even for subsidized institutions that are supposed to serve a public purpose. It ended up instead as an arena with all the charm of your basic bus terminal, home to an unwanted basketball team owned by a Russian oligarch. But then, as with any major New York development today, some form of deception is requisite.
The Atlantic Yards scam was bankrolled with hundreds of millions in public funding—though the chicanery here is so involved that no one can even say for sure what the final public subsidy figures will be. Sports stadiums long ago became a preferred method of legalized graft in America, with even such struggling cities as Cleveland, Detroit, Baltimore, and Oakland, California, willingly shelling out hundreds of millions apiece to retain or attract major-league franchises.
But New York has taken the practice to stygian depths. The two major-league stadiums opened in were far from the first or the only large public subsidies the city has given to the Yankees and the Mets. Nonetheless, the Yankees reduced the number of seats available to the general public by more than 9, so that the team could make room for thirty-seven additional luxury suites in its ballpark.
But here the new stadium was intended only as the anchor of a grand plan by Michael Bloomberg to transform the entire area around it—one terminus of an axis of redevelopment set to run across the entire width of the city, on a scale that only Robert Moses might have attempted. Queens had long remained unscathed by development on this scale. More than anyplace else in New York, the borough retains some of the flavor of what the city was like in the Seventies, minus the crime and the decay. Almost one in every two residents is foreign-born, creating wonderful ethnic mixes in nearly all of its low-lying residential and industrial neighborhoods.
But this cityscape is changing, too.
Much like the Martian spaceships from The War of the Worlds in both appearance and annihilating intent, the glass skyscrapers that now dominate Manhattan have in recent years jumped the East River. The first one, a foot Citicorp office building, arrived in Long Island City in Then, in , came the first residential towers, the forty-two-story Citylights residence, followed nine years later by the five apartment buildings of the East Coast LIC complex. By , the land rush was on.
Its immense glass skyscrapers are overwhelming. From some angles, they look like battling Transformers; from other perspectives, they seem, aptly enough, more like the smokestacks of an impossibly large steamship, about to shove off from the rest of the city altogether.
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The projected figures are numbing, almost too big to digest. The ninety-two-story tower at 30 Hudson will, the developers say, boast the first open-air observation deck in New York higher than that on the Empire State Building. Most of them are gone or going now, after decades in the same visibly slouching, century-old apartment house where I live. In the apartment below ours, from the day I moved in back in with three friends from college, was Mercedes, an immigrant from the Dominican Republic, with her extended family of three generations.
When her mother, Anna, a sunny, religious, and unfailingly kind woman, began to decline with the years, Mercedes tended to her devotedly at home, bringing a hospital bed into their living room. After all those years, they were just gone, almost overnight. Across the hall from me was Raymond, a self-destructive but amiable drunk who fell completely apart when his mother died.
He could not keep up the rent, or himself, and was finally evicted and then banned from the block after several loud arguments with the super. He came back anyway and lay down in the middle of the street one afternoon—a small Irish-Latino man, in his perpetual baseball cap and scraggly beard, insisting in his gravelly, whiskey-soaked voice that they should just go ahead and run him over. Artie and James, our constant eyes on the street, who spend much of their time sitting out on the stoop trying to convince me that the Mets are a major-league ball team, waved off the traffic and persuaded him to get up out of the street.
Forgiven by the super, Raymond now comes back to sit on the stoop with his old friends, a living ghost haunting the block where he was born. We have been almost a parody of multiculturalism on our little street. Black and white, Hispanic and Asian; straight, gay, and transgender; families of all kinds—extended, adopted, arranged by convenience or design. I would come home and see the daughters of our Sikh mailman, before they grew up, playing baseball in the halls.
Beneath me I could hear a hive of dinnertime conversations carried on in half a dozen languages, smell cooking that came from all over the world, hear someone ringing a gong and repeating a Buddhist chant. It is through all these interactions, multiplied a million times, that a truly great city is made.
These stores, like so many others in my neighborhood, have not been replaced. They are simply. In an informal survey of Broadway, from 93rd Street to rd, I recently counted twenty-four vacant storefronts—many of them very large spaces, enough to account for roughly one third of the street frontage. Nearly all of them have been empty now for months or even years.
Lives of the Eminent Philosophers / Diogenes Laertius
Almost everything of use has gone. There was Oppenheimer Meats, a butcher shop whose founder had reportedly fled Nazi Germany and, I was told, brought his business down to our neighborhood from Washington Heights sometime in the Forties. A large, imposing man with a bristling mustache, he would strut behind his counter like a Prussian field marshal, but he hired people of every color from the neighborhood and left them to run the shop when he retired.
Out it went. Over on Amsterdam, between 97th and 98th Streets, was a whole row of enterprises: an excellent fish store, a pet shop, a Mexican restaurant named for Frida Kahlo, and a laundromat we used to call the St. Launder Center, thanks to how part of its name had been torn out of its awning.
Then they were all gone, too, without warning. Soon after, I ran into Shirley, doughty little Asian abbess of the St. Launder Center. On the corner of 98th and Broadway is the shell of what was once RCI, an independent appliance store founded in as Radio Clinic. It was one of the oldest surviving businesses on the Upper West Side.
The little shop lost its lease in , the business chased off after eighty years in the neighborhood. Today, more than three years later, its storefront remains empty. Like so many other abandoned spaces along Broadway, its doorway has become a refuge for the homeless and the mentally ill, supposedly purged from our city streets.
A couple of blocks up Broadway from RCI was the old Metro Theater, originally the Midtown, an aging art house that dated back to and survived long enough to become one of the oldest cinemas operating in New York. It had fallen on hard times and was showing pornos when I first moved into the neighborhood. Then it was bought and restored by a repertory-cinema impresario, Dan Talbot, who renamed it the Metro, burnished and restored its elegant Art Deco interior, and started showing old movies and then first- and second-run releases.
The Metro was shuttered in Talbot died late last year, just a month before another of his marvelous reclamations, Lincoln Plaza Cinemas, an Upper West Side institution and still extremely popular, was shuttered for who-knows-what real estate fast shuffle. Already struggling, the Metro was all but enveloped by an outsized construction project, the Ariel East and Ariel West, two more multimillion-dollar condo giants built directly across Broadway from each other.
Rising to thirty-seven and thirty-one stories respectively, they are related in size and style to nothing else in the neighborhood. Their existence was enabled by the fact that St. In New York today, survival for any older, underpatronized institution often involves cannibalizing the neighborhood it has pledged to serve.
The Metro never reopened. Its gorgeous marquee and purple-and-white terra-cotta tile work depicting the figures of comedy and tragedy had been landmarked, but there was no such protection for the interior. The developers ripped it all out, gutted it too quickly for anyone to object. Online neighborhood news sites constantly pass on rumors about what the Metro is likely to become, but nothing has materialized.
T hese are the choices we are left with now. If a movie theater you can duck into in the middle of the day was one of the small raptures of the modern urban landscape, all around us were the same sorts of existential conveniences. A kosher butcher where you could pick up the lamb shank you realized you forgot just minutes before the family was due for Passover dinner. Decent Chinese food for a Friday night at home in front of the television.
The proprietor proudly displays calendar photos of erupting volcanoes from his native Ecuador in his shopwindows alongside pictures of his grandchildren at their confirmations. His grandson used to store his toys and coloring books in the boxes under the unused shoeshine chairs. When you walk in, there is always the sound of classical music on the radio, and the smell of something very elemental and raw, leather and polish, the scent of a real place serving a real purpose.
It is almost the only store around that sells anything of use anymore. There are a few small hardware shops left still, some dry cleaners, a large grocery store, and a couple of bodegas. Everywhere, that which is universal and uniform prevails.
Chain stores, of a type once unknown in New York, now abound. The coming growth industry seems to be in urgent care facilities, of which there are already two, to serve our ridiculously underinsured population. This is not an anomaly; the problem is pervasive. There are so many empty shops now that the issue has even begun to slip out from under the official doctrine that the city has never been better than it is now. Last June, the office of Manhattan borough president Gale Brewer found vacant storefronts along Broadway from Battery Park to Inwood—this on a main commercial avenue in an incredibly wealthy city, in the eighth year of an economic expansion.
Saddest of all is the planned demolition of the Essex Street Market. Built to house the myriad Jewish pushcart vendors of the chazzer mark, the legendary outdoor marketplace along Hester Street, it provided them with a safe, sanitary place to peddle their wares, protected from the elements and criminal shakedowns. And so we have come full circle, from a city that tried to help along its poor and embattled strivers to one that would rather keep the land barren until only the very richest are available.
T he great threat to the New York of the Sixties and Seventies—and many other cities in the Northeast and Midwest—was considered to be the flood of largely unskilled, uneducated African Americans from the South and Hispanics from the islands. Now there are no industrial jobs. Why not keep him a peasant?
This sentiment was articulated, over and over again, by many of the would-be gentrifiers. In the success story that New York is considered today, the situation is just as perverse: the rents are driving people and commerce away, but some of the tallest residential towers ever built sit all but empty. The cause is once again a flood of outsiders, though this time they are not poor but among the richest people in the world. They have already proved themselves more destructive to the health of the city than the least-skilled poor, and their depredations will do incalculably more damage to New York over the decades and even the centuries ahead.
In the brutally Darwinian world of the poor, they usually got jobs, started families, became useful and productive citizens, or failed and were pushed back out of New York—back home or to another place—or ended up incarcerated or even dead. New York has always attracted the wealthy and predatory, dating back at least to our most famous pirate, Captain Kidd.
Coming here was seen as a sort of arrival, for individuals and businesses alike. Their owners lined Fifth Avenue with their fairy-tale mansions—some of them later converted into museums or elegant stores—or filled luxury apartment houses such as the Dakota. They hired the most renowned architects to erect gigantic advertisements for their transformative, world-conquering enterprises, including many of the most memorable structures ever built in the city: Grand Central Terminal; the Chrysler, Woolworth, Empire State, and Seagram buildings, among others.
Noxious as the old robber barons could be, they at least dropped vast amounts of money into the local economy in the form of property taxes and purchases in elite shops. They employed people in droves—small armies of domestics, vendors, and workers at all levels—to service their needs and businesses. They contributed to the city through their building and philanthropy—Rockefeller Center, Carnegie Hall, the Morgan Library, and the Frick Collection, to name just a few examples. The new rich infesting the city, by contrast, are barely here.
They keep a low profile, often for good reason, and rarely stick around. They manufacture nothing and run nothing, for the most part, but live off fortunes either made by or purloined from other people—sometimes from entire nations. The New Yorker noted in that there is now a huge swath of Midtown Manhattan, from Fifth Avenue to Park Avenue, from 49th Street to 70th Street, where almost one apartment in three sits empty for at least ten months a year.
New York today is not at home. Well on their way to being built: 53 West 53rd Street 1, feet , West 57th Street 1, feet , and West 57th Street 1, feet. Finished or not, many of the apartments were—at first—snapped up as soon as they went on the market. Nor are the records these sales set likely to remain for long. These would be the largest home sales ever recorded anywhere in the United States.
Who spends this sort of money for an apartment? The buyers are listed as hedge fund managers, foreign and domestic; Russian oligarchs; Chinese apparel and airline magnates. Or, to use a more urgent analogy, these areas are now the dead zones of New York, much like the growing oxygen-depleted dead zones of our oceans and lakes, polluted with pesticide runoff and deadly algae blooms. A steamship company office, where my wife and I once booked a trip to Europe. Countless little restaurants, churches, coffee shops, art-supply stores, studios, and galleries.
High culture and little hideaways, together they made up a stretch of Manhattan at its most alluring, a boulevard that was at one and the same time touristy and tony, a place to browse and to slip inside, both European and unmistakably New York. Now the Steinway showroom has been banished to 43rd and 6th. The Coliseum was chased away and died. Super tall, they are also super skinny, like 1,foot embodiments of the rich themselves. Together, these buildings perch over Central Park like a row of gigantic predatory birds.
There are now so many of the supertalls gathered so closely together that they threaten to leave the lower sections of Central Park, the only true architectural marvel to be seen here, in shadow for much of the year. One simulation found that the shadows of the highest towers may knife a mile into the park on the winter solstice. When the journalist Warren St. But this seems to be the calculation on which New York now operates. E ven for those who can afford the new New York, it is unclear how much they actually like it or maintain any ability to shape it to their tastes.
What is the point, after all, of paying a fortune to live in a city that is more and more like everywhere else? At the same time, its favorite nooks and crannies are being annihilated, even the more upscale ones. Perhaps because they have done so much to annihilate the New York around them, every luxury of the new buildings is designed to pull its residents inward, away from the rest of us—the very antithesis of urban life. This is another way in which the rich and their real estate brokers have made essential changes to the nature of New York.
Want a drink or a meal, a swim or a game of pool at the end of the day, a yoga class or a good book? Something to do with the kids? The emphasis on privacy is constantly stressed. It comes from nothing and nowhere, just an extension of an empty, overpriced receptacle, and it means every bit as much to the people and the city that it lords itself over.
This is a fifteen-story collection of connected staircases, which thousands of visitors can climb at the same time, continually passing one another. Not even its developer is able to take it seriously. It must be admitted that in the new city, the values of our public authorities seem just as misplaced.
Those three new stations of the Second Avenue subway that New York finally managed to produce last year, after nearly a century of effort, are devoid of anything connecting them to the city that has awaited them for so long. What actually happened was that the design of the new subway stations was outsourced to assorted stars of the modern art world, most of whom not one New Yorker in ten thousand would likely recognize by name or achievement.
The artists are depicting themselves and their celebrity friends imitating us, waiting for a train and doing all the perfectly ordinary things that we ordinary people do! It is one thing to replace some of the more offensive monuments and messages from the past, quite another to simply blank out everything with the generic and the tragically hip.
Our buildings and our public art today are not a corrective but the easy disengagement of the developer. The void in our art reflects the sensory deprivation of our neighborhoods, where the complex and varied city has also been wiped out. The things we have lost will never be found again, and the new things we have received are literally empty and spiritually devoid of meaning.
What are we going to do about a New York that is, right now, being plundered not only of its treasure but also of its heart, and soul, and purpose? Bill de Blasio, our current mayor and previously an obscure local politician, was first elected in , running against Republican Joe Lhota, a longtime state and city bureaucrat under the old regime and its ethos of development first, now, and always.
Here is my attempt to do just that:
Lhota ran a scorched-earth campaign, warning New Yorkers in commercial after commercial that a vote for some fuzzy liberal like De Blasio meant regression, meant going back to the bad old days of runaway crime, bankruptcy, and disorder. When all the votes were counted, Lhota had lost by nearly 50 points.
Crucial as this sort of work is, it only stanched the bleeding. The remaining 80, new units of affordable housing would start to materialize with De Blasio rezoning fifteen neighborhoods for higher-density habitation. This approach, as well, did absolutely nothing to contain rents. Worse still was the other tool that De Blasio would use to coax the developers into building in these newly rezoned hot spots: article a of the property tax code.
This has been the leading means by which New York has built new housing since , when the federal government largely dropped out of the business. The developers are taxed only at what the property—often a vacant lot—was valued at to begin with, excluding all the value their new building adds to the property.
No one could ever accuse this provision of discouraging new building. It is, in other words, mass gentrification locked in for many years to come, while the city is further starved of tax dollars needed to maintain and improve its public services. The a tax break is an anachronistic tool left over from the Seventies, when both landlords and the middle class were abandoning the city in droves.
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