New York Times Birthday

There were three articles centering on New York City on November twenty-seventh, 1995. The first, called “Metro-North Braces for a Strike, Again”, explained how fifteen of Metro-North’s unions surviving without a union, calling for a strike “possible as early as tomorrow”. It continued with the contingency plan of halting everything at Grand Central Terminal, but would affect bus services and subways all over. The second article, titled “Attackers Set Fire to Token Clerk in Brooklyn Subway Station”, eerily sub-titling the article as “Arson in Booth Seems to Mimic Movie Scene”. The author proceeds to describe how two men “turned a token clerk’s booth into an inferno” inside a Brooklyn subway station. Towards the end of the article, the author comments on how the “scenes from the current film ‘Money Train’ depict two attacks nearly identical” to the Brooklyn arsons. The third was an editorial piece, but worth mentioning. Called “New York City Labor Accord Exploits the Poor”, a Giuliani labor contract that, according to the writer, “exposes workfare as an exploitation of poor people as underpaid workers with no rights or benefits”.

To me, New York City seemed to be a grimier, angrier, harsher place than it is now. Being new to New York, it’s interesting for me to ask older seasoned New Yorkers about the history of the city. Many of them marvel when I ask about Giuliani. Even so, serving from 1993 to 2001, two years is a short time to expect an entire city to brighten. Even so, in the article about the Brooklyn arsons, the chief of police at the time explained that such extreme acts of violence, especially in a copy-cat forms, are rare in the city, the last one happening seven years before. Metro-North doesn’t threaten to strike like it did in the 1990’s. I’ve found an article from the NYC Government, proudly saying that for the first time, more people were moving in to New York City than moving out, in more than sixty years.

On November 27th, 1945, not a lot was happening in New York City, according to the New York Times.  With an entire article centered on transfers, the newspaper was clearly the fastest way basic information (like train schedules) would travel. The second article, titled “Bond Sales in the U.S.”, described how “Victory Loan Week” was a campaign idea, calling on Manhattan store owners to decorate both the exteriors and interiors of their stores, banks, and other places of business. Finally, “Brooklyn Center Acquired By City” was posted – by far the most important article. New York City took over “twenty-three blocks in downtown Brooklyn”, as a Supreme Court member signed over the property. This tells me that New York continued to better itself as time went on, because the property was signed over as an unhealthy, unusable piece of land. New York has been reinventing itself for years.

Lastly, on November 27th, 1895, New York City was still just beginning to take shape. (I found one article called “Rockefeller’s 50,000 Gift”, but the NYT wouldn’t let me access it. I’m disappointed). The first was “New-Yorkers On Their Way Home”, celebrating “Manhattan Day” in the middle of Georgia. What struck me the most about this article was how “New-Yorkers” had the hyphen in it, which has since been struck from our language. Likewise, the “Brooklynites” were given a special route – a word that I had never seen before. New York was essentially an infant then, but still, the “regular trains bound for the North”, which means that the city was progressing. Secondly, the article “Cities Governed Well” talked about how “New-York City” would soon be well-governed, but no one “can say how far away that good time is”. I loved this article because of the uncertainty for this amazing city. Then, no one knew what would become of it. “The beginning is here”, the article explained passionately. “Eventually the principle will be established that…a city government must govern well”. This was so interesting to read – the first spark of hope that New York would reign supreme. The last article from 1895 was a scene from a “double shooting”, a “Committed Double Crime”. This article made me think because I realized that in this sense, not a lot about New York has changed. The gun laws are incredibly strict, but people are still killed with guns, and it’s just as horrible now as it was then. This assignment showed me how New York has evolved, but perhaps more importantly, has shown me how it’s remained the same.

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. tgmccormack
    Feb 28, 2014 @ 18:00:09

    “What struck me the most about this article was how “New-Yorkers” had the hyphen in it, which has since been struck from our language.” I love that you noticed this! Only a writer would notice it.

    Reply

  2. tgmccormack
    Feb 28, 2014 @ 18:07:08

    “New-York City” would soon be well-governed, but no one “can say how far away that good time is”.

    You quote from the article to make this point, and this idea of the government being involved in the “liveability” of the city appears elsewhere in your piece when you reference an article about the government taking over 20 blocks in Brooklyn. In fact, when Giuliani was mayor, the talk was that the city was ungovernable. Supposedly the G-man took charge and made the city governable again. But I am wondering if there is a theme in here somewhere. There seems to be this tension between what we want from NYC (from urban life)–openness and freedom and diversity of experience–and the control factor needed to make the city function. I am thinking here of just how controlled our city is. Even our parks are completely contrived government spaces that are manicured to specifications. Our streets are numbered and given direction etc. I don’y know, you just got me thinking is all.

    Last thought…possible history project…the token booth where that fire took place.

    Reply

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