Is New York City an Empire in Decline? | NYT Opinion

  • Published on Oct 7, 2019
  • New York City was built on big, bold ideas. The vision of past leaders kept New Yorkers in town and captured the imaginations of millions from around the world who came here to “make it.” In the Video Op-Ed above, Mara Gay, a native New Yorker who has reported on the streets of this city for seven years, questions where all that vision is today. She argues that New York’s current leaders need to bring big ambition and hustle to serve their residents. She supplies ideas of what vision could look like to a mayor whose reluctant homecoming offers dim hope for the city. New Yorkers, she says, deserve more.
    This isn’t just a New York story - it’s a trend in many cities around the world, where broad public programs are pushed aside for narrow corporate interests and where transformative polices are as hard to come by as affordable rents.
    More from The New York Times Video:
    Whether it's reporting on conflicts abroad and political divisions at home, or covering the latest style trends and scientific developments, New York Times video journalists provide a revealing and unforgettable view of the world. It's all the news that's fit to watch.

Comments • 1 428

  • Sammy N
    Sammy N 3 hours ago

    And my family is always bragging about wanting to move back east. They can go live in a cardboard box in upper Manhattan paying half their salaries in rent and I'll stay in my medium sized affordable to live in city in the southwest, thank you very much.

  • Onnion France
    Onnion France 9 hours ago

    Most artists when interviewed feel that with the internet there is NO need to be in cities like NYC. John Waters (Maryland), Kim Gordon(now in LA) all have said Manhattan is just a wealthy shopping mall at this point. The intellectual give and take that one once went to in cities is now replaced by likes and social media. Things change. I like NY- I'm from here but it's kind of over . Nothing lasts forever.

  • severo estornudo
    severo estornudo 2 days ago


  • DAM
    DAM 3 days ago

    this chick thinks the Rockaways is nice???? WHERE????

  • ANGELO54
    ANGELO54 3 days ago

    I say that long time ago. New York is going down and very fast.

  • Angel La Canfora
    Angel La Canfora 3 days ago

    Seems to me this same scenario is playing out in major cities the world over. It's capitalism run amok. Capitalism only works if the rich are benevolent humanitarians who invest their money into programs and projects that help those with less. Unfortunately, human nature being what it is, it hasn't worked out that way and now we're left with increasingly stratified cities - the haves have more; the have nots, too little. The gap will only continue to widen.

  • Emerson
    Emerson 4 days ago


  • Luis Almonte
    Luis Almonte 4 days ago

    Yeah some of the big cities in America like New York and San Francisco is taken over by the rich and kicking out the people that make that particular city what it is. It's sad to see the city that I grown up in city changing for the ultra rich that don't even live there.

    • Sammy N
      Sammy N 3 hours ago

      What sucks is people who leave those cities because they can no longer afford to live there migrate towards inland cities and eventually repeat the process all over.

  • R.W
    R.W 4 days ago +1

    Yes and it's all thanks to the democrats.

    • Universal Cerberus
      Universal Cerberus 4 days ago

      Right, because a dying rural republican town is a much better alternative.

  • Tony Faxton
    Tony Faxton 5 days ago

    A few hundred years ago up until half a century ago, our ancestors shed their sweat and blood on the street, so we could have a better life, more freedom and voice which were privileges only for aristocracy. Somehow just in the last 50 years, we managed to give them all back to the top 1% of the elite aristocrats....not just in NYC, but everywhere. The blame is on us, not the politicians.

  • thegreendestiny
    thegreendestiny 5 days ago

    Blame the democrat politicians who have run this city and state for how many decades now.

  • Luis M
    Luis M 6 days ago

    I do agree on the Peering out of their Hyperloop windows, but it doesnt have to take 100 years, in fact it can take less than 10.

  • Luis M
    Luis M 6 days ago

    If white and asian kids can score high enough to get into these high schools but latinos and blacks cant, then maybe it isn't racism. Maybe, just maybe, some kids studied harder and are therefore smarter than the other kids. Or you could always take the intellectually lazy and dishonest route and call racism instead of addressing the root of the problem. Oh and lowering test standards for the sake of "diversity" will cause more problems than you seek to solve. Think parents sending their kids elsewhere entirely.

  • Luis M
    Luis M 6 days ago

    Congestion tax 18 years behind London, so you want NYC to be as expensive as London, got it.

  • Luis M
    Luis M 6 days ago

    New York is the last city on Earth with a "car culture", especially if you take it how many square miles the city is. And you call yourself college educated.

  • Luis M
    Luis M 6 days ago

    Making because there aren't enough wealthy home owners to keep feeding the coffers of the City take department and its never ending increasingly large budget.

  • Luis M
    Luis M 6 days ago

    Brought to you by the Democratic Party. The irony is that by continuing to vote in leftist policies you will only make it worse.

  • Luis M
    Luis M 6 days ago

    The irony is that you are nostalgic about the New York of 100 years ago but then contradict yourself when you bring up how its different today, then you wonder why this isn't the New York of 100 years ago.

  • Luis M
    Luis M 6 days ago

    Hudson Yards was the most exciting development in recent NYC history and it was a private project. That being said, why cant we finish the full Second Avenue Subway? Phase 1 took a decade (More if you're really counting) and phases 2,3,4 will be ready when? by 2100? We need 21st century infrastructure, we need the Boring Company intra-city Loop system and we need inter-city Hyperloops and Maglevs. This video talks about how NYC lost its grand bold visions right? So let's bring that back.

  • Omar Gonzalez
    Omar Gonzalez 6 days ago

    Rampant unregulated capitalism happened

  • edantes2008
    edantes2008 6 days ago

    New York City, great place to live during the 70's, 80's and 90's, after 9/11 it was never the same, NYC for ever in my heart!

  • My wifes son
    My wifes son 6 days ago

    Shithole cities

  • Whitfield Palmer
    Whitfield Palmer 6 days ago

    The problem with New York is that New Yorkers think they are cosmopolitan because they ate some spicy chicken wings in little Korea. They think it’s the best on earth. There are many better cities.

  • Nordinator
    Nordinator 6 days ago

    1:03 Arabic : thank you!! ش ك ر ا

  • Olivia
    Olivia 7 days ago

    I agree so much with the city of the rich message. I am not denying the fact that I am fairly well off, but I think some rich people take it a step too far. I've always heard the phrase, "When in Rome, do as the Romans do." and I try to take that to heart. I travel to New York annually to see Broadway shows, and it's like seeing a time lapse of the city. Every time I visit, I see more chattering tourists taking selfies in the lobby of their expensive hotel, and less students in a cafe or even just regular locals walking to work.

    Dr ROLFCOPTER! 7 days ago

    HAHAHA Hyperloop....

    Dr ROLFCOPTER! 7 days ago

    Lol you think 900USD per month is a lot for an appartment. You can live in a shithole town in sweden and pay that amount

  • whitetigergrowl
    whitetigergrowl 7 days ago

    It needs more political diversity and ideology. Without it, the only ones to blame are the ones that insist on going it alone.
    Shutting down other ideas and such doesn't help anyone and is a sign of ignorance.
    No one political party is better than the other. And without that political diversity and ideology you've effectively limited yourself.
    No one to blame but yourself at that point.

  • rexbk09
    rexbk09 7 days ago

    Love, love, love!

  • O O
    O O 7 days ago

    I got major chills with the concluding sentence

  • Alex Sano
    Alex Sano 8 days ago

    Run for office, please.

  • James S.
    James S. 8 days ago

    Creepy eyes.

  • Voot Eimer
    Voot Eimer 8 days ago

    Is this girl in middle school? Or just her brain?

  • Cornell Waters
    Cornell Waters 8 days ago

    🚋 Thank You!

  • Mandar .M.M.
    Mandar .M.M. 8 days ago

    The rich and poor ideally need to live together in same neighbourhoods. Expensive Condos are always going to stay empty no matter what. However building these does create employment. Yes safe bike lanes, walking infrastructure are important and so is public transport. Congestion charge is must.

  • Frank Cicero
    Frank Cicero 9 days ago

    Well when you have the NY Daily Trash , NY Grime , liberal rod strokers , a Mayor who is Fk in moron it's safe to say NYC Sucks !

  • Shane Herr
    Shane Herr 9 days ago

    her vision is VR? something already quiet antiquated in tech industry by the end of 2019...thats her vision? what happened to the new york times?

  • Shania Grant
    Shania Grant 9 days ago +1

    I would move but this is the state with all the nice restaurants and great diversity. I will not be the token black person for a whole town.

  • Christopher Mulrooney

    As a native New Yorker I understand what she means... but I want a bigger vision than the solutions she’s proposing

  • Matthew K
    Matthew K 9 days ago

    I live in Indianapolis, a city far smaller than NYC. It’s an oasis of blue in the middle of Indiana, in the deep red of the middle of the country. I love my city, I love my state (but I wish it was more progressive). But I’m noticing a lot of the same trends that she describes here. Out public transit is the worst in the country. A new apartment building was built downtown with $8,000/month rent while I’m currently sitting in a White Castle next to a homeless man hiding from the snow.

  • Jeff Conway
    Jeff Conway 9 days ago


  • Jay P
    Jay P 9 days ago

    Well duh.... NYC is just a playground for tourists now. All the residents are dirt poor. The whole NYC glamor is just a farce.

  • Trey Jackson
    Trey Jackson 9 days ago

    her eyes are crazy

  • ultronae ultron
    ultronae ultron 9 days ago

    But it will be more diverse, so it will be better.

  • Pontus Ekholm
    Pontus Ekholm 9 days ago

    Robert Moses built a lot of the public housing in New York City, and plenty of other infrastructure New Yorkers take for granted (not the subway though, he hated it).
    However, so much power in any individual was dangerous and also did a lot of harm to NYC (the subway maintanence being the most visible) and hurt especially people of color.
    Such powerful, vision driven projects are impossible now in New York, by design. City Hall and Albany does not want another Moses.

  • Shad Prince
    Shad Prince 9 days ago

    You guys need Boston's help 😁

  • Alex Podolinsky
    Alex Podolinsky 10 days ago

    what is with her eyes she looks like shes doing the lazy eye thing from fievel goes west. also yeah i mean the fact that they dont have 20 or 30 buildings every few square miles that are just 50 or so floors of 200-600 sq ft apartments for 650-1150/mo is beyond me. I mean heck even better have superblocks like in spain where say four adjacent blocks are blocked to cars and have greenery and are massive cheap housing centers that are, heck, say, 90 floors each of just studios, 1br, and 2br apartments but all under 1300/mo

  • Seth0067
    Seth0067 10 days ago

    We need a progressive Robert Moses.

  • Dominoes37
    Dominoes37 10 days ago

    NY Times also panders to a lot of corporations. That's all NY is turning into, folks. One big standardized corporate shopping mall playground.

  • David Harrison
    David Harrison 10 days ago

    1. Expand subway service to parts of the city that don't already have it.
    2. Hire a foreign company to build the new subway lines and stations until American companies can get their costs under control.
    3. Build thousands of new working class apartments around every new subway station. You can mix in some expensive apartments too but they can't be the majority.

  • Richard Johnson
    Richard Johnson 10 days ago

    Make this woman mayor!

  • EMS 76
    EMS 76 10 days ago

    No. A city has never been an empire anytime in world history.
    The US is am empire in decline.

    • David Lieberman
      David Lieberman 9 days ago

      Nah, NY's s#*t policies are what's screwing you over. In Idaho, we're doing great now we don't have to foot the bill for your ridiculous spending and taxes.
      Your failure is the result of extreme government control. It's an anarchy of whoever gets elected plunders the citizens.
      But hey, why not say America is in decline, ignore the consequences for abandoning your liberty, and give away more of your autonomy for government "public transportation" with costs that would never be accepted in a voluntary free market system.
      Go ahead and blame the hard-working business owners who only get as far as they do because they serve their customers faithfully.

  • Inbal Feuchtwanger
    Inbal Feuchtwanger 10 days ago

    The number of people paying a static amount or less will always decrease in an inflationary environment shm.. Also complaining that construction across the street is something, "happening to you" like its some kind of travesty and you have to move cause of it? Complaining that renters are the ones paying the lion share of property taxes, like what do you think your landlord is running a charity or course rent pays for building expenses. Videos like these are painful to listen to, people just want to feel oppressed when they are not.

  • LJ
    LJ 10 days ago +1

    New York elite high schools only admit students solely based on their admission scores. If you start admitting blacks and Latinos with lower scores, how’s that fair? Don’t get even started with the affirmative action bull crap. These public institutions exist to provide a prestigious education to those who cannot afford it. Diversity is not the goal!! She is a moron

    • LJ
      LJ Hour ago

      @Sammy N What a great argument. Did you get any help to write that

    • Sammy N
      Sammy N 2 hours ago

      Well you are an ignoramus.

  • CoolStuff Unboxings
    CoolStuff Unboxings 11 days ago

    48% of tax income for ny state is from the top 1% of New Yorkers. I think that this video hasn’t been thought out well because most of the points she makes are irrelevant and arguable. NYC has one of the more diverse schools in the country and some of the best ones at that! Race should not not be used as a way to accept or deny students I agree with that but the students should be qualified as well and not just accepted due to race. If that kid that is in the 1% of kids accepted that was black means he worked hard and deserves the spot. So a lot more can be argued but this video is nonsense overall. Btw I’m a New Yorker so yeah!

  • Ska Pilgrim
    Ska Pilgrim 11 days ago

    Everyone is freaking out in these big cities,and I am just chilling in a small West Texas Town.

    • Sammy N
      Sammy N 2 hours ago

      Greetings fellow southwesterner. Unfortunately I worry the costs of the big cities are going to drive the people to the smaller, inland ones and the process is going to repeat itself.

  • Paul Christianson
    Paul Christianson 11 days ago +1

    the lack of critical self awareness displayed here is stunning, and hilarious. every decaying city in america is run by leftists, yet the left refuses to acknowledge the obvious pattern.

  • Bilal Rahmani
    Bilal Rahmani 11 days ago

    NYC should take a tip from the Chinese in terms of housing. Your downtown areas are way too expensive for anyone except the super rich to live in? Build a new train line going out to an undeveloped area and then just build new housing there. If they just invested money in developing the Metro North, LIRR, and MTA to East Queens more I think we wouldn't be having this massive of a housing issue.

  • Jack Robertson
    Jack Robertson 11 days ago

    69 pedestrians. Nice.

  • Mary Mary Quite Contrary

    I feel your pain, as a Toronto native. The same forces at work in New York (thanks housing deregulation, thanks globalization, thanks late-stage capitalism) have wreaked havoc on Toronto, in less time than NYC. We have sold out our best cities to the world’s rich - there’s no way middle class Canadians and Americans can compete with the world’s wealthiest families, who’ve often made their money at the behest of subjugating their own working class populations abroad.