2014 was a year of ups and too many downs for New York City, and while there was plenty to be thankful about, there was also plenty we'd rather leave behind. Some victories were simple, some problems small, while others, for better or for worse, will likely change the city forever. Here's a look at some memorable moments.
THINGS THAT MADE US SMILE
Trading Lindsay Lohan for Taylor Swift
In 2014, notorious New Yorker Lindsay Lohan skipped town for her role in London play "Speed-the-Plow," and the Guardian reports she wants to stay there. Not to leave any vacancies, a certain chart-topping blonde happened to move in.
Sorry, Linds, we'll always love ya, but when it comes to the well-being of our city (read: no DUIs, nightclub fights, terrible spray tans, etc.) we have to side with Taylor Swift.
We'll admit, seeing an out-of-towner who once sang about faded blue jeans and boys in Chevy trucks be dubbed NYC's Global Welcome Ambassador was weird, but let's face it, the girl is harmless (as long as you're not her ex-boyfriend), and she knows how to throw a badass birthday party.
Subway platform dance parties
On a typical day, it wouldn't be completely out of line to compare waiting for the L train with undergoing a root canal, so we have to give props to the little girl who got her fellow straphangers to lighten up a little, just by busting out some infectious dance moves on the platform. The viral video that resulted goes to show that all it takes is one happy person to lift the spirits of many.
Getting "inside" Gramercy Park
After all the years New Yorkers have spent pining for a glimpse inside Gramercy Park, it took a visitor from Pittsburgh to get us the virtual key. Computer programmer Shawn Christopher took full advantage of a well-located Airbnb, snapping 360-degree panoramas of the secret spot and revealing them to the world via Google Maps.
Pop-up eats finding permanent homes
New Yorkers love a good pop-up (lines! limited quantities! Instagram bragging rights!), but when the food is really good, even we crave good old-fashioned commitment. Luckily, 2014 was a great year for bringing short-term food relationships to the next level, with Mu Ramen, Ramen Burger, Schnitz, Mamak and Brooklyn Piggies all putting down roots, and Berg'n in Crown Heights taking Smorgasburg vendors from the streets to a year-round venue.
The return of the crinkle fry
Talk about an emotional rollercoaster. In the spring, Shake Shack tried to jump on the clean eating bandwagon and offer "Fresh Fries," doing away with their beloved crinkle cuts. Predictably, outrage ensued. By November, fast food devotees were reunited with the crispy originals, and we bet they'll be ketchup-dipping to their hearts' content well into the new year.
THINGS THAT MADE US CRINGE
The G Train
In September, the MTA admitted that 17 out of NYC's 20 subway lines had seen an increase in wait time over a 12 month span, with the G train taking the unfortunate title of most unimproved. The line saw an 8% drop in trains on time, and was among the lines with the lowest rate of on-time trains. Here's to better luck in the next 12 months, G train-goers.
Aggressive Elmo and friends
Times Square's costumed characters took a turn for the worse in 2014, racking up arrests for aggressive solicitation and inspiring a cartoon crackdown. In July, "Spider-Man" allegedly punched a police officer after demanding $5 or more from a tourist, and in September, a handcuffed Elmo was posted to the NYPD's Twitter account.
Bedbugs on the loose
Oh, you thought that guy who blasts his music every morning was annoying? Some N train riders had to deal with much more pesty commuters in 2014-- yes, we're talking bedbugs. The vermins were found on at least three N line trains in one week, leading to quite the itchy morning rush.
NYC saw a rise in rat complaints in 2013, and while the data isn't in yet for 2014, the year did see some high-profile rodents. Namely, the one(s) that briefly shut down Cronut hot spot Dominque Ansel Bakery in SoHo, the one caught on video hanging out among the baked goods in a Midtown Dunkin' Donuts, and the ones reportedly spooking Anna Wintour in her new digs at One World Trade Center. On the bright side, a new study says there are less rats in the city than we think (like, around 2 million. That's nothing, right?)
In spite of an honorable run, the Rangers built us up just to tear us down, ultimately losing to the Kings in the finals. (Did we really need to make Los Angeles more conceited?!) The Yankees missed the playoffs for consecutive seasons for the first time since 1993, and the Mets stayed home in October for the eighth year in a row.
The Nets didn't live up to the hype and the Knicks, Jets and Giants have been nothing to write home about. On the bright side, both the Giants (Odell Beckham Jr.) and Mets (Jacob deGrom) have rookies that give us hope for the future, and the Islanders seem to be stepping things up pre-Brooklyn.
THINGS THAT GAVE US FAITH
Derek Jeter's fairytale ending
Saying goodbye to Derek Jeter in 2014 was the hardest thing Yankee fans have had to do in quite a while, but in true Jeter form, the captain exited with style.
Finishing a high-profile, 20-season long MLB career with zero scandals on record is a rare feat these days, and the fact that his last home field at-bat happend to be a game-winning hit was the icing on the cake. Just another reminder of why we'll always #Re2pect you, Jeets.
Year of the Piano Man
When Billy Joel announced last December that he would spend 2014 playing a monthly show at Madison Square Garden, New Yorkers could hardly believe their luck. Billy vowed to keep singing at the arena "as long as there is demand," and demand there is, alright... his residency has so far been extended into February 2015, guaranteeing the new year will start off in a "New York State of Mind."
The war on bad subway etiquette
While we can't say we're happy about straphangers' manners in 2014, we're thankful that infuriating habits like man spreading on crowded trains are finally being confronted by both New Yorkers and the MTA. In January, we'll see an awareness campaign take place, giving us hope for happier subways in the year to come.
The National September 11 Memorial & Museum
It may have opened old wounds for some, but 13 years after the September 11 attacks, New Yorkers were proud to finally welcome a completed memorial to all of the lives so tragically lost. Though its opening was not free of controversy, the museum has seen many more visitors than expected since May. Tenants also began moving into the site's One World Trade Center in 2014.
The new Fulton Terminal
It's like you're in outer space, or some futuristic world. It took a long time for it to be completed, but wow. And the shiny new center doesn't just look cool, it has eased subway transfers for hundreds of thousands of commuters daily. That's a win for the MTA in our books.
Completion of the High Line
September 2014 saw the completion of the third and final section of the High Line, an innovative project that since it opened in 2009 has given New Yorkers a new vantage point and helped transform the future of urban parks. In addition to artwork and plant life, the third section of the park gives visitors a prime look at another major project in the works, the Hudson Yards development, just another reminder that our city is never stagnant.
THINGS THAT BROKE OUR HEARTS
No matter where your opinion on the matter falls, it's an undeniably sad fact that relations between the police and certain communities in NYC are strained right now, and we mourn all of the lives lost in the process, and wish for peace for the families of Eric Garner and police officers Wen Jian Liu and Rafael Ramos. Here's to hoping these senseless events can spark real change in 2015.
The death of old haunts
From Cafe Edison to Subway Inn to Smith's Bar & Grill to Di Robertis to Yaffa Cafe, this has been a year of closures of old and storied bars and restaurants. Newer beloved spots are also closing at an alarming rate. The Tea Lounge, Marco's, The Harrison... It's sad to say goodbye to the old New York City, while chain stores, (especially Dunkin' Donuts), continue to rise.
The costs of renting in Manhattan continued to rise in 2014, while vacancies fell. To make ends meet, some New Yorkers even turned to online fundraising. Adding insult to injury, New York City had the most zip codes in the top 10 of Forbes’ 2014 list of “America’s Most Expensive Zip Codes," with six in Manhattan and one in Brooklyn. There is hope in Staten Island, however, which was ranked the second best location in the nation for couples looking to rent by Rent.com. We'll meet you on the ferry.
Michael Grimm getting re-elected
New York rep Michael Grimm's re-election in November in spite of a 20-count federal indictment unveiled in April made us question our local voters in 2014. Grimm pleaded guilty in Brooklyn federal court in December to aiding the preparation of a false tax return in connection with a restaurant he co-owned before beginning his political run, but he says he will not resign from Congress.
The Ebola scare
In the case of Dr. Craig Spencer, Bellevue Hospital stood up to Ebola and won, but the virus caused (and continues to cause) quite a few scares in New York City throughout 2014. Luckily, most suspected local cases have turned up negative, but the city is actively monitoring 223 people who have arrived over the past 21 days from any of four countries with high rates of Ebola infections.
Losing New York celebs
We lost too many celebrities who either were born in NYC or called it home in 2014, starting with Philip Seymour Hoffman, continuing with L'Wren Scott, Mickey Rooney, Elaine Stritch and Lauren Bacall, and ending with Joan Rivers. From graffiti tributes to dimmed Broadway lights to star-studded funerals, we paid our respects the best way New Yorkers know how, but we're hoping for a happier 2015.