For 400 years, New York has been hit by one major crisis after another, and persisted — draft riots, depressions, world wars, near-bankruptcy, suburban flight, fires, terrorist attacks, hurricanes, pandemics, the list goes on and on.
Here’s what we’ve gone through in just the last two decades:
- A massive, coordinated terrorist attack on Sept. 11, 2001 that killed three thousand people and caused our two tallest buildings to collapse.
- A devastating economic crisis in 2008 that put two of the city’s biggest investment firms — Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers — out of business and brought our lucrative financial sector to its knees.
- Superstorm Sandy in 2012 wiped out low-lying areas in Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan and Staten Island, leaving our city with much to rebuild.
- The current COVID-19 pandemic, which killed thousands of our fellow citizens, forced the closure of thousands of businesses, disrupted our way of life and wrought financial devastation.
After 9/11, the financial crisis of 2008, and Superstorm Sandy, there were plenty of skeptics who wondered if our city would survive these crises. Each time, we did.
Now, as the city slowly but steadily gets back on its feet after COVID-19, we’ve heard one too many hot takes online about how New York City is allegedly finished.
Frankly, we’re left to roll our eyes and laugh, because nobody has ever made money betting on the demise of New York City.
Are people leaving the city now? Yes. But there will be newcomers to our city in the years to come. They’ve been arriving on our shores over and over again, from across the country and world, for four centuries. A virus isn’t going to stop that trend for very long.
Does New York City have a crime problem? Yes. Shootings are too frequent, and property crimes are increasing. We remember “the bad old days” of the 1970s and 1980s like the current cynics do; the only difference is that we also remember that the city overcame them.
Have businesses taken a devastating hit? Of course they have. And more must be done to save those struggling to stay afloat. Yet our city’s history serves to reassure that after previous economic panics and depressions, the city lifted itself from the depths of economic despair and flourished like never before.
As a city, we should have more faith in ourselves, and our ability to persevere. There’s no doubt we’ve been hit, but there’s also no doubt that we will recover. And we’ll do it our way, with new ideas, new leaders and new innovations lifting us up and paving the way for a rebirth of the greatest city in the world.
We’ve done it before, why can’t we do it again?