After decades of affluence, growth, and setting the tone for urban achievement in the United States, New York City is in a serious backslide. The city is home to more than eight million people, the economic heart of the nation, and a favored destination for tourists from around the globe; its success should be a foregone conclusion.
But it's not; in fact, 2020 has been a waking nightmare for New York City, a nightmare that was almost entirely created by the people elected to lead the city and state. Certainly, Mayor Bill de Blasio and Gov. Andrew Cuomo cannot be blamed for the Chinese coronavirus invading the city.
But they can most assuredly be blamed for their disastrous response to the pandemic, including Cuomo's order to put COVID-19 infected patients back into nursing homes. That decision has left at least 6,000 nursing home residents dead, not counting any patients that may have died after being transported out of the nursing facility to a hospital. Officials estimate that the death toll caused directly by the order is actually many thousands of people higher.
Initially, the mayor was hesitant to even acknowledge the crisis as the rest of the nation braced for disaster. As late as March 11, de Blasio was encouraging New Yorkers to go out and catch a movie, to live life like normal. He was among the last leaders of a major city to order the closure of schools.
In a total reversal void of logic, de Blasio now helms one of the strictest COVID-19 policy enforcing cities in the nation. Well beyond "flattening the curve," the point where New Yorkers were all promised that life and business could continue, New York leadership is still suffocating the small businesses of their city in an unprecedented grab for power by elected officials via executive fiat.
While issuing multiple gut punches to the economy, workers, and residents of the city, civil unrest arrived in the Big Apple. But instead of trying to curb the rampant looting, vandalism, and soaring crime rates, the city leadership elected to defund the New York Police Department to the tune of $1 billion.
Now, businesses and citizens are fleeing the city at an alarming clip. The city that boasted its unquestionable role as the leader of tourism, hospitality, and economic vibrance just six months ago is now in tatters; even massive chain retailers and restauranteurs are saying "goodbye" for good.
"There’s no reason to do business in New York," chief executive of Ark Restaurants Michael Weinstein told The New York Times. Until the pandemic, Ark Restaurants' flagship property had been the Bryant Park Grill & Cafe in midtown Manhattan. That restaurant has been crippled by the pandemic; now only permitted to cook and serve food outside, it's seen an 80 percent drop in revenue from this point last year.
The story of Bryant Park Grill, a favored destination for tourists, fashionistas, upscale residents, and business lunches, was that the eliminated summer tourism in the city killed its business. That story is repeated in restaurants throughout the five boroughs of NYC.
The hospitality industry in New York City has been brought to its knees. Experts have even estimated that 85 percent of small restaurants could close in NYC by the end of the year as a result of the pandemic. But it's not limited to small businesses. Chains like Subway, Pret a Manger, Shake Shack are also waving the white flag.
With millions out of work, the mayor that has championed vandalism, looting, and suppression of free speech while he sanctioned Marxist graffiti on 5th Avenue, has also chosen to move the ever-burgeoning homeless population into luxury hotels.
On Manhattan's Upper West Side, residents were appalled to find that the city had housed nearly 15,000 homeless people in almost 20 percent of the Big Apple's 700 hotels. The cost of the contract signed with the hotel association was $78 million in April; FEMA agreed to pay 75 percent of the bill but the rest is being funded by taxpaying NYC residents.
"[This] will eventually bankrupt the city," Central Park Civic Association president Michael Fischer told Fox News. "With more and more people fleeing the city because of the homeless problem and defunding the police where they don't feel safe, the city will not have the funds to sustain this ... and the crisis is only going to get worse."
Right now, there is little on the horizon for New York City that spells out a turnaround for the troubled city. In addition to the booming homelessness crisis, the economic fallout, and continued throttling of business and tourism, violent crime has soared. To top it off, Mayor de Blasio wants the hundreds of thousands of people leaving the city to know that he doesn't care.
"I am not going to beg anybody to live in the greatest city in the world," de Blasio said. "There are plenty of people who want to live in New York City. There are plenty of people who will come here no matter what." The governor wasn't so sure, even joking in a press conference that he would have to bribe his wealthy friends to return from their vacation homes under the circumstances.
De Blasio may think NYC is the greatest city in the world, but he certainly operates it as though he wants it to be one of the worst. People flock to New York because of wide-eyed optimism, bottomless opportunity, and access to the most vibrant and prosperous neighborhoods in the nation. He has taken all of that away from New York.