New York, city, United States: Later History
In the 20th cent., New York City was served by such mayors as Seth Low, William J. Gaynor, James J. Walker (whose resignation was brought about by the Seabury investigation), Fiorello H. LaGuardia, Robert F. Wagner, Jr. (see under Robert Ferdinand Wagner), Abraham Beame, John V. Lindsay, Edward I. Koch, David Dinkins (New York City's first African-American mayor), and Rudolph Giuliani. The need for regional planning resulted in the nation's first zoning legislation (1916) and the formation of such bodies as the Port of New York Authority (1921; now the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey), the Regional Plan Association (1929), the Municipal Housing Authority (1934), and the City Planning Commission (1938).
After World War II, New York began to experience the problems that became common to most large U.S. cities, including increased crime, racial and ethnic tensions, homelessness, a movement of residents and companies to the suburbs and the resulting diminished tax base, and a deteriorating infrastructure that hurt city services. These problems were highlighted in the city's near-bankruptcy in 1975. A brief but spectacular boom in the stock and real estate markets in the 1980s brought considerable wealth to some sectors. By the early 1990s, however, corporate downsizing, the outward movement of corporate and back office centers, a still shrinking industrial sector, and the transition to a service-oriented economy meant the city was hard-hit by the national recession.
In the late 1990s the city capitalized on its strengths to face a changing economic environment. While the manufacturing base continued to dwindle, the survivors were flexible and, increasingly, specialized companies that custom-tailored products or focused on local customers. Foreign markets were targeted by the city's financial, legal, communications, and other service industries. The city also saw the birth of a strong high-technology sector. Budget cuts in the mid-1990s reduced basic services, but a strong national economy and, especially, a rising stock market had restored vigor and prosperity by the end of the 20th cent.
The destruction of the World Trade Center, formerly the city's tallest building, as a result of a terrorist attack (Sept., 2001) was the worst disaster in the city's history, killing more than 2,700 people. In addition to the wrenching horror of the attack and the blow to the city's pride, New York lost some 10% of its commercial office space and faced months of cleanup and years of reconstruction. The crisis brought national prominence and international renown to Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who provided the city with a forceful and calming focus in the weeks after the attack. Michael R. Bloomberg, a moderate Republican, succeeded Giuliani as mayor in 2002. In 2012 low-lying areas of the city's boroughs suffered extensive damage from Hurricane Sandy's storm surge. In 2014, Bill de Blasio, a populist and liberal Democrat, became mayor. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the city was the center of one of the worst outbreaks. In 2021, Eric Adams, former Brooklyn borough president, was elected mayor, only the second African-American to win this position.
Sections in this article:
- Later History
- The Revolution through the Nineteenth Century
- The Colonial Period
- Points of Interest and Educational and Cultural Facilities
- Ethnic Diversity
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