Nine Big Reasons (and One Little Reason) to Be Optimistic About NYC

 

Reposted from OFH CEO Marc Schwartzberg's Linkedin.

This summer, New York City is reopening, and many companies have announced their plans to return to in-person work this fall. Despite the stormy forecast predicted over the last year regarding the city’s fate, the last few weeks have seen a strong movement toward recovery. The city is coming back to life — quickly!

 New York has a history of miraculously rebounding after hardship, and I have always been on the side of optimism. The last decade has seen a complete transformation of New York through large-scale infrastructure projects that predict a future as the reigning international capital of commerce and culture. From LaGuardia Airport, Hudson Yards, and the Javits Center, to the Second Avenue Subway, these major public works projects are not only revitalizing the city and offering new opportunities—they are transforming the city into a place of beauty. 

Here are my reasons to be optimistic:


1. LaGuardia Airport 

The $8 Billion revitalization of LaGuardia Airport and its outer roadway network is a capstone achievement for the city. The renovation includes the creation of 72 gates and two main terminals, providing a more comfortable experience for travelers. The circular hall in Terminal B has been updated with beautiful murals by contemporary artists Laura Owens and Sabine Horniq. With the upgrade to LaGuardia New York has three major world class airports to welcome visitors from around the world.

2. Hudson Yards 

Hudson Yards is 28-acres of real estate on the West Side of Midtown Manhattan, below West 43rd Street. In 2012, the city began a $25-billion development of a previously underutilized train yard. Aptly named “the one last frontier in Manhattan” by New York’s Department of City Planning, Hudson Yards will satisfy some of the growing demands for office space which is estimated by city planners to be 111 million square feet by 2025. The first of two phases of development revealed over 10 million square feet of new residential and office space, a hotel, and a shopping mall, alongside open public space, The Shed cultural space and of course, the Vessel (pictured above). The second phase, which began construction in 2020, will include additional office and residential space and a school. 

3. Javits Center Expansion 

Completed this past May, the Javits Center, New York City’s busiest convention center, underwent a $1.5-billion expansion that added 1.2 million sq ft to the 3.3 million sq ft structure.  Enhanced by neighboring Hudson Yards, the Javitz Center expansion further establishes New York City as an international hub for conventions and events for many years to come.

4. Kosciuszko Bridge 

In 2014, the city began construction on a new Kosciuszko Bridge to replace its predecessor that was deteriorating and experiencing constant congestion. The new bridge is built to sustain a century’s worth of traffic, with mesmerizing lighting, visible for miles. 

5. Governor Mario M. Cuomo Bridge (formerly the Tappan Zee Bridge) 

To alleviate northbound and westbound traffic north of New York City, New York State completed a beautiful new bridge to replace the original Tappan Zee Bridge. This $3.98 Billion project improves travel for commuters north of the city. It is a spectacular structure, and it has an incredible bike lane!

6. Moynihan Train Hall at New York Penn Station

Carved out of New York City’s main Post Office, Moynihan Train Hall, the centerpiece of the revitalization of Penn Station, increases track capacity by 40% to improve travel times and create a much needed improvement to the quality of millions of travelers’ commutes.  Talk about the art work! It is a beautiful public space, in stark contrast to the station we have had for the past 50 years. The new Moynihan Hall begins to mitigate the impact of the tragic destruction of the original Penn Station. 

7. East Side Access / Connecting LIRR to Grand Central Station

Following 12 years of construction, East Side Access includes seven miles of new tracks under the East River and Grand Central Station, connecting two major transit hubs. Expected to begin service in December 2022, East Side Access will save commuters up to 40 minutes of travel time and accommodate 160,000 riders a day. 

8. Second Ave Subway 

The Second Ave Subway, unveiled in 2017, was the first major expansion of NYC's subway in nearly a century. An investment of $4.4 billion yielded a new subway line that ambitiously seeks to alleviate traffic along Lexington Avenue on the Upper East Side of Manhattan and reduce passenger congestion on the 4/5/6 subway lines.  Talk about the artwork - check out the mosaics by Chuck Close!

9. L Train 

Repairs to the L train’s East River Tunnel were completed in July 2020, in response to damage incurred by Hurricane Sandy. Initially expected to cause heavy interruptions in commuter movement between Brooklyn and Manhattan, the L train repairs were completed ahead of schedule with only a partial disruption of subway service. The repairs fortified the tunnel against future storms for many years.  We get things done in NYC!

10. Little Island @Pier55 

Little Island @ Pier55 (the one little reason) is an artificial island built on stilts over the Hudson River, on the west side of Manhattan. Featuring diverse greenways, walkways, art, and 3 performance spaces, it is a destination park, offering a welcome respite from the traffic of the city. Little Island, which began as a response to the damage Pier55 experienced during Hurricane Sandy, has become a unique immersive experience for art and culture in New York City. This park was a gift to NYC from Barry Diller and Diane von Furstenberg.

The Result 

These large-scale infrastructure projects of the last decade (with some still in-progress) bode well for the future of our city. As we come out of the pandemic and go back to normal, we have a lot to celebrate. These grand infrastructure accomplishments give me additional optimism for the future, and I am thrilled to be in New York City to bear witness to its success.    

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