NEW YORK CITY
Professor of Urban Planning
Where were you when the World Trade Center was attacked five years ago?
I was away.
Given your background in urban planning, could you assess the impact of 9/11 on the New York City’s progress in redeveloping Lower Manhattan?
The impact of 9/11 has to be separated into 1) the impact of the destruction of the WTC and 2) the impact of the reactions to that destruction by federal, state, and city governments and by the people of the city. The destruction brought people together, and they reacted admirably; the governmental and political reactions to it tended rather to divide them.
The Russell Sage Foundation has just released a three-volume study of the impact, which highlights the extent to which different groups in the city were differently impacted and differently treated by government. It turns out that workers in Chinatown who were unemployed because of the destruction were treated differently from similar workers in Tribeca and Battery Park City.
At the federal level, we can see the extent to which politics played a role in the responses to 9/11 by comparing those responses to the responses to the devastation of Katrina. 9/11 victims’ families received millions in compensation; in New Orleans, families of those 1,272 who dies were given funeral expenses and little more.
Governor Pataki's role in the rebuilding of lower Manhattan has been disgraceful. He has played pure politics, trying to shape everything to aid him in a hoped-for presidential campaign; the pressure to move in a rush, for instance, has to do with his political timetable, not with the requirements of sound planning. The city's normal, well-established, and much more democratic planning process has been ignored in the process.
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