Conversations on New York: 2001–2010

There is a strong perception amongst New Yorkers that theirs is a city characterized by perpetual and ever accelerating change. In truth, the reshaping of New York’s built environment is less constant and more cyclical, occurring in periodic bursts of activity linked not only to mayoral policies, but advances in material and construction technologies, global and local economic trends, and real estate cycles. The inauguration of a new mayor for the first time in 12 years has prompted a great deal of interest and debate over Bloomberg’s legacy, but most would agree that the three-term mayor presided over one especially active burst of physical transformation in New York City.

In 2010, amidst a near halt in development brought on by the economic downturn, the League presented New New York: The City We Imagined/The City We Made, a major exhibition and series of public programs that explored the outpouring of design, development, and construction activity in the first decade of the 21st century. (This followed the 2007 exhibition, New New York: Fast Forward, which presented a snapshot of the city in the midst of the building and construction boom just before the recession.) The 2010 exhibition attempted to document what the city looked like after ten years of renewed investment in the physical city and to make visible the initiatives and mechanisms responsible for its transformation. In conjunction with the exhibition and to facilitate its stated goal of catalyzing conversations about the past, present, and future of New York’s built environment, the League organized a series of public programs featuring some of the individuals who have made a considerable impact on the designing and building of New York between 2001 and 2010.

In this feature we present the original exhibition website (containing an extensive timeline of projects and proposals, a thousand photographs from across the city, and video interviews with leading New Yorkers) alongside videos of each of the four 2010 public programs, and an original Urban Omnibus video from the exhibition that explores a day in the life of five New York neighborhoods: Hunts Point, Jamaica, Mariner’s Harbor, Downtown Brooklyn, and Chelsea. The 2014 mayoral transition gives us a valuable opportunity to reflect, once again, on how the Bloomberg administration physically reshaped the city and consider its impacts on New York City neighborhoods, then, now, and tomorrow.


Published: January 6, 2014

Background photo by Adam Elstein. Homepage photo by Frank Guittard.