Henry Hart Rice Urban Policy Forum—Fear City: How New York City’s Fiscal Crisis Led to the Rise of Austerity Politics
PROGRAM 6:00pm - 7:30pm | RECEPTION 7:30pm - 8:00pm
In 1975, news broke that New York City was on the brink of fiscal collapse, shocking people in the city and around the nation. How could the country’s largest metropolis be nearly broke? Over the rest of the year, the city’s fate hung in the balance as it struggled to win aid from Washington, DC—where President Gerald Ford and his advisers greeted New York with the attitude summed up in the famous Daily News headline, “Ford to City: Drop Dead.” Even though the city did not, in the end, go bankrupt, the crisis and response transformed approaches to city governance and popular views of the role of business in New York.
How can the story of New York’s fiscal crisis help us think about the possibilities and limits of urban politics today, especially as Mayor Bill de Blasio seeks re-election? What relevance does the fiscal crisis of the 1970s have for our current era of fiscal crises—in Detroit, Hartford, Puerto Rico, and for many states around the nation? And how might the history of New York in the 1970s enable us to reflect on the rise of Donald Trump, who got his start in Manhattan real estate at that time? This talk will use the history of 1970s New York—which continues to simultaneously fascinate and repel—to illuminate the current dilemmas of New York, and the country, today.
Associate Professor, Gallatin School of Individualized Study and the History Department of the College of Arts and Sciences, New York University