Crime on the rise, vacant apartments and stores, omnipresent homeless: New York commemorates the anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks on Friday, entangled in a deep crisis, a political battle issue ahead of the US presidential election.
Despite the pandemic, the first American metropolis will hold its annual ceremony in memory of the nearly 3,000 people who died in the deadliest attacks in history, punctuated by minutes of silence during the hours when planes hijacked by jihadists crashed into the towers of the World Trade Center.
Instead of taking turns speaking, the families of the victims recorded their interventions. But they may end up, with masks and physical distancing, at the Memorial of the “Ground Zero” site, whose museum will reopen for the first time since March.
Nineteen years later, September 11 remains synonymous with the heroism of New Yorkers. New York leaders repeat that it is thanks to their “resilience” that the city has, for a month, reduced the rate of contamination of a virus that has killed more than 23,000 New Yorkers to below 1%.
But all also stress, like Governor Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday, that this resilience is now severely tested by the “side effects”, economic and social, of the pandemic.
– Empty offices until 2021? –
Gale Brewer, president of the Manhattan district, recognizes that this island symbol of the effervescence of New York is today weighed down by multifaceted problems.
Some are a direct result of the coronavirus: almost all of the banks, insurance companies and other “white-collar” companies, switched to telework in March, have maintained it, emptying the business districts and condemning thousands of small restaurants that fed their families. employees at noon.
Even if he misses Manhattan, Boris Tulchinskiy, a 26-year-old software engineer, plans, like many of his colleagues, to “continue working from home” in neighboring New Jersey until July 2021.
If the more than 60 million tourists who visit New York annually have disappeared, New Yorkers have also fled by the thousands: at least 35,000 people have left Manhattan, in view of the postal ballot requests recorded for the presidential election, according to Gale Brewer. .
Many businesses have closed: between 2017 and 2020, the number of vacant businesses almost doubled (+ 78%), according to Ms. Brewer.
As for homeless people, their visibility has increased with the closure of many shelters and the transfer of some 13,000 of them to empty hotels in Manhattan, she said.
The increase in murders and shootings (+ 47% and + 166% respectively in August compared to August 2019) is one of the striking signs of this New York crisis.
A far cry from the rampant crime that New York City experienced in the 1970s and 1980s, the city, which prided itself on being one of the safest in the world, has now returned to 2012 crime levels, according to the New York Times.
– Trump wants to “kill New York” –
“I can not tell you how many calls I receive from New Yorkers (..) literally worried about the degradation of the city”, summarized Tuesday Mr. Cuomo.
All New York leaders say they are convinced that the city will go up the slope, but in how long?
If the city shows signs of recovery – including the reopening of museums which began at the end of August and, at the end of September, dining rooms – it could take three years, believes Ms. Brewer, reporting the advice of real estate developers.
In the meantime, less than two months before the presidential election, this crisis has become a subject of conflict with the Trump administration.
The Republican President repeats that the increase in crime in the Democratic stronghold of his hometown is the consequence of the incompetence and laxity of his elected officials. Again Tuesday, he accused the mayor and governor of New York of “destroying” the city.
New York officials denounce the refusal of the former real estate mogul and Republicans to grant billions of dollars to New York – as to other Democratic cities – to make up for their huge losses in tax revenue.
“Trump is trying to kill New York, it’s personal, it’s psychological,” Cuomo said Tuesday.