New York City’s most consequential mayors were all builders. Fiorello La Guardia presided over a massive build-out of the city’s infrastructure, paid for by federal New Deal dollars. Robert Wagner developed a huge amount of public housing. Ed Koch and Michael Bloomberg nurtured private construction while engineering the creation of tens of thousands of units of subsidized housing. Each of these mayors served three terms, the only people in city history to do so; together, they ran the city for 48 of the last 84 years. Three of those men are dead, but daily life in the city still occurs in and on their physical legacies. Bill de Blasio is a builder, too. Early in his 2013 run for mayor, when he was a distant third in the polls, he unveiled a plan to build 100,000 units of subsidized housing and preserve affordable rents for 90,000 existing homes. After taking office he enlarged the target, revising the construction goal down to 80,000, but boosting the preservation side to 120,000. “This plan thinks big—because it has to,” de Blasio said on a brilliant May morning in 2014, when he unveiled his Housing New York initiative with a Brooklyn construction site as… Read full this story
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