2017 was an interesting year to say the least, with many highlights and surprises.
A New York businessman and real estate tycoon with no political experience became the president of the United States would probably be the biggest shocker. Then the Trump administration pulled the U.S. out of the Paris Climate Agreement, while New York City’s Mayor Bill de Blasio joined 350 other U.S. mayors in adopting the agreement for their own cities. In the Big Apple, strides were made towards increasing affordable housing, new parks and long-in-the-making megaprojects debuted.
Now as 2018 begins, there are several things that are supposed to happen in the city in the next 12-months that we can look forward to. Here are 10 big things to look forward to, if you are a New Yorker:
- Minimum wage will go up to $15 per hour in New York State by the end of the year. This is all thanks to the legislation Governor Andrew Cuomo pushed through in 2016. According to Curbed, “That puts New York in league with cities like Seattle and Los Angeles, which have passed similar legislation in recent years. The plan isn’t without its issues; the $15 figure is only for companies with more than 11 employees, and it won’t go into effect in the rest of New York state for some time, if at all. But for New York City—where a 2015 study found that most housing was completely out of reach for someone making the then-minimum wage of $8.75—it’s a welcome, and necessary, change.”
New Yorkers will have more access to paid family leave. Another Governor Cuomo pushed initiative will make it easier for someone in the state to take paid leave after a major life event occurs, like severe illness or the birth of a child. Cuomo signed legislation that will ensure New Yorkers will maintain their job, benefits and even get paid while on leave.
- Brooklyn’s Prospect Park is officially car-free. Last summer, a pilot program gave pedestrians back Prospect Park, and the program was so popular that as of this month it was made permanently off-limits to cars.
- This year New York City will see an large increase in parkland. Curbed reports, “In Brooklyn alone, several high-profile parks will debut: Domino Park, designed by James Corner Field Operations, will bring six acres of parkland and a waterfront esplanade to the Williamsburg megaproject. At Brooklyn Bridge Park, Pier 3—notable for its huge lawn and bevy of kid-friendly activities—is also on track to open this year, as is a smaller esplanade at the base of Greenpoint’s rising 40-story skyscraper.”
The success of the NYC Ferry were expand its routes to the Bronx. The most recent and by far most beautiful way to commute in the city will soon be accessible to even more New Yorkers. New routes will open in 2018 that will have service points on the Lower East Side and in the Soundview area of the Bronx.
- Whether this one is good or bad, it would definitely be important: Congestion pricing may finally become a reality. Curbed reports, “Many have tried—and failed—to get congestion pricing to stick in New York City, but 2018 might just be its year now that Governor Cuomo has finally embraced the idea. The specifics of Cuomo’s plan are still TBD, but he could take inspiration from one put forth by Move NY, which would implement tolls on the East River bridges, levy surcharges for vehicles entering Manhattan below 60th Street, and make ride-hailing services pay an additional fee for traveling in those areas. Congestion pricing still has its critics, including Mayor Bill de Blasio, who called it ‘inconceivable’ earlier this year. But proponents claim that these surcharges could generate as much as $1 billion per year, which could then go right back into the city’s crumbling transit system—and there’s no arguing how necessary that is.”
- The TWA Flight Center will finally reopen with restoration to its former glory. Eero Saarinen’s midcentury masterpiece will have been shut off from the public for over 15 years, by the time the TWA Hotel opens at the end of 2018. According to Curbed, “The hotel’s 505 new rooms will be contained in two low-slung buildings situated behind Saarinen’s headhouse, but the swooping concrete structure itself will be open to all—and with restaurants, bars, and even a museum for Jet Age fanatics, there’ll be plenty of reasons to visit beyond gawking at one of New York’s most spectacular modernist buildings.”
- The first parts of Hudson Yards will open to the public. After years of hype, New Yorkers will finally have a peek inside this highly anticipated megaproject. By the end of 2018, some of the most popular components will open, including a Spanish food hall from Jose Andres, dozens of other buzzy restaurants, and its high-end shopping center.
- The city will continue to increase the miles of protected bike lanes on busy thoroughfares. In 2017, an incredible 25 miles of bike lanes were added throughout the city , and 2018 will continue to see more. According to Curbed, “Ahead of the L train shutdown, the DOT will add a new two-way lane on Delancey Street, protected by Jersey barriers, that connects to the already heavily-trafficked Williamsburg Bridge. In Brooklyn, a similar protected path will be implemented on Fourth Avenue between Sunset Park and Bay Ridge, in advance of an extension all the way up to 8th Street. And that’s just the beginning.”
- With all the woes New Yorkers have experienced lately with the city’s subway system, this year commuters will actually know when their trains will arrive. The MTA has installed countdown clocks in most subway stations, and the final ones will be added this year to the 7-line and the Franklin Avenue shuttle.
By: George Katzenstein
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