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Nearly ten years after the terrorist attacks on 9/11, President Obama announced late on Sunday May 1st that Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, the mastermind behind those attacks, had been killed by American forces. Hundreds of jubilant New Yorkers flooded into the streets that night to share the moment with each other, prompting Jon Stewart to later comment, "we're back, baby."
The city went into full panic mode in the days leading up to Hurricane Irene, but predictions of our imminent doom and destruction in NYC were greatly over-exaggerated (though upstate NY and New Jersey were hit much more seriously). Instead, we were left with a series of hysterical tweets, a lucky lamb born in the middle of the storm, and the start of the greatest Twitter account of all time: El Bloombito. And we got to get drunk thanks to "Hurricane Irene Bingo."
The other "natural disaster" to hit NYC this year was the 5.9 magnitude earthquake originating in central Virginia, which left NYC in rubble a bit wobbly. To our credit, it was very unusual for an earthquake to reach us up hereâand it gave one person the fortitude to get a "Survived the Quake" tattoo to forever remember the moment.
After years of fighting and protesting, New York became the sixth state in the union to legalize same-sex marriage. Mayor Bloomberg officiated the wedding of two of his staffers, Google celebrated with a rainbow-flag map icon, and one very happy Gothamist staffer got in on the action as well.
He came, he pretended as if he was going to run for president, he became a born again Birther, he was quoted as having "enormous balls," he rode on a plane filed with "yards and yards of gold silk," he reached new lows in pizza-eating during a publicity shoot with Sarah Palin. No matter how much he annoyed us, or was mocked by the entire nation, Donald Trump taught us all one very important thing this year: never give up (when you're a delusional attention hog). Long live President Donald Trump!
Perhaps the only public figure sadder than Donald Trump was Anthony Weiner, the once promising Queens Assemblyman who saw his career go down in flames this summer after his sexting scandal came to light. Now all people remember about Weiner is what his pecs look like (and the fact he allegedly is into MMF threesomes). At least we got some dirty haikus out of it!
Before May 2011, Dominique Strauss-Kahn was the ascendent head of the International Monetary Fund and a promising challenger to French President Nicolas Sarkozy. Then he was arrested for allegedly raping a maid at a Times Square hotelâand got the NYC perp treatment with a perp-walk. DSK was put under house arrest and eventually moved to a swank townhouse ($50K/month townhouse arrest) where he stayed until his accuser was deemed untrustworthy. He was eventually freed after all charges were dropped. The accuser, Guinean immigrant Nafissatou Diallo, went public and is vowing justice.
Perhaps no individual person divided the city more than former officer Kenneth Moreno, one of the two so-called "rape cops" who had been accused of raping a woman in her East Village apartment while he was on duty. Despite the protests and public outrage, he was acquitted of the rape (but convicted of official misconduct). You can read all about that contentious trial in our first major feature, Confessions Of A "Rape Cop" Juror.
Among several prominent police controversiesâincluding officers' behavior during the West Indian-American Day paradeânone lingered longer than the ongoing ticket-fixing scandal. Though just 16 police officers were indicted in the ticket-fixing sting, the names of 160 NYPD officers were implicated in a scandal that refuses to go away. And a series of sexual assaults on women in Brooklyn raised questions about whether cops were taking victims' reports seriously.
Perhaps the most disturbing crime story of the year was that of Levi Aron, the man who confessed to killing and dismembering 8-year-old Hasidic boy Leiby Kletzky. Despite a psychiatric evaluation which found that he has a personality disorder, he was later found mentally competent to stand trialâbut the seeming randomness of the horrific murder has scarred the insulated Orthodox Jewish community, and shocked the entire city.
Police searching the Gilgo Beach area for more bodies last year
Mayor Bloomberg took a break this year from attacking salt eaters and soda chuggers to focus on one of his greatest pet peeves: smoking. His Smoke Free Air Act, banning smoking in public parks, beaches, the concretewalk, and the Brooklyn Heights promenade, went into effect in May, but from what we can tell, it hasn't been enforced very seriously. Chalk it up as one of Bloomberg's folliesâ don't even get us started on Cathie Black!
OK, let's talk about Cathie Black...the former Hearst publisher was Mayor Bloomberg's much ballyhooed choice to lead the NYC public school system. But Black had a bad start among parents and teachers. So after three months, Bloomberg sacked her (and she was the last to know). To make matters worse for Bloomberg, then Deputy Mayor of Operations Stephen Goldsmith, reviled after botching the blizzard, abruptly resigned in Augustâ¦and it turned out he had been arrested in D.C. for domestic assault.
Occupy Wall Street took root in lower Manhattan one September weekend, quickly sparking a worldwide movement and giving pepper-spraying cops like Tony Bologna their 15 minutes of infamy. Well, at least the NYPD had the "Hipster Cop" as an Internet meme-friendly antidote to their alleged brutality. Click through here to see our picks for the top five OWS moments of the year.
Oh, maybe there was one person more pathetic than Weiner: former State Senator Carl Kruger, the longtime Brooklyn politician who pleaded guilty to federal corruption charges including fraud and taking bribes. His 16 year career as an legislator came to an ignominious ending with him sobbing uncontrollably, facing serious prison time.
It was a busy year for Derek Jeter: not only did the Yankee great get his 3,000th hit (a fan caught it, gave it back, and then made out like a bandit for his generosity), but he also broke up with Lyla Garrity Minka Kellyâwhich gave us all a chance to learn way too much about his mating rituals and the free swag that comes after a night with little Jeter.
And lastly, this year marked the ten year anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks, when planes struck the World Trade Center, Pentagon and a field in Shanksville. During the anniversary ceremony, the names of the 2,983 victims at the WTC attacks were read, and various officials read passages from the Bible, poems and offering prayer. Paul Simon performed a truly moving rendition of "The Sound Of Silence." During a year filled with change and global strife, it was a fitting moment of stillness to reflect on the past ten years, and the way the city has changed.