Mayor Eric Adams is set to deliver his second State of the City address on Thursday. The event, scheduled to begin at noon, will be held at the Queens Theatre in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park.
The speech is both a look back at what Adams has accomplished and a preview of what he expects to get done in 2023.
Below are a few things New Yorkers should know about this time-honored political ritual and expect to hear from the mayor.
What’s the goal of these speeches?
One element of the “State of the City” is exactly what the term suggests: a description of the present conditions in New York City, ranging from crime to the economy. With that, the speech is an opportunity for the mayor to lay out the landscape for New Yorkers and tout his wins.
But it’s also about looking ahead and presenting a vision and policy agenda for the future.
More broadly speaking, the State of the City address offers mayors a high-profile platform to connect with constituents. Adams, who has been critical of the press, has sought to find direct avenues of speaking with the public. Earlier this week, he invited New Yorkers to subscribe to his forthcoming newsletter.
The speeches can differ widely in tone and format depending on the mayor and the message. The same mayor, for instance, can also change up the format from year to year. Former Mayor Bill de Blasio, for example, adopted a town hall style address in 2020.
Which topics will Adams likely talk about?
Adams has set a high bar for his second year in office, which he's described as his “Aaron Judge year” in a reference to the Yankees slugger. And like home runs for Judge, no benchmark looms larger for the mayor than his record on public safety.
Although overall crime was up in 2022, Adams has argued that the city is trending in the right direction when it comes to safety, with a drop in homicides and shootings. He recently pointed to an upcoming survey that he said showed subway riders feel safer. New Yorkers can expect him to drill that message home in his speech on Thursday when he talks up his accomplishments.
Tied to public safety is New York City’s economic recovery, which has been another overarching priority for Adams. The mayor has tried to cheerlead the city’s comeback, but he has nonetheless expressed concerns about the city’s fiscal outlook. He recently unveiled a no-frills, nearly $103 billion budget that acknowledges a possible recession and the spiraling costs of the migrant crisis. On the latter issue, he has become something of a national spokesperson who has pressured state and federal leaders to come up with funding for cities supporting migrants.
That brings up housing, an issue that Adams said he wanted to prioritize late last year. Last month, he announced a major housing initiative to streamline the city’s zoning and building process and help spur 500,000 new residential units over the next decade.
Adams has also said he would address street homelessness with a plan to take those suspected of having mental illnesses to hospitals for evaluation.
Another topic he may address is women’s health. Earlier this month, the mayor pledged to make New York City a “model” for women’s health. One policy he announced was that the city would provide free abortion pills at its sexual health clinics.
Will there be anything new?
As a candidate, Adams spoke about leveraging technology to improve the lives of New Yorkers. One of his ideas was a MyCity web portal, which would allow residents to access benefits for things like food stamps, rental assistance, unemployment insurance and applications for various city permits.
Is there anything significant about the location?
Prior to 2003, New York City mayors typically delivered their State of the City speeches in City Hall before the City Council. Mayor Michael Bloomberg, however, opted to buck tradition in his second year by choosing alternative venues across the five boroughs. They included the Brooklyn Botanic Garden and the Barclays Center. His successor Bill de Blasio similarly took the State of the City on the road.
Adams’ decision to hold his second State of the City address in Queens is in keeping with his focus on diversity: The borough is one of the most ethnically diverse counties in the U.S.
Moreover, Queens holds personal significance for the mayor as the borough where he grew up.
The venue is also big, with a seating capacity of around 500 people, and carries historic significance as one of the original structures designed for the 1964 World Fair.
Adams chose to deliver last year’s State of the City address at the Kings Theatre in Brooklyn, the same venue where he scheduled his inauguration ceremony but ultimately canceled due to COVID-19 concerns.
Who will be in the audience?
According to the mayor’s office, guests will include “elected officials, community advocates and notable New Yorkers.”
How can people without an invite watch the speech?
Are NYC mayors legally required to give an annual State of the City address?
No. In 1986, Mayor Ed Koch decided to forgo his state of the city speech, explaining he had just delivered an inauguration address. “Enough is enough,” his press secretary said at the time.
What if I don’t have time to watch it?
Don’t worry. There will be plenty of reporting and post-mortem analysis of the speech. Be sure to visit Gothamist and tune into WNYC on Thursday afternoon to hear our coverage.
Correction: A previous version of this story misstated where Mayor Eric Adams was born.