This Price Surge Really Hits New Yorkers Hard

Good morning. It’s Monday. We’ll look at another sign that New York City is returning to its prepandemic ways — rents on apartments are rising again. We’ll also meet “the most influential New Yorker you’ve never heard of.”

You’ve no doubt read that airline tickets, bicycles and televisions cost more. You’ve probably noticed that food does, too — meat, poultry and fish prices jumped 12.2 percent from January 2021 to January of this year, according to the Consumer Price Index. Behind at least some of the increases are supply chain disruptions and labor shortages, which have compelled some employers to offer higher salaries to fill vacancies.

All that has made inflation a part of the daily conversation and a political issue for months. And renters, who make up two-thirds of the households in New York City, have more to worry about than pricier airline tickets and beef, chicken or fish.

“It’s just sort of mind-boggling, the increases we’re seeing now,” said Rachel Fee, executive director of the New York Housing Conference, a nonprofit advocacy group.

Rents, which plunged at the start of the pandemic two years ago, have rebounded. The increase in New York between January 2021 and January 2022 was the largest among the 100 cities tracked by the online listing site Apartment List.

The median asking rent citywide in January 2020 — before the pandemic — was $2,900, according to StreetEasy. It dropped about 14 percent over the following year, before climbing 16 percent to $2,895 in January.

My colleague Mihir Zaveri writes that the roller-coaster ride has been steeper in wealthier neighborhoods. On the Upper West Side and in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, the median asking rent dropped by roughly 20 percent between January 2020 and January 2021. But over the past year, it has spiked by around 40 percent.

The result? Both neighborhoods are now more expensive than they were before the pandemic.

A year ago, Gabbie Fried, an actor and comedy writer, found a one-bedroom apartment she liked on the Upper West Side. At $1,945 a month, it was tantalizingly close to its price range. She moved in.

Fried, 27, expected her rent to rise when her lease ended at the end of March. But when she learned the increase would be $800 a month, she was floored.

“I absolutely cannot afford that,” she said. She’s moving out.

She said she had tried to negotiate a lower rent increase, making the case that she always paid on time. But the property manager, HRM Management Corp., rejected a reduction, noting in an email to her that “with the improving market conditions and the city now fully open, landlords are in a better position now than in 2020.”

“As a smart consumer,” the property manager added, “we completely understand if you decide to look at other units.”


weather

It’s a day in the high 60s, New York, with variable showers and possible thunderstorms in the afternoon and at night. In the evening, temps will drop to the 40s.

alternate side parking

In effect until March 17 (Purim).


Former Gov. Andrew Cuomo used his first public appearance in more than six months to present himself as a victim of “cancel culture.” Cuomo, who last month began spending $369,000 on television ads portraying him as a victim of politically motivated “attacks,” also said he would reinsert himself in New York’s political discourse.

Taking the pulpit at God’s Battalion of Prayer Church, a Black congregation in Brooklyn, Cuomo appeared to leave the door open for a political comeback, saying, “God isn’t done with me yet.”

“I have many options in life and I’m open to all of them,” he said. He said he had been “vindicated” in the months since he resigned amid sexual harassment allegations, which he has denied. He portrayed his conduct toward women as a result of shifting generational norms, saying he may have been “old-fashioned and out of touch” and adding that, “I’ve learned a powerful lesson, and I paid a very high price for learning that lesson.”

The claims that the former governor engaged in inappropriate behavior were documented in a damning report by Letitia James, the state attorney general. Cuomo did not mention her by name, but his camp has repeatedly attacked her.

He later brushed aside questions from reporters outside the church. Asked if he was thinking of running for office, he said only, “I said what I said.”

Cuomo, who is known as a fan of American-made muscle cars, then drove off in a BMW.


In case you missed it…


An exhibition opens today in Manhattan Supreme Court, the courthouse that is famous as a backdrop for the television show “Law & Order.” The exhibition is not about a lawyer or a judge. The curator describes the subject as “the most influential New Yorker you’ve never heard of.”

His name was George McAneny. “We call him our hero,” said the curator, Adrian Untermyer, who is also the in-house counsel to New Jersey Transit. “McAneny is a hero because he built the subways to the outer boroughs, which really made greater New York.” McAneny also brought two influential organizations to fruition, he said: the Regional Plan Association and the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Untermyer heard about McAneny from Justice Andrea Masley of State Supreme Court in 2018 and was soon the webmaster for a group called Friends of George McAneny. He learned that McAneny had been the Manhattan borough president from 1910 to 1913 and president of the New York City Board of Alderman from 1914 to 1916.

“Though he played many roles over a long civic career (including a few years as the executive manager of The New York Times),,” my colleague David W. Dunlap wrote, McAneny “was at heart a city planner. He and Edward M. Bassett were the chief architects of the 1916 Zoning Resolution.” It was the city’s first. McAneny said the city needed height and size regulations “to arrest the seriously increasing evil of the shutting off of light and air from other buildings and from the public streets.”

The author and architectural historian Anthony W. Robins, in an essay for the exhibition, credited McAneny with saving Castle Clinton, a fort in Battery Park built in anticipation of the War of 1812, “because McAneny led a nine-year-long battle to keep Robert Moses from demolishing it.” In the 1940s, Moses insulted McAneny, then in his 70s, as “an extinct volcano” and “an exhumed mummy” during a municipal hearing as Moses maneuvered to tear the fort down.

But about the exhibition. Why is it in the courthouse, at 60 Center Street in lower Manhattan?

“Primarily because he gave us Foley Square,” Untermyer said. “He kicked off a design competition to get the courthouse where it is today — which otherwise would have been on the City Hall Park site.”



METROPOLITAN diary

Dear Diary:

I was walking down the street when I saw a man holding a floor lamp near Ninth Avenue and 43rd Street.

“You’re a lovely couple,” I said. “How long have you been dating?”

He looked at me. I could tell he got it.

“I just picked her up,” he said.

“I hope she lights up your life,” I said.

He smiled, laughed and then turned the corner.

— Barbara Litt

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