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The New York Times last week reported on the new logo that has just been unveiled for the new World Trade Center downtown.
Here's a shot of the new logo, courtesy of The Times.
Is it me, or is it underwhelming and totally nondescript? It took the Times writer several sentences to explain the meaning of the new logo. The five bars, for example, represent the five buildings on the site. The two bars on the lower part of the logo represent the two pools at the 9/11 memorial. The slope of the top of the bars is pitched at 17.76 degrees, representing the 1776-foot heigfht of the new tower. Clever, I suppose, but if the nuances of the logo need to be explained, maybe they're too subtle or too esoteric. Maybe they'd work if the logo itself looked distinctive or striking, rather than some boring and rectangles that sort of look like a candelabra.
The criminal thing here is that the Port Authority, which owns the space, paid corporate identity firm Landor Associates $3.57 million to create the logo. Maybe all those nuances are what they did to justify their hefty fee.
It makes me think of when another high-priced corporate identity firm -- Lippincott & Margulies -- created a new logo for NBC, back in 1976. They were paid "only" about $750,000, which would be about $3.1 million in today's dollars. So NBC got a bargain, compared to what Landor charged the Port Authority.
But not really. After spending all that money, it turned out that the new NBC logo looked extremely similar to the logo that Nebraska Educational TV had been using for two years. Nebraska ETV sued NBC, which settled out of court by giving Nebraska ETV $800,000 worth of broadcast equipment and $55,000 to pay a lower-priced firm to develop a new logo for them. NBC kept the million-dollar design. I don't know if Lippincott & Margulies refunded any of the fee for not doing proper research. (Maybe research would have cost NBC another $500,000.)
I wonder if Landor will give back some of its fee (paid for by taxpayers, by the way) for a boring logo that needs to be explained to make sense? Landor is the same firm that designed the FedEx logo, which works. But I'd say they really blew it on this project.
New York City continues to grow as more people come here to settle.
The Big Apple's population went over the 8 million mark with the last census in 2010, and it's gained nearly 3% since that last official headcount. There are now more than 8.4 million of us New Yorkers -- the biggest number ever.
Every borough showed a population gain, led by Brooklyn and then Queens.
The city still loses thousands every year who head south for warmth and sun (especially after this brutal winter) or out west to find themselves. But between immigrants -- 73,000 coming from abroad last year alone -- and a high birth rate, our numbers continue to rise. New New Yorkers joining us from Asia and the sub-continent, eastern Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Latin America continue to enrich our city with diversity that makes this place great.
Growth will be a challenge, as it means more people to absorb with education, housing and jobs. But it also creates new opportunities, since the things needed to accomodate our new neighbors will lead to more revenues and added income for retailers and others who will serve the new New Yorkers.
As always, the city welcomes them with open arms and an open heart.
Poorly handled press relations created a PR flap for newly-minted New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.
The mayor scored points soon after taking office in January when he announced plans to undertake a major initiative to reduce traffic-related fatalities, especially pedestrian deaths. The city has seen several pedestrian deaths recently that have grabbed headlines.
Among the things Mayor de Blasio announced as partr of his plan were stricter enforcement of traffic laws, fines for jaywalking, and a proposal to reduce the speed limit on city streets from 30 to 25 mph.
Imagine the embarrassment when a WCBS-TV crew happened to catch video of the mayor's entourage speeding through a residemntial neighborhood and blowing through at least two stop signs. Of course, the station ran the clip, which went viral and was shown on other stations, not only in New York but nationwide. The story hit the newspapers as well, in New York and beyond.
At a news conference about education a day or two later, a reporter asked about the incident. The mayor scolded the reporter and told him the quetion is not "on-topic" so he would not respond. Instead, the police commissioner addressed the issue, a bit vaguely, by responding that his officers did nothing wrong and there would be no investigation or discipline.
As the issue lived on over the next few days, becoming known as "Speedgate," de Blasio told reporters he would not address it since his police commissioner already had.
The media in New York City -- especially the political and police reporters -- are not easily blown of, and they persisted with questions. As the issue got more exposure, a group of parents and families of traffic victims held their pown news conference and chided the mayor for his "insensitivity" and "lack of concern" for traffic laws.
Finally, yesterday, he addressed the issue with the media, telling reporters he respects traffic laws and knows that everyone -- himself and his police detail included -- are not above obeying those laws. But he begged off by saying driving decisions by his security detail are the responsibility of the police, and he would not "cross that line" to interfere.
To me. it seemed like a lame explanation, where a real apology and mea culpa would have done the trick and likely satisfied the reporters. He does, in fact, have a legitimate excuse. He was not driving and, most likely, he was not even paying attention to how the car was being driven as he was probably on the phone, talking to an aide in the car or by phone, or checking messages.
What he should have said was just that, and that he would expect his driving and security detail to use their sirens and lights if they felt the need to go faster and/or go through stop signs and lights. That would have put the issue to rest, rather than creating a very visible blemish on the mayor's first months on the job.
Next time, listen to your PR people, Mr. Mayor. (And if they didn't give you advice like this, then perhaps you should look for some other PR advisors.)
Weather-permitting, One World Trade Center today officially becomes the western hemisphere's tallest building, as the final pieces of the tower's mast are put in place to top the building out at a symbolic 1,776 feet tall.
But it's not about being the tallest. Asia has taller buildings now.
It's about rising from the ashes of terror nearly twelve years ago, in what was surely New York's darkest day and also our nation's worst time. The new building marks a new start for the downtown area, and an affirmation of what makes New York such a great city. Even the most horrific act can't stop us. We may be a bit more cautious these days, but we continue to live and work and play and enjoy life in this wonderful place that's drawn people of all kinds to become New Yorkers.
People are coming to New York. Tourists continue to arrive in record numbers, but it's not the travelers who are making news
now. Instead, it's those who stay... which apparently is happening more frequently.
The latest numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau, reported in today's papers, shows more people are moving to New York City than leaving -- a first in more than 60 years.
The City's population has continued to swell, but over the last few decades that's come more from new births that offset the people who leave. And for years, there's been flight to the suburbs or away from the New York area altogether. But that's changing.
There are now a record-setting 8.3 million New Yorkers -- up by 161,000 from two years ago. As the Wall Street Journal story points out, that two-year increase is more than the entire population of Hartford.
The census numbers show New York has been losing fewer residents -- an estimated 140,000 people move away every year. But more and more are coming here and staying -- 150,000 last year. For young people, the lure is jobs and the excitement and energy of life here. Many neighborhoods that had been quietly dying are now coming back to life as young people discover them -- at first for the lower rents, and then for the local nightlife scene, which often follows.
So, as the inscription on the Statue of Liberty says, give us your tired, your poor, your huddled masses. And give us your young people looking to build a career, a family, a life. We're New York, and we have room for you all.
One hundred years ago today, Grand Central Terminal opened to the public.
Over the past century, Grand Central has gone through ups and downs, but it's always been an iconic symbol of this great city.
When it opened in 1913, railroads were the major form of intercity transportation, and train stations became symbolic welcome signs that represented the unofficial entrance to a city. The grander the city, the grander the station had to be. Grand Central Terminal, just as the name suggests, was the grandest of them all, even outshining other beautifully imposing places like Washington's Union Station and Kansas City's Union Station.
Grand Central fell on hard times in the 1960s, as air travel replaced trains and city finances and rail lines were struggling. It became a place you would avoid or hurry through to get to or from your train. It wasn't a place to linger, and if you had to use a bathroom... forget it. They were seedy, smelly and dangerous.
New York lost another iconic train station when Penn Station was demolished in 1965 to make way for the new Madison Square Garden and an ugly, congested mess of corridors that became the current Penn Station.
Grand Central almost met the same fate in the 1965, until a group of citizens led by high-profile people like Jacqueline Kennedy Onnasis, fought to preserve and renew the station.
New Yorkers owe them a huge debt of gratitude, because Grand Central has not only regained its lustre, but it's become a fantastic people space in midtown -- a place where people can meet, star gaze at the restored ceiling with the constellations, grab a quick
bite or have a fine, leisurely lunch or dinner, shop or visit a museum. On top of that, it's a place where some 750,000 people pass through every day on their way to and from work.
I'm one of those 750,000 and even after 40 years of commuting through Grand Central, I still get a rush when I walk through the main hall. It's a beautiful space, and we're fortunate to be able to enjoy it after 100 years.
Another New York icon is in the news today. Former Mayor Ed Koch, a man who truly and clearly loved the city he served, died
this morning at age 88.
I met the Mayor many times, while he was in office and afterwards. The first time was when I helped organize an Easter egg hunt for kids in Central Park for client L'eggs. The eggs were actually the egg-shaped containers that the pantyhose used to come in. The Mayor attended and officially started the egg hunt. He looked for a couple of little kids to take by the hand to lead the crowd of hundreds into the area where the eggs were hidden. I pushed my 3-year old daughter Jennifer to his side, and he grabbed her hand and, with a huge smile, said "Let's find some eggs." A photo of the Mayor and Jennifer appeared on the front page of The Daily News the next morning.
Mayor Koch was real and genuine. For an event we did at City Hall honoring youngsters who had won a traffic safety poster contest, he asked us to bring the kids into his office before the formal news conference. It was obvious how much he enjoyed talking with the kids, asking each winner, one-to-one, about his or her poster.
The last time I saw him was briefly at a Christmas party three years ago. He had clearly aged, but he still had that big wide smile. He was standing in the doorway as I was getting ready to leave, and I had to pass between him and the man he was talking with -- another former mayor, David Dinkins. As I excused my self to pass through, I nodded to each and said, twice, good evening Mr. Mayor. Koch laughed and said, "How often can you say that twice in the same breath."
Ed Koch, like Grand Central, symbolizes what makes New York great.