Our Weekly Entertainment Dispatch
A documentary on the return of New York to its glory days
Gotham: The Fall and Rise of New York (2023)
The story of late 20th century New York is one of failure and decline – except for the century’s last six years. Those six years were a remarkable imitation of a phoenix rising from the ashes. That rise continued into the new century and withstood the devastating attacks of September 11th.
Gotham: The Fall and Rise of New York tells that story. This documentary film shows how the excesses and blind ideology of the Lindsey administration, combined with harmful social forces, started the city on a downward spiral. The downward slide continued for decades until New Yorkers were living in a city with over 2,200 homicides and a litany of societal problems that didn’t seem possible to overcome.
After losing to David Dinkins in 1989, Rudy Giuliani worked hard to gather skills and knowledge to narrowly win the mayoralty in 1993. And it was off to the races in the rebirth of New York City. Police Commissioner Bill Bratton reformed and re-tasked the NYPD. CompStat was introduced to both the police and other city agencies. A remarkable litany of reforms were enacted by Giuliani on all fronts.
It was improvements everywhere all at once, all the time. Life seemed to get better overnight. Business began booming. Harlem experienced a renaissance: brownstones were renovated, businesses opened, even a massive Pathmark supermarket was opened on 125th Street to great fanfare. Mike Bloomberg carried the ball forward after Giuliani termed out.
Many people have a vague idea of the story. Gotham: The Fall and Rise of New York brings the details and facts home with first person interviews. Director and writer Matthew Taylor gets Bill Bratton, Ray Kelly, Joel Klein, Peter Vallone, even Giuliani himself to relate their goals and experiences. The architects of the turnaround lend their voices and tell this story like only they can. Video clips show how bad things had become and how much progress was made. The movie ends with New York in all its glory.
Fast forward to today. Crime has made a comeback. Disorder rules the streets with homeless and mentally ill left to their own devices making streets frightening. Schools once again are failing. The grand opening of Harlem’s Pathmark is a distant memory – the store closed during the De Blasio Administration. Even Rudy Giuliani is a shell of his former self. New York needs another group of innovative and forceful leaders to pull off another phoenix routine. And the city couldn’t survive another de Blasio.
Gotham: The Rise and Fall of New York is a full-length film, running a little more than two hours. It is a reminder that we can come back from adversity and reclaim our city. Elections matter. It can be rented for $2 from most streaming services and is available for free on Vudu and Tubi. Watch it with a sense of hope – or maybe a prayer or two.
Enjoy the movie and support your local police!