Wednesday, September 19, 2018

The Gangs of New York - then and now


It seems that the more things change, the more they remain the same, as illustrated in the 2002 blockbuster movie the "Gangs of New York. The storyline was a true depiction of how the "Five Points district in lower Manhattan in the mid to late 1800's was run by notorious gangs, the most powerful were called the "Natives".

Fast forward to recent headlines in the New York Post "Mob Plot to Kill Rudy" and one may get the impression that nothing has really changed, and that New York City is still the "mob capital" of the world, however, nothing is further from the truth. The headlines speak of a time long since passed, when mob wars and rubouts at trendy restaurants were as common as New York potholes and part of the infamous lore of this incredible city.

Thanks in part to a tough talking no nonsense then-federal prosecutor named Rudy Giuliani, all of that changed. New York today is far safer city then it was in the 80's and of course, when federal prosecutor Rudy Giuliani became Mayor Giuliani New York City once again flourished. Crime was dramatically reduced, leading industries once again began investing in the city and tourism again greeted the "Big Apple", and the claim that New York City was unmanageable soon vanished, and New York became one of the safest cities in the country.

Giuliani had a methodology in how he governed. He quickly redirected and reinstituted what came to be known as "quality of life" laws, designed in part to re-establish civic responsibility. While past administrations allowed areas of the city to slowly decay into an environment of corruption, petty crimes, and chaos, Giuliani upon taking office immediately began re-establishing basic civic order, laws that were originally on the books, were once again being enforced.

Urinating in public places other then in restrooms was simply unacceptable. Aggressive "in-your-face" panhandling would not be tolerated, no longer would our parks be shooting galleries for druggies, no longer would our streets, especially along 9th and 10th Avenue be a haven for drug dealers, prostitutes, and con artists who preyed on the weak and the homeless that dotted the landscape.

The crackdown may have seemed harsh to the casual observer. However years of mismanagement and neglect, had brought the city to the brink of disaster. Giuliani reasoned that basic quality of life issues are at the root causes of escalating violence among the homeless, and that addressing those basic issues reduces that level of violence among this group. Of course, it came as no surprise that the far left would challenge the concept deeming it cruel and insensitive, their solution under the previous administration was simply to ignore the problem, as if didn't exist, and allowing a slow and progressive decay of the city that eventually filtered into the mainstream and into its economy.

New York City had become a city in decline. I recall many an evening walking past the New York Public Library towards Times Square, adjacent to the library was a boarded up Bryant Park. This once beautiful park with its magnificent water fountain and manicured lawn had become a drug-infested haven for junkies, no one ventured in after dusk. Sadly, this scene was repeated time and again in almost every park within the city limits.

In a town that is overwhelmingly liberal to the core, Rudy Giuliani was able to not only govern effectively, but was able to turn the tide of a city in decline and even his critics begrudgingly acknowledged his leadership. So it came as no surprise to me when I read (with some amusement), that Rudy was literally in the "cross-hairs" of the five Mafia families. John Gotti (who in his day) had generated as much publicity as Giuliani wanted him dead, as did Carmine Persico, the head of the Colombo family. Fortunately the "hit" was voted down, the mob bosses decided by a slim 3-to-2 vote margin not to whack the young aggressive federal prosecutor.

Giuliani is no stranger to life and death issues, his own health was recently challenged and of course his handling of the 9/11 tragedy has been well documented. His detractors will always point to his aggressiveness, and what they term as a "mean spirited" side, however leadership requires tough decisions. It's not by chance that in a liberal town such as New York City that a moderately conservative Republican was able to turn the tide of a decaying city and become perhaps one of the most effective mayors in the history of this city. However please don't take my word for it, simply look at the record; it speaks for itself.

About the Writer

Amo is a writer for BrooWaha. For more information, visit the writer's website.
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2 comments on The Gangs of New York - then and now

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By Steven Lane on October 28, 2007 at 11:51 am
very interesting article.
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By Venditto on October 28, 2007 at 02:40 pm
so, you're kind of a Guiliani fan, huh?
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