The best thing about New York City is that there’s always something happening.
This year had its share of news, good and bad, that kept New Yorkers on their toes, from crime to culture. But in the spirit of the holidays and celebrating New Year’s Eve, we want to shine a light on the good things that happened this year in NYC.
Below we’ve gathered 15 headlines that gave us hope, entertained us and offered relief in 2022.
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These actually beautiful bugs threatened our ecosystem so we all came together this year to kill them. It was gross. It was arguably cruel. But it was right. Don’t you love when New Yorkers work together?
Garbage and rats got so bad in NYC this year that Mayor Eric Adams promised to literally clean up our streets with a new garbage bin program, brand new street sweepers, new city laws and a rat action plan. Finally! The city has always been gritty, but maybe we’re about to see a new side to her.
The Lesbian Herstory Archives in Park Slope became the first LGBTQ+ landmark in Brooklyn. We can’t believe it took this long, but we think it’s one of the best things to happen this year.
4. A few new museums opened
It’s a big deal when a new museum opens. When many open, it’s a rarity! This year, the Museum of Broadway, the Jackie Robinson Museum and the Bronx Children’s Museum opened their doors. It’s a win for New Yorkers and tourists alike.
Everyone knows walking along Fifth Avenue near Rockefeller Center and Saks Fifth Avenue in the holiday season is for tourists and sadists. The Rockefeller Christmas Tree and Saks’ big lights display attract about half a million people each holiday season, crowding the sidewalks, and plaza and spilling out onto the street at times. This year, NYC shut down the stretch of the avenue spanning these popular attractions on Sundays through December. It was a brilliant move—instead of fighting the flow of pedestrian traffic, it went with it, creating a safer experience for everyone. It’s a hit, too! Even locals are enjoying the open street this year.
It took a while, but NYC’s oldest gay bar was finally landmarked this year but not because it’s old. In 1966, the bar was the site of a “Sip-In,” a protest against certain regulations that prohibited venues from serving people suspected of being gay. The “Sip-In” was spearheaded by three members of the gay rights organization Mattachine Society three years before the Stonewall riots. It’s finally gotten its due.
For years, we’ve been hearing that indie bookstores were dying due to the rise of online retailers. The ability to order online and receive books quickly in the mail or on e-readers dealt a huge blow to local bookshops for at least a decade. This year, however, we saw a resurgence of mom-and-pop bookshops. It seems New Yorkers these days are craving the personal and local atmosphere these stores offer. We’re here for it.
It used to be that Rockefeller Center was somewhere only tourists and workers inhabited, but in recent years, it has tweaked its identity by opening buzzy restaurants, bars and hip shops. From the roller disco that popped up this summer to the beloved Pebble Bar, there’s way more for locals to do there. And that’s how every neighborhood should be.
Earlier this year, this writer paid $70 for two previously frozen fried rice dishes at JFK Airport. For years, travelers have been held hostage to airports’ notoriously high-priced food and drinks. This year, the Port Authority released a policy guide for vendors instructing them not to price food and drinks to be more than 10% higher than out-of-airport “street prices” of similar products. They also have to offer lower-priced menu options and let their customers know that they can complain about possible overcharges via social media. No more $35 fried rice plates!
NYC became a ghost town during the pandemic. How could we ever forget those photos of an empty Times Square? Finally, this year, NYC is expected to see 56.4 million visitors by year’s end, according to NYC & Company. That would account for 85% of the record 2019 tourism levels, and the city hopes to surpass those 2019 visitation numbers by 2024. It’s a sure sign that things are heading back to where they should be, at long last.
Lincoln Center completed the renovation of David Geffen Hall early, allowing New Yorkers to be treated to its grand opening in October. Inside the new space, the stage is now 25 feet forward compared to where it used to be, with the audience sitting around it—a characteristic that allows for greater visual and acoustic intimacy. Other changes include reduced seating capacity (2,200 from 2,700), improved accessibility, a more immersive design and a steeper incline at the orchestra level. It’s one of the most exciting openings of 2022!
It’s been almost two years since people could go up to the Statue of Liberty’s crown. The super-high view of the city skyline from New York Harbor is special. You can now grab tickets to see it for yourself!
13. Two theaters were renamed in honor of Black legends
Both James Earl Jones and Lena Horne were honored this year in a big way. The Shubert Organization renamed Broadway’s Cort Theatre to The James Earl Jones Theatre this summer while The Nederlander Organization renamed The Brooks Atkinson Theatre to the Lena Horne Theatre. Both stars made incredible impacts on the theater industry and on the world. Make sure to read up on their lives at the links above.
We stan Kusama here in New York City. Whenever the Japanese artist’s work is featured anywhere in the boroughs, we run to queue. Who could forget the infinity mirror rooms after all? Our fandom has paid off because this month, a massive mural by Kusama was unveiled at the new Grand Central Madison Terminal alongside one by Kiki Smith. It’s just what you’d expect from the whimsical artist, too.
Angelica Ross took the stage in Chicago on September 12, making history as the first openly trans woman to play Roxie Hart. The historic scarcity of Black trans women representation on Broadway means there’s been a surge of “first” milestones in recent years and this was a big one. We interviewed Ross, who acknowledges that her intersectional identity of being a Black trans woman adds nuanced layers to the character of Roxie, one of Chicago’s two leading ladies.
Ex-Brit turned Manhattan resident since 2008.