GATEWAY PERSPECTIVES: The Resiliency of New York

Richard Haggerty | September 20, 2021

HGAR Chief Executive Officer Richard Haggerty

At the beginning of this month I was asked by RISMedia to share my thoughts on the 20th anniversary of 9-11. I confess that it brought back painful memories. The terrorist attacks occurred during the NYSAR Fall Business Meetings and were held at Lake Placid that year. On September 10th, Ann Garti and I had dinner overlooking Mirror Lake and we remarked how difficult it would be to find a more peaceful and beautiful spot. The next day dawned equally beautiful. I came down to the lobby to find a group of Realtors huddled around a TV, just in time to see the plane go into the second tower.

The next few days were like a surreal nightmare as the gruesome pictures and sickening videos were played over and over on TV. There were many who wrote off lower Manhattan after 9-11, and given the extent of the devastation it was difficult to argue against that pessimistic outlook. There were predictions that the financial markets would shift permanently to New Jersey.

However, New Yorkers had other ideas. While it took time, lower Manhattan came back stronger than ever, rebuilding a neighborhood with its spectacular architecture. This reincarnation included residential elements that had not existed before. That’s when I learned that you never bet against New York. No matter how difficult the challenges or how daunting the circumstances, New Yorkers come back strong and beat the odds time after time. Resiliency is what defines us.

That has certainly been the case with COVID. From the depths of despair when the city and the state shut down last March, New York has rebounded. Broadway is opening up and the restaurants are full. The residential real estate market has been on fire since last summer. However, we also know that we are not back to the pre-COVID world that we were used to with tourism in full bloom and the trains and buses filled with commuters traveling to mid-town and the financial district. We know that the Delta variant is raging in many parts of the country and people are fearful to travel and socialize.

Watching the negative headlines, it’s easy to forget how far we have come in a very brief period of time. We can’t afford to succumb to this negativity and we need to remember the one key ingredient that helped us slowly but surely rebuild from the ashes of the twin towers—time. The rebuilding of lower Manhattan didn’t happen overnight. It took political will, creative planning, commitment to a vision, and time. The recovery from the 2008 recession didn’t happen overnight—it took time.

Time, patience and a commitment to rebuild a better, more equitable New York is what we must strive for. Given our tenacity, resiliency and shear stubbornness as New Yorkers, I know we will achieve that vision.

Richard Haggerty
HGAR CEO