Under Michael Bloomberg and his influential lieutenants (Amanda Burden, Janette Sadik-Khan, David Burney, and Adrian Benepe, among others) design and planning took center stage. As Kimmelman attests, "Urban living became a cause, a public good." In fact one of the city's most pressing problems—its increasing unaffordability—is in many ways a result of New York's improved quality of life.
"The next mayor can keep architecture and planning front and center or risk taking the city backward," he writes. "Courage, guile and not a little art will be required to meet the obvious challenge: building on the good parts of Mr. Bloomberg’s urban vision, but also doing some course correcting. The social welfare of all cities is inextricable from their physical fabric. A more equitable and livable city is ultimately smartly and sustainably designed. New York’s competitive future depends on getting this right."
Kimmelman recommends the initiatives worth continuing (bike lanes, bike shares, PlaNYC 2030) and the areas for improvement (hiring a deputy mayor for design and planning, a one-seat airport train ride).
Writing in response to Kimmelman's piece in Next City, Stephen J. Smith proposes a transit wish list of his own, focused on the outer-boroughs, "to make a meaningful difference in the lives of ordinary New Yorkers."