Compete with quality of life, an educated workforce, and other relevant attractions. But public officials will resolve to stand as one on behalf of their taxpaying constituents to refuse to be held up for ransom.

Ben Greenman

Novelist (The Slippage)

I wouldn't wish for peace on earth, if only because it would make me nervous. Just like the darkest hour is right before the dawn, pure peace can only be the prelude to something horrible. There has to be some conflict. Isn't that the human condition? Oh, right: improving New York City. Well, I guess the thing that would improve everyone's life is more public toilets. That seems like a winning move for the city in general: If care is taken with their design, they could be architecturally impressive, technologically sophisticated, environmentally sound, add a bit of humor or color to streets, and provide a valuable service for residents and tourists alike. Maybe they could replace phone booths — instead of being a waste of space, each place could be a space of waste.

Susan Miller


The Rainbow Room (and presumably the bar) at the top of Rockefeller Center will be reopened in the fall of 2014. The developers say, "All of the features that were part of the greatness of the Rainbow Room before will come back, just in different iterations."

I have low expectations. If I had the power to change one thing about New York, I would say: Bring back the Rainbow Room bar in its former grandeur, to the tiniest detail.

I was crushed when I went to the Rainbow Room bar after it was completely stripped of its Art Deco beauty in the late 1990s. I felt physically ill. I had never been able to afford to go to the actual supper club, but I loved the bar area, built in 1934. Where were the banquettes of velvet, the delicate sconces, the rich carpeting, and the majesty of decor that formed the perfect showcase from which to view the greatest American city? At that bar, with those dazzling floor-to-ceiling windows, the city was at our feet. At the center of it all, the Empire State Building rose up, dressed in jewels. The new decor looked like someone had pulled out down-and-dirty, cheap materials found languishing in someone's basement.

The Rainbow Room is just one example. It goes on. Although I never saw the original Penn Station, I see photographs of it and want to cry. Who allowed this to happen? I still mourn the loss of the Beaux Arts–style Scribner Book Store on Fifth Avenue at 48th Street, with the large wooden ladders to reach the book stacks on the highest levels of that space's Gothic ceiling. Now the space houses a Sephora. The Plaza Hotel lobby is another loss that can't be described to anyone who never saw it in its former splendor. The Plaza brought to New Yorkers memories of first dates, engagements, birthday parties, and anniversaries. I had my marriage reception in the tiny State Room on the second-floor corner facing Central Park and Fifth Avenue. It has been turned into a private condo. And just across the street, on the lot occupied by the beautiful Savoy-Plaza Hotel from 1927 to 1965, is the General Motors Building. (The Apple Store that stands in front today has saved the space in a different way, and has now become one of the most photographed landmarks in New York.)

Yet sometimes things do work out. I was thrilled to see that the nude nymph murals on the walls of Café Des Artistes at 1 West 67th Street were saved by the Leopard at des Artistes restaurant after George Lang closed his iconic space. When his River Café was completely demolished by Hurricane Sandy, Buzzy O'Keeffe wisely rebuilt its structure better than before, but with the same decor and eye for the quality of every detail. And I love the exquisite Lalique windows that were reincorporated into 714 Fifth Avenue.

If I had the power, and neither finances nor politics entered into the equation, I would give the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission the authority to save these jewels of our past, to leave to our children a vision of all the beauty that is possible in the future.

Andrew W.K.

Musician; Village Voice advice columnist

I'd like there to be a designated party car on every subway train. It would have awesome colored lights, only a few seats, and a reinforced dance floor. In here you could blast music, smoke and drink, dance around, throw confetti, and do whatever you want, as long as it's party. It could be the last car on each train.

And it would be awesome if there was a bathroom in the party car, too.

Laverne Cox

Actor (Orange Is the New Black); transgender rights advocate

I want to see the Gender Expression Nondiscrimination Act (GENDA) passed in Albany, granting all trans New Yorkers equal protections under the law. I also want to see justice for Islan Nettles, an African-American transwoman murdered in August 2013 whose killer has yet to be brought to justice.

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