Neighborhoods

Best Thing to Happen to New York City This Year

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On the breezy morning of July 22, 2014, there was something a little odd about the American flags that fly from the twin towers of the Brooklyn Bridge: They were gone, replaced with bleached-out white ones. The incident whipped police and politicians into a frenzy. Brooklyn borough president Eric Adams went so far as to call it a “terrorist act,” offering a $5,000 reward out of his own pocket for information leading to the capture of the flag-swappers. Which made it all the better when two German artists, Mischa Leinkauf and Matthias Wermke, revealed three weeks later that they were behind the stunt, which they told the New York Times they’d intended as a salute to “the beauty of public space” and the memory of the bridge’s designer, engineer John Roebling, a German émigré who died on July 22, 1869. (They pair returned the American flags soon after, properly folded.) The cops still seem steamed, vowing to work with Interpol to bring the two men back to New York to face criminal charges, but seen in a different light, the entire incident is delightful. Who among us doesn’t enjoy a steaming froth of righteous indignation every now and then? More to the point, it proved New York can still be a wild place, susceptible to daring stunts and true mystery. Not only has it been the best thing to happen here this year — it just may be the best game of Capture the Flag, ever.

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