Last weekend, the MTA’s recent struggles went national when the Mayor of Chicago, published a Monday New York Times Op-Ed entitled “In Chicago, The Trains Actually Run on Time.” The haughty, headline of Emanuel’s opine earned a swift backlash from New York’s press and many ordinary citizens. New Yorkers may hate the MTA, but it’s our MTA! Beneath all of the noise, there was a rare, thoughtful and prominent critique of urban mass transit best practices.
For me, many of Emanuel’s argument’s resonated, while other’s didn’t.
The last 60 days were hell for commuters who rely on New York’s Penn Station, the busiest transit hub in the North America. In several separate incidents, train derailments and other problems have caused delays that have, quite literally, affected millions of passengers.
Few urban public art installations in recent history have attracted as much controversy as the Financial District’s “Fearless Girl” statue. Funded by State Street Global Advisors as part of a larger publicity push to get more women onto corporate boards, the popular installation was intended to run for about a week, but has since been extended, by popular demand, until 2018. There are even petitions, which are attracting significant support, that are advocating making the petition permanent
Others, however, have taken issue with the statue. Some, for example, consider it problematic for the girl to be facing off against a symbol of the American economy, while others have wondered why a girl is depicted, not a professional woman. Provocative art almost always draws these kinds of reactions, especially pieces that are meant to comment on socially relevant topics; the fact that these conversations are taking place should be viewed as validation for the power of art and sculpture in the public sphere.
One source of opposition, however, was unforeseen. The author of the “Charging Bull” sculpture has harshly criticized the new installation for fundamentally altering the meaning of his artwork. He has demanded that the city remove “Fearless Girl” and threatened legal action.