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Surprise, Surprise: Congestion Comes from Jersey
December 11th, 2007

As the Traffic Congestion Mitigation Commission continues to mull over traffic-calming proposals, including Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s congestion pricing plan, the city’s Independent Budget Office released a report this morning revealing those Manhattan-bound commuters will at least be able to afford the possible toll.

The report (available here) states that the majority of commuters entering the proposed congestion zone, which is below 86th Street in Manhattan, are not New Yorkers, and those that are driving private cars make 30 percent more than other commuters.

More than 25 percent of all car commuters come from the Garden State. It looks like New Jersey sends us their vehicles, while we send them our garbage.

By on December 11, 2007, 12:48 pm
In category: Demographics,Transportation | 1 Comment »

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Flatbush Residents Don't Find Their Borders So Ambiguous
December 6th, 2007

An attempt last week by the New York Times to boil down the “ambiguous” boundaries of “Flatbush proper” was met by a bit of derision and laughter from some of the local bloggers. The Brooklyn Junction enjoyed the attention lavished on the area by the Times, but called their map “neighborhood gerrymandering.” The Junction notes that the Times’ map doesn’t even include the Flatbush Development Corporation, and the blog posts some other maps that offer a different idea of what Flatbush comprises.

The Junction also has a good wrap up of the online reaction to the article, which includes a post by Flatbush Gardener that has an informative take on the issue. The Gardener posts an historic map from 1873, points out that the Times has “confused” the area’s boundaries in the past, and notes a physical demarcation in the Brooklyn Botanical Garden of the old Township of Flatbush.

By on December 6, 2007, 9:35 am
In category: Demographics | No Comments »

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Walking While Black
November 19th, 2007

Heres a thought-provoking statistic from yesterdays New York Times City. Donna Lieberman and Christopher Dunn of the New York Civil Liberties Union analyzed stop and frisk statistics released by the police department earlier this month. They found stops of white New Yorkers amounted to 2.6 percent of the citys white population. But for blacks, the number of stops was equivalent to 21.1 percent of the population. Since the police probably stop few elderly black women or very young children, the effect of police actions on one part of the population presumably young black males becomes glaringly apparent.

For both groups the overwhelming majority of stops about 89 percent did not result in an arrest.

(To view Andy Pressmans entire graphic with the data, click here.)

By on November 19, 2007, 12:47 pm
In category: Civil Rights,Crime & Safety,Demographics | 6 Comments »

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Minorities and Subprime Mortgages
October 18th, 2007

With study after study showing how subprime lenders are targeting blacks and latinos, some bloggers and advocates have been calling this the new redlining.

One recent study, by New York University’s Furman Center, found that the 10 neighborhoods in the city with the highest concentration of subprime mortgages had black and hispanic majorities, while the 10 neighborhoods with the lowest number were mostly white. Subprime mortgages – which are at the root of the foreclosure crisis and have high interest rates that can escalate unexpectedly and include steep fees and payment penalties – are generally directed towards borrowers with shaky credit or limited income.

But research by the New York Times found that higher income level black and hispanic borrowers with good credit were still very likely to be steered towards subprime loans.

With all this in mind, the Times editorialized that, in order to find out whether or not subprime lenders have been discriminating against minorities, Congress should force them to disclose their risk profiles of borrowers.

Recent data from PropertyShark.com showed growth in foreclosures around the city to be slowing, leading a couple blogs to say that things are not so bad for the city as a whole. That may be true, but apparently only for white New Yorkers.

By on October 18, 2007, 8:18 am
In category: Demographics,Economy,Housing | 5 Comments »

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Poor Health For Minorities and the Poor
October 9th, 2007

Last week the citys Department of Health and Mental Hygiene released new figures on infant mortality numbers which fell slightly in 2006 compared to 2005. Although progress has been made – 6.0 infants out of 1,000 births died in ’05, while that number decreased to 5.9 in ’06 the figures still show racial disparities among minority populations, like Puerto Rican and black New Yorkers, whose rates are more than double that of white and Asian populations.

The disparity is not a factor of poverty alone, but also teenage pregnancies and out of wedlock pregnancies.

Read the rest of this entry »

By on October 9, 2007, 9:33 am
In category: Demographics,Economy,Gotham City,Health | 1 Comment »

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Is the Price of Milk Different on Your Block?
October 4th, 2007

In attempt to assess the disparities in prices at various stores around the city, WNYC’s Brian Lehrer reached out to his listeners and had them go to stores and see how much it cost for a six pack of Budweiser beer, a quart of regular, non-organic milk and a head of iceberg lettuce.

The biggest difference in price was in beer. A D’Agastino in Murray Hill charged the most for beer at $10.99, while a place on Grand Street in the Lower East Side charged the lowest at $4.99. The biggest difference in lettuce is $2.29 versus $1.29. $2.59 was the highest paid for milk versus 99 cents for milk in the Lower East Side.

Supermarkets were not only usually cheaper than delis, the prices were much more stable. This is particularly problematic, Lehrer notes, because many supermarkets shun low income neighborhoods.

Read the rest of this entry »

By on October 4, 2007, 11:43 am
In category: Demographics,Economy | 5 Comments »

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Little Liberia
August 16th, 2007

When conversations turn to Staten Island, references to child soldiers don’t usually come up. But the borough is home to a large community of former child soldiers, writes Alissa Quart in Mother Jones magazine. The island, she says, has the largest population of Liberians outside of their native country, and the enclave is often called “Little Liberia.”

Many of the young residents of the community, though, bear scars from their previous lives. According to one estimate, as many as 80 percent of the people who fought in Liberia’s civil war were children. Assimilation has proved difficult for these young people, who were taught to kill, not to read and write. Detailing the struggles of these young victims with terrible memories, the reporter offers accounts of a hard life in a new country, as the immigrants struggle with their own violent outbursts and with bigotry from local residents.

By on August 16, 2007, 9:54 am
In category: Demographics,Immigrants | No Comments »

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Saving NYC's Middle Class
April 3rd, 2007

The think-tank Drum Major Institute held a conference on the state of New York Citys middle-class and surveyed 100 city “leaders” to test their ideas for making the city more livable and affordable. (Read the survey in .pdf format).

Today, Daily News columnist Michael Daly laments that it takes between $75,000 and $135,000 for a family of four to enjoy what it terms a middle-class standard of living in New York. “The home city of the Yankees is on its way to becoming a place where to live here you have to earn like a pro ballplayer,” Daly writes.

The New York Times saw the event as a preview of the 2009 mayoral race with three probable candidates – Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrin, City Comptroller William Thompson, and U.S. Representative Anthony Weiner -”outlining their priorities and occasionally jousting – on how to attract and retain moderate-income New Yorkers.”

The Albany Project blog has a video of Mario Cuomo’s opening address, which it calls a “barnburner.” And the Daily Gotham declares Weiner “the only potential candidate who clearly articulated a progressive platform.”

By on April 3, 2007, 7:41 am
In category: Demographics,Education,Housing,Transportation | 3 Comments »

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New York City, "Luxury Product" Or "Net Loser"?
February 13th, 2007

Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Joel Kotkin (author of “The City: A Global History”) begins an essay by quoting Mayor Michael Bloomberg calling New York City a high-end product, maybe even a luxury product — and then spends the rest of his article arguing why he thinks that New York cannot remain a superstar city without a shift in attention away from the affluent and towards the needs of the middle class.

Economic and demographic trends suggest that the future of American urbanism lies not in the elite cities but in younger, more affordable and less self-regarding places, Kotkin writes. He cites Gotham Gazette demographics columnist Andrew Beveridge as expressing skepticism over Bloombergs projection of a gain in New York Citys population of a million people over the next 25 years, and claims that the city might actually face a decline in population unless it pays attention to basic issues that affect the middle class — high housing costs, taxes, regulation, schools and lack of support for diverse small businesses, particularly in the outer boroughs.

Kotkin says that true progressives like Harry Truman or Fiorella La Guardia understood that great cities become so, in large part, due to the strivings of the upwardly mobile middle class and families, not the elites of any stripe.

By on February 13, 2007, 9:16 am
In category: Community Development,Demographics,Gotham City,Public Finance | 3 Comments »

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Moving Toward 2030
February 7th, 2007

With slides, ad supplements in newspapers and other hoopla, Mayor Michael Bloomberg in December rolled out a plan for New York in 2030 one that would accommodate a million more people But the plan got only scant mention in Bloomberg’s State of the City address, and in his proposed budget for next year.

But there may be some movement. As Tom Angotti writes in Gotham Gazette, the mayors office has launched a series of meetings in communities around the city to discuss the plan. Streetsblog reports that New York New Visions, the architects and planners who organized to weigh in on Ground Zero rebuilding, have announced they want to take up this challenge. And on Monday, Rohit Aggarwala, the management consultant Bloomberg has put in charge of the project, laid out PlaNYC (thats what the city apparently calls it) goals which, as Streetsblog puts it, are a laundry list of urban niceties that it should be hard for anyone to disagree with: more housing, parks within a 10-minute walk for all residents, a well-maintained transportation grid, cleaner air and land and water.

But that doesnt mean it will be easy to make such amenities a reality. Those attending Mondays meeting raised many concerns, and Streetsblog lists some of them: Will new residents…really bring jobs with them, as Aggarwala asserted? If the city swells to 9 million people, what happens to the surrounding suburbs? And while the ‘GreeNYC’ portion of the plan sets a laudable goal of cutting city carbon emissions by 30 people (and cleaning up pollution), there’s little else about preparing for what’s likely to be a radically altered climate 23 years hence.

And, if the plan somehow manages to address all that (and even does something about traffic congestion, which the outgoing transportation commissioner does not think even exists), what is to ensure it will become reality? Amy Zimmer reports in Metro today that the Lindsay administration put out a five volume long-range plan for New York City in 1969. Much of it was never implemented.

The Bloomberg administration hopes it can do better by building support for our plan so public demand carries it forward, spokesman John Gallagher told Zimmer. While you cant guarantee anything about what the next administration will do, we plan to work to set many of the solutions in motion before we leave… so that future administrations will need to demonstrate progress.

By on February 7, 2007, 1:16 pm
In category: Demographics,Environment,Gotham City,Land Use | No Comments »

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Asian and Latina Suicide
February 2nd, 2007

An editorial in El Diario/La Prensa praises the City Council hearing this week about the high rate of attempted suicide among Latina teenagers and elderly Asian women, and endorses two crucial approaches to intervention: the need to de-stigmatize mental health problems and tackle the shortage of culturally and linguistically competent professionals. For the Latina teenagers, both detection and intervention, El Diario said, should be concentrated in the schools.

By on February 2, 2007, 5:58 pm
In category: Demographics,Education,Gotham City,Health,Social Services | 6 Comments »

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Preparing For A Future With A Million More New Yorkers
December 27th, 2006

The New York Times, oddly late-arriving in covering Mayor Michael Bloombergs speech planning for New Yorker in the year 2030 which was commented upon amply in New Yorks other newspapers two weeks ago this week ran an editorial
praising the speech
, though wondering how he was going to pay for it all.

With a projection that New York Citys population will reach nine million in 25 years, there is no question that something must be done, the Times said. Consider how difficult it is to find affordable housing, good schools, uncrowded subway cars and reasonably passable streets. Then imagine having to compete for these same services in a city that will have added a population equivalent to the city of San Francisco… Faced with similar pressures, cities like London and Shanghai are charting paths to smart growth.

By on December 27, 2006, 6:40 am
In category: Demographics,Gotham City,Land Use | 1 Comment »

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NYC in 2030: Remedies for Growing Pains
December 13th, 2006

Following his speech on the challenges facing a growing New York City between now and 2030, Mayor Michael Bloomberg gets high marks for “the vision thing (Click here for his speech.)

“In a world of civic tortoises who huddle in their shells fearing any change, the mayor with his vision that the city must build housing and infrastructure so that the metropolis can accommodate more than 9 million residents in 25 years is a lion embracing the unpredictable but optimistic path of urban expansion,” cheered Harvard professor Edward Glaeser in the Sun.

The Daily News said the mayors goals are “inarguably good ones.”

But when it comes to the details of what should be done and how to do it, let alone how to pay for it, things get dicey. The Sun, which for the most part applauds the mayors vision, and the Post both fault the mayor for giving in to what the Sun terms “the global warming fad.” But, the Post goes beyond that to advise the mayor to think more about the present. Citing a recent report on the citys inability to issue accurate water bills, the editorial says, “If Mayor Mike has infrastructure on his mind, you’d think he’d be worried about the municipal water pipes in the here and now. Instead of roads, bridges, parks, subways and the electrical grid in 2030 – far enough in the future to fret about while not actually having to do anything. Except maybe cobble the topic into a presidential platform.”

And while giving Bloomberg enormous credit for daring to address our growing pains, Michael Goodwin in the News sees a gap between Bloombergs rhetoric and reality. “Bloomberg’s team rarely says no to any new project. He has blithely ignored concerns about the size of the huge Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn, essentially arguing that bigger is always better,” Goodwin writes. If Bloomberg really listens to what New Yorkers think about their growing city, the columnist continues, he will “get an earful about noise. If he looks carefully, he’ll see that erratic enforcement of parking and driving regulations contributes to artery-clogging traffic. He’ll learn about architects and builders who thumb their noses at his Buildings Department, especially outside Manhattan. The agencyonly seems to show up when there is a disaster, which helps explain why nearly 100 workers have been killed in construction accidents since October 2001.”

And even the generally effusive Glaeser has qualms. If the city is to continue to grow, he writes, “The mayor should be at least as concerned with eliminating taxes and regulation as he is with building subway extensions.”

But the most churlish reaction may have come from the Times, which dismissed the speech in a 103-word news brief and noted the speech was “accompanied by videos and images of himself in a plaid bathrobe making toast and drinking coffee.”

By on December 13, 2006, 10:15 am
In category: Demographics,Gotham City,Land Use | 4 Comments »

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Transgender Reversal
December 12th, 2006

Last month, the New York City Board of Health proposed allowing transgendered New Yorkers to change the gender listed on their birth certificate whether or not they have had sex re-assignment surgery. The proposal inspired much debate, and a strong backlash and the board withdrew its proposal.

In an analysis in Slate, Yale Law School Professor Kenji Yoshino criticizes the Board of Health for a sloppy process: It did not anticipate the wave of practical concerns that surfaced when the plan was publicized Reservations were also voiced by institutions like hospitals, jails, and schools, which routinely segregate according to sex. If transgender people ever win more discretion over their own self-definition, it will be because the countervailing considerations have been overcome rather than ignored. In failing to consider those interests, the board failed the group it was ostensibly seeking to protect.

By on December 12, 2006, 8:49 am
In category: Civil Rights,Demographics,Gotham City,Health | 9 Comments »

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World AIDS Day In NYC
December 1st, 2006

Blogger Eli B. writes the following: “I’m not sure what to write here for World AIDS Day. It’s one of those things for which there is both everything and nothing to say.

“Since 1981, more than 25 million people have died of AIDS. Approximately 40 million people worldwide are infected. 1.1 million Americans are HIV-positive, and 25% of them dont know it. Another 40,000 become infected each year. Here in New York State, 7,600 people were diagnosed with HIV/AIDS in 2004 (the worst nationwide). The bulk comes from New York City, where approximately 1 in 70 has HIV. Obviously, some populations have sufferred from this epidemic more than others. Here are the HIV infection rates, by demographic, from the NYC health department:

* 1 in 40 African Americans.
* 1 in 25 men living in Manhattan.
* 1 in 12 black men age 40-49 years.
* 1 in 10 men who have sex with men.
* 1 in 8 injection drug users.
* 1 in 5 black men age 40-49 in Manhattan.
* 1 in 4 men who have sex with men in Chelsea.

By on December 1, 2006, 6:01 pm
In category: Civil Rights,Demographics,Gotham City,Health | No Comments »

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Should Somebody Born Male Be Able To Alter His(Her) Birth Certificate To Female, And Vice-Versa?
November 12th, 2006

The Daily News publishes opposing views of the proposal by the New York City Board of Health to allow transgendered New Yorkers to change their gender on their birth certificates, whether or not they have had a sex-change operation.

The Yes essay is by Michael Silverman of the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund , who argues that such a move will help make life a little easier for what he calls one of the most discriminated-against communities in the city: When they apply for jobs, they will no longer need to fear rejection because their ID doesn’t match the way they look; it now will. When they enter office buildings, they will no longer have to explain to security guards why the gender on their ID doesn’t match their appearance; it now will. When police officers stop them from using the bathroom that matches their gender presentation, they’ll have identification that says they have the right to be
there.

The No essay is by James Kirchick, who writes for the Independent Gay Forum. He argues the proposal amounts to falsifying government documents and eliminating a physical standard for determining gender, and says that it would cause a raft of complicated situations (What if a man who, despite never having had his gender surgically changed, asserts he is a woman then wants to marry another man, despite gay marriage not being legal in New York State?). More generally, tacking on transgender issues to gay rights, Kirchick writes, is partly responsible for the fact that it remains legal to fire people – just because they are gay – in 36 states.

By on November 12, 2006, 3:21 pm
In category: Civil Rights,Demographics,Gotham City,Health | 7 Comments »

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Maybe Minorities Arent Interested In Being Firefighters
October 17th, 2006

The New York City Fire Department announced earlier this week that it was extending the deadline to apply to be a firefighter, by three weeks — through Nov. 3 — in hopes of increasing the number of applicants, especially people of color. But an editorial in the New York Post implies that is unlikely to have much effect — just as spending millions on advertising, and relaxing its hiring requirements also did nothing change the make-up of a department that is overwhelming white and male. There are fewer overall applicants than for the last exam, in 2002, and fewer minority-group members too, the Post writes. Its conclusion? Is it too much to hope that the bean counters at the Justice Department – and ambulance-chasing lawyers looking to make quick bucks filing discrimination suits – will at some point take the manifest minority lack of interest in applying for the FDNY into account? Certainly there should be no further dilution of recruiting standards.

By on October 17, 2006, 9:12 pm
In category: Civil Rights,Crime & Safety,Demographics,Gotham City | 18 Comments »

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300 Million!
October 17th, 2006

The population of the United States is said to number 300 million as of today, and in the Daily News,
Robert Yaro, president of the Regional Plan Association, argues this is no cause for alarm prosperity will continue to rise as long as such issues as transportation and the environment are handled intelligently. The question isn’t whether we can absorb millions of new people – but how to convert the inevitable growing pains into new opportunities and build more livable communities for everyone. The best bet, and what people increasingly prefer, are “compact cities built around public transportation and sidewalks.”

By on October 17, 2006, 6:52 am
In category: Demographics,Environment,Land Use,Transportation | No Comments »

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High Density Planning To Save Energy
May 14th, 2006

“The long-term solution [to high energy costs] in this country, which nobody wants to hear, is to use an awful lot less energy and to get away from fossil fuels,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in his weekly radio adress on WABC-AM.

Bloomberg’s energy task force last published a report in January 2004 (pdf format).

Blogger Aaron Donovan, contributing to NYC Oil Drum, suggests that the mayor encourage high-density development as a means of increasing the city’s energy efficiency.

The notion was also supported by the city’s Office of Environmental Coordination in a report (pdf format) issued this January. High density concentration, mixed with the city’s transportation system, “provide many advantages in terms of New Yorks energy use,” it said. But they also note that, “Although high-density urban living often allows residents of cities to consume less energy on a per capita basis, it is important to recognize that urbanization plays a key role in stimulating aggregate energy consumption.”

Frank Braconi, formerly the executive director of the Citizens Housing and Planning Center and now the mayor’s chief economic advisor, recently called on the city to develop at higher densities to handle the forecasted population growth.

One reader on Oil Drum calls the mayor’s planning “piece meal”, and points to London’s Spatial Development Strategy, which we wrote about here, suggesting it as a model for New York City. The London Plan “articulates a coherent, long-term vision that says where development should occur, and what it should look like.”

In his 2006 State of the City address , Bloomberg announced a five-borough Strategic Land Use plan, which will coordinate housing, transportation, energy, and infrastructure planning. It was scheduled for release in April, but has yet to be published.

By on May 14, 2006, 11:43 pm
In category: Demographics,Environment,Housing,Land Use | 8 Comments »

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To Elect or Appoint a Judge?
May 4th, 2006

In January, a federal court judge, John Gleeson, ruled (pdf format) that New York’s process of choosing Supreme Court Judges violates voters’ and candidates’ rights by giving too much power to county party leaders. (Wonkster summarized the reactions around the city at the time.)

In New York City, there are a variety of methods used to select different kinds of judges, ranging from mayoral appointments to direct elections. For a list of all judgeships in the state and their means of selection, click here.

While a new method for selecting Supreme Court Judges awaits an appeal, a coalition of good government groups (including Citizens Union, the sister organization of Gotham Gazette’s publisher) held a panel discussion about how best to pick judges.

Many advocates prefer an appointive system, or “merit selection,” over elections. A member of the audience during the discussion said that it is impossible to find information on judges when attempting to make an informed vote.

But Paul Wooten, a civil rights attorney and former candidate for Brooklyn District Attorney, said that “merit selection” leads to a lack of diversity, and cited Governor George Pataki’s appointments: Only one African American and one Latino serve on the 22-member bench for the second circuit, which includes Queens, and also Brooklyn, whose population has more African Americans and Latinos than whites.

But electing judges won’t necessarily improve diversity, according to an argument put forth on the Web site of the Fund for Modern Courts, which argues that outside of the city, the election of women and minorities to the bench is very difficult.

And Deborah Goldberg, director of the Democracy Program at the Brennan Center – which published a study (pdf format) on diversity on the Supreme Court bench, showing it to be severely lacking – posits that appointive systems can result in diversity if those appointing care about diversity.

There are other challenges to a system of elections, Goldberg argued: In order to provide voters with a real choice, they would have to be publicly financed, and the districts would have to be smaller, so that the costs of running would be less.

Michael Cardozo, Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s chief lawyer, ultimately supports merit selection across the board, but sees it as legally and politically unfeasible.

As a practical solution, he has proposed a hybrid system, where an independent commission (pdf format) would screen candidates, producing a short list of recommendations from which party leaders would choose their party’s nominee.

Joel Jacobsen, an Assistant Attorney General in New Mexico, writes on his personal blog, Judging Crimes, “The wonder isn’t that both systems sometimes produce clunkers. It’s that sometimes they don’t.”

By on May 4, 2006, 5:39 am
In category: Albany,Civil Rights,Demographics,Electoral Politics,Governing,Law | 4 Comments »

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Gotham Gazette is published by Citizens Union Foundation and is made possible by support from the Robert Sterling Clark Foundation, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Altman Foundation,the Fund for the City of New York and donors to Citizens Union Foundation. Please consider supporting Citizens Union Foundation's public education programs. Critical early support to Gotham Gazette was provided by the Charles H. Revson Foundation, Rockefeller Brothers Fund and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

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