After its untimely demise, remembering Gothamist’s greatest hits
For over a decade, Gothamist has become synonymous with the city it tags its “ist” to. New York City residents and readers have watched it grow from its nascent snarky origins into a leading source on the inner workings of the city’s cultural and political landscape.
With such witty headlines as “Cuomo Denies Controlling The MTA Despite Controlling The MTA,” “Cuomo, Who Controls The MTA, Asks To Control It After Denying He Controls It” and “Cuomo, Who Controls The MTA, After Denying He Controls It And Asking To Control It: 'Who Knows' Who Controls The MTA,” Gothamist has been able to take topics that speak directly to New Yorkers in a voice that readers have come to appreciate.
That voice, however, was silenced when it was unceremoniously shut down by new owner Joe Ricketts less than a week after its writers, along with those at DNAinfo, unionized. Adding to the loss of such great reporting was the initial scare that in shutting down both sites, Ricketts had removed their content. In its absence, who else would call out the New York Post for its obvious slant on city politics, or expose Ray Kelly’s true colors, or dig through Andrew Cuomo and Bill de Blasio’s secret e-mails?
Fortunately, the archives of both sites were restored in the following days, but Gothamist’s reporting voice has yet to be replaced. While that void may never be filled, we here at City & State would like to pay homage to its work with a list of five greatest hits, compiled with input from the site’s former editors:
Ironically, exactly 10 years ago this month, Gothamist extensively covered the Writers Guild of America strike (the same union their staff joined). In one of their first premier interviews, Editor-in-Chief John Del Signore spoke with John Oliver (pre-”Last Week Tonight”) on the WGA East picket line.
Gothamist led the charge for bicycle activism and safety, including many stories on the lack of accountability in the New York Police Department. A 2012 report on the NYPD's sloppy investigation into a Brooklyn cyclist's death ultimately led to reforms in the department’s Accident Investigation Squad. The site later would shed light on multiple traffic crash victims whose final moments were inaccurately reported, including the first person to die while riding a Citi Bike.
While lamenting the state of the New York City subway system has become daily fodder for city publications, Gothamist was the first to report the impending shutdown of the L train for repairs that could take nearly two years.
Similarly, as many outlets focused on Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Housing New York plan for creating or preserving affordable housing in New York City, Gothamist focused on the nearly 3,000 rent-stabilized apartments that could be deregulated as the city phased out the notoriously dysfunctional cluster site homeless shelter program.
And long before stories of Donald Trump’s ambiguous use of his personal properties for publicly-funded events, Gothamist shed light on the Trump Tower’s illegal use of “privately owned public space.” This grew into a national story following the Nov. 8 election, as 40 Manhattan businesses reported negative impacts from the security measures placed at the president’s “public” New York City spaces.