It has been another tumultuous year, with memorable highs and lows. The year in New York started with extreme weather warnings, and deadly accidents; the city celebrated a World Cup victory, hosted the Pope, and finished the year with a strategy to combat homelessness. Here is Epoch Times 2015 Year in Review.
City Shuts Down Over Expected Historic Blizzard
New York was spared from what forecasters warned might be one of the most brutal snowstorms in the city’s history. Winter Storm Juno prompted blizzard warnings for Jan. 26 that paralyzed the transit system, grounded thousands of flights, and banned vehicles from roads.
The snowstorm was expected to dump up to three feet of snow in parts of the Northeast and 20 to 30 inches in New York City, but most of the city saw less than 10 inches of snow.
The dire warnings prompted a backlash against weather forecasters, causing one meteorologist to take to social media to apologize for getting it wrong.
Metro-North Crash in Valhalla
A Metro-North train slammed into an SUV at a railway crossing in Valhalla on Feb. 3 leaving six people dead, including the driver, and 15 injured. It’s the deadliest accident in railroad’s history.
The driver of the SUV, a mother of three, inexplicably decided to try to cross the tracks while the Hawthorne Station-bound train was approaching, causing a massive explosion. The train pushed the SUV 1,000 feet down the track and caused 400 feet of rail to penetrate the first car of the train.
East Village Gas Explosion
A massive gas explosion rocked the East Village on March 26, which left two dead and 22 injured. The explosion and fire destroyed 15 apartments, collapsed three buildings, and also devoured popular restaurants Pommes Frites and Sushi Park.
Authorities found evidence of an illegal siphon of the gas pipe that leaked and ignited inside Sushi Park. The blast led to multiple lawsuits, and investigations into possible murder charges. It also brought out the best in people, with online donors raising over $250,000 to help explosion victims.
One WTC Observation Deck Opens
The observation deck of One World Trade Center officially opened with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on May 29. The observatory occupies levels 100 to 102 of the building, and looks down from 1,250 feet on a view of the Manhattan skyline, Statue of Liberty, and the Atlantic Ocean.
Visitors reach the observatory in 60 seconds via one of five “skypod” elevators. One WTC stands 1,776 feet tall, making it the nation’s tallest building. Officials said they expect to greet 3 to 4 million visitors a year.
Rare Victory Parade for Women’s Soccer Team
After a memorable FIFA Women’s World Cup triumph, where the U.S. squad blitzed Japan 5–2, the U.S. women’s soccer team was given a hero’s welcome with a ticker-tape parade on July 10—a first for a team of female athletes. Fans donned red, white, and blue and flocked to Lower Manhattan to cheer on the winners.
The parade was followed by a City Hall ceremony where Mayor Bill de Blasio gave each player a key to the city. The victory was the United States’ third FIFA Women’s World Cup win and the highest score in a women’s final ever.
Legionnaires’ Disease Outbreak in South Bronx
The Bronx’s second outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease occurred on July 30. (The first was in Co-op City, in northeast Bronx, in Dec. 2014.) By September 2015, 148 people had been infected, and 17 people died, according to the New York City Department of Health and Hygiene.
Several locations tested positive for the disease, including a rooftop cooling system at Lincoln Hospital, a public housing building, and the Opera House Hotel.
Legionnaires’ disease is transmitted from person to person. People can get sick from inhaling contaminated mists from cooling towers, showers, faucets, and whirlpool spas. Since the bacteria grow and thrive in lungs, smokers and those with weak immune systems are most at risk. Legionnaires’ disease is highly treatable if detected early.
Pope Visits New York
Pope Francis arrived in New York on Sept. 24 for a historic, jam-packed two-day visit. He began his tour by taking a drive in the popemobile up Fifth Avenue to St. Patrick’s Cathedral, where he conducted a prayer service.
The following day he addressed the United Nations General Assembly, offered comfort to victims of 9/11 at ground zero, encouraged immigrant children at a school in East Harlem, paraded through Central Park where he greeted approximately 80,000 New Yorkers, and celebrated Mass at Madison Square Garden for about 18,000 people.
His visit was likely the largest security operation in U.S. history.
ISIS Video Shows Footage of Times Square
On Nov. 18, ISIS released a video celebrating the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, containing footage of Times Square. The New York Police Department reassured New Yorkers that there was no current or specific threat, despite concerns that New York was a top terrorist target. The NYPD increased security by deploying additional Critical Response Command (CRC) teams throughout the city.
In response to the video, Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city would not be intimidated and he urged residents to continue to live their lives normally.
Mayor Launches Strategy to Combat Homelessness
Mayor Bill de Blasio unveiled plans on Dec. 16 to combat street homelessness in his new initiative, the NYC Homeless Outreach & Mobile Engagement Street Action Team, better known as HOME-STAT.
The program is aimed at solving a critical problem that has prevented the mayor’s administration from reducing homelessness in the city: communication between city agencies, private organizations, and those who are sleeping on the streets. Outreach staff dressed in bright green uniforms will go out on the streets, connect the homeless with services, and collect data about the issue.
The program is expected to be fully functional by March 2016.