Human nature didn’t change once Ed Koch became mayor of New York, but it soon began to display its shabbier sides. The mood of the city seemed to grow sullen, as if in contempt of earlier feelings and visions….
Quick to sense the change, Koch attached himself to it. The mood of the city now revealed a weariness with the language of idealism, a coarsening of social sentiments, a resignation before inequities that had once troubled consciences. The city, we were told, was in bad financial shape and so belts had to be tightened (whose belts?) while major concessions were to be made to the real estate developers in Manhattan. A budget crisis, no doubt constraining expenditure, became the occasion, though hardly the sole cause, for a rightward shift in social policy. Some called it realism....
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