City Hall Steps. --This is Citystreets perspective on the Giuliani administrations attempt to deny the public access to City Hall steps.
Mayor Giuliani has transformed city hall from what used to be a surprisingly open public space to a fortress. Even elected city council officials were denied access to the steps until the NY Civil Liberties Union successfully sued the Giuliani administration to secure the right of the public to stand on the steps of city hall. While a lot of questions have been asked why the steps were closed to the public, the question that people didn't ask, is why have the steps of city hall become a place where people stand (historically the park in front of city hall was the place where people gathered.)? The answer is a parking lot was put in the middle of historic city so that elected officials would have free and prestigious parking close to their jobs. This had the effect of making the steps the only place where people can stand that has a view of city hall behind them. We believe the parking lot should removed (the current plans are only to make it smaller) and the land in front of city hall returned to the public. But what we would really like to see happen is the thinking that allowed a parking lot to be installed in the first place to change because in the end, it is more important to make decisions in the right way than to occasionally make the right decisions--and it is the decision making process that is broken and needs to be fixed.