When I first went to New York I was scared.
|Fifth Ave, Manhattan|
I grew up in the 1970's and The Big Apple was a terrifying place that no one in their right mind would want to visit.
Of course it turned out to be nothing like that. I've been back a couple of times since and have never felt unsafe wandering the streets of Manhattan at night (I'm not sure I'd do the same here).
The man who is credited with this dramatic reversal is Mayor Rudy Guiliani.
But how did he do it?
Appointing William Bratton as his new police commissioner was a good start.
Bratton took a "broken windows" view of policing - ie small problems like broken windows lead to bigger problems if left unchecked - and the rest is history. New York now has one of the lowest crime rates in the US.
But lowering crime was just the beginning. So much has happened since. Including their ridiculously ambitious "million trees in ten years" program which they actually achieved ahead of time (!)
|The High Line, Manhattan|
They also stopped traffic (literally!) with the High Line (left) - the amazing conversion of an overhead rail line into a public greenway - and now they're going to do it again with the Low Line, the world's first underground park.
NY is very much a "can do" place. I reckon we could do to catch a bit of its "beautiful disease".