In Prospect

Autumn 2000

New York’s remarkable current prosperity—long may it last—occasions this issue’s unique cover feature, "A New Lincoln Center." The city’s highly visible performing-arts complex requires very costly repairs, which will only need redoing in every subsequent generation. Why not, we thought, take a lesson from the farsighted trustees of the Museum of Natural History, who recently pulled down the old Hayden Planetarium and replaced it with the splendid Rose Center for Earth and Space? After all, Gotham is more flush with philanthropic tycoons than at any time since the Gilded Age; surely some of them will want to rise to the challenge of providing New York with monuments to equal the Gilded Age’s magnificent, enduring, and beloved 42nd Street Library or Frick Museum. How uplifting it would be to show that we can still do it—that we can match the achievements of the generous benefactors on whose legacy we have lived for so long. And how much easier it would be to raise the $1.5 billion to build a new complex than merely to shore up the old one.

In the spirit of starting a civic conversation that might lead to such a momentous result, City Journal asked three architects to re-imagine Lincoln Center. We didn’t pick at random but instead went to architects who shared our belief that the classical style was the right style for such a project, for reasons discussed beginning on page 14. Two of our architects are world-famous: Quinlan Terry, about whom City Journal has written more than once in the past (see "A New Order in Office Buildings," Spring 1996, and "It’s Back to the Future in the Heart of London," Winter 1996, among others), and Robert Adam, who has written for City Journal ("Tradition and the Modern City," Autumn 1995) as well as having been written about by us ("It’s Back to the Future in the Heart of London," Winter 1996). In addition, we asked a fledgling firm, Franck Lohsen McCrery, to submit designs as well. Its principals, Michael M. Franck, Arthur C. Lohsen, and James C. McCrery II, are all apprentices or former apprentices of celebrated architect Allan Greenberg, also mentioned in several City Journal articles (including, most recently, "After Modernism," Spring 2000). For all their shared classicism, the three designs that begin on page 18 are very different from one another, and their differences suggest how infinitely flexible, how endlessly capable of being made into something new the classical idiom really is. We look forward to the day when a future City Journal cover will sport a photograph, rather than our current drawing, of a real new classical Opera House, in all the lasting solidity of limestone.

This issue contains two remarkably interesting education stories that also couldn’t be more different from each other. In "What Is Public Education?" on page 36, Arizona’s well-known and revolutionary public schools chief Lisa Graham Keegan argues that defenders of public education who assume that public education can only be the ossified, century-old school-district system that prevails today are caught in a time warp. It would be just as much a public-school system if you gave each child equal public funding, gave parents maximum choice of where to send their kids to school, and imposed tough standards upheld by rigorous tests—and it would be a system that would work a lot better than the obsolete existing model.

Heather Mac Donald moves far away from the world of public schools in her absorbing saga of New York’s Police Academy, "How to Train Cops," on page 46, a tour de force (so to speak) of vivid reporting. Critics of the NYPD charge, among many other complaints, that Gotham’s police training doesn’t prepare recruits to police the city in a "racially sensitive" way. Nonsense, Mac Donald finds. The department already requires "sensitivity" training, though it is a complete waste of time. More to the point, Mac Donald found, recruits are cheerfully nondiscriminatory, and the seasoned cops who come back to the Academy for in-service training don’t think in terms of black or white but of good and bad, a discrimination they are extremely accurate in making, regardless of race. What cops most need is more of the Academy’s excellent training in how to get suspects to comply just by talking to them—by "verbal judo" rather than force. It’s a technique that works wonders.

Don’t miss, as well, William J. Stern’s "Why Gotham’s Developers Don’t Develop." It will help you understand why New York lacks enough apartments and offices—not to mention a Lincoln Center the city can be proud of.