Joel Rose

This story is part of a project on commuting in America.

Millions of commuters across the country have a new way to get around. In the past few years, bike-sharing systems have popped up from Boston to Minnesota to Washington, D.C. They're supposed to make commuting easier, greener and cheaper. But the people who arguably need these bikes the most are often the least likely to access them.

Voters in New York City go to the polls Tuesday to choose their next mayor, and it appears all but certain that they'll elect Bill de Blasio, the city's public advocate.

The Democrat has built a wide lead in the polls by distancing himself from the incumbent mayor, billionaire Michael Bloomberg. In fact, de Blasio has made income inequality the central issue of his campaign, name-checking the Charles Dickens novel A Tale of Two Cities dozens of times at debates and stump speeches.

After Hurricane Sandy, the south shore of Staten Island looked like it had been hit by a tsunami. The storm surge devastated whole neighborhoods suddenly, in a matter of hours. In the year since the storm, some families have been rebuilding their homes and their lives. Others are ready to sell their flood-damaged properties and move on.

Joe Salluzzo lives in a neighborhood called New Dorp Beach, a few blocks from the ocean. He rode out the storm on the second story of his brick bungalow, which he's been repairing himself ever since.

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Governor Chris Christie has dropped his legal challenge to same-sex marriage in New Jersey. His announcement came just hours after same-sex couples there began tying the knot for the first time.

As NPR's Joel Rose reports, Christie's decision means New Jersey is effectively the 14th state to recognize same-sex marriage.

Cory Booker, the celebrity mayor of Newark, N.J., was expected to cruise to victory in the special election to fill the U.S. Senate seat of the late Frank Lautenberg. But just a week before voters go to the polls, he's facing a surprisingly strong challenge from Tea Party favorite Steve Lonegan.

The race was supposed to be a mismatch: Booker, the Democrat, and his 1.4 million Twitter followers versus the Republican former mayor of Bogota, N.J. — population 8,000.

But no one told Lonegan.

Almost 300 Sandy victims are still living in hotel rooms on the taxpayers' dime — but not for long. City officials say the program is expensive, and it's time for those remaining Sandy evacuees to move out.

This week, the displaced families living in hotels got a letter from New York City officials telling them they will not pay for those rooms after Friday.

This was the message they sent back on Wednesday: Heck no, we won't go!

At a press conference outside City Hall, several dozen evacuees protested for more time.

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This week, the center of New York City's political universe was downtown Brooklyn.

With the dust settling from the mayoral primary, the two candidates who will be on the ballot to replace outgoing Mayor Michael Bloomberg both live in the city's biggest borough.

On Thursday, Republican candidate Joe Lhota shook hands with voters pouring out of the subway a few blocks from his home in Brooklyn Heights.

You might say Steven Greenberg is the mayor of Funkytown. Back in 1979, Greenberg was just another young musician and producer in Minneapolis. Then his group Lipps, Inc. recorded a song that would come to dominate the dance floors and airwaves in the summer of 1980, and for a long time afterward.

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Voters in New York City go to the polls tomorrow to choose their party's candidates for mayor. With just one day to go before the primary election, the candidates raced across the five boroughs trying to fire up their bases and woo any undecided voters. The Democratic primary grabbed national attention when former Congressman Anthony Wiener decided to run, he's since fallen out of favor. Now the race is playing out as a referendum on the 12 years of outgoing Mayor Michael Bloomberg's administration.

NPR's Joe Rose reports.

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On a recent Sunday afternoon, 15 members of the Renaissance Street Singers gathered under a bridge in New York's Central Park. With little fanfare, they launched into a free, two-hour concert of music by Palestrina, des Prez and other composers who lived more than 500 years ago.

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In New York, the city council is poised to vote today on some of the toughest police oversight laws in decades. The vote comes just weeks after a judge ruled that the NYPD violated the civil rights of minorities with its practice of stopping mostly young men of color on the streets.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg is appealing the judge's ruling and refusing to back down on a policing program he has championed. NPR's Joel Rose reports.

Albert Murray, the influential writer and critic who helped found Jazz at Lincoln Center, died Sunday at home in Harlem. He was 97 years old. Duke Ellington once described him as the "unsquarest person I know."

For Murray, jazz and blues were more than just musical forms. They were a survival technique — an improvisatory response to hardship and uncertainty, as he told NPR in 1997: "You don't know how many bars you have, but however many of them you can make swing, the better off you are. That's about it."

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When former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer returned to politics this summer, he sparked a lively discussion about second chances in public life. He also provoked debate about another vexing question, the correct way to pronounce the title of the city's top financial official. Spitzer is running for the office of comptroller or, as some of our listeners insist, controller. So what is the right pronunciation?

As NPR's Joe Rose found out, the answer may depend on who you ask.

In one week, voters in New Jersey go to the polls in a special primary election for a U.S. Senate seat.

No one on the ballot has more name recognition than Cory Booker, the 44-year-old mayor of Newark, who is considered a rising star in the Democratic Party. But Booker's critics say he's been more focused on his own ambitions than on governing New Jersey's largest city.

The rock club Maxwell's is a tiny space that's hosted some of the biggest names in music for more than 30 years. R.E.M., Nirvana and many more bands have squeezed onto Maxwell's stage in Hoboken, N.J. Native son Bruce Springsteen recorded the music video for "Glory Days" there.

At a Wendy's restaurant in Lower Manhattan on Monday, protesters urged the lunchtime crowd to skip the Value Menu for one day. They blocked the sidewalk and half of the street.

Shanell Young held a red strike sign over her head. Young earns the minimum wage, $7.25 an hour, at another Wendy's in New York. She says that's not enough to support her and her 5-year-old son.

"It's horrible," says Young. "Everything goes up. It's unfair. You can't find an apartment. You can't pay for children's school uniforms. Everything is unfair. We can't live off this."

A century ago, New York could claim that much of its liquor was local, thanks to distilleries large and small that supplied a lot of the whiskey, gin and rum that kept New York City (and the rest of North America) lubricated. Then Prohibition arrived and the industry largely dried up, before trickling back to life in the 21st century.

Now, distillers in New York state are toasting a revival 80 years in the making.

Everything about the New York City mayor's race is supersized.

No less than a dozen candidates are vying to succeed Michael Bloomberg as leader of the nation's biggest city — five Republicans and seven Democrats. The candidates have appeared at more than 100 forums and debates, and the primary is still two months away.

Observers say that the crowded field could favor big personalities.

Not even Superstorm Sandy could keep the mermaids from coming back to Brooklyn.

The Mermaid Parade is a nautically themed and occasionally naughty parade that draws close to a million people to Coney Island, in the New York City borough of Brooklyn, each June. Sandy nearly drowned the organization that hosts the parade, but supporters donated more than $100,000 to get the parade back on its fins this year.

When students at The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art in New York took over the president's office one month ago to protest the school's decision to charge tuition, they painted the lobby black.

They also took a painting of the school's founder, and hung a piece of red fabric from the frame, as if Peter Cooper himself had joined in the protest.

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For New York, last year's hurricane was a painful reminder that the city is surrounded by water. It has more than 500 miles of coastline, from the beaches of Staten Island and the Rockaways, to the banks of the Hudson and East Rivers and beyond. There is little dispute among scientists that rising sea levels will increase the threat of flooding. And now, as hurricane season begins again, there's a spirited debate about how the region should prepare for that threat.

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George Plimpton boxed with Archie Moore, played quarterback for the Detroit Lions, and played percussion for the New York Philharmonic. He did these jobs, and many others, as an amateur. Plimpton was a professional writer. A new documentary about his life makes the case that Plimpton's best story was his own story, as NPR's Joel Rose reports.

JOEL ROSE, BYLINE: When you listen to George Plimpton's voice, it's like hearing echoes of a New York that no longer exists.

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An unsolved triple murder in the Boston suburbs is getting a closer look in the wake of the marathon bombings. One of the victims may have been a friend of bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev. That's prompting authorities to revisit the 2011 case.

The murders took place in Waltham, Mass. On Sept. 12, 2011, police responded to a house in the leafy suburb a few miles west of Boston.

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It's been one month since a pair of bombs exploded near the finish line of the Boston Marathon, killing three and wounding more than 260. NPR's Joel Rose returned to the scene today and found Bostonians observing the somber occasion with little fanfare.

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All right, prosecutors are calling it the biggest bank heist in New York City since the 1970s. They say a gang of cybercriminals drained $45 million from ATMs around the world.

Here's NPR's Joel Rose.

JOEL ROSE, BYLINE: United States Attorney Loretta Lynch says the eight men charged in New York were able to withdraw $2.8 million in cash in just one day, in February.

LORETTA LYNCH: This was a 21st century bank heist. But instead of guns and masks, this cybercrime organization used laptops and malware.

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It's not clear what the cost might be of a bipartisan Senate bill that would give legal status to millions of undocumented immigrants. But today, the conservative Heritage Foundation announced it has the answer. Here's NPR's David Welna.

If you're under 21, you may soon have a hard time lighting up in New York City. Public health officials in New York want to raise the minimum age for buying cigarettes.

The initiative is one of three proposed tobacco regulations the City Council will debate at a hearing Thursday afternoon.

"We think if we can prevent people from taking up the habit before they're 21, we might just be able to prevent them from taking it up at all," says New York Health Commissioner Thomas Farley.

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