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15 of the best things to happen in NYC in 2022

A look back at this year’s best NYC headlines.

Written by
Shaye Weaver
Rossilynne Skena Culgan
Anna Rahmanan
Amber Sutherland-Namako

The best thing about New York City is that there’s always something happening. 

This year had its share of news, good and bad, that kept New Yorkers on their toes, from crime to culture. But in the spirit of the holidays and celebrating New Year’s Eve, we want to shine a light on the good things that happened this year in NYC.

Below we’ve gathered 15 headlines that gave us hope, entertained us and offered relief in 2022.

RECOMMENDED: 21 things New Yorkers want for the holidays

1. We collectively squashed the shit out of spotted lanternflies 

Spotted Lanternfly
Photograph: Shutterstock

These actually beautiful bugs threatened our ecosystem so we all came together this year to kill them. It was gross. It was arguably cruel. But it was right. Don’t you love when New Yorkers work together?

2. The city realized just how dirty it was and took action 

NYC garbage
Photograph: Shutterstock

Garbage and rats got so bad in NYC this year that Mayor Eric Adams promised to literally clean up our streets with a new garbage bin program, brand new street sweepers, new city laws and a rat action plan. Finally! The city has always been gritty, but maybe we’re about to see a new side to her. 

3. Brooklyn got its first LGBTQ+ landmark

Lesbian Herstory Archives
Photograph: Courtesy of the City of New York

The Lesbian Herstory Archives in Park Slope became the first LGBTQ+ landmark in Brooklyn. We can’t believe it took this long, but we think it’s one of the best things to happen this year.

4. A few new museums opened

Museum of Broadway
Photograph: Emilio Madrid

It’s a big deal when a new museum opens. When many open, it’s a rarity! This year, the Museum of Broadway, the Jackie Robinson Museum and the Bronx Children’s Museum opened their doors. It’s a win for New Yorkers and tourists alike.   

5. Fifth Avenue closed to traffic for the holiday season 

Fifth Avenue
Photograph: Shutterstock

Everyone knows walking along Fifth Avenue near Rockefeller Center and Saks Fifth Avenue in the holiday season is for tourists and sadists. The Rockefeller Christmas Tree and Saks’ big lights display attract about half a million people each holiday season, crowding the sidewalks, and plaza and spilling out onto the street at times. This year, NYC shut down the stretch of the avenue spanning these popular attractions on Sundays through December. It was a brilliant move—instead of fighting the flow of pedestrian traffic, it went with it, creating a safer experience for everyone. It’s a hit, too! Even locals are enjoying the open street this year. 

6. Julius’s Bar was finally landmarked

Photograph: Google

It took a while, but NYC’s oldest gay bar was finally landmarked this year but not because it’s old. In 1966, the bar was the site of a “Sip-In,” a protest against certain regulations that prohibited venues from serving people suspected of being gay. The “Sip-In” was spearheaded by three members of the gay rights organization Mattachine Society three years before the Stonewall riots. It’s finally gotten its due.

7. The city welcomed a bunch of new indie bookstores 

Sweet Pickle Books
Photograph: Essex Crossing

For years, we’ve been hearing that indie bookstores were dying due to the rise of online retailers. The ability to order online and receive books quickly in the mail or on e-readers dealt a huge blow to local bookshops for at least a decade. This year, however, we saw a resurgence of mom-and-pop bookshops. It seems New Yorkers these days are craving the personal and local atmosphere these stores offer. We’re here for it.

8. Rockefeller Center got way buzzier

The Rockefeller Center tree in 2021
Photograph: By Rossilynne Skena Culgan / Time Out

It used to be that Rockefeller Center was somewhere only tourists and workers inhabited, but in recent years, it has tweaked its identity by opening buzzy restaurants, bars and hip shops. From the roller disco that popped up this summer to the beloved Pebble Bar, there’s way more for locals to do there. And that’s how every neighborhood should be.

9. NYC airports have officially banned overpriced food and drinks

LaGuardia Terminal C
Photograph: Courtesy of Delta

Earlier this year, this writer paid $70 for two previously frozen fried rice dishes at JFK Airport. For years, travelers have been held hostage to airports’ notoriously high-priced food and drinks. This year, the Port Authority released a policy guide for vendors instructing them not to price food and drinks to be more than 10% higher than out-of-airport “street prices” of similar products. They also have to offer lower-priced menu options and let their customers know that they can complain about possible overcharges via social media. No more $35 fried rice plates! 

10. Tourism rebounded 

Times Square
Photograph: Shutterstock

NYC became a ghost town during the pandemic. How could we ever forget those photos of an empty Times Square? Finally, this year, NYC is expected to see 56.4 million visitors by year’s end, according to NYC & Company. That would account for 85% of the record 2019 tourism levels, and the city hopes to surpass those 2019 visitation numbers by 2024. It’s a sure sign that things are heading back to where they should be, at long last.

11. The Philharmonic opened its new home 

The interior of the Wu Tsai Theater at David Geffen Hall
Photograph: By Michael Moran / Courtesy of David Geffen Hall | The interior of the Wu Tsai Theater at David Geffen Hall

Lincoln Center completed the renovation of David Geffen Hall early, allowing New Yorkers to be treated to its grand opening in October. Inside the new space, the stage is now 25 feet forward compared to where it used to be, with the audience sitting around it—a characteristic that allows for greater visual and acoustic intimacy. Other changes include reduced seating capacity (2,200 from 2,700), improved accessibility, a more immersive design and a steeper incline at the orchestra level. It’s one of the most exciting openings of 2022! 

12. The Statue of Liberty’s crown is open to tourists again

Statue of Liberty tours
Photograph: Courtesy Viator

It’s been almost two years since people could go up to the Statue of Liberty’s crown. The super-high view of the city skyline from New York Harbor is special. You can now grab tickets to see it for yourself!

13. Two theaters were renamed in honor of Black legends

Brooks Atkinson Six
Photograph: Shutterstock

Both James Earl Jones and Lena Horne were honored this year in a big way. The Shubert Organization renamed Broadway’s Cort Theatre to The James Earl Jones Theatre this summer while The Nederlander Organization renamed The Brooks Atkinson Theatre to the Lena Horne Theatre. Both stars made incredible impacts on the theater industry and on the world. Make sure to read up on their lives at the links above.

14. Grand Central Terminal got a Yayoi Kusama mosaic

Yayoi Kusama at Grand Central Terminal
Photograph: Kerry McFate©YAYOI KUSAMA Courtesy of Ota Fine Arts, David Zwirner

We stan Kusama here in New York City. Whenever the Japanese artist’s work is featured anywhere in the boroughs, we run to queue. Who could forget the infinity mirror rooms after all? Our fandom has paid off because this month, a massive mural by Kusama was unveiled at the new Grand Central Madison Terminal alongside one by Kiki Smith. It’s just what you’d expect from the whimsical artist, too.

15. Chicago featured its first openly trans star

Angelica Ross Roxie Hart in Chicago
Photograph: Steven Simione with MUZE Magazine

Angelica Ross took the stage in Chicago on September 12, making history as the first openly trans woman to play Roxie Hart. The historic scarcity of Black trans women representation on Broadway means there’s been a surge of “first” milestones in recent years and this was a big one. We interviewed Ross, who acknowledges that her intersectional identity of being a Black trans woman adds nuanced layers to the character of Roxie, one of Chicago’s two leading ladies.

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