In a year where New York City welcomed a new mayor there have been a host of stories that have shaped the landscape of the Tri-State area, the country and the world over. From the deaths of Joan Rivers and Robin Williams, to Ebola reaching our nation’s shores, and ice water being poured on everyone from Gov. Chris Christie to the New York Jets — here are our picks for the 14 biggest news stories from 2014, in order of when they occurred.
Bill De Blasio Sworn In As 109th Mayor Of New York City
Bringing in the new year with promises of a better future for New York City residents, Mayor Bill de Blasio has certainly had his fair share of ups and downs — but probably more downs. De Blasio took the oath of office administered by former President Bill Clinton on Jan. 1, 2014, formally becoming the 109th mayor of New York City while pledging to pursue a sweeping liberal agenda. It wasn’t long, however, before the criticism rolled in. Only 22 days into his term New York City was hit with a snowstorm that left Upper East Side residents wondering “Where’s the snowplow?” After seeing the slushy streets for himself, the mayor conceded “more could have been done to serve the Upper East Side.” Just under a month later, CBS2 revealed exclusive video that caught the mayor’s caravan speeding, blowing through stop signs, and violating other traffic laws only days after announcing an aggressive plan to prevent traffic deaths. Now a seasoned vet when it comes to criticism, de Blasio took another blow just earlier this month after Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch said police officers felt they were “thrown under the bus” by the mayor’s comments following the grand jury decision not to indict the officer in the Eric Garner case. The mayor said he and his wife had to have painful conversations with their teenage son about “how to take special care with any encounter he may have with police officers.” The divide between police and the mayor became even more apparent after the shooting deaths of two on-duty police officers on Dec. 20. Members of the NYPD turned their backs on the mayor at the hospital where the officers were pronounced dead, and again during one of the officer’s funerals. And who would forget about the time the mayor ate pizza with a fork on Staten Island! Mama Mia!
Christie Administration Embroiled In ‘Bridgegate’ Scandal
Despite that the actual “traffic safety study” … ehem… lane closures in question happened in September of 2013, the investigation into what has been dubbed “Bridgegate” dominated headlines at the start of 2014. A widening investigation into the George Washington Bridge lane closures forced a January news conference in which Gov. Chris Christie adamantly denied having knowledge about the closures, apologized for the actions of his staffers and announced the firing of his deputy chief of staff Bridget Anne Kelly, who famously wrote “Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee.” Days later, the state Assembly authorized a special committee to extend its inquiry and 20 subpoenas were issued to organizations and individuals related to the scandal. Most recently though, an investigative committee report found no definitive link between Christie and the decision to close two of the three lanes of the George Washington Bridge.
Shocking Celebrity Deaths
There is no doubt that Hollywood lost some of its brightest stars in 2014. Actor Philip Seymour Hoffman was found dead inside his Greenwich Village home on Feb. 2. Hoffman, 46, reportedly had battled drug addiction, but was clean for 23 years before falling off the wagon in 2012. The Medical Examiner’s office said the luminary died of acute mixed drug intoxication in what’s been ruled an accident. On Aug. 11, actor and comedian Robin Williams, 63, was found dead inside his northern California home. Marin County, California sheriff’s officials said the man who brought smiles to so many took his own life, stunning the world and bringing light to the plight of those who face depression. Following a minor, elective vocal cord procedure that sent her into cardiac arrest in August, Joan Rivers died on Sept. 4 at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. The raucous 81-year-old comedian’s death touched off an investigation into the medical office where the procedure took place as well as a possible lawsuit from Rivers’ daughter Melissa.
Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 Disappears
What should have been an ordinary flight for 239 people ended in tragedy on March 7 when Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing disappeared. On March 22, China released satellite images that suggested wreckage from the plane could be in the southern Indian Ocean. Just two days later, after weeks of agony and frustration for the families of those on board, Malaysia’s prime minister confirmed that the jetliner had crashed into a remote corner of the Indian Ocean. The news, which invoked shrieks from families, meant it was all but impossible that any of the 239 passengers and crew on board the jetliner could have survived. To this day, Flight MH370 has not been located.
East Harlem Building Explosion
The explosion that rocked East Harlem, causing the collapse of two buildings and the deaths of eight people, shook New York City to its core. Smoke and flames could be seen shooting into the air following the blast around 9:30 a.m. on March 12. Days later, the National Transportation Safety Board confirmed a gas leak in the immediate area and said the troubled 8-inch cast iron pipe connected to one of the two buildings that collapsed failed a pressure test. Those killed were Mayumi Nakamura, 34; Andreas Panagopoulos, 44; Griselde Camacho, 45; Carmen Tanco, 67; George Amadeo, 44; Alexis Salas, 22; Rosaura Hernandez-Barrios, 21; and Rosaura Barrios Vasquez, 44, who is Rosaura Hernandez-Barrios’ mother.
World Cup Fever
Ole, Ole, Ole! The United States may not be a front-runner when it comes to soccer, better known around the world as football, but that didn’t stop people all across America from donning their national pride and heading to their local watering hole to cheer on their team in the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Germany may have won the ultimate title, but the U.S. team certainly had its fair share of heart pounding moments, most notably when John Brooks put in a header off a corner kick to put the U.S. over Ghana 2-1.
White Flags Appear On Brooklyn Bridge
The Brooklyn Bridge is pretty synonymous with American culture, so you can understand everyone’s surprise when one day over the summer the American flags that adorn the bridge’s two towers vanished, replaced with what appeared to be whitewashed or faded versions of Old Glory. While terrorism was quickly ruled out in the July 22 incident, it took weeks before two German artists claimed responsibility for the swap. The flags have since been returned to U.S. soil. The flag swap highlighted what many officials and residents said is a need for tighter security at New York City landmarks.
Everyone Does The Ice Bucket Challenge
Unless you were living under a rock in 2014, you have either taken part, or know about 20 people who took part in the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. The viral movement became a powerful fundraising tool for ALS research over the summer. Everyone from the Average Joe on Facebook to celebrities including Chris Pratt and Matt Damon, to politicians like Gov. Christie, and sports teams and stars including the Giants, Jets, Derek Jeter and even WFAN’s Mike Francesa dumped ice water over their heads as people stood by and laughed — all for a good cause, of course.
ISIS Takes Aim At U.S. With Beheadings
This year saw the prominent emergence of a new global terrorism threat in the form of the Islamic extremist group ISIS. The Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant began an offensive in Iraq back in June, but it wasn’t until the U.S. military began an air campaign against the militants in early August that ISIS began to threaten the beheadings of Western captives. On Aug. 19, a video was released online that purportedly showed the beheading of American journalist James Foley. Videos showing the beheadings of Israeli-American journalist Steven Sotloff, humanitarian aid worker Peter Kassig, and British aid worker David Haines were also released, eliciting a fire storm of condemnation across the U.S. and the world over.
A Final Farewell To Yankees Captain Derek Jeter
It’s still hard to believe that come spring 2015, Derek Jeter won’t be jogging out to his rightful place on the field for another season with the New York Yankees. The captain beloved by so many played his final Major League Baseball game at Fenway Park in Boston on Sept. 28. The 14-time All-Star went out in a blaze of glory during his final home game at Yankee Stadium on Sept. 25 when his single in the ninth inning gave the Yankees a 6-5 win over the Baltimore Orioles and unleashed a wild celebration as teammates poured from the dugout to embrace him between first and second base — a fairy tale ending fitting for the prince of baseball.
Ebola Comes To New York City
New Yorkers had already been hearing about Ebola for weeks before the only patient to be diagnosed with the potentially deadly disease arrived in New York City. But on Oct. 23, the threat of Ebola became all too real for many as city officials confirmed that Dr. Craig Spencer tested positive. Spencer, who works with Doctors Without Borders, had recently returned from Guinea where he had been treating Ebola patients. Residents and politicians were up in arms after finding out Spencer had failed to self quarantine upon return to the city. But despite his ride on the subway, dining in a restaurant and bowling at a Brooklyn bowling alley, no one who came in contact with Spencer — including his fiance — contracted the virus. Spencer was declared Ebola-free and released from Bellevue Hospital on Nov. 11.
2014 Midterm Elections
For the first time in eight years voters gave the Republican Party control of the U.S. Senate during midterm elections on Nov. 4. The deciding race was the victory by Republican Thom Tillis over Democratic incumbent Sen. Kay Hagan in North Carolina. Back in New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo easily won a second term over Republican challenger Rob Astorino, becoming the first Democratic governor since his father, Mario Cuomo, to win re-election in the nation’s third-largest state. In New Jersey, it was only a matter of minutes after the polls closed before U.S. Sen. Cory Booker announced a re-election victory over Republican challenger Jeff Bell. This will be Booker’s first full six-year term in Washington. Election Day didn’t go so smoothly for voters in Connecticut, where two polling places in Hartford were delayed from the start. A judge allowed the polling sites to remain open an extra half hour, and ultimately Democrat Gov. Dannel Malloy claimed victory over Republican Tom Foley.
Deaths Of Michael Brown, Eric Garner Set Off National Protests
With chants that include “Hands up, don’t shoot,” “I can’t breathe,” and “Black lives matter,” by tens of thousands of people, the police-involved deaths of 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri and 43-year-old Eric Garner on Staten Island have no doubt brought the issues of race and police violence to the forefront of American culture and news over the last several months. While anger brewed over the deaths themselves, the decisions by two separate grand jurys not to indict officer Darren Wilson in the Brown case and officer Daniel Pantaleo in the Garner case touched off a firestorm of local and national protests.
Assassination Of NYPD Officers Rafael Ramos & Wenjian Liu
“Our hearts are aching. We feel it physically, we feel it deeply,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said while speaking at the funeral for NYPD Officer Rafael Ramos. On Dec. 20, a lone gunman, Ismaaiyl Brinsley, took the lives of Ramos and Officer Wenjian Liu as they sat in their patrol car in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. Brinsley then killed himself in a nearby subway station. The act of violence shook the NYPD and further highlighted tensions between police and the mayor as the PBA President and the Sergeants Benevolent Association said the blood of the officers is on de Blasio’s hands. The shootings also brought together supporters of the NYPD and hundreds, if not thousands of people have been drawn to a makeshift memorial at the site of the shooting to pay their respects to the fallen officers.