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Two cities ‘transforming into one New York,’ Mayor Bill de Blasio says

A rendering of the proposed streetcar line called

A rendering of the proposed streetcar line called the Brooklyn Queens Connector, or the BQX, to be introduced during Mayor Bill de Blasio's State of the City address Thursday night, Feb. 4, 2016. Credit: Friends of the Brooklyn Queens Connector

Mayor Bill de Blasio used his third State of the City address to promise streetcars linking Queens and Brooklyn, a citywide street-cleaning campaign and retirement plans for New Yorkers who would otherwise be penniless when they’re old.

De Blasio, a Democrat, delivered the annual speech to about 1,000 invited guests in the Bronx at Lehman College, where the auditorium holds 2,300.

The speech was closed to the public, though it was streamed on the Internet and delivered at night when more people could watch it live.

“We see the Tale of Two Cities transforming into One New York,” de Blasio said, invoking a trope of his 2013 mayoral campaign.

De Blasio did not mention the 11th-hour collapse earlier in the day of a political deal he had orchestrated to reduce the number of horse-drawn carriages and confine the rest to Central Park.

De Blasio titled the speech “One New York: Working for Our Neighborhoods.”

The invocation was delivered by a female FDNY chaplain, the Pledge of Allegiance by a Muslim family and the national anthem by a Bronx youth choir for at-risk inner-city youth. A young black man praised the mayor for reducing the use of the NYPD tactic of stopping, questioning and frisking mostly black and Latino men.

“We draw our strength from diversity,” he said. “We are a city where everyone is respected.”

De Blasio, whose winning 2013 mayoral campaign centered on complaints by black and Latino New Yorkers that the police are too aggressive, would introduce “implicit bias training” by the spring — “helping them identify, understand and change unconscious behaviors that may affect their policing,” he said.

De Blasio — who has almost entirely stopped criticizing the NYPD since police officers turned their backs on him at funerals for slain officers in 2014 — pointed out officers in the audience who had performed heroically.

One, Kenneth Healy, had taken a hatchet in the head in October 2014. Several others helped women deliver babies on the road. Two others subdued a knife-wielding man in Los Angeles.

During the speech, de Blasio touted his accomplishments over the past year — fewer murders (45 percent drop), shootings down 34 percent; free Wi-Fi for several housing projects; expanded Staten Island Ferry service to run every half-hour; the most repaving done since 1991 — 2,200 lane miles of road.

At the end of the nearly 70-minute speech, de Blasio was rushed off the stage by his bodyguards to handle the shooting of two police officers in the Bronx.


n A streetcar network linking Queens and Brooklyn — from Astoria to Sunset Park.

n 365-day-a-year access to Governors Island and the development of millions of square feet for “commerce, culture, and research.”

n Paying for street parking at every one of the city’s 85,000 metered spaces using smartphone technology.

n Expanding Citi Bike, with an additional 2,500 bikes in Queens, Manhattan and Brooklyn, bringing the system to 10,000.

n 350 live countdown clocks to show when the next bus will arrive.

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