Eric Adams, who is considered the leading candidate for mayor of New York City, came under intense fire on Wednesday from Democratic rivals who questioned whether he lived in New Jersey or the city and cast doubt on his honesty.
Mr. Adams, the Brooklyn borough president, says that an apartment in a multiunit townhouse he owns on Lafayette Avenue, in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn, is his primary residence.
But he also co-owns a co-op in Fort Lee, N.J., with his partner, who lives there, and has said publicly that he moved into Brooklyn Borough Hall for a time after the pandemic hit because he was working such long hours. On Tuesday, Politico New York reported that Mr. Adams used conflicting addresses in public records and that he was still spending nights at Borough Hall, based on surveillance by the publication and rival campaigns.
Before that article was published, Mr. Adams said that he would skip a debate among the top candidates scheduled for Thursday and would instead attend a vigil for a 10-year-old killed in gun violence in Queens.
Amid the attacks from other campaigns, Mr. Adams invited reporters to the townhouse, where he plied them with vegan pastries, offered a tour of what he said was his apartment — pointing out the “small, modest kitchen” and “small, modest bathroom” — and sought to dismiss residency questions in a news conference during which he at times grew emotional.
“How foolish would someone have to be to run to be the mayor of the city of New York and live in another municipality,” said Mr. Adams, joined by his son, Jordan.
Mr. Adams’s spokesman said that he lives at the Lafayette Avenue address, that he uses it with the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles and the city’s Campaign Finance Board and that he has been registered to vote there since 2017.
The appearance and tour did little to dampen attacks from his Democratic rivals and their teams, who said there were serious issues of transparency, ethics and integrity at play as they unspooled some of the fiercest, most personal criticisms of the campaign so far.
“Eric Adams has a problematic record of not being fully honest or transparent with the voters of New York,” Kathryn Garcia, a former city sanitation commissioner, said in a statement. “As we recover from Covid, the last thing we need is a career politician with a hidden agenda at City Hall. Our city cannot recover if the mayor lacks integrity.”
Scott M. Stringer, the city comptroller, called on Mr. Adams to release records related to his residency, and Maya D. Wiley, a former counsel to Mayor Bill de Blasio, called the controversy over Mr. Adams’s residency “bizarre.”
“I think there’s some straight-up questions that are fundamental about, where do you live, Eric?” she said.
And in a rare display of cross-campaign comity, Andrew Yang’s co-campaign managers, Sasha Ahuja and Chris Coffey, released a list of questions for Mr. Adams on Wednesday that, they noted, were intended to add to questions raised by Ms. Wiley’s team the day before.
“Why would anyone vote for a candidate who can’t even be honest about where he lives?” Ms. Ahuja and Mr. Coffey asked, as they detailed a list of ethics concerns. “How are the traffic problems in Fort Lee? What are you hiding?”
Mr. Adams and most of the other candidates have sharply criticized Mr. Yang for spending time at his home in New Paltz, N.Y., with his family during the pandemic, and Mr. Yang has discussed his time out of the city in a manner many found to be tone-deaf.
The Colony at 1530, the Palisade Avenue building in Fort Lee where Mr. Adams co-owns an apartment with his partner, Tracey Collins, is more than 30 stories tall with views overlooking the Hudson River. On Tuesday, two valets said they recognized Mr. Adams when shown his picture by a reporter.
Mr. Adams has done at least seven web appearances from the Fort Lee apartment between April 2020 and February of this year, according to research by a rival campaign.
“We did over 100 forums,” Mr. Adams said Wednesday. He acknowledged that at times he may have joined forums while at the apartment he co-owns with Ms. Collins in New Jersey. “There’s nothing wrong or unethical about doing them,” he said.
At the news conference, Mr. Adams insisted that he was simply private about his home life. He appeared overcome with emotion and unable to speak for more than a minute as he retold a story of being shot at when he was speaking out against racism in the Police Department, just days after his son, now 26, was born.
“I realized the life I was living, my advocacy, was going to take his dad away from him,” said Mr. Adams, who during the news conference smiled and waved at some neighbors as they passed by. “Throughout my entire police career, none of my colleagues knew I had a son. I wanted to shield him from the reality of what I was doing. I became very private.”
He led a tour of a wood- and brick-trimmed apartment, while reporters inspected the refrigerator, and feverish speculation swirled on social media about whether it matched pictures of refrigerators he had shared in earlier years, when he said he was at home in Brooklyn.
Neighbors in Brooklyn have offered mixed accounts of whether they know Mr. Adams.
“I don’t keep up and down track of him 24/7, but I see him quite a lot,” said David Goodman, a neighbor who owns the townhouse two doors down from the one Mr. Adams owns.
Several others said they had seen much less of him in recent months.
“I haven’t seen him in a while,” said Kaseam Baity, 49, who has lived across the street for about a decade.
On Tuesday, the day before Mr. Adams gave his tour, a reporter for The New York Times knocked on the door and rang the doorbell, but no one answered. There were no names listed next to the apartment buzzers, which were partially covered with black tape.
Contributing to the confusion over Mr. Adams’s residence, his voter registration lists his unit as Apartment 1, but a utility service record from 2019 reviewed by The Times shows a tenant living at that unit. Mr. Adams’s spokesman said the tenant, who lives on the parlor floor above where Mr. Adams led the tour, had most likely misidentified her unit number.
Mr. Adams’s highly unusual Wednesday news conference unfolded as the race entered a tumultuous, increasingly rancorous final stretch, less than two weeks before the June 22 Democratic primary that is almost certain to determine the city’s next mayor.
Mr. Adams, a former police captain, has topped a number of recent polls as he presses a message focused on public safety, a top priority for voters, polls show.
But the race appears fluid even in its final days. It will be decided by ranked-choice voting, and it is difficult to predict what the electorate in a post-pandemic June primary will look like.
A Spectrum News NY1/Ipsos poll released earlier this week showed Mr. Adams leading the Democratic field, followed by Mr. Yang, a former presidential candidate, and Ms. Garcia.
But the poll was conducted in the second half of May, and there has been little data since to capture how a number of major recent developments are registering with voters, including Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s Saturday endorsement of Ms. Wiley, a former counsel to Mayor Bill de Blasio.
Jumaane D. Williams, the New York City public advocate, endorsed Ms. Wiley on Wednesday, the latest effort to consolidate left-wing support around her candidacy in the homestretch.
“We must unite to elect and rank Maya Wiley to be the second Black and first woman mayor of the city of New York,” Mr. Williams said.
Mr. Williams, who had not previously endorsed any of the candidates, said that as the city’s public advocate, he had considered staying out of the race. But he said he was “disturbed and dismayed” by what he cast as unsubstantive and even fear-mongering rhetoric in the race, and urged New Yorkers to embrace Ms. Wiley’s candidacy.
“This moment is being dominated by a loud discussion of whether New York will return to the ‘bad old days,’” he said. “But for so many of us, those ‘bad old days’ run through Bloomberg and Giuliani,” he said, “through the abuses of stop-and-frisk and surveillance.”
Earlier in the day, as he led reporters down to the basement level where the bedroom is, Mr. Adams warned them to watch out for the creaky first step. There were a pair of African masks on the ledge of the stairway looking as if they were ready to be hung and a dusty-looking smoke detector.
The bedroom smelled a bit damp, and there were some suit jackets in the closet. Three pairs of sneakers were perched on a ledge next to a bed, with a few pairs of slippers next to the closet. The blue comforter on the bed was rumpled, and there were at least five pillows.
Mr. Adams, who has never married, said he didn’t want to subject Ms. Collins, his partner, to scrutiny as well. He said that when he saw her last Saturday, it was their first meeting in over two months.
Even as Mr. Adams found himself on the defensive over residency questions, there were signs of his continued political strength: A major Hasidic faction backed Mr. Adams overnight as their first choice for mayor, after the Yang campaign had previously indicated it had the support of both Satmar factions in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
Mr. Yang was the second choice, said Rabbi Moishe Indig, a Satmar leader. “We are still endorsing Yang, and we still believe he is a good guy and a nice guy,” he said. “But he is new. We always want to make new friends, but we don’t want to throw our old friends under the bus.”
Reporting was contributed by Kevin Armstrong, Anne Barnard, Michael Gold, Amy Julia Harris, Jazmine Hughes and Liam Stack.
Major Moments From the Final Democratic Mayoral Debate
Weather: Sunny again, with a high close to 80.
Alternate-side parking: In effect through tomorrow. Suspended on Saturday for Juneteenth.
Five days of campaigning left.
With Tuesday’s primary fast approaching, Democratic candidates for mayor of New York City sparred over matters of public safety, schooling and homelessness last night as they shared their closing arguments in the final debate before the vote closes.
The early voting period lasts through Sunday, and the ranked-choice system has injected a large degree of unpredictability into the race. Still, Eric Adams, the Brooklyn borough president, remains a consistent front-runner in the sparse available polling.
Here are a few of the standout moments:
Attacks flew over an endorsement
This week, Andrew Yang, a former presidential candidate, received the endorsement of the Captains Endowment Association, the union that represents police captains. When asked at the debate to explain why he was the candidate best equipped to tackle a rise in shootings, Mr. Yang pointed to the endorsement.
“The people you should ask about this are Eric’s former colleagues in the police captains’ union,” Mr. Yang said.
Mr. Adams tried to dismiss the endorsement, suggesting that he had not even asked for it. Mr. Yang accused him of lying.
The discussion about homelessness became heated
Mr. Yang sounded alarms around matters of mental health and homelessness, saying that the issues were impeding the city’s recovery and that homeless people needed to be introduced to a “better environment.” He said he would rebuild “the stock of psych beds in our city.”
Scott M. Stringer, the city comptroller, shot back: “That is the greatest non-answer I’ve ever heard,” he said, discussing a need to create tens of thousands of units of “truly affordable housing.”
‘The worst idea you’ve heard from another candidate?’
The question encouraged contenders to sling a little mud, and Mr. Yang and Mr. Adams again targeted each other. Kathryn Garcia, the former sanitation commissioner, ripped the “defund the police” movement. Maya Wiley challenged Mr. Adams on policing.
“The worst idea I’ve ever heard is bringing back stop and frisk and the anti-crime unit from Eric Adams,” said Ms. Wiley, a civil rights lawyer. “Which, one, is racist; two, is unconstitutional; and, three, didn’t stop any crime; and, four, it will not happen in a Maya Wiley administration.”
Mr. Adams responded that, if he was elected, the abuses of stop and frisk would not return.
From The Times
And finally: Renaming 16 parks for Black history
A Black feminist writer from Harlem. The first Black woman to have a play produced on Broadway. An actress and singer who lived in Manhattan and broke ground for Black performers.
New York City officials announced on Wednesday that 16 parks across the five boroughs would be named for those figures and other Black leaders who made significant contributions in areas from education and entertainment to civil rights and community relations.
“Our goal is to represent the culture and diversity of New York City,” the city’s parks commissioner, Mitchell J. Silver, said at a news conference at Mullaly Park in the Bronx. The roughly 15-acre park in the Concourse neighborhood of the borough was a focus of local activism as protests arose to push for officials to change its title, citing concerns about the record of its namesake, who published attacks on the Emancipation Proclamation.
“For years, the community has expressed discontent and a desire to rename this beloved green space,” Mr. Silver said. A new name that honors the Rev. Wendell Foster, the first Black elected city official in the Bronx, will be adopted in September 2022, he said.
The move comes amid a larger push to change some names of monuments and landmarks in New York and elsewhere, sometimes to leave behind references to figures with racist pasts and at other times to honor Black New Yorkers. Several top Democratic mayoral candidates have suggested they would support renaming sites including streets named for slaveholders.
As for park spaces, those that will take on new names include the Prospect Park Bandshell in Brooklyn (changing to Lena Horne Bandshell); Hell’s Kitchen Park in Manhattan (to become Lorraine Hansberry Park); and St. Albans Oval in Queens (to be renamed Musicians Oval in honor of influential Black jazz musicians).
It’s Thursday — get outside.
Metropolitan Diary: Waiting for Denzel
My mother loves Denzel Washington. So it was only natural that we would go see him in the “The Iceman Cometh” when she visited a few years ago.
My legs were stiff and my mouth was dry after the four-hour production ended, and I was ready to go home. But my mother loves Denzel Washington. So we waited outside the stage door for the cast to emerge.
My mother was easily the oldest person there, but she was grinning like a teenager about to meet her hero.
“Do you have a pen?” she asked me nervously.
“These actors always carry pens,” I said with confidence. “Don’t worry.”
Soon, though, I was frantically asking everyone around us for a pen while my mother continued to wait for the star to emerge.
When I got back to where she was standing, I overheard her chatting with other members of the cast.
Denzel Washington never came out that night, but my mother still proudly tells everyone back home how she invited half the cast of a Broadway show to visit her in Colorado.
I’m glad I didn’t have a pen.
— Sid Gopinath
It’s Not Too Late to Discover Louise Meriwether
“My uncle and father were always politically involved,” she said. “And I was with them, so I became politically involved, too.”
In 1965, Meriwether earned a master’s degree in journalism from the University of California, Los Angeles. After three years at The Sentinel, she left the paper to become the first African American story analyst at Universal Studios, a job that entails reading and providing feedback on scripts. Around this time, she also joined the Watts Writers Workshop, a collective by the screenwriter Budd Schulberg, where she began writing “Daddy Was a Number Runner.” “I remember asking myself: This woman is a great writer. What is she doing in a workshop?” the poet Quincy Troupe said in an interview. “She was way above everybody else.”
When Troupe reminisces on their friendship, he recalls a moment in which he is convinced she saved his life. Driving home from a poetry reading, he was stopped and searched by police officers. Meriwether happened to be on the road with a friend who was a lawyer. When she saw Troupe, she stopped her car and went to question the officers, asking for their badge numbers.
“I said, ‘I’ve got your numbers, and that’s my attorney over there,’ in case they tried to shoot me,” Meriwether said. “That sort of defused the situation, you know?”
In 1969, Meriwether, who had divorced, returned to New York to care for her ailing mother. As she did in Los Angeles, she dove into New York’s artistic and political scenes, starting Committee of Concerned Blacks, an anti-Apartheid group, in 1972, and joining the Harlem Writers Guild, a group whose founders included the writers John Henrik Clarke, Rosa Guy and John Oliver Killens. Her circle of friends encompassed still more writers, including Maya Angelou and Sonia Sanchez.
“I think one thing you can get from Louise is loyalty, support, and undying love for her people,” Hill, her friend and caretaker, said.
Why This Overlooked Residential Island in N.Y.C. Wants Tourists
When Med Abrous, a restaurateur behind trendy establishments in Los Angeles, Nashville and Seattle, got the call about opening a restaurant on Roosevelt Island in New York, he almost hung up the phone.
“The last time I was at Roosevelt Island was probably in the third grade for a class trip, where we took the tram, ” said Mr. Abrous, who grew up in New York City. “All I remember is we learned something about smallpox, and then I never went back.” (In the 1800s the island, now a quiet residential neighborhood, was the repository for several city asylums and hospitals, including one for smallpox, as well as a prison).
The restaurant would be part of Graduate, Roosevelt Island’s first hotel, which opened this month. The property is on the campus of Cornell Tech, a hub for cutting-edge graduate students in tech, design, law and business, which opened four years ago. Although the university has been a boon to the community — which was redeveloped starting in the mid-20th century and has plenty of dated architecture to prove it — would a stylish hotel and restaurant really work out here?
“People who have lived in New York City for 20 or 30 years have never been to Roosevelt Island,” said Ben Weprin, the founder and chief executive of Graduate Hotels. “That is the biggest challenge, to educate people on how close and easy and fun Roosevelt Island is.”
Mr. Abrous and his business partner agreed to at least visit the site, and he was immediately impressed. “I was taken aback just being in the middle of the East River,” he said. New high-rises were plentiful, and the rooftop of the hotel offered views of several New York City landmarks, from the United Nations building across the river to One World Trade Center farther south.
He signed on to create the Panorama Room, a bar and lounge with the very same rooftop views that seduced him, and he is aiming for a splashy midsummer opening. The idea is to make the restaurant a destination unto itself. “I’ll go into deep Brooklyn or Queens for a great meal,” he said, adding that he wants Roosevelt Island to be a destination, too. “We want this place to have the same weightiness as the Rainbow Room or Windows of the World,” he said.
In a way, the combination of Cornell Tech’s opening and the pandemic’s hitting the city has given Roosevelt Island a new chance at the spotlight. In addition to the hundreds of graduate students who have moved there, other New Yorkers in search of green space and affordable rents have gobbled up real estate. Several longtime residents are recommitting to the area, opening yoga studios and restaurants. And then there is Graduate, with its rooftop bar.
“It’s funny, having lived here so long, to see something so artsy and modern and hip coming to the neighborhood,” said Amanda Baehr Fuller, 48, an illustrator who has lived on the island for 15 years. “In the past we used to hear about things possibly opening, and years would go by and it would never happen,” she continued. “Now it’s getting better.”
Although many locals are thrilled about the attention the island is getting, the population of around 14,000 is still not enough to keep these new businesses thriving, said Shelton J. Haynes, the president and chief operating officer of the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation, which functions like a local government.
“These small businesses definitely need tourists to come in,” he said. “Many were hit very hard during the pandemic. Especially now, they need a hybrid of residents as well as tourism to stay alive.” The corporation is considering a series of free tours, both on foot and by bus, to bring in more people, Mr. Haynes said.
So it all hinges on foot traffic. The island battles an unfair reputation as being hard to reach despite access from the F train, the ferry, the Queensboro Bridge and of course the island’s unique tram. “We are still in the middle of the East River, and I am reminded of it all the time,” Mr. Abrous said. “This may have been a completely crazy idea,” he said of his decision to commit to Roosevelt Island.
In these late-pandemic days, the appeal of the area is obvious. It’s possible to walk through its parks and not see another human. Families, especially, appreciate the open fields, tree-lined promenades and playgrounds. Later this summer, Southpoint Park will open on the southern tip of the island. “It will be similar to Brooklyn Bridge Park, where you can walk right up to the water,” Mr. Haynes said.
For people interested in living here, there is currently a wait list for three-bedroom apartments, which is unprecedented, according to Chris Schmidt, a senior vice president at the real estate firm Related Companies, which owns eight (and soon to be nine) buildings on the island.
Last summer, Paul Krikler, 60, who owns a consulting and business coaching business, moved to Roosevelt Island from the Upper East Side of Manhattan with his three teenage children. “It’s so calm and peaceful and quiet,” he said. “There is green everywhere and water everywhere and public benches everywhere. During the pandemic having that space was just lovely.” He likes how people bring hammocks and hang them between the trees.
An adjustment for him, however, was the lack of amenities. “There’s very limited shopping here, so you have to use Amazon and make the most use of your time when you’re on the mainland,” he said. “For example, there is no bike shop.” Mr. Krikler is working to change this by getting a mobile bike shop to visit the island regularly.
Before the pandemic there was one of everything, said David Kramer, who oversees Related’s retail spaces for Roosevelt Island. “There was a pizzeria, a Japanese restaurant, a Greek diner, a Chinese restaurant and a supermarket,” he said.
In the past year, however, more specialty offerings have arrived. Wholesome Macelleria, a high-end butcher shop, opened over the winter. Last September came Granny Annie’s, a restaurant that became a go-to spot for cocktails. And this summer, Graduate will introduce two new restaurants overseen by Mr. Abrous.
Jax Schott, who has lived on the island for over 12 years and is a yoga and barre instructor, is opening the island’s first dedicated yoga and barre studio, Island Om, this summer. She’s transforming a 2,000-square-foot space on Main Street that used to be a makeshift batting cage. “We have a lot of wellness people on the island, and I am trying to figure out how to bring them together and make this a sort of hub for the community,” she said.
The hope is that the 224-room Graduate Hotel will lift up the other businesses. The property has gone out of its way to be bold. In the lobby is a 12-foot statue by Hebru Brantley, an artist known for his Afrofuturist style, as well as 5,000 square feet of shelved vintage textbooks. There is a meeting room inspired by the Tom Hanks movie “Big,” with a giant piano mat and a Zoltar machine.
“We need people to come and be, like, ‘Holy shoot, I can’t wait to bring my friends here,’ ” Mr. Weprin said. “We have to make this a landmark of the city.”