New York City: One Year Later

The sun begins to rise over ground zero Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2002 in New York. Relatives of victims were to participate later in the morning in a ceremony to honor lives lost in the terrorist attacks one year ago. AP

One year after the terror attacks of September 11, 2001, New Yorkers say their city is a changed place because of the attacks. For half of them, their own lives are changed. Many often think about that day and still become emotional about it, and continue to cope with continuing concerns about safety.

But some things have returned to normal. The optimism and community spirit that grew right after the attacks have returned to pre-September 11 levels. Although New Yorkers interviewed in this CBS News/New York Times Poll continue to hold a positive image of their city, doubts about a complete economic recovery appear to be clouding the prospects for its future.

THE CHANGED CITY

Almost all New Yorkers – 82%- say New York City has changed as a whole because of the terror attacks. While some feel the city has been impacted negatively, nearly as many see positive changes in New York.


CBSNEWS - New York Times Polls
HAS NEW YORK CITY CHANGED SINCE 9/11?

 YesNo

82%

14%

CBSNEWS Polls

On one hand, 23% of New Yorkers say the city is more uneasy and fearful, 10% say the city's economy is suffering and that there is more unemployment, and 4% feel a general sense of loss or miss the Twin Towers. On the other, 17% say New Yorkers are now nicer and less arrogant, 10% say communities are stronger and there's a sense of pride that comes with being a New Yorker and 2% think the city is more united and patriotic.

CHANGED LIVES

Half (49%) say their own lives have changed as a result of the events of September 11, 2001. Many of those say they have re-evaluated their own life – topping the list at 12%. 10% say they are now more alert and careful and 10% volunteer that they have been affected financially. Another 7% say they feel unsafe and fearful. 4% volunteer that they have lost a family member or friend.

CBSNEWS - New York Times Polls
HOW HAS 9/11 CHANGED YOUR LIFE?

 Re-evaluated lifeEconomic impact More alert/carefulFeel unsafeLost family or friend

12%

10%

10%

7%

4%

CBSNEWS Polls

The personal impact of the attacks is somewhat greater in New York City than it is in the country overall. Nationally, 42% say September 11 changed their lives.

THE PERSONAL IMPACT

The attacks continue to weigh heavily on the minds of New Yorkers. More than a third think about September 11 every day and about a quarter think about the events of September 11 every week. 35% say they think about September 11 once in a while.

New Yorkers are also talking about September 11. 29% say they talk about the attacks at least once a week, while a majority – 57% - says they talk about it once in a while. Just 13% say they hardly ever talk about September 11.

More women than men report thinking about the terror attacks every day, by 41% to 31%. Older New Yorkers and those living in Manhattan think about September 11 more often than younger New Yorkers and people in the other boroughs.

Nationally, 34% of people think about September 11 every day, although they are not as likely as New Yorkers to be personally affected by the events of that day.

When New Yorkers do talk about the events of September 11, it is difficult for them. More than three in ten say they get teary-eyed or choked up always or most of the time when they talk about September 11, while another 38% say they get teary-eyed some of the time. Women are twice as likely as men to say they get emotional always or most of the time when they talk about September 11.

The World Trade Center was part of most New Yorkers' lives before September 11, and the site continues to be important to them. More than three-quarters of the city's residents had been to the World Trade Center before September 11. Half have visited Ground Zero since then.

And many New Yorkers lost more than the buildings. 61% had personal knowledge of someone hurt or killed in the attacks. For 29% of New Yorkers, that person was someone close to them.

These personal losses translate into overwhelming New York support for the federal government paying special benefits to families of victims of the terror attacks. 87% support these payments.

THE FINANCIAL AND PSYCHOLOGICAL AFTERMATH

Many New Yorkers have experienced financial hard times in the past year as a direct result of the terrorist attacks. Over a third of the labor force say they or someone in their household has lost a job or income due to the attacks. Getting to work has been a challenge as well; 36% of workers experienced a longer commute to work in the weeks after the attacks, and 15% are still struggling with commuting problems.

There is still lingering psychic fallout from the attacks as well, although it has decreased in the past year. About a quarter of New Yorkers remain nervous in general, and 14% are still having trouble sleeping.

Women are more likely than men to say they continue to experience nervousness. 33% of women report still feeling nervous or edgy because of the September 11 attacks, compared with 23% of men. Although women had more difficulty sleeping than men did after the attacks, that difference no longer exists.

Nationally, fewer people experienced these symptoms post-September 11. As with New Yorkers, decreasing numbers continue to experience them now.

Though the impact of the attacks on New York City's children has also lessened over the past year, about a quarter of parents say their child still worries about safety. One quarter of parents say their child still worries about their family's safety, and one in five parents say their child continues to worry about his or her own safety. 5% report their child still has nightmares.

Few New York parents regularly bring up the subject of the attacks with their children. Only 8% of parents say they talk with their child about the attacks at least every week; 57% bring it up once in a while. 25% hardly ever talk about it.

Still, there are clear signs that New Yorkers are healing. A year after the attacks, nearly three-quarters of New Yorkers say their daily routines have returned to normal. Fewer are experiencing anxiety, and many who say they weren't doing things such as riding the subway now are.

SUPPORTING THE CITY

Despite the personal losses that New Yorkers have suffered, they continue to have great pride in their city. More than six in ten think the people of New York reacted better to the attacks than people in other big cities would have. 30% say New Yorkers behaved the same as residents of other cities would have. These numbers have not changed since last October.

A majority plans to continue living in the city, though that number is somewhat lower today than it was just after the attacks. And New Yorkers still have a great deal of confidence in their neighbors, along with a very positive overall image of the city.

57% have a lot of confidence that their neighbor would help them in an emergency, and another 29% have some confidence. These figures remain essentially unchanged from October 2001 when, just following the attacks, 60% said they had a lot of confidence their neighbor would help, and 29% had some confidence.

New Yorkers' overall image of the city remains very strong. 85% of those surveyed said their overall image of New York City was good. In June 2002, 86% had a good image overall, and in October 2001, 93% held that view. Despite the drop over the last year, New Yorkers are still more positive about their neighbors and their city than they were in the early 1990s.

Nationally, opinion about New York City is just as positive. 83% of Americans have a good image of New York City.

New Yorkers remain patriotic, although these levels have also slipped from their immediate post-September 11 highs. 47% of New Yorkers say they are "very patriotic," and another 40% call themselves "somewhat patriotic." Only 10% say they are "not very patriotic." Just after the attacks, 72% said they were "very patriotic."

But the economic effects of the attacks and the nationwide economic downturn have seeped into New Yorkers' perceptions of the city's future, dampening optimism. One-third of New Yorkers think the city will be a better place to live ten or fifteen years from now, but that is markedly down from the 20-year high of 54% recorded in the month just after the September 11 attacks. The new figure matches the level found in August 2001, just before the attacks.

This new poll finds that 23% think New York will be a worse place to live, and 38% say it will remain about the same. These results, too, match the pre-September 11 levels of August 2001, when 25% said they thought New York would be a worse place in the future and 32% said it would be about the same.

One sign of returning normality is the list of what New Yorkers see as important problems for the city. While fear of additional terrorism still remains high among New Yorkers, crime and the economy rank among the top problems facing the city. Crime is the number one concern, mentioned by 14% of New Yorkers, followed closely by the threat of terrorism (11%) and the economy (10%).

Worries about the economy may be affecting long-term views. New Yorkers do remain generally confident that the city's economy will fully recover from the impact of the attacks. However, these levels are down from those measured after the attacks, and also down from levels found earlier this summer. In October 2001, following the attacks, 45% were very confident the city's economy would fully recover. As late as June 2002, that figure remained essentially the same, at 48%. Now, 36% are very confident.

New Yorkers' general outlook on the city's future as a good place to live appears to be related to their views on the city's chances for economic recovery.

Of those who say they are "very confident" that the city's economy will fully recover from the terrorist attacks, 44% feel the city will be a better place in ten to fifteen years, and only 16% think it will be a worse place. Of those who are only "somewhat" confident of recovery, 32% think the city will be a better place. Meanwhile, among those who are "not very" confident of recovery, only 16% believe the city will be a better place to live in the future.

As for their personal economic situation, most New Yorkers say their family's financial situation is the same as it was two years ago. But 27% say it is worse, while just 17% say their financial situation is better.

CONCERNS ABOUT ANOTHER TERRORIST ATTACK

New Yorkers continue to cope with a lack of a sense of personal safety from terrorist attacks, though that feeling has declined in the last year. Six in ten feel either uneasy or in danger of terrorist attacks, and eight in ten think New Yorkers will always have to live with the risk of terrorist attacks. Although a slight majority finds government warnings about possible attacks useful, the warnings make many New Yorkers feel anxious rather than secure.

A large majority of New Yorkers – 62% - is still very concerned about the possibility of another terrorist attack in New York City, although that number is now lower than it was last October.

Nationally, far fewer people are concerned about a terrorist attack in their area.

In addition, 56% now say it is likely that there will be another terrorist attack on the U.S. within the next few months, down from 75% last October.

Eight in ten New Yorkers think that New York may always have to live with the threat of terrorism.

But while New Yorkers acknowledge the threat of terrorism, many no longer necessarily think the threat is higher in New York City than in other big cities. In June, 60% said the threat of terrorism was higher in New York City; now, 49% think so.

In fact, the feeling for many may be more a sense of uneasiness rather than direct danger. Nearly half of New York City residents say they personally feel uneasy about their own safety from another terrorist attack while 14% say they feel in danger. 35% personally feel safe.

Men are much more likely to say they personally feel safe than women, 45% to 27%. A majority of women say they feel uneasy.

Most people think their fellow New Yorkers feel even worse. Just 16% think most New Yorkers feel safe from terrorist attacks, while eight in ten think New Yorkers in general feel uneasy or in danger.

Nationally, Americans feel personally safer than New Yorkers do. But they are similarly fatalistic; while 48% feel safe themselves, 79% think Americans overall feel uneasy or in danger.

Anthrax also remains a threat. Now, about two thirds of New Yorkers are concerned that they personally or someone close to them will be exposed to anthrax, and one third are very concerned. Women are more concerned than men about the threat of anthrax, 70% to 57%. But anthrax concerns have come down since last October, when the first anthrax envelopes were discovered.

CHANGES IN BEHAVIOR

About a quarter of New Yorkers continue to grapple with the specific changes caused by the terrorist attacks, though their psychological reactions have lessened. But there have also been some lasting positive changes, as many New Yorkers who say their behavior changed in the weeks just after the attacks are continuing the new routines they have adopted.

Half say they continue to watch the news on television more often than they did before September 11, and 44% are still spending more time with their families. 63% are still displaying the American flag. Only one in five say the attacks prompted them to attend religious services more frequently, but most of those say they are still doing so. Similarly, those with a cell phone who say they left their cell phone on and charged more often are still doing so.

Some of the fearfulness about places and events that New Yorkers' felt after the attacks has lessened. While about a fifth of New Yorkers continue to avoid planes, tall buildings and the subway, there are nearly as many who report they were once avoiding these things but no longer are.

GOVERNMENT WARNINGS

A majority of New Yorkers finds government warnings about possible terrorist attacks on the United States generally useful, although the actual effects of such warnings are far from clear. For most New Yorkers, they don't cause any changes in behavior.

52% of New Yorkers say the government warnings about possible terrorist attacks are useful. 13% think the warnings are harmful, and another 28% say they are neither.

However, the warnings are more likely to make New Yorkers feel anxious than feel safe, and so far, they have had little effect on the daily activities of three quarters of New Yorkers.

By 47% to 34%, New Yorkers say government warnings make them feel anxious rather than secure. Women are more likely than men to feel anxious, 53% to 40%. Almost four in ten of those who think the warnings are useful still get anxious when they hear them.

Perhaps because the warnings have been vague, three quarters of New Yorkers say they don't do anything differently when the government issues terrorist warnings. 6% say they stay home, 4% are generally more alert, and 3% avoid public places, landmarks and tall buildings.

THE POLITICAL IMPACT

47% of New Yorkers approve of Mayor Michael Bloomberg's handling of his job, unchanged since June. 31% now disapprove, and more than one in five still offer no opinion. There is relatively little partisan difference in views of this Democrat-turned-Republican. 59% of Republicans, and 46% Democrats now approve of Bloomberg's job as mayor.

New Yorkers give Bloomberg higher marks for his handling of the recovery efforts. 57% approve, including 56% of Democrats. Just under a quarter disapprove.

Opinions of Bloomberg have changed little in the past year, but there has been a sharp drop in New Yorkers' evaluation of President George W. Bush. 47% of New Yorkers now approve of George W. Bush's job as president, and 43% disapprove. Immediately after the attacks, the president received high scores from the heavily Democratic city – 79% approved.

There are sharp partisan divisions when it comes to the president: 79% of New York City Republicans approve of Mr. Bush's job as president, compared with just 38% of Democrats. Nationally, Mr. Bush's approval rating has also dropped; it is now 63%.

New Yorkers differ from the rest of the country in other ways as well. They are somewhat less optimistic about the U.S. government's ability to kill or capture Osama bin Laden, an important goal for the U.S. in its fighting in Afghanistan. 48% of New Yorkers in this poll feel very or somewhat confident that this goal will be achieved, but half are not confident. In a national CBS News/New York Times Poll conducted in early September 2002, 54% of Americans overall said they were confident that Osama bin Laden would be caught.

Many New Yorkers continue to reject the notion that Arab Americans are more sympathetic to terrorists than other American citizens. A plurality, 43%, says Arab Americans are not more sympathetic to terrorists. 36%, however, believe that they are. One in three New Yorkers know someone who is Arab-American, though just one in ten say they are close to an Arab-American.

Most New Yorkers now say it is likely that people in this country are singling out Arab Americans, Muslims and immigrants from the Middle East unfairly. However, the number that says this is very likely has dropped to 33% from 52% last fall.


This poll was conducted among a citywide random sample of 1008 adults, interviewed by telephone August 25-29, 2002. The error due to sampling could be plus or minus three percentage points for results based on the entire sample.

For detailed information on how CBS News conducts public opinion surveys, click here.

  • Joel Roberts

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