1. Pride is everywhere
The Human Rights Campaign Foundation recently ranked 365 of the nation’s biggest cities on their non-discrimination policies and laws, denoting them on a score of 0 to 100. New York City received 100% — the best score possible. Between the third anniversary of marriage equality, the seventh straight passing of the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act, and the recent policy update allowing changes to gender markers on birth certificates, New York has made many strides this year for LGBT rights. There’s still a long way to go for universal acceptance, but in New York City, pride is more than just a noun — it’s a way of life.
2. The opening of Freedom Tower
Thirteen years after the 9/11 tragedy, Freedom Tower opened its doors to the public. Those who’ve lived in New York for a while have watched it grow from what was once a hole of debris to one of the tallest buildings in the city. It’s pretty much visible from anywhere, and New Yorkers see it not only as a memorial but as a symbol of pride and hope. Governor Andrew Cuomo said it best: “Today, as we open its doors for the first time, we remember that strength and courage will always conquer weakness and cowardice, and that the American spirit, defended by proud New Yorkers, will not be defeated.”
3. Taylor Swift moved here
No matter what your opinion may be concerning T-Swift, her move to New York was one of the most highly publicized events of this year. Between the release of her hit song, “Welcome to New York,” and her official role as “Global New York City Ambassador,” Taylor Swift is now a New York icon. Anytime a celebrity picks New York over Los Angeles as their home has to be a moment of pride for even the most jaded New Yorker. Plus, when Billboard’s “Woman of the Year” lives in your city, you know you’re doing pretty well.
4. New York Rangers made the Stanley Cup Finals
They didn’t win, but the Rangers made the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time since 1994, which is a pretty big deal for New York hockey fans (and NYC hockey fans by default). It was a playoff run like no other, with one of the best second-round comebacks ever against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Hopefully, if Rick Nash can keep his torrid pace up, they’ll find themselves back in the picture this year. Plus, they’re probably the best shot New York City has at taking home a sports championship in the near future.
5. Emma Watson’s speech on feminism at the UN
When British actress Emma Watson spoke at the United Nations this fall, no one expected her to deliver the most powerful speech on feminism heard in the past 25 years. Her call for gender equality made ripples so large that everyone — from high school students to men and women in Congress — sent their support for the “HeForShe” Campaign. Let’s hope New Yorkers keep this monumental movement going. You can listen to her speech here:
6. The Tonight Show comes back to New York
In 2013, NBC announced that not only would Jimmy Fallon be taking over as host for The Tonight Show, but for the first time since Johnny Carson left in 1972, the show would be taped in New York City. In spring of this year, the show returned and it’s now better than ever. Forget Burbank — New York City is bringing sexy back to late night television once again.
7. Derek Jeter says goodbye
One of most poignant moments of 2014 in New York was when Derek Jeter retired. He was an all-time baseball great, a career leader for the Yankees, and an inspiration for Little Leaguers and major players around the world. Everyone braced themselves for his final game, but no one was prepared for the emotions exhibited by the city, the fans, and “The Captain” himself.
8. Millions march NYC
2014 was not a perfect year for New Yorkers, and there were definitely some major lows. But following the tragic death of Eric Garner, thousands of New Yorkers marched for peace on Saturday, December 13th. Despite the mass of people, which easily could have led to chaos, there was no violence or rioting. With this, New Yorkers have shown the world how effective peaceful protest can be. This video shows how many New Yorkers turned out for the event.