Photo: W. Gloede

The city that never sleeps has found itself at the center of a nightmare. The progress of the 1980s, '90-s and 2000s has given way to a cascade of crises that appear beyond the ability of the city's leaders. USA Today reports:

Five years ago this seemed the very model of a modern major city, with its bike lanes, pedestrian plazas and smokeless bars. Outgoing Mayor Michael Bloomberg even started a pro-bono consulting firm, staffed by veterans of his administration, to tell cities around the world how to solve their problems.

''We have heard this huge demand and need from other cities to learn from New York,'' Amanda Burden, city planning director, told The New York Times. ''New York is the epitome that cities look to of how to get things done.''

These days, however, other cities look at New York and see three great systems in crisis – mass transit, public housing and rent control. Their dysfunction both undercuts Bloomberg's image of a can-do city and afflicts the average New Yorker that his successor, Bill de Blasio, claims to champion.

This summer, New York has endless waits on sweltering, packed subway platforms, where frustrated riders occasionally slug it out; public housing projects contaminated with lead paint, mold and the smell of urine; and housing prices that drive the poor into the street and almost everyone else farther and farther from fabulous Manhattan.

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