To usher in 1998, this year the festivities have been enhanced with a pyrotechnics display over Times Square and a huge video screen at Broadway and 50th Street. Also, for the first time, a group of fourth graders from New York City schools will be pushing the button that starts the lighted ball down its path. And this year is particularly special because it marks the 100th anniversary of the consolidation of New York City - officially, the 100th birthday of modern New York City.
New Year's Eve 1998 in Times Square will attract an estimated 500,000 people to the area, with around 300,000 visitors from out of town. The reason these out-of-town visitors are important for the City is that they will spend money here - generating almost $34 million in direct economic activity. The total economic impact of the New Year's Eve celebrations is nearly $58 million. That's great news for New York City's businesses and, by extension, for all New Yorkers.
I hope you have a lot of fun as the clock approaches midnight, and if you're not celebrating at home, make sure you get home safely. I'm sure you have plenty of New Year's resolutions that you have to start fulfilling.
The City has made a number of New Year's resolutions as well - and that's the other reason that this New Year's Eve is particularly exciting for me. It marks the end of my first four years as Mayor and the beginning of my second four years. Together, we have an opportunity and an obligation to solidify the gains that we have made in building a stronger New York.
Over the last four years, New York City has become a cleaner, safer, and more livable City - we've reduced crime 44 percent citywide, including a 60 percent reduction in our murder rate_ we've gained 178,000 jobs, moved over 338,000 people who were once on the welfare rolls toward lives of self-sufficiency_ around the nation and the world, we're recognized as "Comeback City." I believe that today, as a result of all we've done together, most New Yorkers are in a better position to take advantage of our great City, and in a better position to make the most of their own potential.
But like any transformation, this is a work in progress, and the challenges of the next four years demand our tireless effort.
Now we must enable more New Yorkers to make the most of their lives by further reducing crime, continuing to improve our public schools, shrinking the welfare rolls, stimulating more job growth, and perhaps most importantly, answering a challenge that has never before been adequately addressed by eradicating drug abuse from our neighborhoods and schools.
We should all realize that only when we are able to take care of ourselves can we be in a position to help those in the deepest need with real compassion - the kind of compassion that is built on mutual respect. Only when we are independent can we all unite as equal partners in the resurgence of New York City.
That is a resolution for the next year, the next four years, and the next generation.