It was 25 years ago that C&EN’s business editors decamped from somewhat cramped offices in New York City’s iconic Chrysler Building and headed out to suburban Edison, N.J.
The year was 1988. New York City had climbed out of near bankruptcy, but it was still a gritty place to do business for reporters and chemical companies alike.
Union Carbide had left the city for Danbury, Conn., a few years earlier, and the city outposts of companies such as Monsanto, DuPont, and Hoechst were either closed or destined for closure. New York City was ceasing to be a chemical town, and William Storck, C&EN’s assistant managing editor for business at the time, didn’t see a reason to be there.
Much has changed since then. I am pleased to report that, by the time this issue of C&EN reaches readers’ hands, the magazine’s business editors will be back in New York City, this time at 42 Broadway, in lower Manhattan.
The new location is, shall we say, cozy, in keeping with Editor-in-Chief Maureen Rouhi’s dictate that the new office not cost the American Chemical Society more than our previous quarters did. The office also houses just four of us, down from six in Edison in years past.
These days, the majority of the business group’s nine staffers work from field offices. Senior Editor Lisa Jarvis recently moved with her family to Chicago and has a home office there. Likewise, Senior Editor Melody Bomgardner occupies a home office in Charlottesville, Va., and Senior Correspondent Ann Thayer has one in Houston. Abroad, Senior Editor Alex Scott keeps a small office just outside London, as does Senior Correspondent Jean-François Tremblay in Hong Kong.
In fact, readers may question why, in the Internet age, we need a central location at all. Unlike the news offices of years past, this one doesn’t house a clattering newswire or receive big bundles of mail. Most of the information that informs our reporting arrives via telephone or the Web.
But those of us in the New York City environs—Senior Correspondents Marc S. Reisch and Alexander H. Tullo, Senior Editor Rick Mullin, and I—desire a place distinct from home that we can head to each day. Once there we have the opportunity to share hunches and bounce story ideas off one another. Our in-office colleagues are partners in the joys and frustrations that come from reporting on the business of chemistry.
Readers may also wonder why we need to be in New York City, and the truth of the matter is, we don’t. Our New Jersey quarters served us well and would have continued to.
But three of us live in New York City and the fourth is tired of traffic jams on the Garden State Parkway. And although all of us are spry and have no plans to retire, the city, not the suburbs, is where we are most likely to find the ambitious reporters of C&EN’s future.
New York City is still not a chemical town, but more so than 25 years ago, C&EN is not just a chemical magazine. Our business group also covers pharmaceuticals, instrumentation, information technology, and cleantech—any business informed by chemistry. The city is a frequent meeting venue for all these industries, and executives who are in town often have an extra half-hour to sit down with a reporter.
New York City is no doubt also a destination for many C&EN readers, be it for work or pleasure. So if you are visiting and want to swing by, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (212) 608-6306. I’d like to show you where we work.
Views expressed on this page are those of the author and not necessarily those of ACS.