Margot Adler

Margot Adler is a NPR correspondent based in NPR's New York Bureau. Her reports can be heard regularly on All Things Considered, Morning Edition and Weekend Edition.

In addition to covering New York City, Adler reports include in-depth features exploring the interface of politics and culture. Most recently she has been reporting on the controversy surrounding the proposed Islamic Cultural Center near Ground Zero. Other recent pieces have focused on the effect of budget cuts on education, flood relief efforts by the Pakistani community in the United States, the military's "Don't Ask Don't Tell" policy, and the battles over the September 11th memorial as well as the continuing human story in New York City in the years since the attacks. Her reporting has included topics such as the death penalty, affirmative action and the culture wars.

Adler did the first American radio interview with J.K. Rowling and has charted the Harry Potter phenomenon ever since. Her reporting ranges across issues including children and technology, the fad of the Percy Jackson books and the popularity of vampires. She occasionally reviews books, covers plays, art exhibitions and auctions, among other reports for NPR's Arts desk.

From 1999-2008, Adler was the host of NPR's Justice Talking, a weekly show exploring constitutional controversies in the nation's courts.

Adler joined the NPR staff as a general assignment reporter in 1979, after spending a year as an NPR freelance reporter covering New York City. In 1980, she documented the confrontation between radicals and the Ku Klux Klan in Greensboro, North Carolina. In 1984, she reported and produced an acclaimed documentary on AIDS counselors in San Francisco. She covered the Winter Olympics in Calgary in 1988 and in Sarajevo in 1984. She has reported on homeless people living in the subways, on the state of the middle class and on the last remaining American hospital for treating leprosy, which was located in Louisiana.

From 1972 to 1990, Adler created and hosted live talk shows on WBAI-FM/New York City. One of those shows, Hour of the Wolf, hosted by Jim Freund, continues as a science fiction show to this day. She is the author of the book, Drawing Down the Moon, a study of contemporary nature religions, and a 1960's memoir, Heretic's Heart. She co-produced an award-winning radio drama, War Day, and is a lecturer and workshop leader. She is currently working on a book on why vampires have such traction in our culture.

With a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science from the University of California, Berkeley, Adler went on to earn a Master of Science degree from the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University in New York in 1970. She was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University in 1982.

The granddaughter of Alfred Adler, the renowned Viennese psychiatrist, Adler was born in Little Rock, Ark., and grew up in New York City. She loves birding and science fiction.

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5:06pm

Fri December 21, 2012
Superstorm Sandy: Before, During And Beyond

Free Toy Shop Brings Cheer To Sandy's Displaced Families

Originally published on Fri December 21, 2012 9:21 pm

Each FEMA-registered family with kids can pick out toys at the volunteer-run Staten Island store.
Margot Adler NPR

The New York borough of Staten Island was hard-hit by Hurricane Sandy. Almost two months after the storm hit, many residents will not be back in their homes by the Christmas holiday.

One organization is trying to make the season a bit brighter for uprooted families with a free toy store on the island. This all-volunteer effort looks like a real toy store, but it feels more like a community of neighbors.

The shop boasts shelves filled with toys like model cars, Monopoly, dolls, craft supplies and books — almost everything you would want in a regular toy store.

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3:25am

Thu December 13, 2012
Arts & Life

Letters From 'Peanuts' Creator Reveal Bittersweet Romance

Originally published on Thu December 13, 2012 9:03 am

The collection's estimated price is $250,000 to $350,000.
Courtesy of the Claudius Family

On Friday, Sotheby's is putting up for auction 44 letters and 35 drawings from Charles Schulz, the creator of Peanuts, to a young woman he was courting.

The letters were written during an eight-month period starting in 1970 when Schulz's first marriage was deteriorating and before he met his second wife. During this time, Schulz, 48, wrote Tracey Claudius, 25, poignant, funny, even innocent notes in pictures and words, often using Charlie Brown to stand in for himself.

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6:29pm

Wed December 12, 2012
Superstorm Sandy: Before, During And Beyond

Post-Sandy, Newly Unemployed Struggle To Stay Afloat

Originally published on Wed December 12, 2012 7:19 pm

Erin Kulick can see the animal clinic where she once worked from her balcony in Queens, N.Y. Six weeks after Hurricane Sandy, the clinic is still closed.
Courtesy of Scott Kulick

Hurricane Sandy's effect on the nation's unemployment figures was less pronounced than expected. The reasons are complex, but one thing is clear: Thousands of victims are still struggling to rebuild their lives and get back to work.

Danielle Siekierski was tending bar at a restaurant in Manhattan's Meatpacking District before Sandy hit. When the restaurant was damaged in the storm, the workers were told it might be a week before it reopened.

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2:28pm

Fri December 7, 2012
The Two-Way

Mystery On Fifth Avenue: A Constant Line Outside Abercrombie & Fitch

Originally published on Tue December 11, 2012 9:34 pm

A model at the front entrance to the Abercrombie & Fitch flagship store in New York City.
Mario Tama Getty Images

Every day I walk down Fifth Avenue on my way to work. I pass glittering holiday store windows, the Salvation Army ringing its bells and the sparkling tree at Rockefeller Center.

But for months I've noticed a mystery: Only one store has huge lines outside before it opens: Abercrombie & Fitch.

Perhaps 90 people stand on line every day before opening, rain or shine. It's been going on for years and not just during this season.

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5:04am

Fri November 30, 2012
Business

N.Y. Fast-Food Workers Strike For Better Wages

Originally published on Fri November 30, 2012 7:05 am

Fast-food workers staged protests Thursday at restaurants in New York. The workers said their low wages need to be raised. But with the economy still slow, restaurant managers are determined to hold down labor costs so they can offer dollar foods.

4:53pm

Tue November 20, 2012
Superstorm Sandy: Before, During And Beyond

Thousands Of Trees Gone, Ripped Out By Sandy

Originally published on Tue November 20, 2012 6:14 pm

Ken Chaya created a map that charts every single tree in New York's Central Park. He stands next to one of the thousands of trees uprooted by Sandy.
Margot Adler NPR

New York City lost almost 10,000 trees from the winds of Superstorm Sandy and the nor'easter that followed. That's far more trees lost in the city than in any other storm for which tree damage was recorded.

Walking through Central Park, Ken Chaya peers past a stone arch, observing the damage and uprooting of about 800 trees. He knows more about the park's trees than just about anybody else; he created a map that charts every single one of the roughly 20,000 trees.

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3:52pm

Thu November 1, 2012
The Two-Way

In Sandy's Wake, New Yorkers Don't Sweat Small Stuff

Originally published on Thu November 1, 2012 4:05 pm

People wait to charge cellphones and laptops Thursday at a generator set up in the West Village. Superstorm Sandy left large parts of New York City without power.
Timothy A. Clary AFP/Getty Images

NPR's Margot Adler is covering the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy in New York.

I walked out of my apartment at 5 this morning in a part of Manhattan -– the Upper West Side — that never lost power. Still, I skirted around downed trees on my way to the subway. Across the street, a car was crushed by a tree. Almost no one was on the street.

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5:18pm

Tue October 30, 2012
Around the Nation

New Yorkers Woke Up To Strangely Quiet City

Transcript

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

I'm Audie Cornish. And we begin this hour with Sandy by the numbers. At least 39 people on the East Coast have died, as a result of the massive storm.

SIEGEL: Sixty-nine are dead in the Caribbean.

CORNISH: Eight-point two million people, in the U.S., are without power.

SIEGEL: And while it's too early for an accurate tally, insured losses alone are estimated at 5- to $10 billion.

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9:39pm

Mon October 29, 2012
Around the Nation

Parts Of Manhattan Go Dark As Sandy Rolls Through

Originally published on Mon October 29, 2012 9:40 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

You're listening to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

The storm on the East Coast is making a devastating impression on New York City. Storm surge coupled with a high tide have swelled the water to record levels in some places that includes Battery Park, and now, reports of flooding in the subway and in automotive tunnels.

NPR's Margot Adler joins us from New York with more details. And, Margot, what can you tell us about these reports of flooding?

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4:29pm

Wed October 17, 2012
Books

Thousands Line Up For Rare Rowling Appearance

Originally published on Wed October 17, 2012 7:09 pm

J.K. Rowling promotes her new novel, The Casual Vacancy, at Lincoln Center in New York. It was her only U.S. appearance.
Dan Hallman AP

While much of America was watching the second presidential debate, about 2,000 people — many of them between the ages of 20 and 40 — were doing something very different. They had gotten a rare and prized ticket to the only U.S. appearance by J.K Rowling, as she promotes her new book for adults, The Casual Vacancy.

The crowd was huge but happy — double the number originally planned, forcing the organizers to change venues. Attendees got a ticket to the Lincoln Center event and a copy of the book, which Rowling would later sign.

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5:08am

Tue June 12, 2012
U.S.

Loud Debate Rages Over N.Y. Library's Quiet Stacks

Originally published on Tue June 12, 2012 8:18 am

The New York Public Library's Rose Reading Room sits atop seven floors of book stacks, all closed to the public. Under a controversial renovation plan, many of those books would be moved to New Jersey.
Bebeto Matthews AP

Enter the glorious Rose Reading Room on the third floor of the New York Public Library on a weekday afternoon, and you'll find almost every chair filled.

Scholars and researchers still submit their book requests on slips of paper and wait for their numbers to appear on two large boards.

The stacks, filled with some 3 million volumes, are closed to the public, so books are retrieved from seven floors of shelving below. Still other volumes are stored off-site.

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4:03pm

Mon May 7, 2012
All Tech Considered

These Apps Are Going To The Birds, And People Who Watch Them

Originally published on Tue May 8, 2012 8:26 am

Cornell University's Andrew Farnsworth compiles data to forecast where birds are going and when they'll be there.
Margot Adler NPR

I'm standing in the Manhattan office of Andrew Farnsworth, a research associate at Cornell University's ornithology lab. Farnsworth is using meteorological data, radar data, crowd-sourced eBird data and acoustic data from the flight calls of migrating birds to predict where birds are going and when they'll be there.

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3:24am

Wed May 2, 2012
Arts & Life

'Scream' Still Echoes After More Than A Century

Originally published on Thu May 3, 2012 7:59 am

This version of The Scream is one of four made by Edvard Munch, and the only one outside Norway. It is coming up for auction at Sotheby's in New York.
AP

It's perhaps the most reproduced piece of art ever created. It has adorned key chains and coffee mugs, and the cover of Time magazine. Andy Warhol used it, and now one of the four versions of The Scream, Edvard Munch's iconic work — the only one outside Norway — is coming up for auction at Sotheby's in New York. Sale estimates are as high as $80 million.

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2:55am

Wed April 11, 2012
Religion

To Some Hindus, Modern Yoga Has Lost Its Way

Bernice Acosta and other yoga enthusiasts practice in New York's Times Square at an event marking the 2011 summer solstice. Some Hindus say such events have little to do with yoga's spiritual roots.
Mario Tama Getty Images

About 20 million people in the United States practice some form of yoga, from the formal Iyengar and Ashtanga schools to the more irreverent "Yoga Butt."

But some Hindus say yoga is about far more than exercise and breathing techniques. They want recognition that it comes from a deeper philosophy — one, in their view, with Hindu roots.

Many forms of yoga go back centuries. Even in the U.S., the transcendentalists were doing yoga in the 1800s.

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4:00am

Tue March 27, 2012
Around the Nation

Occupy Groups Reimagine The Bank

Originally published on Tue March 27, 2012 5:29 pm

Occupy L.A. activists rally outside the Bank of America Plaza in Los Angeles in February. The Occupy protests around the country have inspired two working groups that are attempting to reform the banking system and create an alternative bank.
Damian Dovarganes AP

Groups within the Occupy Wall Street movement are trying to overhaul the banking system and even dream of creating a new kind of bank.

Occupy isn't in the headlines so much these days, but work continues behind the scenes. The Alternative Banking Group of Occupy Wall Street meets weekly in different places. Members are older than some might think — in their 30s, 40s and 50s — and many work or formerly worked in the financial industry.

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5:03pm

Mon March 26, 2012
All Tech Considered

Wanted: Digital Bloodhounds For The Hotel Industry

Originally published on Mon March 26, 2012 6:35 pm

Kelsey Blodget of Oyster.com photographs the lobby of New York's Trump SoHo hotel. The website relies on tech-savvy workers to create online reviews and track hotel bookings.
Oyster.com

These days, hotels aren't just looking to hire bellhops, concierges and housekeepers. What the industry really needs are digital bloodhounds: people who understand how to use new technologies to track — and attract — potential guests.

One of those newfangled workers is Greg Bodenlos. At 24, he's just a couple of years out of Cornell University's School of Hotel Administration. His official title is digital marketing strategist at The Mark Hotel, a luxury hotel in New York City.

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4:00am

Thu March 22, 2012
U.S.

Crowds Join Slain Youth's Parents In 'Hoodie March'

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Today, Justice Department officials meet with family of Trayvon Martin. The unarmed African-American teen was shot in Florida by a neighborhood watch volunteer. Last night, Martin's parents joined a rally in New York's Union Square, and NPR's Margot Adler attended.

MARGOT ADLER, BYLINE: There was rage, sadness and also the feeling of a prayerful community gathering. When the parents of Trayvon Martin spoke, the crowds pushed closer to get a look and shouted words of encouragement. Tracy Martin, the teenager's father, spoke first.

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6:00am

Sat March 3, 2012
Governing

Occupy May Seem To Be Receding, But Look Closer

Originally published on Sat March 3, 2012 12:45 pm

Occupy Wall Street protesters shout during a "Shut Down the Corporations" demonstration in New York on Wednesday.
Timothy A. Clary AFP/Getty Images

For people who watch TV news or read newspapers, the Occupy movement might seem to be in hibernation.

Most of the encampments are gone, and diminished numbers take part in protests.

But there's a lot of ferment behind the scenes — at least at Occupy Wall Street.

Check the Occupy Wall Street website and you'll see at least 15 events every day: meetings by working groups on arts and culture, alternative banking, media, security.

'Pop-Up' Protests

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4:35pm

Fri March 2, 2012
Around the Nation

Tourism Boom Pays Off For N.Y. Hotel Union

Originally published on Fri March 2, 2012 6:01 pm

New York hotel workers protest at a hearing for former International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn in June 2011. Under a new contract, workers will receive "panic buttons" to use if they fear for their safety. They also won several other significant benefits.
Nicholas Kamm AFP/Getty Images

When the New York Hotel Trades Council ratified a new contract for hotel workers last month, much of the media coverage focused on "panic buttons." Coming after the sexual assault allegations against former International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the idea of housekeepers wearing a badge that could call for help was all over the news.

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5:09am

Thu February 16, 2012
Sports

Knicks Star Jeremy Lin Capture's Big Apple's Heart

Originally published on Thu February 16, 2012 12:26 pm

Jeremy Lin items are for sale before the basketball game between Lin's New York Knicks and the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday in New York.
Frank Franklin II AP

The New York Knicks have won seven games in a row after struggling all season — and some would say they've struggled for years.

Point guard Jeremy Lin, the man few knew a week and a half ago, scored a 3-pointer in the last seconds to win Tuesday's game against Toronto. Wednesday night, Linsanity returned to New York City and Madison Square Garden.

I confess, I had never heard of Jeremy Lin until three days ago. Yet watching this Taiwanese-American from Harvard during the last quarter of the Knicks game, I, like everyone else, was blown away.

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4:00am

Thu February 16, 2012
NPR Story

Knicks Star Jeremy Lin Capture's Big Apple's Heart

Jeremy Lin was an unknown benchwarmer for the New York Knicks until a few weeks ago. But after a series of breakout performances, the Taiwanese-American, who is a Harvard grad, is the toast of the NBA. NPR's Margot Adler caught up with some Knicks fans before Wednesday night's home game to get a taste of Linsanity.

3:17pm

Tue February 14, 2012
The Two-Way

Warm Winter Leads To Early Blooms In Northeast

Originally published on Tue February 14, 2012 6:16 pm

Kristin Schleiter, of the New York Botanical Garden, in front blooming red camellias.
Margot Adler NPR

If you live in the Northeast, this has been a wacky winter: It has been deathly cold in Eastern Europe, as flowers bloom in New York City and temperatures rise to the high 40s and even 50s.

I went in search of flowers in bloom and was not disappointed. There were bushes of red camellias, and gorgeous yellow flowering Adonis. Kristin Schleiter is the acting director of outdoor gardens at the New York Botanical Garden. She took me to an outdoor test garden.

Read more

4:20pm

Tue January 24, 2012
Business

Muslim Men Rescue Bagel Shop And Keep It Kosher

Founded in 1920, Coney Island Bialys and Bagels claims to be the oldest bialy bakery in New York City. It's now run by two Pakistani Muslim men, who say they are keeping it kosher.
Margot Adler NPR

Coney Island Bialys and Bagels claims to be the oldest bialy bakery in New York City. Founded in 1920, it's faced hard economic times and changing neighborhood demographics.

Now, the shop has been rescued by two Pakistani Muslims — and they're keeping it kosher.

Read more

12:02pm

Wed December 14, 2011
Religion

New York Hasidic Women Want Separate EMT Unit

A Hatzolah ambulance crew at the scene of a fire at Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun synagogue in New York City last summer. Some Hasidic women want to form their own EMT unit within the Orthodox Jewish ambulance service to help women keep their modesty during emergency baby deliveries.
Daniel Barry Getty Images

If you live in New York City, you will often see the Orthodox Jewish ambulance service known as Hatzolah on the street. Hatzolah has some 1,200 volunteers — all men — in New York City and is known for its quick response time.

Now, a group of Hasidic female EMTs wants to create a women's division within Hatzolah, to help deliver babies in emergencies.

Read more

6:20am

Sat December 10, 2011
Governing

Reconstituting The Constitution: How To Rewrite It?

Originally published on Tue December 20, 2011 4:09 pm

Junius Brutus Stearns' 1856 painting George Washington Addressing the Constitutional Convention.
AP

Most Americans haven't read the U.S. Constitution in a long time, if ever. They may be able to tell you about the Second Amendment, or the Fifth, maybe even part of the First. But other than that? A lot of blank stares.

Christopher Phillips has been leading what he calls "Constitution Café" discussions with people across the country. He's asking Americans to imagine themselves as framers of our founding document.

Read more

8:29am

Sat December 3, 2011
Art & Design

Liz Taylor's Jewel-Dripping Collection On The Block

Originally published on Wed May 23, 2012 11:12 am

This 1964 Andy Warhol lithograph entitled "Liz" is signed by the artist. It reads, "To Elizabeth with much love" in felt-tip pen.
Christie's

Celebrity auctions have become common, but once in a while there's an event that will make almost anyone stand up and take notice. After a world tour, the entire collection of Elizabeth Taylor's jewelry, clothing and memorabilia is on view starting Saturday at Christie's auction house in New York City.

After 10 days, there will be a four-day auction. Some 2,000 objects from the film star's life will be on the block, both at Christie's and online.

'Gutsy, Glamorous'

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6:11am

Sun November 20, 2011
Around the Nation

Young, Gay And Homeless: Fighting For Resources

Originally published on Sun November 20, 2011 6:10 pm

Tiffany Cocco (left to right), Jeremiah Beaverly, Carl Siciliano and Avi Bowie hang out at the Ali Forney Center in Manhattan.
Margot Adler NPR

A number of studies of homeless youth in big cities put forth a startling statistic: Depending on the study, somewhere between 30 and 40 percent of homeless youths identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.

It's largely because gay youths are more often kicked out of their homes than straight youths. And even if they are not kicked out, they may feel so uncomfortable that they leave.

In New York City, nearly 4,000 young people are homeless every night — many of them gay.

Reaching Out To Homeless Youths

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3:06pm

Thu November 17, 2011
History

Dead Sea Scrolls On Display In Times Square

The ancient texts can be seen up close — right in the middle of New York City. There are some theatrics, but NPR's Margot Adler reports that the exhibit is happily understated.

12:38pm

Thu November 17, 2011
Around the Nation

Occupy Demonstrators Mark Two Months Of Protests

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

From New York to California and places in between, Occupy protesters are in the streets today. That's because it was exactly two months ago that the movement began in a New York City park. Police in riot gear were deployed in lower Manhattan this morning, as hundreds of demonstrators marched with the aim of shutting down Wall Street. NPR correspondent Margot Adler has been following the events, and she joins us now live. Good morning, Margot.

MARGOT ADLER, BYLINE: Good morning.

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11:31am

Tue November 15, 2011
NPR Story

Occupy Demonstrators Upset By Camp Clearings

Police officers removed Occupy Wall Street protesters from Zuccotti Park in New York City early Tuesday morning. Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the operation took place at night to "reduce the risk of confrontation." But clashes erupted and about 70 people were arrested.

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