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On The Ground
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Manhattan Institute

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For over 40 years, the Manhattan Institute has been an important force in shaping American political culture and developing ideas that foster economic choice and individual responsibility. 

MI’s Mission

The Manhattan Institute for Policy Research is a think tank whose mission is to develop and disseminate new ideas that foster greater economic choice and individual responsibility.

The Institute serves as a leading voice of free-market ideas, shaping political culture since our founding in 1977. Ideas that have changed the United States and its urban areas for the better—welfare reform, tort reform, proactive policing, and supply-side tax policies, among others—are the heart of MI’s legacy. While continuing with what is tried and true, we are constantly developing new ways of advancing our message in the battle of ideas.

In 2017, the Manhattan Institute celebrated its 40th Anniversary. Please enjoy this interactive timeline to learn more about our history.

MI’s Policy Research

The Manhattan Institute recruits experts in a range of domestic policy areas. Fellows author white papers, books, and reports; convene conferences; testify at government hearings; and publicize their research and ideas through public speaking and constant media engagement, including op-eds, TV and radio appearances, and blogging.

MI’s Work on the Ground

"City Journal is, quite simply, one of the best things in the entire intellectual conservative movement, and thus one of the best things for intellectual life in America. ... Reading it every quarter gives me ideas for my radio show..." - William J. Bennett, Radio Host, Washington fellow, The Claremont Institute

To show the efficacy of putting policy prescriptions into practice, MI will often collaborate with cities and public officials. Following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, at the NYPD’s request we launched a policy division to advise the police on the development of a counterterrorism strategy. In Newark, New Jersey, the Institute partnered with Mayor Cory Booker to implement a new approach to prisoner reentry, based on the principle of connecting ex-offenders with paid work immediately upon release. And in 2012–13, MI experts were embedded in the Detroit Police Department, helping the Motor City implement Broken Windows policing (a long-standing focus of the Institute) in order to get a handle on its crime problem.

MI’s Quarterly Magazine, City Journal

In 1990, the Institute founded its magazine, City Journal, as an intellectual and journalistic response to New York’s downward spiral and to the illness of the American city generally. Called “arguably America’s best magazine” by economist Thomas Sowell and “the great Fool Killer in the arena of urban policy” by novelist Tom Wolfe, City Journal has articulated and promoted ideas that have driven the urban renaissance of recent decades. According to former New York mayor Rudolph Giuliani, “If there was a charge of plagiarism for political programs, I’d probably be in a lot of trouble, because I think we plagiarized most of them, if not all of them, from the pages of City Journal and the thinking and analysis of the Manhattan Institute.”

MI’s Book Program 

MI books have a habit of sparking national conversation and reframing the public debate. An early example was Charles Murray’s Losing Ground (1984), which demonstrated empirically that open-ended welfare benefits incentivize self-destructive behavior among the poor and helped pave the way for landmark federal welfare reform in 1996. The Bottomless Well (2005), by Peter Huber and Mark Mills, was referred to by Bill Gates as “the only book I’ve seen that really explains energy, its history, and what it will be like going forward.” Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh has cited Triumph of the City (2011), by Edward Glaeser, as a key influence in his urban experiment to revitalize downtown Las Vegas. And George Gilder has called Huber’s The Cure in the Code (2013) the “most important policy book of the decade.”

MI and the Next Generation

As the perpetuation of the American experiment depends on the next generation, the Institute has developed initiatives to influence the intellectual formation of tomorrow’s leaders, such as the Adam Smith Society based at business school campuses. In the wake of the financial crisis and in response to the charged rhetoric in the air about capitalism, the Institute started this new program, modeling it after the Federalist Society at law schools. With a growing number of chapters at MBA programs nationwide and alumni chapters springing up in major cities, the Adam Smith Society is preparing the CEOs, financiers, and entrepreneurs of tomorrow to be intelligent, engaged participants in the debate over the future of the free-enterprise system.


52 Vanderbilt Ave.
New York, NY 10017
(212) 599-7000