In “The Naked City: Union Square and The Paradox of Public Space”, Sharon Zukin describes the transformation that Union Square underwent. The park opened in 1830, and had a wealthy neighborhood with upper class families living in. When the upper class moved out, it became a land of cheap shopping and low rents with immigrants and working class people moving in. However in the 1970s the park became a very dangerous place due to the illegal drugs trades going on. In the 1980s, the Union Square Partnership was the first Business Improvement District (BID) to be formed in New York State. Its purpose was to keep public spaces such as shopping streets and parks clean and safe.  This organization then led to upper class and chain stores to move into the neighborhood.

While talking about the changes that Union Square has experienced since its first opening, Zukin mentions the authenticity of the place, and states that it “is a cultural form of power over space that puts pressure on the city’s old working class and lower middle class, who can no longer afford to live or work there”. This means that as the culture of the place changes with upper class people and big businesses moving in, the power shifts between groups of people which forces lower and middle class families out.

In an interview with Sharon Zukin, she explains that the word “authenticity” is used in the book to talk about the changes in New York, to explain how changes in the city are both acceptable and nonacceptable. To become accepting to new people that come to the city but at the same time defend the right of longtime residents to stay in place against forces of eviction and new comers. She used the word “authenticity” in a way to include both the origins of the city and new beginnings that come with new people.


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