ITF Post: The Rise and Fall of New York City?

Here’s a collection of links organized around the history of New York examined as a way to understand its present and future status. The links include essays, multimedia, book reviews, and maps for you to consider in relation to the material covered this semester. Seminar texts, discussions, and projects have led you to the top of Bloom’s Taxonomy pyramid. This course has focused on accruing new information, assimilating and applying that information through class requirements (participating in class discussion, researching a topic about New York City, writing eportfolio posts, creating and presenting work to a group), and through these processes, the information has turned to knowledge. How might you analyze or evaluate the sources linked below? What did info or skills did you develop that helps you understand these sources and link to the broader themes of our seminar?


Joan Didion, “Goodbye To All That” (1967)

Zadie Smith, “Find Your Beach,” New York Review of Books (October 23, 2014)

E.B. White, “This Is New York,” (1949)

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ITF Post: The Tribeca Dog Run and determining “public good” and “private interests”

In his documentary “National Parks: America’s Best Idea” (2009) , Ken Burns chronicles the development of national parks in the United States since 1851, connecting the development of the parks system with the development of democratic processes in the United States. From the very beginning of the national parks system, Burns examines the parks’ as physical spaces of democracy, spaces available to the public at large rather than a select few.  New York City’s Department of Parks and Recreation emphasizes this approach at their website:

Our vision is to create and sustain thriving parks and public spaces for New Yorkers.

Our mission is to plan resilient and sustainable parks, public spaces, and recreational amenities, build a park system for present and future generations, and care for parks and public spaces.1

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ITF Post: “Save New York City’s Fashion Factories” op-ed in NYT

Here’s an excerpt of an op-ed by fashion designer Nanette Lepore and her husband, Robert Savage, about Bill de Blasio’s proposal to move the garment district from Manhattan to Sunset Park:

Manufacturing in New York City’s garment district is in jeopardy of unraveling at its seams. The city’s Economic Development Corporation may soon begin the certification process to lift the zoning laws that have protected fashion and apparel businesses in these few blocks in Midtown Manhattan for decades.

The intention is for manufacturers to relocate to Sunset Park, Brooklyn. With lower rents and longer leases, the development corporation hopes to lure factory owners to a 200,000-square-foot industrial space, now being renovated. The garment district’s Business Improvement District has voted to provide financial assistance to cover some expenses for relocating factories; in exchange, the zoning laws will be lifted. If the local community boards approve the plan, it will be brought before the City Council for a vote, and the changes could occur in as little as a couple of months.

Some questions for thought:

  • Read the initial reporting about the proposed changes; what is the main reason for changing the zoning laws and moving the fashion district?
    • What evidence is cited in favor of changing zoning laws?
    • How will these changes theoretically benefit the fashion industry in New York?
    • Do you find this proposal convincing?
  • Read the entire op-ed by Lepore and Savage; why do they claim manufacturing in New York is in danger?
    • What evidence do they cite to argue against changing zoning laws?
    • Do you find their argument convincing?
  • Is de Blasio’s plan similar to other types of developments studied this semester?
  • How does this specific case, the zoning laws and move to Sunset Park, fit with the core question of the class: who has the power to shape New York?

ITF Post: “The Maraschino Mogul’s Secret Life” by Ian Frazier at The New Yorker

In light of the recent seminar discussion of light manufacturing in New York City, I wanted to share an article written by Ian Frazier for The New Yorker about the Maraschino Cherry Factory in Red Hook. The article is an excellent investigation into the history of the factory, the owner and family of the factory, and the ensuing lawsuits filed by his family. Here’s Frazier’s description of the factory and its place in the community:

In the nineteen-seventies [the factory] had moved from Carroll Gardens to Dikeman Street, in Red Hook. [Owner Arthur Mondella] set about expanding that location into two adjacent buildings, and eventually the factory occupied a total floor space of thirty-eight thousand square feet. He scaled up what had been essentially a mom-and-pop operation; his mother and his sister, Joanne, worked there, too, but he ran the show, increasing production capacity and acquiring large-volume food-service clients. In 2014, he made a seven-million-dollar investment in automation so that one day the place would “run itself,” as he told his daughters.

In the basement, police discovered a hydroponic system for cultivating marijuana.Illustration by Janne Iivonen. Source: The New Yorker.

Despite automating, he wanted to keep his human workforce intact. By all accounts, he cared about his employees. Lots of ex-offenders had jobs at Dell’s. The Red Hook Houses, a nearby low-income housing project, supplied him with workers who needed the paycheck. Mondella was known for giving salary advances, and loans whose repayment was not vigorously pursued. He hired a homeless man, provided him an advance for a deposit, and let him use a company truck to move into a new apartment. Gang tattoos could be seen on the muscular, maraschino-red-stained arms of guys on the factory floor.

Read the rest of the article here (or check the class GDrive folder for a hard copy).

WaPo: New Yorkers not sure where “upstate” is but it’s definitely not Ithaca

In rebuke to Cynthia Nixon’s claim about “upstate” beginning at Ithaca, Philip Bump, reporter for The Washington Post, decided to conduct his own survey in order to determine where, exactly, New Yorkers think “upstate” begins. His methodology and results:

Map of answers from Philip Bump’s survey, published at the Washington Post.

Beginning on Sunday (shortly after reading Nixon’s opinion), I asked 1,016 New Yorkers: Where does “Upstate New York” begin?

When you ask 1,000-odd people the answer to a question, you get a lot of variation. Some is subtle, such as “Albany” vs. “near Albany.” Some is dismissive: Got a “do not care,” 40 “don’t know” replies and one “no.” Others made jokes: “my house,” “upstate someplace,” “Peoria,” “San Francisco.” Others identified very specific locations in and around New York City: 14th Street, the George Washington Bridge. Six people said that upstate started at 125th Street, meaning that the Bronx is in Upstate New York.

I love “no” because that’s my initial reaction, too, and “San Francisco” is a pretty good nod to the NYC-SF shared connections.

Read the rest of Bump’s article here.


ITF Post: Links for Week of March 26

Need inspiration for your posts? Don’t worry, I’ve got your back!

First: Why not argue for the superiority of Liza Minnelli’s “New York, New York” compared to Frank Sinatra’s “New York, New York”? (ITF Note: I am dead serious about this! Liza 4Ever!) 

WNYC, “History of Zoning” with Brian Lehrer: “The first zoning laws were created in New York City 101 years ago. Mike Wallace, distinguished professor of history at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, director of the Gotham Center for New York City History and author of Greater Gotham: A History of New York City from 1898 to 1919 (The History of NYC Series), and Jenny Schuetz, Brookings Institution fellow, talk about how zoning changed the shape and power structure of the city.”

Click for more links including a movie about why LA wants to be NYC (duh) and info about the documentary “If These Knishes Could Talk”!

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ITF Post: Hipsters, Urban Space, and Authenticity in 2018

Though the image of a ridiculously-dressed hipster is slowly fading as the economy grows, it’s worth revisiting the construction of the hipster figure (well as other images associated with hipsters like mason jars, “quirky,” interesting facial hair, urban chickens, DIY gourmet mayonnaise) and perceptions of authenticity and urban spaces. While the hipster was first understood as a specific Williamsburg resident, the word came to be associated with specific neighborhoods like Silver Lake in Los Angeles and then, more broadly, “hipster” referred to a certain type of gentrification of urban spaces. By 2018, the word “hipster” has run its course due to overuse and Portland really hates Portlandia. Moreover, the cultural and political changes between the height of the word’s use (about 2005-2010 judging by this, this, and all the entries here ) and now has made the concept seem less relevant than ever.

Yet its worth pointing out the the image of a hipster as a young-ish, DIY-type person living in “gritty” (pre-gentrified) neighborhoods in legacy cities arose in the public imagination during the Great Recession. Why? Well, according to a quote attributed by Coco Chanel, “Hard times arouse an instinctive desire for authenticity.” The Great Recession, then, becomes the backdrop for activities and lifestyle of the hipster: DIY, handmade, artisanal, ironic (“ironic”) clothing that may or may not be flannel.

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ITF Post: How to add footnotes to your posts

After reading everyone’s latest posts, it occurred to me that there’s a simple way to add citations to your posts: the plugin FD Footnotes. I’ve activated FD Footnotes and now you can easily add footnotes to your posts.

Why is this important? 1. Published posts instantly appear more streamlined; 2. As a result, the reader focuses on your ideas and you’re still properly citing your sources. 3. Learning how to adapt academic writing conventions to digital formats develops your ability to write for different platforms and audiences.1

Read on for very easy instructions + screen recording that I made to show you how to do it!

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  1. Alexis Carrozza, ITF for your seminar.